Brabus Bruiser: 1983 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL

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In the world of vintage Mercedes-Benz products, the household name for modifications tend to be the company’s in-house tuner group, AMG. But plenty of aftermarket companies were in the mix as well, with a few stand-outs from across Europe and the U.S. establishing high standards for OEM-like upgrades. Brabus was one of those names, and this tuner shop came into its own in the 1980s by taking cars like this 1983 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL here on eBay and making it into an menacing autobahn missile.

One of the bigger mistakes when evaluating modified examples like these is to assume big power upgrades were made under the hood. Many of the parts could be purchased separately on the vast European car aftermarket, which makes it challenging to assess whether you’re looking at a car modified when it was brand new or put together after the fact. According to the seller, this W126 chassis Mercedes was modified before its first owner ever took possession.

And modified it was, loaded up with these incredible Recaro seats; Rial 16-inch wheels; firmer shocks; lowering springs; rear spoiler; color-matched black trim; and a modified air cleaner element. The seller notes that the way Brabus signified it had modified various parts of a car was to affix a label to those areas, which he confirms are still present on this example. Today, those seats alone would likely command between $3,000 and $5,000, and the wheels are in the same ballpark.

The 500SEL also comes with the preferred European-style headlights and bumpers, which are both much more attractive than how U.S.-spec cars were typically equipped. The seller notes that the car runs and drives well and that the only non-functioning items are the radio and cruise control. Incredibly, the air conditioning still works, and the car was recently serviced with fresh oil and transmission fluid changes. Bidding is approaching $24,000 at the moment with no reserve.

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  1. alphasudMember

    Ah I remember the 80’s. The W126 was a great chassis to modify. Lowered, a good body kit and great seats. Back then that was all the rave. Compared to today’s cars a real poser. It brought back a personal memory of my first car project. I wanted the European look of Brabus and the like when I was heavily into VW. Back in 1989 when I built a 16V Golf GTI with a Zender body kit with a European color called Monza blue. I was the first in my area to have a custom VW. People are still doing the same thing now with cars but it just seems different to me. The new cars don’t stand out like the customized grey market cars in the 80’s

    Like 12
  2. KC JohnMember

    I have a sudden urge to watch Miami Vice reruns. Pretty cool car though.

    Like 7
  3. Gasoline

    Super nice W126 with the Brabus treatment, although I favor the next model body style of the W140’s as my favorite big “Merc’s” as Jeremy Clarkson calls them.

    As for AMG, at the time they were an independent tuner just like Brabus. In 1999 Mercedes took a controlling interest and in 2005 bought them outright.

    Unfortunately becoming a Mercedes (DaimlerChrysler and so on) company, the AMG “brand” has become watered down to appearance packages only on some models.

    Like 2
  4. TomP

    Hmm, that’s strange, it looks like can AMG body kit (not Brabus) and Ronal wheels (not Rial)…. I don’t think the car flipper’s facts are correct. It appears to be an AMG that has some minor Brabus upgrades..

    Like 2
  5. BobinBexley Bob in BexleyMember

    $24k grey market dollar bills. I remember those days.

    Like 0
  6. PRA4SNW

    SOLD for $25,900.

    Like 0

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