Featured: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 500E: A Stuttgart Superhero Prowling The Streets Of Boston

1992 Mercedes-Benz 500E: A Stuttgart Superhero Prowling The Streets Of Boston

Thomas Lavin By Thomas Lavin
February 14, 2018
13 comments

Photography by Thomas Lavin

Wider, lower, faster. That’s the philosophy behind the 500E. From a distance, there’s not much to differentiate it from your everyday W124-generation E-Class, but as you get closer to its angrily puffed-out cheeks the idea of a wolf in sheep’s clothing begins to make a lot more sense. A more aggressive stance, a set of chunky Recaros, those subtle but serious fender flares, and a torquey 5.0-liter V8 pushing out about 325 brake horsepower (a motor borrowed from the 500SL) are the most obvious additions to the base car that make this special version capable of doing the 0 to 60 in just under six seconds. This comes despite the fact that the 500E was only ever made with an automatic transmission and weighs about as much as the house it cost as much as back in the ‘90s. Porsche was instrumental in making those changes, and the car also features lowered, stiffer suspension, a special body kit, larger rotors and calipers, and more evolutions over the standard W124s.

Regardless of the slush box and the tonnage though, this big 1992-model-year Merc is still around a quarter of a second faster than its BMW M5 contemporary. It’s not all that surprising that the car was co-developed and hand-assembled by Porsche in their Rössle-Bau factory, a process that took a reported 18 days to complete. Just under 10,000 500Es were built between 1990 and 1995, but only 1,528 of these vehicles made their to American shores. Most of the examples you’ll find, this one included, are incredibly well maintained. Before the taillights throw anyone into a fit, know that they are temporary as the owner tracks down a clean OEM Euro-spec set.

I’ve always had a thing for boxy Mercedes built before the 2000s, so my adoration for my good friend Mez’s 500E should come as no surprise. I fell in love with this vintage super sedan when we went for an early morning photoshoot around Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood; at first I thought a brutish black Mercedes would feel out of place in a neighborhood filled with Defenders, Range Rovers, and enough golden retrievers to think they were an aggressively invasive species down here. However, like all good sleepers, the Mercedes is content to blend in discreetly in the quiet, small alleyways here as much as it enjoys speeding around the open-air hillsides just outside of town. Compared to the competing BMW M cars of the same era, it’s far more reserved and understated—which is saying something—but then again, when seen side by side, the 500E is certainly the more muscular looking of the two.

The car is anything but gaudy with its hard, neat lines swallowed by the black on black scheme, and even the chrome stripes around various parts of the car are tastefully laid out to not draw too much attention to themselves. The same goes for the heated leather Recaro seats, which you’d be hard pressed to identify short of sticking your head down into the footwell to read the labels. When you consider the big V8 under the hood, the car is basically the archetype of all the modern German V8 sedans from the big three. It isn’t loud and boisterous at idle like a shady Russian in a souped up E63 though, something that made moving the car around the quiet streets in the early morning between locations a whole lot easier!

I’m particularly fond of the paint on this car too, as it really isn’t totally black, but a milky metallic hue that varies between light blacks and dark greys, catching the sun with just enough sparkle and glint. The way the light reflects off the paint and hides among the subtle curves of the car only to be broken up by the creases is as mesmerizing as any vibrant shade of red. Again, the look is incredibly understated and the whole package reminds one of a subtle but very well-made suit. Although this particular car has seen some slight modifications such as newer AMG Monoblock wheels, the temporary tail lights, it still remains an absolutely brilliant testament to the original concept of the 500E.

The 500E really is the definition of a modern classic—it doesn’t reveal its age from the driver’s seat—for it is a timeless design and a masterclass of engineering by two brilliant car manufacturers. It will withstand the test of time. It’s refined, it’s powerful, sleek, overt. It may not be as joyously vulgar as the famous Hammer cars built on the same W124 platform by AMG, but it isn’t meant to be the fastest nor the most powerful car on the block. It’s meant to be driven everyday in the left lane, and I’m happy to report that this 178,000-mile 500E is no exception.

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Steve SaltaOreoxtcSergio BrasescoThomas LavinIikka Nikula Recent comment authors
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sjsalta Salta
sjsalta Salta

I was an MB dealer when these hit the states. Man, was this car a blast to drive. One of my all time favorites….. Those are Lorinzer wheels. (is the spelling with an s or a z? can’t remember)

Oreoxtc
Oreoxtc

Beautiful car!Does anyone know what these mags are called? Model number etc…

Sergio Brasesco
Sergio Brasesco

not sure how an E34 M5 is not as under the radar as the 500E/E500??
are the Turbine wheels “flashy”??…LOL or does the manual one sees if they look in the cabin set-off alarms?? these are great cars (500E) and one could say in direct response to the E34… both get the job done in different fashion…nice to see one of these so well maintained!

Iikka Nikula
Iikka Nikula

Some faults i noticed reading this. The engine is NOT from an sl 500 the engine used in sl would been so big they had shave of the height so casted new blocks. The taillights are a OEM item in 94 and onwards models not in a 92.

Thomas Lavin
Thomas Lavin

Your first statement is incorrect unfortunately, according to Mercedes’s own material on the 500E. The engine is the M119 V8, which is used by this car as well as the SL500, and E50 AMG. I have no doubt the engine was modified to fit in the 500E, but it is still the same engine as well as transmission.

Christophe Zydek

My 1993 400E (the baby brother of the 500… Still a M119 V8) also roams the streets of Boston in the Summer.. 😎
Maybe i will see this 500 this summer… Lol

Alexandre Goncalves
Alexandre Goncalves

Great car! The amount of W124s in Portugal is HUGE – but I have yet to see a 500E…

For the tailights – they are cheap and soooo easy to find over here.

Feel free to get back to me if you need help|!

Nice car! Nice pics!

Patrick Ossenkop
Patrick Ossenkop

I’m a Porschephile that is employed by a Mercedes-Benz establishment. My answer was obvious when asked what my all time favorite model was. If I had to drive one, it would be a ’94 model.

Heka
Heka

The arrangemet with Porsche was purely for assembly of the cars. The number of modifications made to basic W124 bodyshell would have disrupted production severely if they had been carried out on the Mercedes assembly lines.

Robert Borsh
Robert Borsh

Four available on Hemmings right now. Three 93’s and a 92. range in price from $15K to 29.5K with one “inquire”. After reading the article there’s one more thing for the barn I haven’t built yet !

Mez
Mez

Canepa has one with the price not listed. You will hit the floor if you ask them what they want for it.

Mez
Mez

Nice work Thomas, as usual. I had my doubts about taking the photos in Beacon Hill but the setting is so pretty it complements any vehicle!
Plug to Larz Anderson also https://petrolicious.com/articles/this-is-what-we-found-inside-americas-oldest-car-collection – cannot wait for lawn event season this year. Hope that everyone reading this who is able to can come check out what is one of the most beautiful auto venues on the east coast.

Mez
Mez

Good note on the non-OEM tail lights. For the very particular: the “500E” emblem on the trunklid is also too high: the base should be level with bottom of the Mercedes logo.