I have a kind of love-hate with the Mercedes-Benz W220. The design of the S-Class from the W140 to the W220 was like high school senior who is just starting out in life to now a post-grad with an office job who realizes that this will be his life for the next 40 years. Everything is a little bigger, a little softer, not quite as handsome, but now you have some kind of money to spend on things like screens that will be obsolete in three years. Nothing wrong with that and totally acceptable, but the S-Class was now firmly blended in with the BMW 7-Series, Audi A8 and Lexus LS. There was some hope for W220 if you really wanted a full-size sedan to separate yourself from the rest and that of course came in the facelifted S55 AMG. The styling was much more aggressive thanks to some different bumpers and a quad exhaust setup, but the real gem was under the hood with the M113K. This engine was a gem the day it debuted in the E55 and SL55 in 2003 and to this day is a favorite by many for its relative reliability and ability to make huge power numbers. Now that we are well over a decade into the M113K existence and the regular W220 can be had for the same price as a gourmet pizza, finding an S55 AMG for not much money at all isn’t a problem. Although that doesn’t mean that all problems are solved, especially when it comes to maintaining these monsters. This 2004 up for sale outside of Chicago is no different.
In my opinion, custom body work can either go really good or really bad. Those who know what they are doing usually put out some unique stuff. Those who don’t know what they are doing put out work made of nightmares. Luckily for everyone, this 2003 Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG for sale in Vancouver, Canada, has some custom body work that actually looks pretty good. Normally, the bodies of the mid-2000 AMG cars don’t have much of a flare to them, but this seller of this specific car had something to say about that. This S55 had the front the rear fenders pulled out by a decent amount to give it the look of a CLK63 AMG Black Series. The more I look at this car, the more I appreciate it, but I can’t decide if I really love it or not.
Speaking generally, there aren’t too many new cars that cross the pages of this site. It’s even somewhat rare for us to breach the decade-old mark; that’s the point where really nice used examples of our favorites start to become hard to locate. And, frankly since anyone can walk into a dealership, sign a few papers and walk out a lot lighter but with any specification car they can afford, the older metal is typically what draws our (and, hopefully, your) interest.
But once in a while something pretty special comes along, from a 911R to this car. The fifth generation F80 M3 has taken a huge leap forward in complexity, technology and performance. The S55 twin-turbocharged inline-6 is an absolute tower of power; while ultimate horses didn’t increase much version the E9x S65 V8 (425 versus 414), the torque was the big news. It was in part the final number – 410 lb ft., up an amazing 90 over the V8, but it was also the reality of when you could use that torque. The S65 developed peak twist at just shy of 4,000 rpms; the S55 does it at 1,850. Not only that, but the torque curve is billiard table flat until 5,500 rpm. The result, despite the heavy weight stature of the new gigantic F80, is astonishing speed.
By itself, the F80 M3 is a force to be reckoned with. However, this particular M3 is just that bit more special, as it was handed over the group at BMW Individual and painted in E46-signature Laguna Seca Blue:
Over the past few years, I’ve increasingly noticed mainstream dealers taking their wares to eBay. Usually we don’t cover these cars much – frankly, as a new car, basically you don’t need us to find it for you. Anyone can pop on to their marque of choice and dream away with the builds. But this particular M3 caught my attention because of two reasons; first, the screaming Fire Orange II paint from BMW Individual, and second – the price; at $110,000, nearly double the standard MSRP on a F80 M3. What’s going on?
Walk into a dealership, spend far too long with someone you would never willingly sit with, fork over a seeming obscene amount of money and you’re guaranteed of one thing; your new car is “new” until the moment you sit in it. Drive out of the dealer valet area, and suddenly the value of your car plummets. At least, that’s the predominant theory. And in most cases, that is a rule which works. But there are certain cars where depreciation isn’t really part of the equation. If you were lucky enough to buy one of these special cars, your used example may actually be worth more than a brand new one. Huh?
