Intended to replace the aging W123, the W124 inaugurates the new classification of the renowned Bavarian manufacturer. A veritable monster of robustness and reliability, this model will bring its share of novelty while surpassing the criteria that make it a real Mercedes.
Context and development
Wishing to renew its range and simplified it, Mercedes decided to develop what will be, the basis of the next E class. The E class is a range of road (competitor of ranges the 5 series and A6) found in the new nomenclature between C and S models. This is intended to be a product which should make the connection between the small and large models of the manufacturer. Successful thing since this classification still exists today.
Thus, the W124 born in the offices of Mercedes engineers who had to respect a specification moving towards a lighter and recyclable road than the previous W123 brimming with chrome and other metals. In addition, it had to be able to transport 5 people and their luggage in complete safety and in comfort at the height of the star brand.
Doctor Bruno Sacco, then chief design director at the time, resumed the features of his 190 while adapting it, thanks to his stroke of the pen to the new proportions of the road to be born. The W124 was born and innovated with its totally innovative equipment for the time, hence its nickname "laboratory on wheels". Nickname fully justified since it received throughout its marketing equipment unavailable at the time from the competition, and yet become the norm today.
The W124 inaugurated the first catalytic converters and ABS braking available as an option when it was first marketed. Then thereafter, we could find equipment like ASR (electronic traction control), ASD (self-locking differential) or the brand's first all-wheel drive (4Matic) at its bort.
Mechanics and cooperation
On the engine side, the W124 is equipped with excellent engines with sometimes large displacements quite rare at the time in this market segment and which made the reputation of the manufacturer thereafter. Thus the model receives petrol engines ranging from 2L to 5L of displacement with 4 to 6 cylinders in line and a V8 for the most imposing versions. In diesel, it receives engines ranging from 2L to 3L which can be turbocharged with 4, 5 or 6 cylinders which earned it the title of fastest diesel in the world.
These relatively large engines for this range of models made possible by the recovery and improvement of the rear axle of the 190. But also the appearance of a diving restraint system on the front axle to improve handling and the overall comfort of the vehicle even on large engines. The W124 also marks the beginning of the appearance of the V8 in a "Mittelklasse" with the E500 (5L) and later the E400, E420 both in 4.2L. These unique engines are the result of the cooperation of the show-off Mercedes-Benz and the manufacturer Porsche, then in great financial difficulty at the time. An agreement was therefore made between the two manufacturers intended to delegate the design and installation of V8 engines by Porsche in the various E400, E420 and E500. Indeed, the Bavarian engine manufacturer then sent the chassis of W124 directly to the Porsche factory where they were stripped in order to receive their interiors, preparations and final engine.
This time is also the entry into scene of the AMG preparer in the Mercedes house which had already illustrated in the modification of a 300SEL nicknamed "Red Pig" to register it in competition. The W124 did not escape the grip of the preparer who worked on it to get out the remarkable E36 AMG, 300CE 6.0L AMG (Hammer) and the E60 AMG.
Its success and today
With more than 2,725,000 copies in various bodies, it is not uncommon to come across a W124 on five continents and on all terrains. Available in sedan, station wagon, coupe, and even convertible, this model endures the strength that made the reputation of the manufacturer. Namely to offer reliable and robust vehicles that can still run today, regardless of their mileage and even with misuse of their owner.
Indeed, it is not uncommon to come across owners of relatively high mileage W124s who claim that their vehicle is still running in. This funny expression at first sight demonstrates user satisfaction and demonstrates the feeling of robustness communicated by the W124s built over its 13 years of production and marketing. Sentiment confirmed by a statement by Werner Breitschwerdt (CEO of Mercedes-Benz during the design of the W124) referring to the Berlin Wall with humor:
"If the wall had been built like I built my W124, it would still be standing, and proud".