Welcome back to the Hella Sweet Lemons Car of the Week series, in which we honor the 24 Hours of Lemons cars that deserve respect for their terrible goodness or good terribleness. Today’s HSLCOTW offers vivid proof of the off-a-cliff value depreciation that tends to afflict European luxury cars, once they reach their third or fourth owners: the 2002 Mercedes-Benz E430 campaigned in California by Team Pink Panzer.
This car sold new for about 55 grand, or about $77,000 in inflation-adjusted 2018 bucks, but 16 years is a long, long time for a W210 E-Class; it wasn’t many years before this E430 had about the same resale value as a salvage-title Daewoo Leganza. A bunch of guys working in the service department of a California Mercedes-Benz dealership (that will remain nameless, because we feel bad when our series gets people fired) picked up this customer-abandoned car for a few pfennigs and cackled with glee over the certain race domination they expected from their 275-horsepower Autobahn monster. They added a pink camouflage job, a tank turret, and a DEUTCSCHE LIEBEN ALLE sign and were ready to compete.
The Pink Panzer’s debut took place at the 2016 Button Turrible race, where every single electronic component in the car failed within microseconds of the big Benz’s tires touching race tarmac, earning the I Got Screwed trophy for the team. Since that time, the Pink Panzer has had more success, earning its second I Got Screwed award at the 2017 Arse Sweat-a-Palooza after the drivers black-flagged their way out of a certain Class B victory.