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1994 Mercedes-Benz E500
1994 Mercedes-Benz E500
22,500 Miles From New. Superbly Documented Lifelong California Car. Window Sticker, Records from New, Books, and Tools.
1994 Mercedes-Benz E500
Pearl Black with Grey Leather Interior
Part of a distinguished line of hot-rod Mercedes sedans dating back to the absolutely bonkers 300 SEL 6.3 of 1968, the Mercedes 500E (and its facelifted but substantially similar E500 successor) is among the most collectible of all Mercedes sedans built. While the early hot rods, the 6.3 and 6.9, featured the magnificent M100 engine and air/oleopneumatic suspensions, they were still at their cores big sedans that were intended to be swift luxury cars. The mission of the E500E (the collective name for the 500E and E500) was different. It didn’t just have a bigger engine: it was comprehensively re-engineered and manufactured by Porsche with a decisive sporting purpose.
Built on the W124 E-class platform, the E500E was Mercedes’ response to the M5. Never a direct substitute to the four door sports car ethos of the M5, the E500E brought a more brutish approach. Where the M5 had a racing derived high-revving inline-6 and remarkable dynamic purity, the Mercedes excelled with its huge torque, more luxurious equipment and finishes, fantastic high-speed roadholding, and legendary build quality to provide a car that was both refined and, at the time, indecently fast in both a straight line and around corners.
The E500E (internally designated W124.036 by Mercedes and Type 2758 by Porsche) was a specialized project which Mercedes engaged Porsche to first engineer in 1989, and then later build. It combined the shell of the 300E with most of the running gear of the R129 500SL, and it was Porsche’s work that allowed this engineering feat to be achieved. The 500SL engine, transmission, rear end, and brakes were fitted, and suspension was substantially upgraded as well. The fenders were flared, the track widened, the ride height lowered, and bigger wheels fitted. Compared to the 500SL, a shorter rear end ratio was used (2.82 against the SL’s 2.65), and the intake manifold design modified by Mercedes to produce an additional 22 ft-lb of torque to bring the total from 332 in the SL to 354 in the 500E. Additionally, the E500E weighed approximately 400 pounds less than the SL. The net result of these changes was what was then searing straight line performance.
The 500 was always intended to be a low volume car, and Mercedes eventually awarded Porsche the production contract as well. Porsche had an empty factory, the Rossle Bau facility in which the 959 had been produced, and it was here that the E500Es were built. Toward the end of production of the W124.036, the cars were briefly built alongside RS2, which Porsche also built for Audi. Production of the E500E was complex: Porsche modified body shells supplied by Mercedes, which were then transported across town to Mercedes’ facility at Sindelfingen where they received interiors and were painted. They were then trucked back to Zuffenhausen where mechanical systems were installed and the remainder of the assembly completed, before being trucked back to Mercedes for delivery preparation and distribution. The process took 18 days and the resulting US base price, around $80,000 (in excess of $140,000 in today’s dollars) or $15,000 more than an M5, meant that only a special type of person bought them, and they were sold in low numbers.
Those who got the car truly got it. Automobile Magazine swooned, delivering quotes in their April 1992 issue such as:
“The 500E’s ability to deliver speed and comfort with complete safety makes it a standard by which we will measure all automobiles.”
It’s expensive, exclusive, and more than a little unreal, but it makes you believe once again in the ability of Mercedes to make the ultimate automobile.”
“Ah, the speed, the incredible speed. We are utterly intoxicated by the 500E’s speed. We are besotted by it, unmanned, and unwomaned by it.”
“I was going down the autobahn toward Geneva in the 500E, and I was thinking about my friends who are always telling me how great it must be to work at a car magazine and then asking which car is the best I’ve ever driven. And I thought: This is it. This is the best car in the world. This is the reason I work at a car magazine.”
Available in the United States for three model years, 1992, 1993, and 1994, each model year was slightly different. The most obvious changes arrived for the 1994 model year, when, like the rest of the Mercedes line, the model letter was moved to the front of the name instead of being at the back. Thus the 500E became the E500, and the cars received revised headlights, a more contoured hood, clear corner lenses, and cleaned up treatment to the trunk lid. The front brakes were upgraded to those of the 12-cylinder SL600. 374 standard delivery examples were brought to the US, plus another 19 tourist delivery US-spec examples, bringing the total 1994 model year production to 393 examples. Total US production across all three model years was 1528 examples.
The cars initially depreciated like all costly Mercedes, and most examples racked up many miles simply because they were such competent, usable, well-rounded cars. Often, they provided exciting daily transport for Ferrari and Porsche owners who wanted to keep miles off their sports cars. As a result, good properly maintained examples are difficult to find and values have surged recently for all E500Es, but especially the exceptional original examples with low mileage.
This particular car is a superbly-documented collector-grade lifetime California car that has covered less than 22,500 miles from new. Sold new in Santa Monica, California by W. I. Simonson Mercedes-Benz on the 9th of January 1995, this car belonged to a resident of Pacific Palisades and had was equipped with both available options: factory cellular phone and CD changer. The car also had the additional dealer-installed options of chrome wheels and color-matched lower body cladding, which was ordinarily finished in contrasting Alto Grey on cars painted this color. With this equipment, the total MSRP was $85,865. The car comes with its complete books set, window sticker, tool roll, and service records.
