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1955W196S
1955W196S New Reader
4/15/19 9:35 a.m.

This adventure is still in its early phase and, as yet, it is unclear if the adventure will reach escape velocity or simply crash and burn on reentry.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My wife and I live in the south of France, where I serve as pastor of a small church.  We have four children.  We’ve had a minivan.  When we came to France in 1999, we bought a 1985 Mercedes E-class station wagon with the back facing third seat.  The children grew up and returned to the States for College and stayed there when they finished their studies.  But we still haul people to various church activities, and because of limited finances, we are renovating our house on our own (with help from friends).  All that to say that we still need a car for hauling people, that can be transformed to haul materials and a trailer.  Our current vehicle is a 2004 Mercedes E320 station wagon (no third seat).

For decades, the French government regulated fuel prices to encourage people to drive diesel powered cars (almost 60% of all cars in France are diesels).  But politics changed, and now diesels are out of favor.  The government has increased taxes on diesel so that it is roughly the same price as gas (about $6.50 a gallon).  Almost a year ago now, my mechanic encouraged me to sell the E320 and find a gas powered car.  Gas is evil too, but not as much as diesel (for the moment).  The government here is pushing all electric cars, as well as hybrids, but I can’t find any that are capable of pulling our trailer.  I thought I had found something in the E-class hybrid (it is the only hybrid station wagon I found), but it is only rated to tow up to 300 kg.

We bought the E320 about 6 years ago because, with the seats folded down, it had more hauling space than anything else I could find.  So at the beginning of this new search, I expected to get another E-class station wagon, just a few years newer, with fewer kilometers, and with a gas engine.  Then I discovered the existence of the R-class.  It was an epiphany.  More seating and more hauling space than the E-class.  It seemed heaven sent.

But the R-class is heavy, and reading reviews and forum posts, it became obvious fairly quickly that to haul people or materials, and occasionally pull a trailer, it would be best to get either the R500 or the R63.  I began looking at ads for R500s, only rarely giving in to the temptation to drool over R63s.  But as a result of those rare looks at R63s, I had a revelation: Here in Europe, there was very little difference in the asking prices of R500s and R63s.  Both were more than the cash we had on hand, but with a small loan, either one was potentially within our reach.  That’s when the idea that a R63 might be in the realm of possibility began to take hold.

Don’t misunderstand.  The Mercedes R63 AMG is NOT my dream car.  That would be the Mercedes W196S driven to victory by Stirling Moss in the 1955 Mille Miglia, followed by the only slightly less impossibly beyond my reach 1955 300 SL Gullwing.  But, given our current needs and budget, the R63 became my “Hey, this might actually be possible” dream car.  Why buy a R500 if you could get a R63 for almost the same price?

It was at this point (October 2018) that I stumbled on mazdeuce - Seth’s Thread: R63 AMG The Unicorn of my Destruction.  It took me several days to read through the 100+ pages.  It fascinated and terrified me all at the same time, but in the end, I came away inspired, wanting a R63 more than ever.  With my mind made up and my heart filled with hope and excitement, I hit my first speed bump.               . . . To Be Continued

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/15/19 9:42 a.m.

I'm so sorry. 

Best of luck though! They're kind of amazing. 

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
4/15/19 9:50 a.m.
1955W196S said:

...I stumbled on mazdeuce - Seth’s Thread: R63 AMG The Unicorn of my Destruction... It fascinated and terrified me all at the same time, but in the end, I came away inspired, wanting a R63 more than ever.

LOL, many of us know that feeling all too well.  Welcome the forum!  Looking forward to following your journey.

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
4/15/19 12:02 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

I'm so sorry. 

Best of luck though! They're kind of amazing. 

Mazdeuce is very correct, they are amazing!

If I may, I would counsel patience and wait to find the right R63.  I count myself as lucky to have purchased the R63 that mazdeuce brought back from near death.  He addressed all of the major issues with love and care prior to his choice to sell and my choice to buy.  That type of owner is rare to find, and when you do....well I bought with a higher degree of confidence than I would have from say a dealer lot.  

I hope that you find an R63.  They are simply amazing.  I’m as giddy as a school kid being under 30 days out from returning to the United States and to my wife and kids, then turning wrenches on the R63 (see page 120 of the thread).   

[URL=http://imgur.com/jYnneFg][/URL]

Lotta parts waiting...

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela GRM+ Memberand Digital Editor
4/16/19 12:30 a.m.

With bated breath I anxiously await the rest of this story.

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
4/16/19 10:11 a.m.

