Classic Mercedes-Benz AMG Sale Will Make You Forget About New Cars
Who needs traction control and airbags with menacing looks like these?
After years of occupying the back pages of auction catalogues and sitting prominently on round-up lists of affordable classic cars, vintage Mercedes-Benz AMG products have gone well beyond the reach of your common enthusiast. Exhibit A: Last year's round of auctions resulted in multiple $150,000-plus sale prices of some pristine AMG artifacts, and auction houses are now looking to cash in on this demand.
Most of the truly valuable AMG variants are those built in the mid-to-late 1980s, before AMG officially moved in-house with Mercedes in 1999—as well as offerings from the era before Mercedes even took a cooperative stake in the company during the mid-1990s. For a long while, classic AMGs didn't enjoy the same stratospheric price hike as equivalent BMW M and Porsche models, and we are pretty sure we know why.
To the point, older AMGs focus more on raw brute force than razor-sharp dynamics derived from motorsports, and that lent the cars a reputation for delivering an unrefined, wooden driving experience. However, compared to BMW's high-revving nimble E30 M3 and E28 M5, AMG's 385-horsepower Hammer crushed both into straight-line submission with an '80s-era-blistering 0-60-mph run of around 5.3 seconds.
Aside from the aforementioned Hammer, there wasn't much mystique around these hand-built cars until recently, largely because they are rare—and information on production numbers, performance, and all the various AMG packages is sparse.
As if on cue, RM Sotheby's has a handful of classic AMG products up for grabs at its Essen sale, presently scheduled for June 24-27, along with plenty of other cars. But don't expect to pick them up for a song.
1989 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL 6.0 AMG
Much like today's Mercedes-AMG lineup, the old independent AMG would breathe its nitro-tinged breath into essentially any engine and any car Mercedes saw fit to produce. This means there are a few AMG-ified four- and six-cylinder 1980s Mercedes prowling around, but AMG certainly didn't make a name for itself building up the four-pots. No, the AMG badge on the rear decklid became synonymous with big honkin' V-8s, especially in the bigger, longer platforms.
Of all the engines, the 6.0-liter quad-cam M117-derived V-8 was the mack daddy, offering just short of 400 hp and a matching 400 lb-ft of torque in an era when 220 hp was considered strong. You could get this powerhouse slotted into all the big-body Benzes, including this long, lean, and very mean 560 SEL.
Originally built for and sold to a Japanese buyer, this SEL is one of the more affordable entries into 6.0 ownership—but that only means the final price should hover around the $100,000 mark.
1993 Mercedes-Benz 500 E 6.0 AMG
Another 6.0-liter special, though this one moves beyond the aforementioned 560 SEL. This is based on the 500 E, a Porsche-engineered and built super sedan under commission from Mercedes. At the time, Mercedes was too occupied with other model redesigns to focus resources on shoving the V-8 into the W124 chassis, so it tasked Porsche with both engineering and final assembly. This resulted in one of the greatest automotive collaborations of all-time, and one of the more revered Mercedes models to escape the 1980s and 1990s.
So, with that in mind, imagine how cool (and valuable) an AMG version of that Mercedes-Porsche mashup is. Surprise, surprise—with 381 hp from the M119 V-8 and an AMG upgraded suspension, it's mighty fast, with a claimed 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds. Only 35 of these were built, so expect a final sale price in excess of $100,000.
1984 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC AMG 5.4 "Wide Body"
Aesthetically, it doesn't get more intimidating than this. Imagine seeing one of these rumble down a dark alleyway and stop behind the back entrance of a restaurant. Yeah, no thanks—you've seen enough movies to know how that ends.
This is one of the famed widebody AMGs from the pre-merger era, wearing swollen box fenders accentuated by the sinister black paint and color-matched wheels. It's not the big-boy 6.0-liter, but the AMG-fettled 5.4-liter packs 310 hp and a 155-mph top speed—more than enough to catch up to any clients with—ahem—missed payments.
1986 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC Koenig
Surprise! Not an AMG, but we figure it is a good piece of comparison in terms of what else was available at the time. Now, we have big respect to Koenig Specials and its wild, outlandish breed of pumped-up supercars, but this straked and wedge-ified 500 SEC isn't the company's finest work. That's not to say it looks bad; it just doesn't hold the same menace as contemporary AMGs, nor does the allegedly stock M117 V-8 have the same potent appeal. Still, if you're more into style than substance, this Koenig should go for significantly less than the above 500 SEC AMG.