It’s 4 a.m. and I just got home from a 1,200-mile, 3-day road trip — except it wasn’t in the car I started with. Currently in my driveway is a borrowed 2012 Kia Sorento, which got me home more reliably than my latest purchase — the cheapest Mercedes E63 AMG wagon in the U.S. I should have known better than to buy a well-used, 203,000-mile example of AMG’s performance super-wagon, and trust it for a cross country drive — but it was so cheap, and these wagons are so rare, that I couldn’t help myself.
The word rare gets tossed around very loosely in car enthusiast circles, but the first-generation E63 wagon truly is a unicorn. Produced from 2007-2009, only 153 examples were sold in the U.S., and I cannot recall ever seeing one in person — that is, until I saw my latest purchase in the flesh. After flying out to New York City to take delivery, I was stunned by the overall condition. Clearly, this wagon was well looked after, and was spared a life of playing bumper cars with New York cabbies — but the service history was equally impressive. Between the two previous owners, around $30,000 in maintenance and repairs had been thrown at this car in the last 100,000 miles, including a new transmission, rebuilt front suspension, and cam variators for the engine. The boogeyman for this generation of the 6.2-liter V8 is the weak head bolts, which have never been changed with this E63 — but since they’ve held for over 200,000 miles, the previous owner thought it would be silly at this point to replace them preventatively.
If it weren’t for the high miles, this car would have the perfect pedigree, but I’m really happy that I found a well-used example. In recent years, these wagons have become quite collectible, with low mileage examples selling for $40,000 or more– a price that I find hard to justify. Thankfully, mine was only $13,000, making it easily the cheapest E63 wagon in the U.S. Unfortunately, the car decided to act like a cheap, high mileage Mercedes on the 1,200-mile trip home.
Somewhere around St. Louis, several of my 507 horses under the hood started coughing, and the instrument cluster went insane. Just about every warning light possible was illuminated or strobing, along with nearly every error message in the information center — and I lost my speedometer and tachometer. I decided to try IT-support’s modus operandi first, and pull the car over so I could turn it off, then turn it back on again. I guess after 1,000 miles, my E63 decided it needed a nap, since it refused to restart.
Next, I tried pulling the battery cable, which reset the computer enough for the engine to fire, but my instrument cluster was still performing its miniature tribute to a Mannheim Steamroller laser light show. At least the car allowed me to get back on the road, and occasionally, the cluster would calm down, and the car would operate flawlessly. After my next stop in Kansas City, though, the wagon refused to start again. This time, even my clever battery trick wasn’t couldn’t bring my E63 out of its stroke-induced coma.
So I had no choice but to have my newest purchase dumped at the local Mercedes dealer for repairs, and I borrowed a purple Kia Sorento so I could make it home to sleep a few hours in my own bed. Most likely, the dealer will be waking me up in the morning with 20 questions, and then ruining my afternoon with some bad news, but technically, the car did make it back to Kansas. It was also very cheap, so I’m not regretting my purchase yet. If you ask me again in 12 hours, though, you might get a different answer once I have my repair estimate … Find a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG for sale
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