I had a revelation: Here in Europe, there was very little difference in the asking prices of R500s and R63s.

Well, that's pretty convenient! The main problem I had with actually buying an R63 was that I'd driven both the R500 and R63 and knew the 63 wasn't 5-7x better  than the 500 as an actual vehicle (the 500 is pretty good), as the price would suggest. If they were in the same ballpark I'd own one right now!  

Or hell, even if they'd just sold the R550 here... sadness. sad

Anyway, this is gonna be awesome! Waiting for the next episode..

1955W196S
1955W196S New Reader
4/16/19 4:28 p.m.

Thanks to all for the kind words.  Chapter 2 coming soon.

mazdeuce - Seth don't blame yourself.  It really isn't your fault.  After reading through all your posts, I (and 1000s of others) felt like I knew you and I didn't want the story to end.  Which is why I'm almost as excited as NoahWeb that he will soon be home.  I continue to go back to the "unicorn" thread every few days to see if there are any new posts.  After 120 pages, I can't believe that neither of you have given the R63 a name.  She (he/it ?) seems like a living creature and really deserves to have a name.

It's late here in France, so I'm heading to bed.  But, I'll be back.

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
4/16/19 10:05 p.m.
1955W196S said:

Thanks to all for the kind words.  Chapter 2 coming soon.

mazdeuce - Seth don't blame yourself.  It really isn't your fault.  After reading through all your posts, I (and 1000s of others) felt like I knew you and I didn't want the story to end.  Which is why I'm almost as excited as NoahWeb that he will soon be home.  I continue to go back to the "unicorn" thread every few days to see if there are any new posts.  After 120 pages, I can't believe that neither of you have given the R63 a name.  She (he/it ?) seems like a living creature and really deserves to have a name.

It's late here in France, so I'm heading to bed.  But, I'll be back.

We named her Heidi. I say we, more the kids did and it stuck. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/17/19 5:51 a.m.

I'm glad it got named. Heidi is very fitting. 

1955W196S
1955W196S New Reader
4/17/19 8:50 a.m.
NoahWeb said:
1955W196S said:

Thanks to all for the kind words.  Chapter 2 coming soon.

mazdeuce - Seth don't blame yourself.  It really isn't your fault.  After reading through all your posts, I (and 1000s of others) felt like I knew you and I didn't want the story to end.  Which is why I'm almost as excited as NoahWeb that he will soon be home.  I continue to go back to the "unicorn" thread every few days to see if there are any new posts.  After 120 pages, I can't believe that neither of you have given the R63 a name.  She (he/it ?) seems like a living creature and really deserves to have a name.

It's late here in France, so I'm heading to bed.  But, I'll be back.

We named her Heidi. I say we, more the kids did and it stuck. 

That makes me feel better.  You should mention that in the "unicorn" thread.

1955W196S
1955W196S New Reader
4/17/19 5:14 p.m.

Another Mercedes R63 AMG Adventure - Chapter 2

The first speed bump on the road to R63 ownership was the result of politics.  As an American living in France, I avoid getting involved in French politics.  How France is run is up to the French and their duly elected officials.  However, I get to live with the consequences of their decisions.

Since I had decided that the best car for us was either a R500 or R63 (with a clear preference for the R63), and since I had seen a couple of cars online that might be possibilities, I thought it would be a good idea to find out how much it was going to cost me to get the car registered before going to look at any specific cars.

This may seem odd to those of you in the USA.  I’ve owned cars in four different States in the US, and getting the car registered was never a big deal.  But France is different.  They have taxes that are part of the registration fee, and cars that I have bought in the past sometimes had registration fees of several hundred dollars.

France used to have a wealth tax, but they did away with it a few years ago.  I never paid any attention to the wealth tax because my income is so small that I don’t even have to pay the normal income tax.  When I went online to use the official government registration fee simulation, I was in for a shock.  It seems that on January 1, 2018, a new tax took effect to replace the wealth tax.  This tax is called “The added tax on very powerful cars”.

The “powerful car” tax is part of the car registration fee. This tax is fairly simple. France assigns to every car an “administrative horsepower rating” (which has nothing to do with the actual horsepower). Up to an administrative horsepower of 35 there is no added tax, but starting with the 36th hp, you pay 500 € ($565) per hp, up to a maximum of 8000 € ($9038). I suppose that this tax was created with Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bugattis, and similar cars in mind that, even used, cost from 100,000 € to over a million euros. But the tax also applies to “regular” cars and station wagons by Mercedes, Audi, and others that have big motors, even though they are selling used for a fraction of their original price.

