Known by the Mercedes-Benz factory code W124, this is the mid-sized range of E-Class luxury saloons, estate cars and coupes that replaced the W123 version with the 1985 model year. The W124 basically fitted in between the smaller 190 models and the full-size S-Class although the differences could occasionally become a bit blurred at the transition from one size to another.
Similar in appearance to the 190, but on a 5 inch longer wheelbase, the new models were easily identifiable thanks to much sleeker body styling which, together with a specially-designed plastic panel mounted underneath the car to improve airflow, helped the W124 achieve one of the lowest coefficients of drag seen at the time. The enhanced aerodynamics also produced a reduction in fuel consumption and meant there was less wind noise at high speeds when compared to earlier models.
With the legendary Mercedes-Benz build quality, renowned engineering and virtually indestructible diesel engines, it is no wonder that the W124 has long been regarded as a marvellous range of vehicles. However, not all the model variations were made available in every market, leading to some curious anomalies in specifications produced for certain countries around the world as engines and bodies were mixed and matched. One common feature which drew a number of comments was the foot-operated parking brake - a standard fitment in North American automobiles that didnt exactly win universal acclaim from non-US motoring journalists.
Mercedes-Benz also developed its own unique four-wheel-drive system, the 4Matic, which provided excellent traction and grip but came with a hefty price tag. Unfortunately, its high cost tended to restrict sales of 4Matic models in some markets. As time went on the W124 range of models proliferated and an array of body styles, engine and transmission options were offered. In total, nearly 40 individual models can be classified as belonging to the W124 group, with a selection of 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder and V8 engines (petrol and diesel) plus 4-speed and 5-speed transmissions (manual and automatic) available so that, in theory, the possible combinations were almost endless. Naturally enough, in order to keep things manageable Mercedes-Benz controlled the number of different specs that could be ordered and didnt allow customers an unfettered choice from the list.
Even though the W124 was scheduled to be superseded in 1995, in 1993 it was given a facelift and the model designations were changed. Prior to the revamp, generally speaking model names followed the format 200E, 230E, 260E, 300TE, etc. Thereafter, the type number was prefixed by the E-Series identification: E220, E280, E320 and so on. A performance option that appeared late on was the Sportline, although once again model availability varied from country to country. Basically the Sportline package consisted of uprated suspension with stiffer springs and heavy duty bushes, quick ratio steering, wider alloy wheels and low-profile tyres, special seats, etc.
A much more radical creation was the 500E high-performance version which used the 5.0-litre, 32-valve V8 engine from the 500SL put in the W124 bodyshell. Working in co-operation with Mercedes-Benz, Porsche designers re-engineered the suspension and strengthened the chassis to cope with the additional horsepower, and the 500E was assembled by Porsche. The W124 gave way to the W208/W210 E-Class after 1995, but during its ten year life the W124 further enhanced the Mercedes-Benz reputation for quality and reliability and many thousands of these superb cars are still in daily use around the globe.
The E-Class W124 is the mid-sized range of luxury saloons, estate cars & coupes that was built from 1985 to 1995. It proved to be another outstanding example of Mercedes-Benz quality & engineering. Included are road & comparison tests, technical & performance data covering models: 200, 200 T/TE/TD, 230 E/AT/CE, 260E, 300 E/D/TE/TD/CE, Limousine, Sportline, Cabrio, AMG, 400E & 500E. Advice is given on how to acquire a good pre-owned model.