Pre-Merger AMG Mercedes-Benz Models Look to Continue Their Trajectory

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Lamborghini’s Countach may have been the quintessential poster car from the 1980s, but for those who wanted insane-for-the-era power wrapped in something other than a wedge-shaped supercar body, AMG was the place to go. Their heavily tweaked Mercedes-Benz sedans and coupes from the ’80s and ’90s came to epitomize executive excess, but they also delivered serious performance in an impeccably executed package. With this era’s resurgence in popularity, AMG-massaged Mercedes once again find themselves in the spotlight, resulting in a stronger auction presence (with five headed to Amelia’s auctions) and some big sales in the last 18 months. Several factors conspire to make these cars a bit tricky to price on anything but an individual basis, but that hasn’t dissuaded burgeoning enthusiasm for big-body Benzes with thick rolling stock. 

AMG’s methodology from the get-go wasn’t earth-shattering, but it certainly was effective. The “big engine is good, but bigger is always better” approach led to the creation of their famous 6.8-liter V-8-powered 300SEL 6.3 “Red Pig” race car, which briefly terrorized smaller saloons on track. The theme carried into the 1980s, with the tuner upsizing Mercedes-Benz V-8s (and straight-sixes as well) and sticking them into often-aggressively bodied big Benzes. Their magic caught on, and soon AMG had licensed their modifications to partners across Europe, Japan, the U.S., and Australia.  

1995 Mercedes-Benz E 60 AMG Limited tail
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This network of licensed installers presents the first layer of complexity for these cars—since there was never one uniform system of tracking construction, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly how many of each model were made. This can make verifying authenticity a challenge, too, but extensive documentation of a car’s history does mitigate this somewhat.

The next factor for consideration is the presence of original equipment, especially those big engines. The dual-overhead cam mills were finicky, and parts for them were costly—over time bits became considerably harder to find, too. As a result, once these cars depreciated fully and reached their third or fourth owners, many reverted to less powerful but more reliable Mercedes engines to keep their cars on the road.

1995 Mercedes-Benz E 60 AMG Limited rear
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This 1995 Mercedes-Benz E 60 AMG Limited, on offer with Broad Arrow at its upcoming Amelia Island auction, represents an original, well-documented example of the model, and pre-merger AMGs generally. (Pre-merger refers to the era when AMG operated as its own company prior to being bought by Mercedes.) To commemorate the end of their internally-hotrodded 500E (called the E 500 beginning in 1994) sedan, Mercedes-Benz created the E500 Limited. Wearing patterned door cards, seat and steering wheel inserts, the 17-inch wheels from the 190 E 2.5 16 Evolution II, and other cosmetic features, only 951 500E Limiteds were produced. For some, though, the 322-horse 5.0-liter DOHC V-8 wasn’t enough, which is of course where AMG stepped in with the E 60 AMG Limited. As was standard practice, the mill got swapped for one with a good deal more power and cubic inches, in this case a 381-horsepower 6.0-liter V-8. AMG-tuned suspension and exhaust, along with those trademark deep-dish thick-spoke monoblock wheels complete the package. It’s thought that a mere 45 examples of the E 60 Limited exist. 

The E 60 Limited’s rarity presents its own challenges. Unlike the Mercedes-Benz 300SL, which has enough sales and repeat sales to set a clock to (or create an index, which Hagerty analysts have used to great effect), with so few examples trading hands it’s hard to easily characterize the E 60 Limited’s values via public sale. The most recent public listing of a well-sorted example was in 2023 at Artcurial’s Rétromobile auction, and it failed to meet reserve. Another example with some corrosion and non-original front seats transacted last July at $117k, and in 2020 before the full effect of the pandemic boom took place, an E 60 that appears to be a Limited but was not marketed as such sold for $93k in Monterey. 

1995 Mercedes-Benz E 60 AMG Limited monoblock wheel
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From the full-size 500 SEC to the entry-level C36 to convertible SL models, AMG produced a wide variety limited-run models during this time. The low volume is a big part of these cars’ appeal, and also what makes them challenging to value.

That said, the sparse comparable sales of the rarer models and necessary homework of sifting through documentation hasn’t deterred buyers by any stretch—people have shown they are willing to pay for the right examples. Given the increase in popularity of these collector AMGs, more are beginning to come to market, and the buyer knowledge base is beginning to grow.

Buyer demographics skew quite young for pre-merger AMGs, almost surprisingly so. According to our policy data, about 52 percent of early AMG cars (pre-C36) are owned by Millennials. Another 34 percent are owned by Gen X, and just 14 percent are owned by Boomers. 

Hagerty manager of valuation analytics John Wiley believes the pre-merger AMG market has matured significantly in recent years and still has a lot of runway ahead of it: “With people bidding deep into six figure amounts on these early AMG cars, they’re requiring documentation and those unique AMG features,” says Wiley. “In other words, exactly what serious collectors look for when buying valuable vehicles. With the youthful demographics, this market looks like it has room to run.”

1995 Mercedes-Benz E 60 AMG Limited
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    E-60 AMG Limited for sale through second party. – Russian…entrepreneur.. currently liquidating assets. Car recently shipped from Zelenograd , currently in Florida. Some signs of usual wear, small scratches, dark stain in trunk floor carpet. Minor discrepancy in paperwork. Runs well and comes with four mounted Michelin X-Ice snows. Perfect getaway car for right person. Considering all reasonable offers, cash only. Bring a trailer and make sure you’re not being followed.

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