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These days, automakers are stuffing high-performance powertrains into just about everything. But the humble minivan has always remained just that – humble. However, back in 2007, Mercedes-Benz sold the R63 AMG and, in doing so, created the ultimate sleeper van. And I mean “sleeper” in more ways than one.

The fastest van…in the world

OK, so maybe not the fastest. The Ford Performance Transit has that sewn up. But the Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG van was no slouch, especially for an everyday road-going minivan. The 6.2-liter V8 power plant chucked out 505 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. That was enough grunt to fire you, the kids, plus a raft of textbooks and lacrosse gear down the highway at up to 171 mph.

And when it came time to tear out of the parking lot? You’d put that Honda Odyssey to shame as you shot from a standstill to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. Our recommendation? Make sure nobody’s holding up an iPad when you pin it to the mat.

How many Mercedes R63 AMG were made?

Here’s where things get sticky. Unfortunately for you high-octane parents, business owners, and other large-vehicle-enjoyers out there, Mercedes only made a total of 200 R63 models. Even more unfortunately, only about half of those Mercedes-Benz vans ended up in the hands of U.S. buyers. In short, finding an R63 for sale today is about as common as a PTA meeting with no disgruntled parents.

That said, its rarity hasn’t led to a ballooned value in the secondary market. The most expensive of these minivans to cross the virtual auction block at Bring-a-Trailer went for just shy of $50,000. The average sits closer to $35,000, putting it in the same territory as today’s modern minivans. And those aren’t nearly as much fun.

The case for the Mercedes-Benz van in general

The Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG van in red from the rear
Mercedes-AMG R63 | Bring-a-Trailer

Overall, the push toward SUVs relegated the minivan to a tiny niche in the automotive market. GoodCarBadCar reports just 159,073 minivans sold so far in 2023. Those numbers are up considerably from a year ago, but that still represents a tiny fraction of the nearly eight million cars sold thus far this year.

And that’s a shame. The high-performance R63 aside, minivans are an excellent mix of comfort and cargo space. SUVs limit the latter in pursuit of greater ground clearance. And trucks offer a wealth of cargo room but lack the ability to hold more than a pair of passengers comfortably. The minivan cuts across all of those avenues, and nearly all modern vans can tow at least 5,000 pounds, to boot.

All that is to say that, instead of the monstrous Jeep Trackhawks, BMW X5 Ms, and Alfa Stelvio Q4s of the world, models like the R63 are much more exciting and versatile options for high-powered people carriers.

The charming absurdity of the Mercedes R63 lives on

Mercedes may refuse to call it a minivan, but one look tells the story. Even without rear track doors, there’s no doubting the profile of this ferocious family hauler. But packed beneath that unassuming exterior is the heart of a lion, brakes that can stop time, and a refined air suspension setup that was good for both handling and comfort. In short, of all the weird cars you probably don’t know about, the R63 might just be one of the best.