Interior: black leather
Transmission: 7-spd MCT
If you’ve watched Doug Demuro’s videos on his AMG wagon, he said a lot of people talk about buying one of these someday but never follow through with it usually getting an SUV or something more normal. Well this is now in my garage, a 2014 black on black, E63s AMG wagon. It was the only one for sale at carmax nationwide.
I had been looking at these AMG wagons since last Fall after getting frustrated chasing 2010-2012 E91 sport 6spd manual wagons. I lost out on one by minutes calling right when the dealer opened but the other buyer got the internet sales team to reply via web chat and take a deposit minutes before me. A different one, blue, stunning low mileage sport 6spd that I tried to buy was snagged by EAG and then flipped immediately for $10k more. I was so pissed off! Then as the number of wanted to buy 6spd wagon posts piled up on the E91 forum, I decided not to participate in the chase and hysteria for one of these cars.
Truthfully my biggest concern was I didn’t know if I could give up driving a manual after 20 years always having one as a daily driver. The “save the manuals” calls on social media and car magazines nagged at my conscience. My years of manual trans snobbery to anyone who would listen would get thrown back in my face!
Once I started to consider non manual cars it really opened up the options. I looked at a lot of cars, new and used, but sitting in the E63s AMG for the first time at a local Mercedes dealer nailed it for me. Daddy like… firm sport seats, German build quality with machined metal trim and buttons, beautiful yet sinister looking long-roof profile…
For such a rare car there are usually about a dozen for sale on autotrader. So I kept watching but surprisingly this showed up on CarMax’s site.
Besides the fee to transfer it from the west coast carmax to the one near me, I purchased the carmax maxcare extended warranty up to 125k miles and 5 years, $150 deductible for $3940. The car is one owner in Los Angeles, 24.5k miles. The original warranty runs out in about 2 months but the carmax 5 year and relatively low miles on it already make it close to getting one new.
I love this beast already and don’t miss the manual trans (yet). I need snow tires for Minnesota ASAP and a clear bra.
Here’s an update on my wagon that I haven’t driven very much lately. First I was in India for work for 11 days, more on that later.
Before I left I had the pre-purchase inspection done by a local Mercedes dealer the day after I bought the car, because Carmax refuses to let you get one. I suppose you could go take a car from carmax on a test drive and try to get it done, but Carmax’s answer for everything is their 5 day return policy and 60 day warranty. The Mercedes dealer only found that the fuel door was loose and required replacement for about $400. I called Carmax and they insisted that they do the work which involves drilling out plastic rivets and getting inside the quarter panel. I wasn’t comfortable with them doing that in their service area preferring to have an actual Mercedes shop do it.
Right before I was heading on my business trip, I went to get a clear bra installed. They called me shortly after I got back to work and said “you know the hood and bumper have been painted right? Poorly”. No, I didn’t know that and given that it was February and usually stupid cold outside, I hadn’t spent a lot of time admiring the car in the garage to notice. Also when I picked the car up and did a walkaround (it was at night) I focused more on any obvious door dings and panel gaps. And I had my 8 year old daughter with me, so again, not the best time to really inspect a car.
I told them not to do the clear bra obviously, and I took the car to my guy Mike at the Mercedes Benz dealer body shop (Sears Imports) that did all the body and paintwork on my E12, and also repainted the front bumper on my Speed Yellow M3. Mike confirmed it had been repainted poorly with dirt in the clearcoat, thin paint, and it was very “dry” and not applied well. I also showed him the loose fuel door and he explained how it needed to be fixed confirming that I didn’t think Carmax was up to the job. This was around Feb 14th.
I left for my India trip and the weeks went by. I scheduled an appointment with Carmax to confirm the paint issues, had to reschedule due to a big snowstorm here, and finally didn’t get the car in until Monday March 12th. The Carmax service manager came right out and immediately confirmed the paint issues. He went on further to tell me Carmax had painted the hood and bumper! This was done at the Los Angeles Carmax that had the car originally. Of course none of this was disclosed to me when I bought it and I was pissed off to hear this. We went back and forth about Carmax’s standards of quality. He wanted to buff it to get the dirt out of the clearcoat, and didn’t think anything was wrong with the bumper to require a repaint. I said, why was it given a pass as meeting Carmax standards in LA, but now you’re saying it doesn’t meet standards? He wanted to buff the hood and then if that didn’t improve the paint, then they would repaint it again. Why would I let them repaint it, when they were so inept the first time (I pointed out the overspray on the front headlight)? All I got back was quotes about policy and their 60 day warranty. I wanted to take it to the Mercedes bodyshop and have Carmax pay for it, but they refused. I left saying I was going to get the paint fixed on my dime but I was filing a complaint with their corporate.
