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!

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.
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