W 124 Estates (1985 – 1996)

  • The perfect vehicle for people with an active lifestyle
  • First large-scale use worldwide of four-valve-per-cylinder technology in diesel engines in the 124 series
  • A sophisticated suspension ensures safety and comfort

The name E-Class has a good ring to it and is held in worldwide esteem. It stands for an entire model family from Mercedes-Benz whose tradition goes a long way back. But the first series to bear the name E-Class is not old: it is the 124 series launched in 1984. Since 1993 it went by the name of the E-Class – and passed this name on to all successor series. Today it is one of the brand’s modern classics that brings its workaday qualities to bear down to the very present and still makes a perfect companion. At Mercedes-Benz Young Classics in Stuttgart such cars are available for purchase or rent.

Mercedes-Benz introduced the Estate models in September 1985, one year after presenting the Saloon. As usual, they have an S in the internal designation: S 124. This was the second series of Estate models from the brand. The load artist had celebrated its debut in the previous series, the 123; the combination of saloon comfort with the load compartment capacity of an estate proved so successful that Mercedes-Benz offered this body type in the next generation too. Later the Estate model range was extended to the C-Class, and it has long enjoyed great popularity with the customers.

The success, the popularity and the quality of the 124 series in all variants – Saloon, Estate, Coupé, Cabriolet and special models – is reflected in the current figures. For example, in the USA just about 65,000 units are still on the road; in Germany, easily 55,550, and in France around 26,600 (as of September 2009). But these figures also show that in many cases the owners see their cars as a long-time companion and a lasting investment. With that the 124 series already has transformed into a classic – a modern classic, of course, but one that embodies values of the Mercedes-Benz brand which were just as valid then as they are today.

These values include comfort, an area in which Mercedes-Benz sets new standards every time again in its intermediate range. The engineers’ have an extremely comprehensive understanding of the term comfort: not just a pleasant atmosphere in the interior, with comfortable upholstery and high-grade materials, a sophisticated suspension system and refined engines create a sense of comfort, but the perfect interplay of all vehicle components. Drivers always have the feeling that with this vehicle they get the perfect mobility solution to suit their needs. The 124 series is a prime example of this philosophy.

E 280 Estate subsequent to the second facelift (1993 to 1996)

Also where safety is concerned. The engineers created a very high standard with a whole package of solutions, including the use of high-strength steels in the body structure, which permit both a lightweight construction and great stability. In September 1988 all models of the series got an extended range of standard equipment which included the anti-locking braking system ABS and a heated nearside exterior mirror – safety features just like the windscreen washing unit with heated washer reservoir plus heated nozzles and hoses which were adopted from the S-Class on this occasion. Of course, the sophisticated suspension of the 124 series with inter alia shock absorber strut independent front suspension with anti-dive control and multi-link independent rear suspension also counts as a safety feature. Together with the Estate model the all-wheel-drive system 4MATIC also premiered. Like the automatic locking differential and acceleration skid control ASR systems combined with it, this system enhances handling safety in critical situations.

At the same time developments like these are typical of the innovative strength of the 124 series. The innovations included the eccentric-sweep panoramic windscreen wiper, which ensured a swept area that was the largest of any car. But the four-valve-per-cylinder technology also added a chapter to the series’ innovation story: as a world first in large-scale production it was introduced in the diesel engines; the petrol engines were systematically changed over to the four-valve technology in the course of the model’s history.Mercedes-Benz T-Model, 300 TE (S 124)

The design certainly has not lost its freshness. Cars of the 124 series still present an attractive picture, with their body lines giving them a classic, almost timeless appearance. The design underscores the brand’s claim that it offers its buyers not only a perfect automobile, but a made-to-measure suit, so to speak, appropriate for any occasion or situation in life.

Mercedes-Benz W 124 series after the first facelift in 1989

The Estate models of the 124 series demonstrate workaday qualities in a truly characteristic way: their load compartment concept is as up-to-date today as it ever was. With their large capacity, the low load sill and the practical tailgate, the Estates are the ideal companions for people who cultivate an active lifestyle.

1993 E 36 AMG Estate

The longevity of the 124 series is almost proverbial. The figures provided earlier on the number of vehicles still in everyday operation speak a clear language. And one is safe in assuming that the number of kilometres in service usually will be in the high six-digit range – no problem at all owing to the well-thought-out overall design. But it also can be put down to the perfect supply of spare parts:  almost every part is still available through the Mercedes-Benz service organisation. Not only those required to keep the car running, but also to guarantee a perfect visual condition.

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