While purists in part decried the death of the naturally aspirated M3 at the same time that the new nomenclature for the coupe lineup was launched, I personally wasn’t too offended – in fact, I was a little excited. First off, being an Audi fan I was used to name changes – Audi redefined its market lingo three times in just a few years with the change from the 5000 to 200, then again to S4, and once more S6 between 1989 and 1995. So while I thought it was a bit silly that BMW had to introduce a new number lineup for it’s coupe 3 (which, incidentally isn’t always a coupe…), I’m not going to fault BMW for choosing a new market strategy. But the real reasons I was impressed were the changes to the drivetrain and, I suppose it should come as no surprise, the colors offered. The change to the twin-turbocharged S55 didn’t produced much more horsepower than the S65 V8, but it did produce a lot more torque – something BMW was happy to showcase with a series of advertisements showing the new F82 sliding around a series of parked classic M3s. That forced induction was good for a 110 lb.ft boost over the naturally aspirated V8, starting below 2,000 rpms. You could go on and on about the technology that’s been incorporated into this engine – all of which is cutting edge and really impressive – but the chart that I find really amazing is to compare the relative power output versus efficiency of the S55 to the previous generation M3s. What’s staggering is that not only is this car the most powerful, it’s nearly able to match the fuel consumption and emissions of the 2.3 liter inline-4 from the E30. It produces well over double the horsepower and torque of the S14. That’s technology working on your side, and that’s amazing to consider. We really are living through a very special period of automobile performance if you’re able to partake; here’s a car that puts out numbers close to a legendary 427 Cobra in terms not only of power output, but acceleration as well; but it stops and turns better, too, can carry 4 (maybe 4.5?) adults in comfort, gets better fuel mileage, is better for the environment, works in all conditions and guess which one you’d rather be in a crash in.
Getting back to my original point, though, the F8x also introduced a few new colors that look amazing on the new BMWs; continuing with the theme of track-named colors, Yas Marina Blue is gorgeous, Sakhir Orange Metallic is pretty vivid, but the introduction of Austin Yellow Metallic is the one that got me. It looked an awful lot like my favorite E46 tone, Phoenix Yellow, and really makes the new M3/4 a knockout. Of course, for some those color options weren’t enough, so continuing in the theme of the last few BMWs I’ve written up, here’s one that and individual turned over to Individual:
Depreciation: it’s a wonderful thing if you’re a German automobile fan with an affinity for a good bargain. What was once an astronomically priced vehicle could be firmly within reach thanks to the passage of time and a reputation for wallet draining repair bills. Of course the latter is the reason many people still steer clear of used German vehicles, even in today’s world where any question you need the answer to is just a Google search away. Nobody should be afraid to work a car these days, unless it’s so new that you can’t do anything without a computer or you’re completely helpless when it comes to wrenching. If you have the space, tools and the time, there’s nothing you can’t do. I say all of this because I know that right off the bat people will point out that the W220 chassis S-Class is a big scary car with little mechanical demons lurking in its bones just waiting to wreak havoc on your bank account. While it did have its issues, it was actually rather reliable and parts for these things are very easy to come by, even the AMG examples like this one. Sure there is a learning curve when it comes to working on over engineered vehicles but it’s really not as daunting as armchair experts would have you think. Between brand-specific fora and YouTube there’s plenty of information out there to keep you from loosing sleep over things like a vanity mirror door break or armrest failure.
The tradeoff for taking the plunge seems well worth it, especially with pristine examples like this one. The seller’s pictures of the gorgeous Designo Espresso don’t do the color justice which is too bad because the right setting would show off just how much this paint pops. Early morning light along the Hudson, now that would have been the way to go. Even with some glare the car still looks great, a testament to just how nice this color is. What he did do a good job of was taking pictures of the very clean interior with those cozy looking Light Brown Nappa Leather seats. It’s hard to see some of the special details included in the Designo Edition from the photos, such as the extended leather (it even encircles the floor mats!), the Alcantara details and the lovely Elm trim. I have only been in one W220 S-Class and I was riding in the back, reclined with the massage function going and let me tell you, it’s everything it’s cracked up to be and then some. Of course this is the S55 AMG and behind the wheel isn’t a bad place to be sitting either. The 493hp, 5.4L supercharged V8 will take you and 3 willing participants to 60mph in 5.5 seconds. Even by today’s standards those numbers are impressive and this is a 4,260 lb car built in 2003 that you can generally get for under $20k. Just think, you could have this and some sort of two seat canyon carver with plenty of money left over to cover replacement parts for less than a Lincoln MKZ.
We see a lot of fairly new cars that just get crushed with depreciation. That leaves some great opportunities for secondhand buyers.
This 2003 S55 had an M.S.R.P. north of $100,000 and now can be had for $22,500. 75,000 miles on the car, which looks pretty clean. The interior looks great considering its light color.
With the addition of a Eurocharged 180mm pulley, Kleeman headers and tune added to the already potent supercharged engine, your probably looking at close to 550 horsepower and gobs of torque.
Sure you could buy yourself a nice brand new car with a warranty for this price, but it certainly won’t have the presence of this top of the heap German luxury sedan. If you don’t mind paying top dollar here is another chance for instant gratification for the holidays.