Mercedes-Benz E500. Life with ‘The Duchess’

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But after 22 months and almost 50,000kms of memories, the time had come to pass The Duchess onto the next enthusiast. Ironically the new owner is also a former owner and one of my first connections I ever made upon arriving in Dubai four and a half years ago. I am delighted though the car is going to a fellow enthusiast who will look after it and keep it running well into next decade now as part of his collection.

Hard to believe the lovely old girl has sailed across the seas to her new UK home for the occasional jaunt across Europe. I already miss her, given that she was so full of character. I had it stored over at Gargash Enterprises (Dubai’s official Mercedes-Benz dealership) for a few weeks getting a final fettle before the tearful farewell, and on the way home I’d forgotten how much fun the E500 was to drive. It’s a big car but light steering means you can really rally it in the lower gears – almost like a Volkswagen Golf GTI – and enjoy all that low down torque and lovely V8 engine note. Visually its hard man presence and old school good looks always made me smile in the mornings on the daily commute. Only a true motoring enthusiast (the likes of which you are if you’re reading this) would recognise one here too.

Keeping the car alive and restoring it slowly has been a challenge: it most definitely did not live a pampered life. But as my daily driver, the E500 genuinely never let me down once on the 70km round trip. I think that was the key to keeping it running, since you are attuned to what is needed: ‘prevention’ is better than ‘cure’ when running any car I often find. Friends used to joke at the amount of time the car spent at the garage but the majority of that work was cosmetic. Mechanically the M119 V8 was a masterpiece and will probably run to 700,000km without breaking a sweat before needing opening up. Build quality of the car still makes me laugh out loud compared to today’s built-to-cost-cars (my new car included). Things like the indicator stalks and window switches felt quality and solid, and worked perfectly 21 years after they were made.

The Duchess and I shared many great moments here; every single girlfriend was suitably unimpressed at being picked up in it, many Golf GTI drivers were left scratching their heads at what had just left them for dead at the lights, and I made lots of good friends purely through a shared enthusiasm for the car. Above all, knowing I owned something rare and genuinely iconic brought a smile to my face everyday. It took real courage to run this Mercedes-Benz E500 everyday and I’m really proud to have done so.

Mercedes-Benz E500
Engine: V8 / 32 valve x2 DOHC / 4973cc
Power: 326bhp @ 5700rpm
Torque: 353lb ft @ 3900rpm
Transmission: Four-speed ZF automatic / rear wheel drive
Front suspension: N/A
Rear suspension: N/A
Brakes: Disc brakes front and rear / ventilated 300 mm x 25mm (front) / 278 mm x 12mm (rear)
Wheels: 17-in front and rear
Tyres: 225/45 R17 front and rear
Weight (kerb) 1710kg
0-100kph: 5.9sec
Top speed: 260kph

Categories: Road


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