Junkyard Gem: 2006 Mercedes-Benz R500

Junkyard Gem: 2006 Mercedes-Benz R500

Sometimes an automaker makes something that is so ahead of its time that no one knows how to make it, such as the American Motors Eagle. Other times, there will be a new vehicle that fills a need in admirable fashion but looks so weird that potential buyers shy away in horror (see: Pontiac Aztec). And, of course, there’s the matter of the well-built machine that does its job well but simply confuses Car buyers finally disappeared after a few years with little fanfare. The Mercedes-Benz R-Class was one such vehicle, and I’ve found a first year example in good condition at a Colorado boneyard.

As our reviewer put it 17 years ago: The new Mercedes-Benz R-Class is 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-like looks (and ride) of a wagon. And, most important, like an SUV but without the tall ride height and exterior-themed aggression that swept SUVs off showroom floors in the mid-2000s.

All in all, it was a well-worn machine that ran 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 variant was phased out in North America after 2007, while the R350 continued until 2012 before being phased out. Sales were so low that, in 2016, we called it one of the dumbest cars ever. Sometimes what makes a car a junkyard Gemstone Does it have historical significance?

This 5.0-liter V8 made 302 horsepower and 339 pound-feet. The only transmission available was a seven-speed automatic.

The base price for the 2006 R500 was $55,000, which translates to approximately $83,440 in 2023 dollars. It’s loaded with expensive options including a dual sunroof, so it would have been priced much higher.

The clock layout draws inspiration from the W126 S-Classes of the 1980s and their VDO clock-in-a-tachometer design. VDO sold that rig to Saab for 900. I thought about pulling this watch and buying it for my collection, but it takes too long to take apart a Mercedes-Benz gauge cluster (and I’ll bet this watch is just a stepper-motor design ECU controlled by, anyway).

Why is it here? The El Paso County Sheriff pulled it over for being illegally parked, and its owner couldn’t or wouldn’t get it out.

The third row feels like the front row.

It doesn’t matter how bad it gets here, it’s consistently good there.

Karl Benz must have been impressed.

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