I dropped the car off with Mike that same day, March 12th. I’m in a meeting the next day and Mike texts me and says he has bad news and can I call him. After I broke free and called him, he tells me someone mangled the front bumper and tried to cover it up with glue and staples so it was barely held together. Some of the ductwork behind the bumper into the heat exchangers and radiator was also bent up. When I asked if he thought it had been wrecked he said not from what he could see, but he thought someone did a real number on the front bumper parking on a curb and probably ripped it off when they reversed off the curb. The bumper was $1500 and is unique to the E63S wagon, and there was one in the US. I said go ahead with the work, I would try fighting carmax but otherwise I’d be stuck paying out of pocket.
I filed a complaint with carmax corporate who were very helpful and promised a quick resolution (24 hours). I had high hopes. Then the same Company-Policy-Touting service manager called me a few hours later, the same one that saw the paint the day before and wanted to buff it. Round and round again, only now we have a $1500 bumper on top of it. How could carmax have missed the bumper repair when they inspected the vehicle? How could they have painted the bumper and not seen all the damage? He was very careful with his responses, reading a script, but told me the bumper was painted on the car and they didn’t repair it. But he said two things that were more troubling, 1) there was an approved procedure to repair front bumpers with glue and other materials if they didn’t require full replacement according to Carmax’s standards and 2) his service shop at the local Carmax paints 35 cars a week and has expertise to get the paint and body work done well. That struck me as very odd, 35 cars a week? Just how many other vehicles besides my wagon does Carmax paint and work on before selling, touting the clean carfax but not divulging to the customer that they painted it? I’m sure it happens a ton and Carmax is deceitful about it.
Last Thursday I started getting very sick from a bad cold I’d contracted after my trip (remember India in February)? I’ve been at home since then and confirmed with Monday’s chest x-ray that I have pneumonia. I’m trying to rest, take my antibiotic, and avoid the hospital. The body shop got the first AMG bumper in last week and it was damaged in shipment. They received another one today and they are proceeding with the paint and reassembly, then on to the clear bra place.
In hindsight there are a lot of things I could have done better to inspect the car more closely vs trusting Carmax. Notice Doug Demuro doesn’t talk about paint and bodywork when he does videos on the Carmax business model and extended warranty, and I was very focused on getting the extended warranty. The $3k or so it will cost me to fix this paint and front bumper mess isn’t going to break me, this isn’t a poor me saga. But I’d prefer not to have to spend the money had Carmax been up front or at least had been customer satisfaction focused when I raised the issues to their attention. I also placed faith in the pre-purchase inspection abilities of a dealership and it’s the 2nd time this has let me down (also on my E46 wagon when I bought it). I have two calls into the Mercedes service department asking them to call me back and explain why they suck at inspecting cars and missed the front bumper damage, paintwork, and overspray. No calls back yet. By the way there are three local Mercedes dealers, and the one that did the pre-purchase inspection is closer to my house, but is not the same one doing the paint and bodywork on the car now.
Been a little over a year, the AMG has 37k miles on it now and is still scary as shit. Hold the steering wheel with two hands and hang on!
I changed out the stock wheels for the summer months to special order BBS LM’s in the stock 19″ sizes. Took about 8 months to get these and there were 6 finishes to choose from, including a version with gold centers. Ultimately I chose the grey/silver centers with black lips. The look isn’t for everyone but it’s certainly not a car you see on the road every day.
Time for new tires finally, and an alignment. The Pirellis lasted longer than I thought but once they started wearing, it seemed to go really fast (hence my call to TireRack today). For the first time ever I’m paying my own money for Continentals which I thought I’d never do. I’m pretty loyal to Bridgestone high performance tires, not a Michelin fan, and have had ok luck with Dunlops, Yokohama, and Hankooks. Anyway at TireRack’s recommendation I went with Continental Extremecontact Sport XL’s. Apparently the Bridgestone S04’s are getting pretty old and tire technology has passed them by.