Is the first ever AMG car worth an investment?
We absolutely love Mercedes-AMG. AMG cars are loud, brash, and fast, but somehow manage to keep an understated and luxurious profile. The AMG department has grown to include a range of very different models, but the Mercedes tuning division wasn't always the powerhouse that it is today. When Daimler-Benz first purchased AMG, it co-developed the first AMG Mercedes, the C36 AMG. The C36 was built on the W202 chassis and offered between 1995 and 1997.
You may not remember ever seeing a C36 on the road, and this may be because only 5,200 were built. If you live in the US, your chances of seeing one are even more rare because only 200 were imported. The C36 was powered by a hand-built 3.6-liter V6 with 276 horsepower. The only transmission that was offered was a four-speed automatic, but it was possible to swap in the five-speed Getrag manual that came in other W202 models. The original AMG C-Class was no where near as fast as its modern day counterpart, but you may be interested in buying one when we tell you how cheap they are. The cheapest one that we found on AutoTrader is offered for only $5,800. Seriously.
For $5,800, the 1995 C36 we found only has 83,324 miles on its clock. The car looks like it is completely stock except for an aftermarket head unit. There is also an even lower mileage car for sale with only 77,000 miles, although this car has a price of $11,500. Even though this car is nearly double the price of the first example, it is still incredibly cheap when you think about what you are buying. The C36 is not a performance bargain, but you are getting an incredibly important piece of Mercedes history. Remember, the C36 was the first car to be officially co-developed by Mercedes and AMG. In the early days of AMG, the C-Class would actually roll off the production line and be driven down the street to receive its modifications from AMG.
This kind of attention to detail was incredibly expensive, and today AMG cars are built on the same production lines as other Mercedes cars in order to keep costs down. The C36 represents a time capsule back to an era when Mercedes overbuilt its cars. We think that this car's historical significance as the original AMG car should help it go up in value as the years go on. For less than $6,000, the C36 is way cheaper than any BMW M car from around this period. If you want something with a little more power, Mercedes also did build a W202 chassis C-Class with a V8. The Mercedes C43 AMG was the successor to the C36 and improved upon the AMG formula.
The C43 also packed a hand-built engine, but this time it was a 302 horsepower 4.3-liter V8. This car also benefitted from a five-speed automatic and bigger brakes from the E-Class. We found a few C43s with less than 100,000 miles that are just over $10,000.
If the C43 still isn't enough for you, Mercedes actually offered a rare model called the C55 AMG which also came on the W202 chassis. Only a few hundred were built, and basically you had to bring your C43 to Mercedes, who would cram a 350 hp V8 from the E55 into your car. Oh, and it would have cost tens of thousands of dollars. We don't know how hard it would be to track down one of these cars, but you could always buy a C43 and swap in the engine from the E55 yourself. These are all incredible sleeper cars, and we think that they are all too rare to stay as cheap as they are at the moment. If you buy one now, we bet you won't be sorry.