Date registered: May 2007
Vehicle: 2003 Mercedes Benz E500
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
...on the automatic transmission only, factory importation of 280CE models. This had to do with U. S. import certifications at the time. If you had a different engine transmission combination in a chassis, the entire vehicle had to be re-certified, which included smog and crash testing, etc., an expensive proposition.
Your car sounds like a "grey market" car. Check to see of the door jamb ID plate is factory, or generic, done by the importer. The European style bumpers were typically reinforced in back, after market market reinforcements were added to the doors [check for non-factory looking screws/rivets on door under the locking mechanism], headlamps were changed, and tail lamp assemblies were changed/modified, etc....
My best guess is grey market, with the Euro headlamps re-installed after certification. On the performance issue, well, "things" were done to the engines to make them pass smog certification that sometimes were not pretty...