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Bell Ringer: 7,800-mile 1999 E55 AMG

The w210 market has begun to see a resurgence in values over the last couple of years. In particular, the wagon variants and E55 AMG specs are leading the charge. As with all vehicles, values depreciate with time until they hit a floor. That floor can vary depending on many factors but typically, it’s the price at which any particular vehicle will never be worth less than. It’s safe to say the w210 market has seen that floor as many that come up on the market today are priced for under $2,000 and rightfully so. These cars were notorious for rust issues and in general, used and treated as commuter cars. Eventually, they got passed down to kids and depreciated to a point where people who couldn’t always afford to maintain them got ahold of them. It’s hard to argue against the fact that a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry is still much cheaper to maintain, hence the $2,000 E class of today which still affects the market of all 210’s.

Stylistically, the w210 was a major change to the design cues of prior Benz models featuring a four oval headlight design which was in many cases a love it or hate it situation (don’t forget the w210 was still designed under the Brunno Sacco era though). The w210 models were made for model years 1996-2002 (2003 for the wagon) with a facelift update that began in 2000. We admit the base models may have left something to be desired from a design standpoint, however, with the E55 AMG, Mercedes hit the nail right on the head. AMG bumpers, skirts, and wheels transform the w210 into one of the most attractive and tasteful designs on the road.

Additionally, AMG tuned the m113 engine to 354hp, stiffened the suspension, beefed up the brakes because more power, and added an exhaust. On the interior, the AMGs had upgraded multi-contour leather seats with birds eye maple wood grain to accentuate the AMG steering wheel and gauges. The facelift models are widely revered to be more desirable with updated exterior designs and interior features. While they certainly do have a more modern look to them, the 1999 year model E55 AMG has aged like a fine wine. Not only was the 1999 E55 AMG made for only 1 model year for the US domestic market, making it more rare in some regards, these pre-facelift cars have a more familiar feel reminiscent of the legendary 124 chassis in many ways.

The driving experience is another strong point of this car. The M113 engine was rated at 354hp and 394 lb-ft of torque and you felt every single digit. Keep in mind, that kind of power in a four-door family sedan in 1999 was a bold statement as it was neck and neck to the 1999 Corvette and noticeably quicker than a Porsche 911 in a straight line. There wasn’t a supercharged V8 and twin-turbocharged four cylinder at every street corner. You got all this power going straight to the rear wheels which made for some interesting driving in the rain if you were feeling adventurous. Turn the traction control (ESP) off and the big orange triangle lights up on your dash with an exclamation mark to tell you that you need to think very hard about your next move. The only thing missing was a manual transmission option which every Mercedes enthusiast knows is not something we’re often treated to in the AMG specs. However, as we manually moved the gear shifter from gear to gear (2000 was the first year for tip-tonic with the 722.6) we’d be lying if we didn’t have a huge grin across our face.

All things considered, it’s a much more fulfilling driving experience behind the wheel of this E55 than the vast majority of cars rolling out today. Maybe it’s the incredibly low mileage, maybe it’s the naturally aspirated engine feeding power to the wheels through Mercedes’ legendary 722.6 transmission, or maybe it’s that every detail of this car looks like it just rolled off of the showroom floor. Whatever it is, we want more of it.

The details of this E55 AMG truly take us back to simpler times. E55’s all came with xenon headlights which not only made a huge difference on the road but also had a different headlight design with a clear lens.

These lenses oxidize over time, causing cloudiness and haziness which can be cleaned up. These headlights are completely original and look pristine. Upon close inspection, the paint of this car appears to be all original and in excellent condition supporting claims that the car has always been garage kept. The engine bay looks clean enough to eat off of and the headers show no signs of wear. We even found original markings from the factory that have typically long burned off after miles of use.

The monoblock wheels are wrapped in our favorite, new Michelin Pilot Sport tires. These wheels are easily one of our favorite designs of all time and set off the bold looks of the AMG kit perfectly. The lips show no curb rash or blemishes as the vast majority today do. We mentioned earlier rust plagued the w210 in general but we couldn’t find even the slightest hint of corrosion anywhere on the car. For those of you looking for one of these beauties, be sure to check for rust in all of the hot spots which include the bottom of each door (especially front doors along the rubber seal), front and rear fenders where they meet the bumper (especially directly behind the rear wheels), and on the corners behind the trim piece housing the license plate bulbs. Every rubber seal was intact and appeared extremely well preserved. For many of these cars, these rubber bits crack and eventually flake off completely.

In summary, this 1999 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG exceeded our expectations in every way. When you hear of low mileage gems like this you can quickly be sobered by the endless needs of a car with such low mileage. This is not the case with this particular car and you get the best of both worlds. Further making a case, this particular car came from the same one-owner garage that this C43 AMG with 11k miles came from for the entirety of its life.

Having the opportunity to see both of these cars together is truly something special given they both have remarkably low mileage and have spent their entire 23+ years (roughly) together. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and while the C43 has been spoken for, being sold through an entertaining commentary on Bring-a-Trailer, this E55 AMG could be sitting in your garage. We encourage serious buyers only to reach out but don’t forget to bring your checkbook. Over the last year or so, we’ve seen some strong numbers from these cars including the following, all of which had an additional 5% auction fee:

34k-mile 2002 E55 AMG- $29,250 on 04/08/2019

49k-mile 2001 E55 AMG- $21,250 on 3/5/2019 (fun fact: previously owned by Co-Founder Blakley Leonard)

While it’s important to note that the most expensive pre-facelift E55 we could find sold for $16,759 (+5% auction premium) with 40k miles, nothing really provides an accurate comparable to an example with less than 8k miles on the clock in pristine, 1-owner condition to support it. This car should be poised to set a new high in the w210 market if it ends up on the auction block. Only time will tell, but until then enjoy the gallery of photos of this remarkable example E55 AMG and let us know your thoughts on the market!

-Blakley Leonard, The MB Market