Start off Great and Keep Getting Greater – The 500E and the E60 AMG

28 04 2011

Lately I’ve noticed that most of the Automotive Views visitors arrive here in search of classic AMG related information and images; that is not surprising to me at all, these cars have a massive esthetic appeal and their low production numbers make the rare as well, a perfect combination. The pedigree is as good as it gets; a solid Mercedes Benz foundation upon which AMG built true masterpieces, textbook definition of a win/win situation.  

So in honor of this great public appreciation for the AMG legacy, I’ve decided to make this little article about an AMG pearl that I actually hadn’t heard of until recently, the W124 E60. But before starting going on and on about it, I have to talk about where it came from because this car started off great and just kept getting better; it all began when Mercedes and Porsche got together to give the world one of the greatest gifts of the 20th century, the 500E.

Why is the 500E so brilliant? Well Mercedes and Porsche built it together, need I say more? Oh I do…? Alright, on to the history lesson. So what was this 500E all about anyway? To quote Joe Rusz (Road and Track Magazine – May, 1992), “It’s that Terminator thing, that might-makes-right, take-no-prisoners attitude that is vintage Shwarzenegger. Arnold does it with film. Mercedes-Benz does it with a car. The factory calls it the 500E. I call it the Terminator because, like Arnold, the 500E speaks with a Teutonic accent and is a muscular hulk that can pulverize the opposition (…)”. Well, this vicious sounding thing isn’t that threatening when you look at it, actually it looks pretty much like any W124 you’d find around town but…it really isn’t…you see back in the early 90’s Porsche had a lot of spare room to play around in, namely the former factory where the 911 and 928 were built in Zuffenhausen. The production line was moved (again as Ruscz states) “across the street”, so the place was just sitting there empty; along comes Mercedes that says “here are a couple of  300’s, do something nice with them” (actual sentence may not have been exactly like the one presented here…but I like to think it was). Porsche rebuilt meticulously the W124 300, fitting it with the M119 500 series 32 valve 5.0 V8 engine, as well as 500 series drivetrain and suspension. Add some strengthening features to the mix in order to make sure it doesn’t all fall apart, manage the weight distribution, a few touches of muscular features to the body, add a sprinkle of 500 SL and 300 CE components and voilá, recipe for perfection.

322 bhp and a 4speed automatic transmission allow the 500E to go from 0 to 60 in just 6.2 seconds; at the time that was just on the border of Ferrari Testarossa territory, about to be invaded by something so unlikely and so discrete you’d only truly notice when it was speeding by and leaving pretty much anything else in the dust.

If you can get one of these, for the love of everything that’s good and decent get it, they’re ridiculously cheap, remarkably well made and surprisingly reliable. Hey, don’t take my word for it, back in ’06 Motor Tred Magazine published an article featuring the 300SEL 6.3, the 6.9 and the 500E; about the last, the following was written:  “A fast, rare, already-collectible, Porsche-engineered sleeper. Some consider the W124 to be among the best cars MB has ever built, and the 500E is the specialist among them. Its performance and equipment levels, save for some of the latest technoelectronic gadgetry, are up to today’s snuff. P.S.: They’re way underpriced.”

So all was well, the 500E was amazing, end of story. Not quite, there were two other versions of it, the E500 and the E500 limited; the E500 had a few esthetic modifications and the Limited version ones had a more comprehensive facelift, plus there are some differences between the European and American versions; if you’re interested you can read all about it at the website, but what I’m really interested on is what came after.

AMG got its hands on it…and we all know how that turns out for any Merc. The power went up from 322 to 376 bhp’s (Mercedes Enthusiast Magazine – May 2005 – also reports a special by request only version produced with 399 bhp), 0 to 60 became something possible in 5.3 seconds; delimited top speed: 187.5mph. Only 126 E60’s were built and that’s it, so if an E500 was worth getting…the rarest version made was the E60 Limited, only 12 of those exist.

Recently I’ve seen an E60 for sale in England for about 30.000$, that’s double what you pay for a 500E but…what an amazing and exclusive machine to have on your driveway for the enthusiasts to envy! The E60 is the epitomy of the 500E evolution and what an evolution it was, such a great example of what a car can and should be, start with something simple and straight forward and then maximize its potential to the fullest, it can be done, any excuse not to do it is just that, an excuse. Take a good look at what legends are made of ladies and gentlemen.


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Esta obra foi licenciada com uma Licença Creative Commons – Atribuição – Uso Não-Comercial – Obras Derivadas Proibidas 3.0 Não Adaptada.


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