1993 Mercedes Benz E500
The first high performance Mercedes saloon was not planned, it resulted from the enthusiasm of a group of company engineers who were intrigued to experiment with the shoehorning of the company’s largest 6.3 litre V8 engine usually reserved for the 600 limousine into the mid-size 300 series body. It proved a resounding success and following testing even the highly sceptical and conservative management were impressed enough to authorise a production run.
Although expensive sales soon proved that a rapid, comfortable and very discrete saloon car was much in demand by motoring’s cognoscenti and soon many famous faces including most racing drivers of the 1960’s were spotted in a Mercedes 300 SEL 6.3.
In the mid Seventies Mercedes decided it was time for a similar vehicle and hence the 450 SEL model was fitted with a huge 6.9 litre V8 and offered for sale at nearly twice the price of the already quick 4.5 V8 version. The motoring press loved it and once again the ownership list featured many racing drivers including James Hunt and Nicki Lauda who described his much loved 6.9 as the world’s fastest taxi. As a young car enthusiast I remember the excitement of spotting that rarely seen 6.9 badge on the right of an S Class bootlid.
In the early Nineties Mercedes decided it was time again for a legendary performance saloon and hence the 500E was born featuring the quad cam 5 litre V8 engine from the then new W129 SL sports car fitted (just) into the much revered bulletproof mid-size W124 saloon body. As before, discretion was the order of the day, only the slightly bulging wheel arches giving the game away to those who knew. Unusually the model was produced for Mercedes by Porsche and was virtually handmade on the then redundant Porsche 959 production line. As before the model appealed to the wealthy driving enthusiast and most significant collectors have owned a 500E at some point in their lives.
Only 29 500E models were officially built for the UK market and this example is one of only four of the later desirable face lifted E500 examples supplied to the UK. The UK cars are easily spotted as they feature the front wing mounted indicator repeater lights. It is finished in the great colour scheme of Blue/Black metallic with Anthracite full leather interior and was ordered with many options including electric heated seats, cruise control, electric sunroof, Mercedes Stereo and Sound Pack, Walnut trim and Wood/leather steering wheel.
The car was ordered new by well-known motoring enthusiast Sheikh Mustafa Edrees of Fernhill Park, Windsor and was supplied to him by Mercedes main dealer Lancaster in October 1983. He retained the E500 until April 2001 since when it was enjoyed by a number of enthusiasts before ending up with Mr Peter Brian Ellis, a stalwart of the Mercedes Benz Club in May 2015. He had been looking for such a car for some time finally finding this one at Mercedes specialist Charles Ironside in Hampshire.
Most recently the car has been owned by a significant private collector who has owned many great cars over the years. Now with 88,000 miles recorded it remains in very good order throughout having benefited from careful use and maintenance throughout its life as documented in the history file.
I have covered many miles in this model over the years and a recent test drive in this car reaffirmed how good the E500 despite what has come since. With 325bhp it remains rapid but is also beautifully made and so much more comfortable and discrete than the current range of performance saloon offerings.
A rare and iconic car for not much money really.