The exact origins of this 1979 Mercedes-Benz 500 TE AMG are unknown – it’s a mystery that many in the Mercedes community have tried to solve. The enigma surrounds that AMG badge on the rear and the unique performance modifications made to the car that closely match the work of AMG in the late 1970s, however no records have yet been uncovered that confirm that this car was built by AMG.
This Mercedes W123 wagon benefits from this same conversion, interestingly Mercedes have no record of this engine number ever being assigned to a chassis, so it’s exceedingly unlikely that it’s an engine swap from a donor car.
The V8 is connected to a 4-speed automatic transmission, which sends power back to a limited slip differential. The original stamped steel rear suspension components were removed and replaced with cast aluminum alloy units, and the engine mounts have been carefully engineered specifically to fit this engine into the W123 engine bay.
A set of tubular steel headers and downpipes are fitted, along with a secondary oil cooler, and a full AMG body kit, an OE skid plate, an AMG 4-spoke steering wheel, and colour-matched, date-stamped 1979 Recaro seats. The car is also equipped with AMG Five Spoke Road Wheels (version 1), and a it has a blacked out radiator grill.
The Recaro Ideal C seats are electrically adjustable with a series of buttons on the bolster, though this may be commonplace now it would have been the height of luxury and automotive technology in the 1970s.
After inspecting the car the team of experts at RM Sotheby’s came to the following conclusion:
“The sum of these parts suggests the car was built in period by either AMG themselves, or by someone who had intimate knowledge of Mercedes-Benz and AMG products at a time when few people would have had such knowledge outside AMG. However, there is no conclusive proof or documentation to support this.” – RM Sotheby’s
Considering how popular sport wagons have become in recent years, alongside their shooting brake counterparts, it’s likely that this Mercedes will prove popular when it crossed the block. The mystery that surrounds its origins is likely to add to the interest, and if anyone is able to conclusively confirm that this car was built by AMG or by AMG personnel as a side project (which does seem a likely possibility) the value would increase even further.
Interestingly, this car featured on the Top Gear America TV series celebrating 50 years of AMG. The Mercedes wagon is now due to cross the auction block with RM Sotheby’s in mid-April in Essen, Germany. There’s no estimate currently attached to the lot, and it’ll be interesting to see what it is when it’s listed.
If you’d like to read more about the car or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.
Images: Tom Wood ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s