If you wanted a crazy modified European car in the 80s, you had a lot of choices to make. Built to resemble wildly flared racers, cars from manufacturers like DP Motorsports, Gemballa and Strosek are at best polarizing cars. At worst, they’re like the plot line to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex; kill your father, marry your mother and have your sister-daughters, then stab your eyes out and live in a cave. But the Rex himself must certainly be defined as Willy König, with his widebody, Testarossa-straked creations. While usually we see Mercedes-Benz and Porsche versions of Koenig modified cars, today we get a rare glimpse of what he’d do to a E24.
Back when the metal was heavy and the hair was high, the cars of Willy König ruled the earth. Koenig Specials GmbH was a German tuning house that took already outrageous cars on their own from Ferrari, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz and turned them up to 11. Unlike the majority of the tuning houses and coachbuilders from the same era, Koeing made cars that matched their bark with an even bigger bite. In addition to outlandish body work and 13 inch wide wheels, Koenig had a tradition of twin-turbocharging cars that made some of them capable of 200 mph and 0-60 runs under 4 seconds. One very special Ferrari Testarossa that was built by Koenig produced 1,000 hp and recorded a top speed of 229 mph. Today, these cars are still admired and now that everything from the 1980s is cool and very collectible. That is what we have with this car today.
This is a 1986 Mercedes-Benz 500SEC that received the full Koenig treatment including a twin-turbo kit on the M117 V8. It has a body kit that only the Batmoblie rivals and wheels deep enough to cook chicken soup in. Inside, Recaro C Classic seats only begin the wildness with a second gauge cluster added on the dash and enough wood for a dining room table. I rarely see these Koenig Specials come up for sale and this example in Canada is already pulling in big bids. How high will it go?
Edit 6/13/2017: the ABC Exclusive replica 560 SEC is back on a no reserve auction for a $15,000 starting bid. Click HERE!
Coupe versions of the Mercedes-Benz W126 chassis are popular fodder for these pages, and in particular we love to look at some period modified versions. Just last week Craig looked at a 1989 560SEC with period AMG bits, though that car was not an originally modified car. Today I have a comparison of two different directions modifications took in the 1980s on the C126, and in many ways it is a commentary on both how to properly present a car and…well, how not to. Whether these cars are to your taste is another matter, but we can certainly see the divergence in style pretty quickly. Which one is the winner? Let’s take a look at the European specification AMG model first:
Far, far on the other end of the tuning spectrum from the Dinan M5 of this morning are the ‘all show, no go’ scene cars. Built to resemble wildly flared racers, cars from manufacturers like DP Motorsports, Gemballa and Strosek are at best polarizing cars. At worst, they’re like the plot line to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex; kill your father, marry your mother and have your sister-daughters, then stab your eyes out and live in a cave. But the Rex himself must certainly be defined as Walter Koenig, with his widebody, Testarossa-straked creations. While usually we see Mercedes-Benz and Porsche versions of Koenig modified cars, today we get a rare glimpse of what he’d do to a E30. And, only a glimpse…
I was watching a very interesting piece about mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders last night; a trend which started in the 1980s, some people have been thrown into jail quite literally for the rest of their lives for being involved – even in a minor role – in the war on drugs. In drew into sharp contrast the dichotomous nature of the 1980s, where as a society we declared that drugs were a horrible thing while simultaneously celebrating a community of music, art and even Wall Street that was built around them. In some aspects, one can see that dichotomy in some of the tuner cars from the 1980s, and I think that the mega Mercedes-Benz products are a great example. Starchy, upright and conservative, Mercedes-Benz used to be the standard by which engineering was measured; the automotive bar for luxury automobiles. Yet, at the same time, various tuners took them and turned them into monsters; lowering the suspension, fitting giant wheels and motors, they transformed the conservative Republican into a Punk Rock idol. Some of these creations are more celebrated than others; AMG, for example, has a near faultless reputation which is backed even by Mercedes-Benz themselves, who decided to buy them later in life. Others are…well, not so highly regarded, such as the numerous Koenig specials that were created from otherwise unassuming ’80s Benzs:
Need something to keep you busy in the continuing grey days of winter? How about a pair of 500SECs projects to keep you out of trouble? (Well actually this may get you into trouble, financially or with your significant other) Carter also noticed this ride and linked it off our Facebook page.
Here we have what appears to be yet another case of picking up the pieces where a previous enthusiast ran out of time, money, or interest, but the seller instead states that they are selling due to illness. This may mean that the projects aren’t as bad as the ones being sold because someone got in over their head. Eitherway though that picture above shows a once great car looking sad. Not horrible though, we’ve seen a lot worse, but look at it just sitting there in a pile of leaves all cold and alone.
What we actually have is a rare, but non-running rare Koenig widebody 500SEC and a not as rare, but running parts car. Continue reading
Something strikes me as odd that this car hasn’t traveled in those two years, the mileage hasn’t changed much. In fact it has covered less than 5,000 miles since 1997, stashed in a collectors garage. One of the times the car was on eBay, in Fall of 2009, it had apparently sold for $8,700, but looks like that sale didn’t go through. Now it is up for sale for $12,500.
