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Mercs I Would Consider: The W124 500E

April 3, 2012 by Matt

Mercedes Benz 500E E500 W124 Hammer AMG Black Gray Grey Gunmetal

Mercedes’ first true executive cruise missile to be factory-sanctioned (as opposed to built by aftermarket tuner AMG), the 500E established the template for all future fast Mercs.

Developed in conjunction with Porsche for a ’91 model year debut, the 500E (or E500 as it was renamed during its last year of production in ’94) is a true Autobahn siege weapon. The 32-valve M119 V8 was bumped out to 5.0l, delivering 322 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, hustling the 3,800-lb sedan to 60 mph in well under 6 seconds. Everything else about the car was upgraded as well, from the reinforced 4-speed auto transmission to the suspension and brakes, both appropriated from Merc’s top-of-the-line SL roadster. Steamroller wheels and tires were crammed beneath flared fenders and the ride height was marginally lowered, completing the package.

Mercedes Benz 500E E500 W124 Hammer AMG Engine Motor M119 V8

Those who’ve driven the 500E say the raw numbers only tell part of the story. On paper, its archrivals the Audi S4 and BMW M5 may be able to keep up, but the Merc has more than a liter of displacement on both of them, and the M119’s midrange torque is torrential and unrelenting, in contrast to the S4 and M5’s more peaky powerplants. Couple the wide, flat torque curve with Mercedes’ signature billet-like body structure and you have the automotive definition of an iron fist in a velvet glove.

Mercedes Benz 500E E500 W124 Hammer AMG Interior Inside Cockpit Console Dash Dashboard

In a way, the 500E is sort of the Buick Grand National of the German luxury automaker set; like the Grand Nash, it follows its country’s native “performance rules” to a tee: Understated styling, fine-tuned for Autobahn operations, yet also providing functional and luxurious accommodations for four businessmen. Its looks are based on a harmless family sedan’s, but have been injected with an extra dose of aggression. And like the Buick from the Dark Side, knowledge of its true capabilities is reserved for a subset of the car enthusiast scene in general. The 500E isn’t quite a complete sleeper in the sense that its fender flares and other tweaks certainly display an intimidating stance, but as with the GN, it perfectly walks the tightrope between showing too much and not enough, and for that, it earns my admiration and desire.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting Mercedes models worthy of enthusiast consideration. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: Mercedes, Mercs I Would Consider

4 Comments

  1. Mike B. says:

    I couldn’t agree more here. The W124 is the last of the properly built Mercs and with the big V8, this is the most ultimate example. The E34’s shape is better and why I have one instead, but I am sure the W124 is the better made car.

    • Matt says:

      If it’s anything like our old W126 (and there’s no reason to believe it isn’t), it feels like it’s machined from a single block of steel and aluminum.

      Almost makes me want to daily a W124 along with the E34 just to be able to compare and contrast. Non-500E W124s are on par with E34s price-wise, I believe.

  2. Shawn says:

    Mercs I Would Consider? More like Mercs I’d Go To Bed With. This is the ultimate W124. I’ve been wanting one forever and might even kick my E24 out of the stable for.

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