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

28 04 2011

Lately I’ve noticed that a lot of you get to Automotive Views looking for classic AMG stuff. That’s not surprising me one bit because these cars have a massive esthetic appeal and their low production numbers make them very rare, a perfect combination. The pedigree is as good as it gets: a solid Mercedes foundation upon which AMG built true masterpieces. A textbook definition of a win/win situation.

So in honor of this great public appreciation for the AMG legacy, I’ve decided to make a little article about an AMG pearl which a lot of people don’t even know exists: the W124 E60. But before 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…

Mercedes Benz 500E

Why is the 500E so brilliant? Well Mercedes and Porsche built it together, do you really need to know more? Oh you do…? Alrigh. History lesson time, then. This extremely vicious sounding thing doesn’t feel threatening at all when you look at it; actually it looks pretty much like any W124 you’d find around town…but it 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 had been moved and the place was just sitting there empty. Along comes Mercedes and says something like “here, take a few  300s and do something nice with them. Surprise us.” (actual request may not have gone down exactly like that, but I like to think it did). Porsche meticulously rebuilt the W124 300, fitting it with an M119 32 valve, 5.0 V8 from the 500 S/SL series. Add some strengthening features to the mix in order to make sure the thing doesn’t all fall apart, manage the weight distribution, a few touches of muscule here and there on the body, add a sprinkle of 500 SL and 300 CE components and voilá, recipe for perfection.

322 bhp and a 4speed automatic transmission allowed 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, a territory about to be invaded by something so unlikely and so discrete you’d only truly notice when it if it was speeding by and leaving you in the dust. 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 (…)”.

 

Mercedes Benz 500E (rear angle)If you can get one of these, for the love of everything that’s good and decent do! They’re ridiculously cheap, remarkably well made and surprisingly reliable, believe it or not. 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 stated:  “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 the sleeper Merc: the E500 and the E500 limited; the 500E 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 E500.org website, but what I’m really keen on is what came after.

1994 Mercedes Benz E60 AMGAMG got its hands on it…and we all know how that – used to – turn 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 with 399 bhp) and 0 to 60 became  possible in just 5.3 seconds. The limited top speed: 187.5mph. Only 126 E60’s were built, so if an E500 was worth getting…

The rarest version made was the E60 Limited, only 12 of those exist. Recently I’ve seen a “regular” 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 all the enthusiasts to envy! And again, like the 500E, this will most likely only catch the enthusiasts’ eye because it’s as discrete as its non-AMG brother. 1994 Mercedes Benz E60 AMG 2 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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Images used: Pistonheads.com

                          elektra.iselektra.is

 

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