On October 4, 1990, at the Paris Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz introduced a flagship version of the E-Class sedan as the W124 body. Externally, the car almost did not differ from the simpler versions, which were safely manufactured since 1984: extended wheel arches, reduced ground clearance by 23 millimeters and slightly modified front bumper with integrated fog lights – that’s all that somehow hinted at the wild nature of the 500 E. All the most interesting was hidden from sight…
The main “interest” was the 5-liter V8 M119, which had four valves per cylinder and the Bosch LH-Jetronic injection system with air flow meter. It had 326 horsepower. Traction was delivered to the rear axle exclusively through a four-speed automatic, and efficiently enough to accelerate the sedan to 100 kilometers per hour in less than six seconds. The top speed was limited at 250 kilometers per hour.
The fact that this is a special car, which will forever write itself in history, experts and journalists realized quite quickly. Here’s what they wrote about it in the renowned Road & Track publication: “The 500 E is a magnificent ultra-powerful sedan with a rich inner world. It looks great (low, intriguing, but not intimidating like the AMG Hammer or 600 SEL), sounds great (what can compare with a big V8?), is very fast for a family sedan (top speed is 250 kilometers per hour), but still gives everything that you expect from a Mercedes car. And even a little bit more. Mostly “more” concerns the horsepower.
The peculiar nature of the car was formed at the behest of Porsche: the famous sports car manufacturer was not only involved in the design, but also assembled the 500 E at the Porsche plant in the Stuttgart suburb of Zuffenhausen. It looked as follows: Mercedes-Benz would create the bodies at the plant in Sindelfingen (also near Stuttgart), load them on a truck and send them to Zuffenhausen, where the shell was “stuffed” with everything needed. Because of logistics, the 500 E (later the index was changed to E 500) circulation was very modest – 10,479 copies.
The designation E 500 received after restyling, which occurred in 1993. Then Mercedes changed the naming system of models and the main thing is class, but not the engine displacement. In addition to the new name, the sports sedan received an integrated radiator grille, colorless direction indicators and two-tone taillighting.
But what was the year 1994 notable for the model? First, in March of that year at the Geneva Motor Show was presented a farewell series E 500 Limited, which was limited to five hundred copies. The car stood out for its 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II style wheels, two paint options (black and silver), several interior trim options, and ABS and anti-skid systems included in the basic package.
Secondly, in October 1994, the 500 E’s circulation reached 10,000 copies. The anniversary edition was presented to Hans Herrmann, who had one third place in Formula 1 to his credit. The German had won the lower step of the podium in 1954 at the wheel of the Mercedes W196.
Production of the E 500 ended in 1995. Despite the success of the car, nothing else like it was created by Mercedes with Porsche – the AMG models can hardly be considered direct heirs of the “Wolf”. And if the last version of the E 500 is a quarter of a century old this year, the original 500 E will be thirty next year, and it falls into the category of the Youngtimer. Add to this the small circulation and the cult status – and you get the car, which becomes more expensive from year to year in the secondary market.