Curbside Classic Mercedes W124 (19851996 EClass) The Best Car…

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Mercedes 300d estate 1985 modified

Curbside Classic: Mercedes (1985-1996 E-Class) The Best Car Of The Thirty Years

June 5,

Superlatives make great backing them up is another But is it even necessary, in the case of the What other car designed years ago still looks so and contemporary? And whose all-round even come close? And obvious influence on just every modern car is so widespread?  I go on? It’s not really necessary, but there’s a few doubters…

During the 1980-1985 time period which GM was going through its switch to front wheel Mercedes-Benz was also going something of a revolution of its own. It quite on the scale of GM’s, but this period Mercedes substantially redefined its cars, for a new era demanded more efficiency, amenities and dynamic qualities. period yielded what consider some of the best ever from Mercedes.

The was the 1980 W126 S-Class, was decidedly sleeker, narrower, aerodynamic and efficient than its bulky W116 predecessor. And its were much more to the of American luxury car buyers. But the skin, it still owed of its drive train and suspension to its predecessor.

Two years later, unveiled the compact 190 (W201), its step into the compact in modern times. This was a new step for a conservative company products had always been in the to premium class. The 190 was a completely new car in way, except perhaps the It premiered a new multi-link independent suspension that became the standard, and widely influential. But the 190 was compact by modern standards, limited rear leg room. As it was something of a minor dud in the American Or perhaps it just challenged the wisdom of what a Mercedes be to well.

The heart of Mercedes’ (and profits) was of course the middle, and the W123 represented the end of a that went back it’s hard to say exactly, as model change was both yet decidedly evolutionary. It’s a particular Germanic quality to new technology while being at the same time. But by the early-mid the W123 had become a bit of a neo-classic, all the qualities that Mercedes famous for–anvil-like structural high quality materials, suspensions– as well as being and not exactly fun to drive, unless it was to Tierra de la Fuego (and

So there was a lot riding on its successor, the It was clearly a huge change  the W123 and its lineage; a clean-sheet new car in almost every way possible, the similarity to its predecessor in its basic Bruno Sacco’s design was a case of design following yet looking very handsome in the

The W124 body was given two reduced weight and improved That Mercedes was able to several hundred pounds out of a car the size as its predecessor–yet with improved rigidity–alone was a very accomplishment. Undoubtedly, the use of modern CAD and steel helped make possible.

Mercedes put its pioneering in aerodynamics to exceptional use on the W124. Its CD of as low as was exemplary, especially for a RWD sedan. And its but tall body made no to passenger space, comfort and in the quest of aerodynamic slipperiness.

The tall and pinched tail are key to its aerodynamics, and created a template was soon imitated to one extent or by most subsequent sedans the over. Of course, it’s taken to a much more extent in recent years, but at the this was a radical change the status quo.

The front end was sleeker than any Benz before it. The aesthetic result wasn’t quite as successful as its end, in part because kept the traditional radiator Maybe it should have ditched, but that might been a step too far for most buyers. Eventually, it would, on an number of Mercedes sedans.

the hood there were big changes. The all-new M103 was a huge departure from the especially in terms of what had been offered. Most sold here were the top model being the 300 TD, with the cylinder turbo-charged diesel. The was available, but its engine had been emasculated, and was not very popular. Now the W124 was the 300E, with 177 hp its 3 liter six, not much than Ford and Chevrolet’s 5 liter V8s. Mercedes one leap from glorified cabs to the most dynamic in the world.

Mercedes’ first priority may been improved efficiency, but the benefit from the aerodynamics and new was speed. The 300E had a solid 140 mph km/h) top speed, which it the fastest regular production sedan in the world at the time someone can prove me otherwise). And it did with utter composure; 140 had seemed so relatively uneventful.

And it a slouch in acceleration either: was recorded by various magazines 7.6 and 8.5 seconds, excellent for the time.  a Camry V6 would blow it today, but this all has to be seen in the of its time, when America was awakening from its Malaise (or bad dream). Even today, a performance envelope is still contemporary; never mind the E320, E400 and E500

If those weren’t fast AMG released the legendary Hammer in with a 32 valve version of the 5.6 L V8. With a top speed of 190 mph, it took the fastest-sedan mantle and it for some time.

If you’re to drive fast, its nice to one is doing it in the safest sedan of the too. The W124 had ABS braking for its four-wheel discs. Its safety were well ahead of the with one of the first SRS air bags wheel), a belt-tensioning system, and the advanced crumple zone and and cell of the times.

The Mercedes rear suspension alone it for the honor I’m bestowing on it: It was a revelation as as a revolution. Up to this point, the semi-trailing arm IRS was inevitable far from too much camber change and limitations resulting most a tendency to bring on oversteer in situations, especially in trailing curves, never mind the brakes on hard. BMWs classic representatives of this it wasn’t nearly as treacherous as the old axles, but it could be surprising and in the hands of the un-initiated.

Mercedes’ jumble of links the rear wheels almost like no other IRS had ever before, under any and all circumstances. It was the uncanny ability to keep its wheels planted at the rear, no how rough the road, tight the accelerating, or braking–or all of the above most impressed me (and about its abilities.

