We first heard about Matt Alpert's E55 after popping into the Group 5 Motorsport facility in San Diego. Owner Troy Wilhite mentioned that a local man was dumping some serious cash into his Merc. Upon finding out the owner's occupation-he's a lawyer-the old "hater" joke immediately came to mind:
What's the difference between a porcupine and a Mercedes-Benz? The porcupine has the pricks on the outside.
Turns out Alpert isn't. A prick, that is. He turned out to be a pretty nice guy and he's actually a "good" kind of lawyer. When he's not doing a bill on the 805 in his modified AMG, he's recovering loot from defrauded investors. In fact, his firm has recovered billions in cases such as Enron and United Health. If you want to look at it that way, Enron helped pay for the Benz and its tidy upgrades.
"I got the car originally from my Dad," Alpert says. "But when I was younger, my parents would never let me modify my cars, so when I finally got the opportunity to do so I was pretty excited. The first thing I did to the car was add the 20-inch HRE Monoblok M40 rims and the Toyo tires."
For the record, those twinny-twin-twins are 8.5 inches wide fore and 10.5 aft. The meats measurements are 245/30 up front and 285/50 out back. With more than 600 hp and 700 lb-ft of torque, this evil E55 needs every inch of that rear contact patch.
And speaking of rims, one of the reasons that Alpert's parents wouldn't allow him to modify his cars as a kid was because of an article in the L.A. Times about a man who was shot and killed for his wheels. The article described the carjacking and included the reverse-ebonics quote from LAPD Captain Mike Downing. Cue nerdy white voice: "They are very expensive. They are somewhere between three and four thousand dollars apiece. They are chrome. They are on some kind of independent bearing and when the car stops the inner rim continues to spin."
Some poor sucker got jacked for his spinners, and as a result Matt's parents feared for their son's life should he acquire any flashy upgrades for his rig, which was a Honda at the time.
Forward to present day and Matt has managed to stay away from chrome spinners. Nonetheless, a menacing look has been attained through the addition of the previously mentioned HREs and an array of body mods, which include a Brabus carbon-fiber front spoiler, Vorsteiner rear carbon wing, Euroteck Motorsports rear diffuser (also carbon), Formula One window tint, smoked taillights and side mirror lights, a gloss black roof, a flat-black Mercedes front emblem and blacked-out badges.
The overall combination of these subtle body mods make for a stylish but subtle announcement that this E55 has a set of brass ones. According to Alpert's mother: "It looks like Darth Vader's car!"
Aside from the body mods, the Mercedes is treated to a list of lighting upgrades such as the Apex Cone 9006 HID kit. As a result, the driver can actually see all the way to Tijuana from Chula Vista when driving down the Interstate 5 at night. This is important so Alpert can be sure to exit the highway before arriving in the most corrupt city in the world, where the possibility of his getting into the same situation as the guy with the spinners increases ten-fold.
But not many carjackers would keep up with this E55 on the highway. After raising the suspension slightly with a Renntech lowering module and leaving the photo location, we took off Alpert's blindfold and headed toward the highway. (If he saw the route to this top-secret locale accessible only by this photographer, I'd have had to kill him.) As we approached the interstate on-ramp his hands corrected for a little oversteer on the Mercedes CLS 63 Designo steering wheel, his right foot mashed the go pedal, and we were immediately pushed back into the perforated suede seats as the delightful sound of the two K&N filters pulling air filled the cabin. In about the time it takes you to read this, the Merc was at 60, and by the time you finish this sentence it had rocketed into the triple digits. (Of course, this description can vary depending on how fast you read, but you get the idea.) Basically this Merc has more pull than Mystery thanks to a number of engine mods, including a Renntech Stage 5 ECU and Crankshaft pulley, an 80mm Evosport throttle body, Evosport performance headers, an Evosport Kompressor cooling upgrade package, and Evosport ignition wires.
A sonorous growl emanated from the Eisenmann race exhaust as Alpert bombed through the gears, and we covered the 10 miles back to downtown San Diego where Matt lives, works and plays in no time flat. As you can see from the pictures, we hit something like 150 mph before the Evosport performance brake rotor kit, with front and rear multi-piece floating rotors, hauled us back down to more civilized rates of travel.
Of course, the amalgam of stereo upgrades like the Diamond Audio 10-inch subwoofer gave us something to listen to when the exhaust wasn't at full throttle. So cruising at slow speeds is an enjoyable experience as well.
Once again Group 5 has delivered another knockout punch when it comes to heating up a German sedan. And the fact that Alpert has underground parking means that his chances of getting this Mercedes jacked are slim to none. Just don't let anyone follow you into the garage.
5.5-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, supercharged. K&N drop-in air filters, Renntech Stage 5 ECU and crankshaft pulley, Evosport ignition wires, Evosport 80mm throttle body, Evosport performance headers, Evosport Kompressor cooling upgrade package
Renntech lowering module with remote
Evosport Performance Rotor Kit with front and rear multi-piece floating rotors
Wheels & Tires
HRE Monoblok M40, 8.5x20 (f), 10.5x20 (r) Toyo T1R, 245/30 (f), 285/25 (r)
Brabus carbon-fiber front spoiler, Vorsteiner carbon rear spoiler, Euroteck Motorsports carbon diffuser, flat-black OEM badges, Apex Cone 9006 HID Kit 6000K, PIAA Xtreme White Wedge bulbs, HID foglight kit, Formula One window tint by Lumar, smoked taillights and side mirror lights, gloss black roof
Perforated suede upholstery, CLS 63 Designo steering wheel, Kenwood DNX8120 Headunit with Garmin nav, iPod connector and Bluetooth, Arc Audio KS900.6 Amp Focal 165 KF (f), Focal 165 CVX (r), Diamond Audio 10-inch subwoofer, Escort Passport 9500ci (Radar/Laser detector)
Peak Power: 600 hp @ 6100 rpm
Peak Torque: 700 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
0-60 mph: 3.9 sec.
Top Speed: 189 mph