Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

Christopher James ‘Grunt, noise, road presence, it has it all – but the first question I get asked is about economy’

  • Year: 1999

  • Mileage: 163,000

  • Acquired: 2017

  • Dream car: BMW 850

Why the E55? 

Having gone through around 60 cars without ever owning a Mercedes, I bought a CL500 on a whim three years ago. What a car it was, the best built one I’d ever had, but I sold it after three months because it didn’t suit our lifestyle. I did buy a W220 S320 earlier this year, but again, despite loving it, it was sold as not being quite right for our needs. The day I sold it I realised I’d probably made a mistake, so I was again looking out for another Merc. Why did I buy the E55? Grunt, noise, road presence, comfort – it has it all.

What’s the best bit? 

The sound is addictive, and it has lots of road presence, but the best bit? After all the recent work on it, knowing it’s completely rust-free, both underneath and up top, is hugely satisfying.

What’s the worst bit? 

I still don’t think the headlights are the prettiest.

What’s it like to run? 

Parts availability is good and independent specialists are numerous. The first question I get asked most of the time, after finding out it’s a 5.5-litre V8, is about the economy, or lack of it. I have to say though that I can get 400 miles to a tank in sensible-ish driving. Having the main cats removed not only increased the horses from 350 to 380, but also freed things up a bit, which increases mpg. Win-win. Oh, and did I mention the sound?

Any modifications? 

Does a full new driver’s sill count as a modification? Otherwise I’ve left the car pretty much as it left the factory apart from K&N filters and the aforementioned cat delete (it still has the primary cats in there). 

Any advice for buyers? 

Mechanically it’s pretty much bulletproof. The biggest issue on any W210 is rot. You won’t have to look too far for it. Most panels will probably have
crusty edges. 

Spring perches go, as can lower control arms and window regulators. Now’s the time to buy a W210, while they’re right at the bottom of their price curve. They won’t be this
cheap for long.

What do you fancy next? 

No plans for anything different at the minute. My next project is finishing my 1983 Datsun Stanza, which is due for some welding work and paint early next year.