The R500 has an administrative horsepower of 23, so it has no “powerful car” tax.  But the Mercedes R63 has an administrative horsepower rating of 45, which means that the added tax is 5000 € ($5650). There is also a regional tax of 990 € ($1120) on either the R500 or the R63, which brings the total registration fee for the R63 to almost 6000 € for a car that is 12 years old and costs about 20,000 €. The added tax increases the cost by 25%, and when you add the regional tax, the registration fee adds 30% to the cost of the R63.  Suddenly the R63 costs 5000€ more than the R500, regardless of the asking price.

To put this into perspective, I found a 2008 Bugatti Veyron for sale for 1,150,000 €. It has an administrative horsepower rating of 118. At 500 € for each hp above 35, it should have an added tax of 41,500 €, except that the tax is limited to a maximum of 8000 €. That means that whoever buys the Bugatti will only pay 96 € per hp, instead of 500 €. The added tax of 8000 € will increase the cost of the Bugatti by 0.7%, compared to 25% for the R63.

This was a major discouragement.  Earlier, I called it a speed bump.  But the R63 was already at the very limit of what I could afford, and even that would require negotiating a significant drop in the asking price.  Now, it appeared that the French government had taken what should have been a mole hill (the registration fee) and turned it into a mountain.  If only that were the only problem.  But this was rapidly turning into a nightmare infomercial.  You can already hear what’s coming next.  “But wait, there’s more.”

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
4/17/19 6:20 p.m.

How is that administrative horsepower number calculated?

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/17/19 6:21 p.m.

This is starting to sound like a thread where you don't actually buy and R63. That would be sad. sad

1955W196S
1955W196S New Reader
4/18/19 8:05 a.m.
thatsnowinnebago said:

How is that administrative horsepower number calculated?

Here's the formula:

AHP = (CO2 / 45) + (P / 40) ^ 1.6

AHP = Administrative horsepower

CO2 = CO2 grams per kilometer

P = the power in kW (1 hp = 0,736 kW)

^ 1.6 = to the 1.6th power

For the R63 this is (387 / 45) + (510 * 0.736 / 40) ^1.6 which becomes 8.6 + 9.38 ^ 1.6  which becomes 8.6 + 35.94 which becomes 44.54 which is rounded up to 45.

1955W196S
1955W196S New Reader
4/18/19 8:18 a.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

This is starting to sound like a thread where you don't actually buy and R63. That would be sad. sad

That would indeed be sad.  It's going to take a few more posts to bring everyone up to the present moment, and as I'm going to be very busy for the next few days and don't want people overly stressed out by the suspense, I will quote the first sentence of the original post: "This adventure is still in its early phase and, as yet, it is unclear if the adventure will reach escape velocity or simply crash and burn on reentry."  As of today, no car has been purchased.  I still have a couple of R500s and R63s that are possibilities, and I continue to search the internet every day to see if anything new has popped up (or if one of my current possibilities has disappeared).

So don't give up hope.  I haven't.

sobe_death
sobe_death Dork
4/18/19 10:19 a.m.

I see a solution here: R500 with an R63 swap...

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
4/18/19 10:53 a.m.

In reply to 1955W196S :

That explains why the R63 is similarly priced to the R500. The sellers know that there's probably a market for the R63 but 12 year old AMG's aren't exactly high priorities for people that would pay for $100k vans new and would wave off the registration tax.

That said. Is it a recurring tax implication? If it's only a one time fee, and you really want the R63, you would have to weigh the value proposition.

1955W196S
1955W196S New Reader
4/18/19 11:55 a.m.
The0retical said:

In reply to 1955W196S :

That explains why the R63 is similarly priced to the R500. The sellers know that there's probably a market for the R63 but 12 year old AMG's aren't exactly high priorities for people that would pay for $100k vans new and would wave off the registration tax.

That said. Is it a recurring tax implication? If it's only a one time fee, and you really want the R63, you would have to weigh the value proposition.

According to the French law, the "powerful car" tax is assessed each time the car changes owners until the car is 30 years old.  When a car hits 30 in France, you can get it registered as a collector car.  Collector cars do not pay the "powerful car" tax.

That said, it really doesn't explain the similarity in asking prices, and there are some R500 with lower asking prices and some R63s with higher asking prices.  Most of the R63s that I am finding are currently registered in surrounding countries, rather than in France.  To my knowledge, France is the only country in Europe that has this "powerful car" tax.

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
4/18/19 12:09 p.m.

