By on September 14, 2020

2001 Mercedes-Benz ML 55 AMG in Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSince 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.

2001 Mercedes-Benz ML 55 AMG in Denver junkyard, automatic hatch badge - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 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.

2001 Mercedes-Benz ML 55 AMG in Denver junkyard, automatic engine - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBut 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.

2001 Mercedes-Benz ML 55 AMG in Denver junkyard, automatic gearshift - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAs you might expect, no manual transmission could be had in this truck. Five-speed automatics went in all the ML55s.

2001 Mercedes-Benz ML 55 AMG in Denver junkyard, sticker - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsYou 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.

2001 Mercedes-Benz ML 55 AMG in Denver junkyard, sticker - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThere’s also a sticker from a firearms silencer manufacturer on the dash, because why not?

2001 Mercedes-Benz ML 55 AMG in Denver junkyard, interior - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsPlenty 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!

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20 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2001 Mercedes-Benz ML55 AMG...”


  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    Someone took the AMG badges. Probably to stick on the cheapest MB they can find.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    These took over 6 seconds to get from 0-60, which certainly was quick for their time.

  • avatar
    downunder

    20 years old is mine, and now I need a new battery after 10 years. what a rip!

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    A work colleague has the sensible version of this SUV, the ML270 CDI with an inline-5 Turbodiesel motor. He is the first owner and an outdoor/camping enthusiast and regularly uses it to tow a midsize caravan where he and his wife and two children can sleep.

    ML55s are an occasional sight in my city, but I suppose by today’s AMG performance standards they’re ‘slow’.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Guns, weed and an old expensive MB SUV, outlaw Skippy Worthington III, trust fund anarchist

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Looks like a chubby Suzuki Vitara (but less reliable).
    :-/

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Guaranteed, the drive line of this MB will be bolted into its cradle when it meets the spinning manganese hammers. I’m always amazed how the Fan-Boys of High End German Luxury cars praise their superiority of these machines. In reality the market dictates the worth of these machines. After 10 years I have never really seen a German Luxury car worth more than a tad more than scrap.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Expensive to buy.
      Expensive to keep running.

      And these days, I’m not sure the 3-pointed star really has all that much status on the street here in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I’m not sure if MB is as bad as BMW, but once they reached down market for those $399 lease deals I think their fate was pretty much sealed

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          As recently as 2018 when we were shopping, it was clear that BMW had the cheapest interior in every way – seats, materials, comfort – compared to MB and Audi.

          Even as a critic of BMW, I was surprised at the level of crapification of a $45k X1.

          The X1 is comparable to a Honda CR-V in terms of materials and comfort. It’s just that the CR-V is 15k less.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

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

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Yep, the “Bama Benz” had a bad reputation

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Agreed. The 2nd generation ML is when things got good for this vehicle. The Cayenne followed this trajectory, too. 1st gen wasn’t very good, but 2nd and beyond improved.

      Opposite for BMW. 1st gen of the X5 was the one to have, but every one of them since then has been a dumpster fire.

      The Audi Q7 could probably be considered a push. They all appear to be about the same without dramatic improvements or declines.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      The chassis was decent, and fairly off-road capable. But yeah, the rest was garbage. Our former next-door neighbors had a ML320 for awhile (he sold used cars for a living, before moving on to selling boats for Cabela’s), and it didn’t hang around for long, being replaced by a Buick Enclave. The ML320 had all kinds of weird issues, like the alarm system going off at random times, and stranding his wife (it was her ride) when the immobilizer system decided the vehicle should be immobilized in the middle of around-town trips.

      And oh yeah, he was from Alabama, and a rabid Crimson Tide fan, which was one reason that he bought it (it was built in Vance, Alabama).

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I remember just after the Alabama Mercedes-Benz ML plant came on line in the late 90’s. Everyone from the governor to other elected officials and business leaders were tooling around in them. You wonder how those early production models held up. I had a neighbor with one here in NYC. They no longer own it but it had the optional third row that flipped over to the side. I don’t think many people ordered them with it.

    • 0 avatar

      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?

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    “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!

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