The car received its first two services at its original selling dealer in February and November of 1995 at 767 and 5,842 miles. The owner moved to Pasadena and subsequent services were performed at Rusnak, the Mercedes dealer in Pasadena, showing routine servicing and the gradual accumulation of mileage until the car’s last Rusnak service in October of 2007 at 20,520 miles. The Carfax indicates that the car continued to live in Pasadena the mileage continued to slowly increase until the original owner sold the car in 2015. Its next owner was a Porsche collector in Northern California, who kept the car briefly before selling it to another collector, who owned this car along with two other E500s and a host of other interesting cars. In March of 2017, less than 100 miles ago, the car received a service, which included new hydraulic accumulators for the rear suspension, a transmission service, oil service, new distributor caps and rotors, and new filters throughout the car. In March of 2018, the car received four new tires. A set of OEM 17” Evo II wheels with near new Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires is available at additional cost.
The car is in superb order cosmetically, appearing to retain all original paint on the sheetmetal. The lower cladding, which is usually a lighter shade of grey, was painted to match the rest of the car by the original selling dealer, but all metal panels of the car meter thin and even, with readings under 4.5 mil on the entire car and no evidence of paintwork in the form of overspray or tape lines. The paint is superb overall, with only few small blemishes: a two small areas of peeling clearcoat on the plastic cladding, and a handful of small scratches. There is light wear commensurate with mileage on front facing areas from normal road use but the car is otherwise very difficult to cosmetically fault. The panels are extremely straight, and all panels open and close correctly, with the famous Mercedes solidity. The chrome wheels show minor aging to the finish, while the lighting, glass, and trim are all in excellent order. The rubber mirror boots, which are vulnerable to aging, are in superb condition. The rear window is free from the delamination that sometimes affects these cars, which have fine filament heating elements unique to the 500.
The interior is in superb condition as well. The seats, which were made for Mercedes by Recaro, are in excellent condition, with virtually no wear, even to the vulnerable driver’s bolsters. The remaining leather is also excellent throughout, as is the wood trim, which shows no cracks. The dashboard is in as-new condition, as is the original headliner, often a weak point on these cars. The front door pocket upholstery shows slight ungluing, which is a common issue on these cars. The carpets are in excellent condition, and a set of color-matched Lloyd over mats has protected the OEM carpets. The original Mercedes cellular phone is still in place, as are the factory first aid kit and Becker 1492 radio.
The engine compartment and trunk are in excellent original condition. The engine is clean and undisturbed in appearance with all original equipment present. The correct later type air intake tubes are in place, and the upper wiring harness is original, but a new replacement is included with the car. The radiator support retains its emissions stickers, and the correct painted finish is present on the hood bumpers and data plate. The heat pad is in excellent condition and there are no visible signs of leakage. The trunk retains its original carpet in excellent shape, along with original 16-inch spare wheel and original tool roll with tools, still in its original plastic. A factory Mercedes-Benz battery is installed. The undercarriage is similarly undisturbed, being structurally excellent and presenting as a low mileage lifetime California car should. There are no signs fluid leaks and the rubber components are in good condition.
The car runs and drives exactly as it should. It starts easily and settles to a quiet, smooth idle. The combination of the torque and the rear end ratio makes for swift, responsive performance in virtually all circumstances, and it must be noted that one of the greatest party tricks this car has is the terrific boot in the pants that a downshift to third gear provides at about 50mph. High speed acceleration is shocking and it is clear that one of the car’s original missions was to consume all comers on the autobahn with minimal drama. Brakes were noted as exceptional in period and remain competent and reassuring for use in today’s traffic, while the chassis has a pleasingly snubbed down feeling that provides excellent stability and inspires the driver’s confidence in all conditions. There is a wonderfully high quality mechanical feel to the car that deeply reflects the old-school Mercedes engineering values.
The car is exceptionally complete. It comes with an uninstalled new upper wiring harness, original window stickerwith dealer MSRP supplement, recent service records as well as service records from the first 12 years of its life, a Carfax, its original tool roll, three sets of keys, and books set which includes maintenance booklet, warranty booklet, running instructions booklet, emergency key with W. I. Simonson card, radio code card, radio instruction booklet, instruction manual, car care guide, approved service products pamphlet, lojack manual, wheels, tires and chains booklet, dealer directory, cellular telephone operation guide, and roadside assistance pamphlet.
This is a rare opportunity to acquire an exceptionally nice example of this significant and increasingly collectible model. A unique moment in both Mercedes’ and Porsche’s history, the E500E is a collaboration that is unlike any that came before and is equally unlikely to ever occur again now that Porsche is making their own 4 door models. An exceptionally preserved and original car with unusually low mileage, this example been in California since new and has been recently sorted, making it a no-excuses car for the collector or enthusiast who demands the very best.
Fantasy Junction +1 510 653 7555 Emeryville, California 94608 USA