In reply to 1955W196S :

Thanks! I wonder how they landed on those seemingly arbitrary constants. That's an interesting way to sort of normalize the emissions and power of all cars. I guess it encourages everyone to get a clean fast car, considering it'll cost the same as a dirty slow one. What do they do about electric cars? Do they use the same formula?

1955W196S
1955W196S New Reader
4/19/19 3:22 a.m.

I assume that they use the same formula for electric cars and hybrids.  Electric motors are already rated in watts or kW.  Electric cars would have no CO2 emissions and hybrids would have lower CO2 than gas or diesel motors with the same overall power.

The French government give lots of perks to those who buy all electric or hybrids (as well as cars set up for E-85 and LPG).  A fellow has an R500 for sale with a 5.5 l motor from an S500 and it is set up to run on either gas or LPG.  The regional tax on that car would be 0 euros (instead of the 990 euros for a normal R500 or R63).

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
4/19/19 4:24 a.m.

EIn reply to 1955W196S : would it be possible to register it here in the US and drive it in France? 

 Or store it periodically where registration isn’t such a burden and use it when needed?  Maybe alternate  with another car? 

 

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
4/19/19 5:43 a.m.
1955W196S said:

I assume that they use the same formula for electric cars and hybrids.  Electric motors are already rated in watts or kW.  Electric cars would have no CO2 emissions and hybrids would have lower CO2 than gas or diesel motors with the same overall power.

The French government give lots of perks to those who buy all electric or hybrids (as well as cars set up for E-85 and LPG).  A fellow has an R500 for sale with a 5.5 l motor from an S500 and it is set up to run on either gas or LPG.  The regional tax on that car would be 0 euros (instead of the 990 euros for a normal R500 or R63).

There are kits available to convert the M156 Engine to run on E85.  I believe they run about $600 and add ~30HP.  Might be worth considering to assist in off-setting the taxes.  

Link - https://vrpspeed.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=111&product_id=328

madpenguin
madpenguin New Reader
4/19/19 11:18 a.m.

Hi there ! French guy here, mainly lurker, who discovered this forum through Mazdeuce's R63 thread. Another R63 story, especially in France, was a sure recipe to spike my interest ;)

1955W196S said:

The first speed bump on the road to R63 ownership was the result of politics.  As an American living in France, I avoid getting involved in French politics.  How France is run is up to the French and their duly elected officials.  However, I get to live with the consequences of their decisions.

Well, we also have to live with it unfortunately. In short, to try to keep things as apolitical as possible, this kind of stuff isn't really from elected officials but from administration's brass. They are all coming from a small number of elites schools and does not have to change after elections as they are in theory loyal to the State and not to any political figure. And ho boy do they love to invent the most complicated possible formulas to rule even the simplest thing, making sure nearly no one can understand what they're supposed to do (except maybe them, and I'm not even sure about that).

sobe_death said:

I see a solution here: R500 with an R63 swap...

Ho my, don't get me started on the "mechanical modifications" rules around here. In short, if you strictly apply the law, you can't change a single thing on your car after you bought it from the manufacturer. Even an E85 or LPG modification means the car must then go through a special approval process (that you have nearly no chance of succeeding if not done by a recognized, professional mechanic, or know someone working high enough in the right place). It's just plain crazy.

 

Anyway, I wish you the best of luck, and will sure be following what happens. I hope you'll be able to find a nice R63 you can afford :)

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE Reader
4/19/19 11:44 a.m.

Reminds me of that guy who wanted to covert his Volvo 240 into an all-electric wagon in Germany who was stopped by the fact he'd need to pay 5,000E alone for "Engineer testing" to deplete the battery and charge it to test the electrics.

1955W196S
1955W196S New Reader
4/19/19 1:29 p.m.
frenchyd said:

EIn reply to 1955W196S : would it be possible to register it here in the US and drive it in France? 

 Or store it periodically where registration isn’t such a burden and use it when needed?  Maybe alternate  with another car? 

 

I thought of this early on.  Registering the car in the U.S. isn't really an option. If you are rich and have a holiday home in a nearby country, it might be possible to register the car in that country and drive it in France, but that could be a problem if you spend more than 50% of your time in France.  Unfortunately, you can't just rent a P.O. Box and use that as a residence to register a car in another country.  So no, to my knowledge there is no legal way to do this, but it was a good idea.

Thanks sobe_death and NoahWeb for the suggestions, but as madpenguin points out this is extremely difficult here in France.

Merci madpenguin for joining the discussion and for your best wishes.  Finding an R63 that I can afford is not the problem. Finding one that I can afford to buy AND register is a challenge.

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