The idea of a hot rod car is to stuff as much motor into as small and light-weight a body as is possible, a concept for which today’s Nice Price or No Dice C55 AMG is a perfect example. Let’s see if it’s worth un-stuffing your wallet to buy.
I don’t know how many people buy cars outside of their general locale. I mean, I guess somebody like Leno does, but I think for most of us, buying any new or used car is something we prefer to do close to home.
That raised an issue for prospective buyers of yesterday’s 1990 Jaguar XJ-S V12 as it seemed to be about 3 years out from current registration, implying the possibility of having to pay those back tag fees. Perhaps worse, it portended an inability to pass California’s title transfer smog test. As a number of you pointed out, living outside of California eliminated this problem entirely, just as long as a new owner could get the car across the border without law enforcement dinging it for those expired tags. At $9,995 that was an intriguing prospect for many, and the car came away with a laudable 56 percent Nice Price win.
Do you know anyone how has had a nose job? You know, the plastic surgery that is medically known as “rhinoplasty,” intended to re-sculpt one’s sniffer? If not, then allow me to introduce you to this 2005 Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG saloon, as this model is noteworthy for having undergone front-end surgery to allow for the accommodation of its 5.4 liter, 362 horsepower V8 engine.
The C55 AMG is based on the standard W203 platform, which was first introduced for the 2001 model year. As this compact Benz was intended to compete with BMW’s 3 Series, Mercedes naturally planned for a hot edition so the M3 had a playmate. At first, that resulted in the C32 AMG, a model given a supercharged 3.2 liter V6 good for a reasonable 276 horsepower. But, as BMW made the plan to move the M3 to V8 power, so too did Mercedes with the W203 C Class. Unfortunately, wedging the M113 V8 into the W203’s engine bay wasn’t quite as easy as getting a supermodel into her skinny jeans. The effort required a re-engineering of the car from the firewall forward, giving it the same parts from the similarly spec’d CLK55 AMG. At the same time, Mercedes gave the car a wider track, bigger 18-inch wheels, and a tauter suspension to make the best use of the C55’s new-found hairy-chested-ness.
This 2005 Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG is claimed to be just as it was when it left the factory. It sports black paint over a grey Napa leather-upholstered interior and comes with 164,000 miles on the clock. The seller describes the car as having been “Fantastically well maintained,” and says it comes with brand-new tires on those factory alloys, as well as a clean title.
The exterior of the car seems to present well in the ad, with no major issues in either paint or the underlying bodywork apparent in the pictures. There does seem to be a bit of curb rash on the alloys, but that may simply be a trick of the images being blown up larger than they should be. Best to hold off judgment on those until they can be viewed in person.
The interior looks solid but somewhat tired. That’s mostly owed to the light hue of the upholstery which seems to have held onto every bit of minor grime it has ever met. There’s also what appears to be a woodgrain appliqué on the dash and glovebox which will probably not be to everyone’s taste. I’m not sure how much damage removing that might cause.
Aside from those minor gripes, the cabin looks complete and the upholstery seems majoritively intact with no wear-through evident on the bolsters or other high-traffic areas. Heavy-duty rubber mats protect the carpet which, in its exposed areas, looks to be in fine shape.
With its hand-built, naturally aspirated V8 and uprated suspension, the C55 really is at another level from its more mundane W203 siblings. Was this car a true M3 competitor? Ehh, maybe. The lack of a manual option (the Benz only came with a five-speed automatic) ensured that many row-yer-own enthusiasts discounted it as such. Mercedes has always positioned their AMG offerings in a slightly different fashion than BMW has its M cars. With the AMG cars, it’s been more about brute force rather than nuanced all-around high performance. If that appeals to you then you will no doubt like the experience a car like this C55 offers. If not a true M3 competitor, it is at least a true hot rod.
What might such a hot rod, with this car’s mileage and appearance rightfully cost? Well, the asking price here is $8,500, which, damn, is a lot of ponies for your pennies. Is it a deal, however? That’s up to you to decide.
What do you think, is this C55 worth that $8,500 asking? Or does that price put this AMG out of reach?
H/T to CocZamudio for the hookup!
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