It seems like just yesterday I was handing over the keys to my Audi S4 Avant to a happy buyer, thus setting me off on my journey to find my next vehicle. In reality, yesterday was actually late April. Here we are in the dog days of summer and I’ve yet to pull the trigger on a new ride, but not for lack of trying. I’ve driven a number of cars over the past couple of months, some new, some used, and I still have yet to feel that magic connection that I’m looking for. I’ve crossed cars off my list that I’ve long lusted after, E46 BMW M3/E36 M3, and some that I wasn’t a fan of until recently, 540i/6, E30 325i. Though I was rather dead set on getting my first BMW, I’ve been seriously considering a Mercedes lately. On the upside they’re more affordable in this current market, on the downside it’s really hard to find a desirable model with a manual transmission. So, when I came across this 1986 300E with a 5 speed manual the other day, I was immediately intrigued. When I saw that it was just 45 minutes away from me, I picked up the phone and got in touch with the seller. He told me that he had a buyer coming to check it out but if the sale fell through he would let me know. It was a long shot, but wouldn’t you know it, the car remained available and I went to check it out yesterday.
All posts tagged w124
The W124 Mercedes-Benz E-class had big shoes to fill when it debuted for the 1986 model year. After all, it was taking over the mid-sized mantle from one of the most legendary and durable Mercedes models of all time, the W123. The W124 became an icon in its own right, expanding the lineup into product niches the W123 never touched, such as a four-place cabriolet and a wicked fast super saloon, the Porsche built 500E/E500. When the W124 first arrived in the US, it could be optioned with a 5-speed manual gearbox, as we see with this 300E here for sale in Florida. The option would be pulled in short order, as there were few takers for an E-class without an automatic gearbox.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 300E on eBay
It’s no coincidence that two of my favorite German performance cars emerged from the same factory. Both were blessed by the engineers at Porsche, even though neither of them wore the famous Stuttgart crest. One of these cars was the Audi RS2 Avant, which wasn’t sold on US shores. Shortly before production of this super estate commenced at Zuffenhausen, production was ending of another supercar in disguise, the Mercedes-Benz E500. Formerly known as the 500E before Mercedes’ nomenclature switchover in 1994, this sedan pushed the limits of what people thought was possible with a luxury sedan. I haven’t driven one in many years, but I can still remember slipping behind the wheel of this beast and being blown away. This 1994 E500 for sale in California represents the end of the production run for this special E-class. This one has covered a fair amount of miles but from the looks of it, could easily pass for half its age.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Mercedes-Benz E500 on eBay
Pre-merger AMG products are perhaps the most copied and most sought Mercedes-Benz products from the 1980s. Like many famous works of art, there are plenty of copies, replicas and pieced-together pretenders out there. As with Ruf, Alpina and Hartge – amongst others – you could buy many of the AMG bits originally from authorized dealers and install as many or as few as you’d like. You could also have an authorized dealer install the bits for you. Therefore, the definition of what actually makes a pre-merger AMG a “true” AMG varies depending on interpretation. Most seem to feel that it required at least 3 items to be installed by an authorized dealer of AMG products; a strange definition in some ways, since you could buy, for example, a steering wheel, rear spoiler and wheels – thereby gaining no real performance advantage – but if installed by a dealer, it could be considered an original AMG. Of course, there was much more available than just those items, and the most desirable are the bespoke AMG-engined “Hammer” models with their massive V8s. Not everyone could afford those, so there were lesser models available too:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 300E AMG 3.4 on eBay
Every time I come across a clean 500E it gets the wheels turning in the ‘ol noggin. I find myself wondering if this early 90s tribute to the automotive gods would work as a daily driver. As much as I tell myself I could get by with a sporty coupe, in the end I know my active lifestyle and willingness to shuttle friends around would have me yearning for an extra set of doors. Once I start that internal dialogue I quickly get on the line of thinking that if I’m going to have four doors then I might as well have hatch to access the cargo area. On top of the practical angle there’s the cosmetic angle. Most of the cars I’m a fan of look better as a wagon, rarely does a sedan hold my gaze the way a slick long roof does and it is for that reason that I will always write up a crisp 500E when I come across one.
I have a special place in my heart reserved for these cars, they’re really unlike anything else that I have on my bucket list of cars. The E34 M5 is about as close as it comes for the era but it’s a BMW and BMWs
are were focused on the driver’s experience above all. The 500E isn’t short on driver engagement but one only need look at the heavily bolstered rear bucket seats to see this car was designed to keep everyone comfortable during a proper Bahnstorming. I love a good solo mission up to the canyons where it’s just the car and myself but I also enjoy being the wheelman on a night out with some friends. It’s a different kind of energy in the car for sure but I think it can be equally as enjoyable, provided your friends don’t suck, If they do then riding around in a modern classic like the 500E will surely be lost on them but I know mine would appreciate it, especially when the 5.0L V8 is doing its best Wilhelm Scream impersonation.These days 322hp can be found in many a four door but I think you’d be hard pressed to find one that utilizes it with such emotion and grace. Talk to anyone who has owned a 500E and I’m sure they’ll tell you that the car begs for frequent visits to triple digit speeds and will get there without little effort. The question is, would you drop $13,944 for that experience?