Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG
The concept of a fast Mercedes saloon was as appealing during the 1990s as it is now. One of the fastest at the time was the E55 AMG – a 354bhp rep-hauler capable of catapulting colleagues to 60mph in 5.7 seconds and topping out at a limited 155mph.
With a standard five-speed automatic and 1790kg kerbweight the E55 is less multi-faceted than its modern equivalents. It’ll smoke around happily (literally, with judicial use of the throttle) but doesn’t possess the dynamic qualities of modern super saloons.
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It may not surprise you to learn that the E55’s biggest issue, as a mid-90s Mercedes, is rust. While well-heeled owners and regular cleaning and maintenance mean AMGs haven’t quite adopted the 1970s Alfasud levels of corrosion of their cooking counterparts, you’ll need to inspect any prospective purchase thoroughly. Do so, and the fast family hauler can be yours for as little as £5000.
Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG
The S55 AMG is an extremely compelling vehicle. It cost over £76,000 brand new when it debuted in 2000; today you can pick up an example for as little as £5000. Whether you should or not is a completely different issue. Brand new these cars were criticised for their reliability, and fifteen years of careless owners may not have helped matters.
If you do avoid a cursed example – gremlins include electrical fits, paint issues, corrosion and the prospect of highly expensive repairs – then there’s much to like.
Power is provided by a 354bhp, 5.4-litre V8 hand-assembled at Affalterbach, launching this 1885kg saloon and its four luxuriating occupants to 60mph in 5.8 seconds. The 21mpg official combined economy is less luxurious and serves as a warning to those who deem it wise to run one of Mercedes’ old flagship models on a supermini budget.
Mercedes-Benz A210 Evolution
The A210 is present here as an interloper. It was not an official AMG vehicle, designated only ‘Evolution’, yet to all intents and purposes it was the AMG variant in the A-class range. Squint a bit (okay, a lot) and its large alloy wheels, subtle bodykit and three-pointed star give it the aura of an AMG hot hatchback.
In terms of power, the A210’s 140bhp output is just half that of the C36, but at £1500 for a tidy example you can’t expect too much. Unlike most official AMGs a manual gearbox was also available – it’s a supermini, after all – but both manual and auto have a full 2084cc to propel them. The manual hits 60mph in 7.9 seconds, and economy figures in the mid 30s will be alien to regular AMG owners.
Unfortunately, Mercedes’ entry-level product line coincided with the company’s phase of poor quality and reliability, and is even more afflicted by niggles than the rear-drive vehicles. If it’s lasted this far and been serviced regularly it shouldn’t be too problematic, but on such a cheap car an expensive Mercedes component may be enough to render big issues uneconomical to repair.