1991-1994 Mercedes-Benz 500E / E500 W124 – Classic Revisited


The Panamera is not the 1st sedan Porsche has ever made. Years before, the company built the Type 2758, more often called the Mercedes-Benz 500E. This is based on the W124 generation (1985 to 1996) in the three-pointed star’s ever-popular premium midsize sedan.

After the 959 and 928 models ceased production, Porsche required to drum up some business to keep its line in Rossle-Bau, Zuffenhausen from falling idle. It really so happened that Mercedes-Benz wanted something with entice drivers who weren’t chauffeurs or popes. The answer had been aa time when the AMG tuning house was still an independent company and its great claim to fame was the Hammer, based, again, around the W124 and powered by a rudely muscular V8 to reach a top speed of 190 mph. The 500E (whose proper code number is W124.036; some people like this stuff) went for more modest engine power but could still hit 60 mph in less than 6 seconds, which was fast in those days.

Propulsion comes from M-B’s M119 engine. Also energizing the Mercedes-Benz 500SL, it’s a 5.-liter V8 renowned for being able to cover half a million kilometers without skipping a beat, provided that it’s maintained properly. Remember, this is the era when Mercedes-Benz over-engineered everything. Variable valve timing around theelasticity and strength of the engine’s 354 lb-ft of torque turn this into gearbox easy to live with. That drive goes to the rear wheels turned by an R126 axle.

The brakes also came from the 500SL, with 11.8-inch ventilated front disks bitten by four-piston calipers. Rear discs are 10.9 inches and ventilated, no matter model year.

1994 Mercedes-Benz E500 Limited – Feature Car

It’s generally challenging to tell a Mercedes-Benz 500E from most of its W124 brethren, though a lower front lip helps make a distinction. A wider track (by 1.5 inches), as well as wider wheels and tires, means larger flares on top of the wheelwells. The auto left the factory with 16-inch alloy wheels; the standard models had 15-inchers. And thanks to a suspension re-tuned by Porsche (using Bilstein shock absorbers), the 500E sits .9 inches lower than standard.

Jamming a V8 into the engine bay left no room for the battery, so that was relocated towards the trunk.

To stay in one of the four leather-covered Recaro seats (the fronts are heated) is usually to enjoy a serene wood-trimmed cabin where you could almost be oblivious on the quickly gathering momentum if a person neglected to check the speedometer. Only slightly worrying is the fact that some early versions didn’t possess any airbags.

Each car is virtually handmade and took 18 days to build. Compare that with the 3 days required to build a regular W124 E-Class. Completion rate was an average of 10 cars a day.

The essential bodies in white arrived of Mercedes-Benz’s Sindelfingen plant, headed to Porsche’s Rossle-Bau line at Zuffenhausen, in order to the north of Stuttgart, for structural mods. Then back to Sindelfingen for painting and rustproofing. And finally back to Rossle-Bau (where10,000 examples were produced, with 1,500 or so seeing the United States. That was the final run of 12 cars made for Switzerland if you ever see an E500 Limited by having an even plusher interior. There’s an ultra-rare E60 AMG version in the Mercedes-Benz E500 packing a 381hp 6.-liter version in the M119 V8, with an AMG suspension and AMG twin-outlet exhaust.

The name went from 500E to E500 for the 1994 model year face-lift that applied to the entire E-Class range. The E500 now took the 12.6-inch front brake discs from the SL600. Sadly, 1994 U.S.-spec models also saw a 7hp downturn; blame emissions regulations.

As well as looking out for the usual stuff-bashed alloy wheels, general signs of abuse, uneven tire wear, if the heavy seller has ruined the cushioning of the driver’s seat, etc.-possible buyers should also be aware of a few other specific things. The main problem seems to be the engine wiring harness, a problem shared with many Mercedes-Benz cars from this period. They sure turned out to be below driver-friendly by disintegrating and causing electrical shorts, however the wires were sheathed in materials that had been supposed to be eco-friendly. The ignition control module has also been known to fail on rare occasions.

Earlier 1992 models had Brembo aluminum calipers. If the brake pads wore down, the system would start making a noise. Cars from later in the year1993 and ) had heavier iron calipers supplied by ATE that never had such a problem. With a car that’s both powerful and high (3,850 pounds), substantial brake wear is unavoidable. A big difference of rotors every 60,000 miles or so would have been a good call.

And think about rebuilding the transmission every 150,000 miles. The back suspension is a self-leveling setup that stands the rigors of use and time.

The Becker 1432 sound system in the 500E has a good reputation for patchy quality; E500 models received a 10-speaker Alpine system which was definitely one step up.

Kelley Blue Book values an excellent-condition ’94 E500 with 100,000 miles on the clock at $11,746. But things are never so easy in the world of collector cars, which the 500E/E500 is quickly becoming. Expect to pay around $30,000 or higher for a low-mileage example in great shape. A fast web search unearthed a ’93 500E with 50,300 miles going for $49,900.