A Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL AMG 5.4 has come up for sale in Monterey, California, and is expected to fetch between $100,000 and $150,000 when it goes up for auction later this month. Listed by RM Sotheby’s, this effortlessly cool and murdered-out SEL – think of it as a spiritual precursor to today’s AMG S63 – comes from an era before AMG-badged Mercs became ubiquitous.
Ordered new from AMG via the gray market by an enthusiast in Scottsdale, Arizona, the cost of the AMG modifications ($52,000) matched the base price of the regular 500 SEL. With considerable importation and federalization charges, the total cost of this 500 SEL AMG exceeded the price of a new Lamborghini Countach or Porsche 911 Turbo of the time.
At the time, AMG applied modifications to almost any Mercedes product, with great improvements in performance, handling, and aesthetics. However, you needed to pay heavily for the privilege, as did the original owner of this timeless sedan.
With AMG modifications, the 5.4-liter V8 engine has a rating of 306 horsepower – a mere 4 hp more than the little four-cylinder AMG CLA 35 you can buy new today. Despite its age, the odometer reads just over 31,000 actual miles, so there should be plenty of life left in the V8.
AMG by Bilstein suspension and chassis reinforcement, a Gen I aerodynamic kit, and color-matched wheels were among the other expensive upgrades made to the 500 SEL. The blacked-out look extends to the grille and badging.
AMG upgraded the interior with as much leather as possible. It covers the doors, dashboard, gear selector, center console, steering wheel, and even the door pillars. While rear privacy glass might be more practical, it’s not nearly as quaint as the rear privacy curtains equipped to this sedan.
As if there weren’t already enough buttons in S-Class Merc interiors from this era, this AMG-fettled version has a gold-plated Clarion G80 hi-fi stereo rack sound system with a 240-watt amplifier. So over-the-top is this sound system that it has four separate control panels, including an audio powermeter at the bottom ahead of the shift lever.
The sale of the 500 SEL AMG 5.4 includes copies of the original AMG invoices, manuals, and federalization paperwork. Not only a great car, but it’s also a wonderful reminder of earlier and much more exclusive AMGs, and it will be offered on August 17.