If you disregard the strangeness of the fact that no one seems to want to drive this car, the price is not too shabby for a genuine low mileage Koenig car. If this was a big body Benz with that mileage buyers would be more likely to bite. Plus this one was owned by Ken Griffey Jr. as indicated by the custom speedometer gauge face, which should appeal to some people.
The dark green paint is a unique color, but the custom yellow striping and boy racer trunk lid spoiler are kind of a turn off. Of course if you are in the market for a Koenig car you aren’t interested in being inconspicuous.
The current owner purchased the car earlier this summer from the collector who had basically parked it since 1997. This seller had some work completed to make the car more road worthy. It looks like it could still use some work to fix the handling and touch up some paint and chrome issues. Maintenance on this should be a breeze as it still sports the standard 3 liter inline six of which parts are plentiful.
If the right collector finds this it might sell at the opening ask price. More likely though I bet it goes through with no bids, which is strange when you think about what a new Koenig Specials conversion cost. The rareness of these cars coupled with the low mileage of this one may tickle a collector looking for an investment the right way, but lets hope the car doesn’t get locked up off the road for another decade.
Coming out of a Florida estate sale is this nice looking Koenig Special. The car has a bit over 100,000 miles on the 3.8 liter V8. The seller doesn’t come off as an expert on Mercedes vehicles, but does provide what sounds like an honest and fair description of the car in a video overview posted within the ad.
The paint is showing some expected wear, but in general the widebody kit and the interior look very good for a car like this. Those of you who follow the big Benzs with the “Miami Vice” style kits of this era know that most that come to market these days have many cracks, dings, chips, and defects. This one looks fine as is; a new owner could make it exceptional with a strip and high quality respray. Other than this being based on the lower output 3.8 instead of the 5.0 or 5.6, this one appears to be a good candidate for preservation. The 3.8 does make this a bit more uncommon in terms of other Koenig models. The car is a Euro model and was imported through proper channels, it has the correct importer markings.
The seller makes a mention of this car having a twin timing chain setup, which is nothing special, but a common conversion on the 3.8 as a preventative maintenance measure. Outside of the paint problems, its missing part of the climate control system, the speedo doesn’t work, there is a modern radio (good or bad depending on your purist intentions a period correct Alpine unit would look great), and lastly for some unknown reason the gold trunk Mercedes emblem has been replaced upside done.
The ask is $8,500 with bidding up at a reserve not met $6,200. Lots of depreciation on a car that cost over $100k when new. Even with the flaws and the less exciting engine, I have a real soft spot for these cars and the presence they command out on the road.
Koenig Specials started tuning Mercedes in 1984. They did work on Ferrari and Porsche as well and in most cases the finished project was significantly wider than it started. For Benzs K.S. offered supercharged and twin turbo variants. Customers were able to ask for pretty much anything they wanted. The trade mark though is those monster flares with tires as wide as they are tall, this one features 335/35/17 tires out back.
There is not a lot of description here, but the pictures do speak for themselves. The car has 33,000 miles. It would be great if it came with provenance/ownership history. Sometimes with cars like these it is hard to know what is stock and what isn’t underneath the obvious.
The interior has been totally customized with everything from a TV to a trunk mounted DVD an VHS player and lots of extra wood. 5 point harness and stylized Koenig gauges go along with the period cell phone.
The looks of Koenig cars can be polarizing, I for one like the monochromatic scheme in something other than white. No one can argue the exclusiveness of these nor their outrageous cost when new. Lots of bidding has this one up to $28,000 with the reserve not met or about quadruple what a decent standard 560SEC will cost you.
With a clientele that included Sophia Loren, Crayford conversions on 1970s Mercedes are an exclusive beast. These costly vehicles came warrantied by Mercedes and were the way customers who wanted an estate wagon for their fancy sedan could have the best of both worlds. This particular car interestingly shows the ugly U.S. market safety bumpers, but has avoided the recognizable, though inferior U.S. market quad circle sealed beam headlights in favor of Euro spec H4 beams. The seller, presumably using the register of Crayford Mercedes found here: http://www.crayford-benz.org, claims this to be one of only two or three in existence.
I may be mistaken, but I believe that this is not the only Koenig Special Benz once owned by baseball legend Ken Griffey Jr. in existence. Koenig epitomized the Miami Vice over the top bad ass look when it came to mid 80s Mercedes. This later 1991, has the same flavor with the in your face widebody kit, but I think the look is actually better pulled off by slightly larger W126 bodied Benz coupes like the 560SEC. Occasionally you will see the widebody kits in metal, but more often they are fiberglass and after nearly 20 years it may show some spiderweb cracking up close. It is hard to say what the premium here is for the owner provenance, but it safe to say this asking price is a significant discount from new. A new owner of this Koenig Special vehicle will need to remember that, though most mechanical parts won’t be any harder to find than standard 3 liter Mercedes fare, replacing the massive 315 size tires on the rears will be a cost. Fortunately with a 6 cylinder engine, instead of the torque of a 5 or 5.6 liter from a 126 bodied car, burnouts should be easier to avoid. The big V8 Koenig Specials sometimes came with even more outrageous 345 meats on the rear.
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