Junkyard Gem: 2006 Mercedes-Benz R500 -Dlight News

Junkyard Gem: 2006 Mercedes-Benz R500

Sometimes an automaker makes something so far ahead of its time that no one knows how to make it, like American Motors’ Eagle. Other times, there will be a new vehicle that fills a need in admirable fashion but looks so odd that potential buyers walk away in horror (see: Pontiac Aztec). And, of course, there’s the case of a well-built machine that does its job well but only confuses car buyers, eventually disappearing with little fanfare after a few years. The Mercedes-Benz R-Class was one such vehicle, and I found a first-year example in great condition at a Colorado boneyard. As our reviewer said, 17 years ago: The new Mercedes-Benz R-Class is a bit like a platypus, a fur-covered, duck-billed, egg-laying mammal. It combines aspects of other vehicles without becoming one of them. Yes, the platypus of early 21st century motor vehicles. Like a minivan, but without the useful sliding doors of a minivan. Like a wagon, but without the car look (and ride) of a wagon. And, most importantly, like an SUV but without the high ride height and exterior-themed aggressiveness that drove SUVs off the showroom floor in the mid-2000s. By all accounts, it was a well-screwed machine that drove well, held a lot of stuff and was capable in snow and mud. The only problem was that few Americans wanted to buy it. The R500 version was discontinued in North America after 2007, while the R350 was extended to 2012. Sales were so poor that, in 2016, we called it the dumbest car ever. Sometimes what makes a car a junkyard gem is its historical significance! This 5.0-liter V8 made 302 horsepower and 339 pound-feet. The only transmission available was a seven-speed automatic. The 2006 R500 had a base price of $55,000, which translates to about $83,440 in 2023 dollars. It has expensive options, including a dual sunroof, so its out-the-door price will be much higher. The clock’s layout takes inspiration from the 1980s W126 S-Classes and their VDO clock-as-tachometer design. VDO also sold that rig to Saab for 900. I thought about yanking and buying this watch for my collection, but disassembling the Mercedes-Benz gauge clusters takes too much time (and I’ll bet this watch is just a stepper-motor design. Controlled by the ECU, anyway). Why is he here? El Paso County Sheriffs pulled it over for parking illegally, and its owner couldn’t get it out of the hawk. The third row looks like the front row. No matter how bad it is from here, it’s consistently nice there. Karl Benz must have been impressed.

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