Junkyard Find: 2001 Mercedes-Benz ML55 AMG

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 2001 mercedes benz ml55 amg
Since trucks, truck-shaped cars, and generally truck-influenced vehicles dominate American roads in the present day, it’s about time I started paying attention to high-end luxurious German truck-like machines in the vehicle graveyards I frequent. Such machines have been easy to find in such places for quite some time now, due to the notoriously quick depreciation of large-dollar German cars that don’t get the meticulous maintenance they deserve, but prior to today, we’d just seen a single BMW X5 in this series. Let’s go right to an AMG for our first Mercedes-Benz SUV: this 2001 W163 ML55 AMG.
The price tag on this truck, soon after the turn of the century, started at $65,900 (about $101,150 in 2020 dollars). That was better than twice the cost of a loaded Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer.
But Ford wouldn’t sell you an engine like this in your Explorer back then: a 5.4-liter OHC V8 rated at 342 horsepower. This engine made the ’01 ML55 the fastest SUV in the world at that time, and it could run the quarter-mile in the high 14s.
As you might expect, no manual transmission could be had in this truck. Five-speed automatics went in all the ML55s.
You know Full Depreciation has arrived for a vehicle when its owner feels comfortable slapping stickers from cannabis dispensaries on the windshield. Such stickers have become very prevalent in the junkyards of weed-crazed Colorado, and I even find junkyard cars with bags of wacky tabacky still inside.
There’s also a sticker from a firearms silencer manufacturer on the dash, because why not?
Plenty of the AMG interior goodies had been grabbed by junkyard shoppers prior to my arrival, but hints of this M-Class’s once-opulent high-speed luxury remain visible.
Like getting together with four friends and shooting yourselves into a Wile E. Coyote mountainside with a giant slingshot!For links to more than 2,000 additional Junkyard Finds, check out the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.
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  • Jerome10 Jerome10 on Sep 14, 2020

    This first-gen M-Class was garbage. Plastic overpriced junk, even when brand new.

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    • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Sep 14, 2020

      Cannot agree more. They did not look like luxury cars. You might think it is something made by Hyundai or GM. I felt pity for the people who bought these cars. Who they wanted to impress with that junk?

  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Sep 14, 2020

    "Like getting together with four friends and shooting yourselves into a Wile E. Coyote mountainside with a giant slingshot!" As a former owner of a Mercedes AMG of this era, I can assure you that maintaining this after the warranty expired was a lot scarier than that slingshot ride!

  • El scotto Subway or non-subway city? There is a difference.
  • MaintenanceCosts Most of our drivers actually aren't that bad, except that they're a little slow-witted. But there is a group that, post-pandemic, has decided they've had it with the rules, and they're scary.Recently I've seen a regular drumbeat of people blowing through red lights and stop signs without a care in the world; several drivers drive the wrong way (despite honking and yelling) down one-way streets; one driver driving on the wrong side of the street past a line of cars waiting for a red light, forcing an innocent oncoming driver to take evasive action; and one pickup driver deliberately ramming all the planters (used to separate a bike lane) he could see.And no one can park. There's always someone parked blocking the crosswalk, blocking the fire hydrant, blocking the bike lane, blocking the bus stop, you name it.But mostly it's OK.
  • ChristianWimmer Sunak has apparently done this because his political party has lost so much support. Once the brainless masses flock to his political party again the trap will spring shut and bam - the ICE ban will be attempted to get pushed through even quicker.Honestly, Europe right now is a complete CR** HOLE thanks to the EU.Did anyone hear of the EU’s plans to make driving even more unattractive? A French Green Party politician introduced some really perverted ideas under the guise of “Vision Zero” (Zero deaths from driving in the EU) and of course the climate hysteria…1) If you just received your driver’s license you can not drive faster than 90 km/h - basically you’re stuck behind trucks on highways or can’t even overtake them on normal roads.2) If you are 60 years old, your license is only valid for 7 more years. If you are 70 years old, 5 years. If you’re 80 years old, 2 years. You are required to “renew” your license (and pay for it yourself) which will also determine if you are still fit to drive.3) The standard B driver’s license here allows you to drive vehicles up to 3.5 tons in weight. Under this idiotic proposal from that French nutjob, those 3.5 tons will decrease to 1.8 tons meaning that you can’t legally even drive a Tesla Model 3…
  • ToolGuy I blame Canada.
  • Syke This is one of those days when you come up with an article that I just live to comment on. I'm retired from (but still working at three half days a week - retirement was boring) Richmond Honda House, a Honda/Yamaha/Can-Am/Sea Doo dealership. No, I'm not a mechanic. I'm the guy who handles all the recall/warranty claims. Which between the three major brands, and a couple of small Asian brands is enough to keep me busy for about fourteen business hours split across Tuesday thru Thursday. Yes, the Spyders are reliable, but when they do break down they can be a nightmare due to you have to have a laptop plugged into one to do most kinds of service. First hint: You absolutely do not want to do massive aftermarket sound system upgrades to a Spyder. We've had nightmares with them in the past. I swear half our original customers back in the 2008-2010 period bought theirs to turn into a three-wheeled boom box, which would invariably cause voltage fluctuations in the electrical system, thus driving the various black boxes wonky and causing all sorts of problems.Those of you who decry computerization in modern automobiles will find that the Spyder is even more so. I've noticed that the Spyder has gotten a lot better since Bombardier dropped the original V-twin engine (same one that Aprilia used on their 1000's when they first came into the country) in favor of the current triple. Mechanical repairs to the drivetrain have definitely gone down.Used? The more recent models seem to have good reliability. No, not as good as the current Gold Wing, or any generation Gold Wing for that matter, but definitely within acceptable parameters. The older ones, especially the original 2008-2010 models, I'd recommend staying away from. How bad? During the 2008 recession, when motorcycle dealers were desperately hanging on, my office at Honda House was the single best cash flow for the company, totally because of warranty claims and recalls from the original models. Yes, Bombardier has gotten an awful lot better.Oh yeah, the company itself it decent to deal with on a business and support level. From my office, they're my favorite of the three, slightly ahead of Yamaha, and a night and day improvement over Honda. All you have to remember is that you're not dealing with Canadians, you're dealing with Quebecois. Yes, there's a difference, I was married to one for thirteen years.