Rare AMG Package: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 500 TE AMG Estate

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I try not to use the term “badass” too often as it is certainly an adjective that gets thrown around a lot. But when it comes to an AMG-modified W123 wagon, it’s hard to think of another superlative that works better. The Mercedes-Benz shown here is a rare bird indeed, a classic European wagon that’s been seriously worked over by the company’s in-house skunk works, AMG. Nowadays, the company seemingly slaps AMG badges on everything on the lot, but when this 500 TE Estate was conceived, the brand represented the height of exclusivity and prestige.

Just one look at its stance and you know this isn’t your grandmother’s W123. The lowered suspension, ground effects kit, dual exhaust, and thick BBS wheels all tell you this is one hot long-roof. The subtle spoiler above the back glass is another tell-tale sign, and this vintage Benz is loaded with goodies that would make practically any German car enthusiast swoon (myself included). You’ll also want to take note of the blacked-out trim running a long the sides of the wagon, the windows, and the badges, all unique traits of the AMG-modified cars. The tricky thing with these builds is proving that they weren’t just cobbled together but rather purpose-built by AMG, and this one – despite the lack of documentation – does have a unique AMG ID plate and serial number.

And then there’s the interior. W123s were humble cars and certainly the antithesis of flashy. This cabin suggests it could have an alter ego if presented with the opportunity to step out a bit, and the cardinal red leather seating with matching door panels and dash, along with an AMG steering wheel that now carries a ridiculous price tag (if you can find one), all point to a car that was very much not cobbled together. Even the automatic shift knob matches the gorgeous leather surfaces. Yes, there is some wear and tear and the listing notes that this W123 will need reconditioning after sitting for a spell, but if there ever was a Mercedes that deserved some fresh fluids and a bath, this is it.

Let’s get to the heart of the matter: a M117 V8 engine from the S-Class of the same era was dropped into the engine bay of the W123 and displacement bumped slightly to 5.2L. The car is believed to make just shy of 300 horsepower, which is leaps and bounds beyond what even the most powerful gasoline engined 6-cylinder would offer. Though it has been left parked by a longtime owner who passed away, there is little doubt that this incredibly rare AMG-built 500 TE was looked after while its caretaker was alive, and it’s worth every penny it will bring. Find it here on Bonhams‘ website.

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  1. alphasudMember

    That is one special car! I love everything about this and would love to have this in my collection.

    Like 17
  2. KC JohnMember

    I love this wagon. Is kind of amusing that 300hp used to be a big deal back then. Minivan territory nowadays. Don’t mistake that for a complaint. I’m just old. Lol. And I’d rock this all day over any minivan.

    Like 15
  3. vlrd56

    Change the catalytic exhaust and you will cry

    Like 2
  4. tompdx

    Super cool. Looks nothing like my old ’79 300TD! Lol. Sold for $138k!!!!!

    Like 4
  5. CCFisher

    Simply amazing. Reminds me of a beastly version of Car & Driver’s 300TD Boss Wagon. AMG was not Mercedes’ in-house tuner arm at this point in time; it was a fully independent company. To me, that just adds to the mystique – a rogue tuner company turning a solid but sedate Mercedes wagon into a fire-breather. Mercedes didn’t take full control of AMG until 2005, at which point they immediately started to squander AMG’s image by spreading it all over the place like Oldsmobile did with the Cutlass name.

    Like 9
  6. MarkMember

    Great posting from a time when you mostly got what you paid for, and when a performance badge meant it.

    Thanks BF.

    Like 6
  7. Frank BarrettMember

    A 2005-06 E55 AMG is a much improved design and with 470 hp will blow the doors off this thing. Mine cost $22,000 and is now at 133,000 miles.

    Like 2
    • alphasudMember

      No disputing that claim. The E55 AMG is a killer deal with great performance but it isn’t a pre-merger AMG. It’s super rare and special ordered by someone with the financial resources who wanted to be exclusive and have the best. You could say the same thing for a classic 911. Economy cars could give one a hard time and most likely beat it. But it’s still a 911and nothing can replace the pure analog feel, sounds, and smells of a classic 911.

      Like 6
  8. Jason V.

    Special Benz for sure…I would presume this was not a US/North American model at 300 HP in 1979.

    Like 2

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