I often myself (sought out, on very rough, winding roads in the remote hills, and mountains of California, and the ability of my to stay composed and collected was unlike any car available at the time, and a leap ahead of the rest. It a sense of profound security, as as superiority. Yes’ I knew I was a car like none other at the And yes, it’s colored my for it; now and then. Back to the facts…

were so many other touches that made speed driving safer, the seat controllers in the door memory buttons not shown on one). Utterly brilliant, and intuitive: one could instantly with the fingers how to move the cushion, back and headrest in the direction without any fumbling or and error; something quite at speed.

The W124′s interior wasn’t “clubby” like a or bordello-plush like American It exuded the Northern European sensibility that may have stark to Americans at the time, but represented the direction most would soon take–goodbye crushed velours.

Taste is and the W124′s cabin may not to be everyone’s but it certainly doesn’t look as as most cars from or so, by a long stretch. Or do I have to examples of that to prove it? I not.

I can’t resist this, though, as it really very graphically illustrate the in design philosophy at the time Mercedes and GM. We’ve covered the that resulted in the 1985 but the results are graphic. And these are accurate in proportion: the DeVille was ten longer than the W124. And I’m cheating by showing a Coupe but that’s what I have at and its roof line is the same as the

Of course any resemblance of Cadillac’s new sedan– the 1992 Seville –to the is strictly a figment of my warped, imagination. GM would never so low to be influenced by Mercedes, right? Oh, too little, too late anyway.

the W124 was Mercedes’ biggest car in the US ever, coinciding with the of the biggest collapse of Cadillac’s share. I don’t have stats available, but the W124 very well, considering its pricing ($75+ k, adjusted).  And seem to still be everywhere; at least. The high-class Cockroaches of the


Mercedes Benz vintage e250

Now, that’s not to say it was perfect; so at the start. Mercedes must anticipated the immense challenge of the W123′s legendary build because it withheld the W124 America in its first year. A good call, it turns Taxi drivers in Germany in a minor uproar over quality issues with W124s. I don’t remember what they were, but they were a bit spoiled by the decade-long run, which in impeccable quality.

And although scrambled to address all of them and the taxi drivers happy, were still a few issues in the models that came to the US. My ’86 had one for a front suspension part, if I correctly. And like so many of the 300Es, it developed a sudden for oil that was caused by leaking guides. That was readily by MBZ under an extended warranty as it was quite common until the was changed on that part a of years into production.

But than that, I have no of any repairs–other than routine over six years and 140,000 hard) miles. And at the end, it felt every bit as tight and as the day I picked it up.

I neglected to mention the other available in the W124. Of course in parts of the world, that very modestly, with the cylinder 200, in either gas or versions. But in the US, the lowliest W124 was the 2.6 (also badged 260E a somewhat de-contented version the smaller 2.6 liter six to lower its a bit.

Although there was a switch in priority from to gas versions in the US with the W124, it was as a diesel too, and a very one for the times. The 300 D Turbo had the smooth new engine, which was the most of its kind anywhere at the time, and the the 300D Turbo the world’s diesel sedan (IIRC 130 mph, or close to it).  It did some issues with its trap filter that MBZ under a recall.

It was later by the 250D Turbo, a five version of the same family, and a better balance of performance and It is particularly sought after now the MBZ diesel crowd.

Tha version is identifiable by its front fender Their purpose? I’m trying to remember. They must been functional, given Someone here will

And a few years later, the 400E along, with its creamy-smooth 4.2 L V8. It so much about drastic in performance, but about refined and forward thrust. Undoubtedly, the LS 400 had a lot to do with its existence, which played havoc on Mercedes’ strategy and pricing. But that’s a for another time.

The same Mercedes also unleashed the -W124, the 500E, whose and assembly very much Porsche. Its bulging fenders at its capabilities, and the 5.0 L V8 gave it blistering and a governed top speed of 160 mph. No; I found one here recently. became almost instant with only some built over its five run.

I’ve skipped over all the variants, as the list is very But the book ends are the 72 hp 200D, and 326 hp quite the spread. But even the of them couldn’t mask the abilities of this platform.  It take a while to get up to speed, but a 200D was still happiest on the autobahn, and could hit some 100 mph or so.

were of course other variants as well. The sleek CE sat on a shortened wheelbase. The Sentra in of it is just one of so many examples of how the tail soon appeared with the distinctive trapezoidal lights, an angled trunk lid down between them, and license plate on the lid.

The begot the Cabriolet, which in production for some years the W124 sedans and wagon succeeded by the blobby W210.

And but not least, one of nicest wagon ever: the T version. If I’d gotten one of the sedan, I might still it, given what a superb of practicality it injected in the W124′s fine qualities. And if I ran across a nice one now, it might my long W124 dry spell. say you can’t go back, especially thirty years, but the W124 makes a compelling argument it.

Maybe this is a good to stop, because the W124 is endlessly long, literally. I expect them to be on the streets years from now. And maybe I’ll take up the again–if I’m still around–and I can how the W124 was the best car of the last years. That might not be all too

مرسيدس بنز 124

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