1 Feb 1986
Lighter, more efficient and far roomier thanks to a larger body that was as beautiful as it was aerodynamic the W124 – the last of the ‘over-engineered’ Mercedes-Benz E-class models- is still regarded as arguably the Swabians’ finest moment.
And it was a clean break from the W123, with many lightweight materials and computer-aided design factored in the W124’s make-up so as it could be as safe and possible.
The 230E sedan and 230TE wagon used a 97kW/198Nm 2.3-litre SOHC 8V four-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox.
A 121kW/225Nm 2.6-litre in-line SOHC 12V six-cylinder 260E was available from ’88 to mid-’91, when it was renamed the 300E 2.6.
The 135kW/260Nm 3.0-litre SOHC 12V in-line six-cylinder engine powered the ’86-’93 300E sedan, ’88-’93 C124 300CE coupe and ’89-’93 300TE wagon.
From June ’90 to February ’93 Mercedes offered the 300E 24V, using a 167kW/273Nm 3.0-litre twin-cam 24-valve version of the 300E’s engine. This powerplant was also found in the The only W124 diesel we received officially was the 80kW/185Nm 300D sedan from ’86 to ’93.
By 1989 anti-lock brakes, cruise control and central locking were standard in all W124 cars.
A round of changes were implemented in early 1990, mostly involving trim and specification levels, while a thorough facelift from early ’93 saw similar revisions plus changes to the suspension and steering systems, as well as a family of new engines.
The 230E vanished, replaced by the 220E, powered by a new 110kW/210Nm 2.2-litre twin-cam 16V four-cylinder engine.
Likewise the 300E 2.8 and 300TE 2.8 used a new 145kW/270Nm twin-cam 24-valve 2.8 ‘six’, while the 320E, 320CE and 320CE Cabriolet all gained a 162kW/310Nm DOHC 24V in-line six-cylinder engine.
Just six-months later Mercedes-Benz changed its decades-old naming policy, so from September 1993, so all W124 models now had an E in front of the number – hence ‘E-class’.
The base 220E became the E220 and E220T (wagon). The 300E 2.8 and 300TE 2.8 became the E280 and E280T, while the 320E/320CE models morphed into the E320, E320C and E320CA Cabriolet.
The 110kW/210Nm 2.2 engine was also sent into the above body shapes to become the new E220C coupe and E220CA Cabriolet. Available until July ’97, they outlived their W124 siblings by well over a year.
Almost 2.65 million W124 cars were built between 1985 and 1995, of which around 13,000 were bought by Australians.
The bones of the W124 live on as the rebodied, and stretched, Ssangyong Chairman of South Korea.