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Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – The 1991-95 Mercedes-Benz 500E (E 500)

Jim Brennan October 24, 2014 Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage 36 Comments

MercedesBenz500e3.jpg (900×600) - Google Chrome 10232014 90353 PM.bmp

Welcome to the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a regular feature which aims to expand the notion of what a muscle car is, and to see if we can squeeze in another performance German Sedan. This is the third Mercedes Benz über-sedan that I have profiled in this series, and like the other two, it was seriously understated in its overall appearance. The difference this time is it took Porsche to develop and perform some of the assembly to this high performance German Sedan. So, let’s see what happens when you take a Bank Vault of a Sedan, and have one of the premiere sports car makers inject some serious horsepower under the hood. Introducing the Mercedes Benz 500E (or E 500 as the last ones were known as…).


Mercedes-Benz 500E picture # 07 of 14, Rear Angle, MY 1991, 800x600 - Google Chrome 10232014 85427 PM.bmp

The 500 E was a product of close cooperation between Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, offering a blend of outright performance and uncompromising luxury, and was introduced to the public for the 1991 model year. Each 500 E was meticulously built by Mercedes to a point, and then transported to the Porsche’s Rossle-Bau plant in Zuffenhausen, Germany to receive an all Aluminum 5.0L V8, along with some massaging of suspension components, and then transported back to the Mercedes-Benz Paintshop, only to be shipped again to Rossle-Bau for final assembly. This took a fll 18 days to complete each model.

Overhead-3-4.jpg (1600×1064) - Google Chrome 10232014 85757 PM.bmp

You would think that with all the shuttling between the two plants that this car would be some sort of Frankenstein Monster, and you would be correct. The engine was a monster of its day, producing 326 normally-aspirated horsepower, with 354 lb/ft of torque. The only transmission offered was a 4-speed Automatic, but the performance was right there from the start, with 0-62 MPH (0-100 KPH) times of 6.1 seconds, and a top speed of 161 MPH. Quarter mile runs were clocked at 14.1 seconds with a velocity of 101 MPH.

93_Mercedes_500E_DV-06-p_e01.jpg (1024×680) - Google Chrome 10232014 90250 PM.bmp

These special W124 models also looked the part of a special Executive Express. It had an aggressive stance with a 1.5 inch wider track, almost 1 inch lower profile, flared fenders, side skirts, front air-dam, unique Alloy Wheels with wide performance tires. The cockpit was also a thing of beauty, with four special Recaro designed seats in top grain leather, fine wool carpeting, and highly polished wood veneer for the dashboard. These cars really had very few options, and they were a dealer-installed CD changer and an integrated cellular telephone.

1993-Mercedes-Benz-500E-Hammer-Interior.jpg (800×600) - Google Chrome 10232014 90219 PM.bmp

Changes during the production cycle were limited to a few engineering updates. The 1993 and 1994 models that were imported to the US received a 7 HP decrease in the engine output, for some ungodly reason I can’t seem to uncover, but most likely due to exhaust emissions. The 1994 models received a tweak in the way they look, due to a subtle facelift all W124 models received (updated headlights, grille, and trunk-lid, and trim). The most significant upgrade for 1994 was the brake, as the larger SL 600 components were fitted to the 500 E. The final 120 cars were produced between January and approximately May 1995, available only as special customer request, before the series ceased production.

Mercedes-Benz 500E picture # 09 of 14, Front Angle, MY 1991, 800x600 - Google Chrome 10232014 85448 PM.bmp

These were very limited, with only around 10,500 built between 1990 and 1995. Only 15% of the production made it to these shores (1,528) and they are highly prized today. These cars carried the tradition of the Mercedes-Benz Cruise Missile for the Autobahn in the same way that the other über sedans did before, like the Mercedes 450SEL 6.9, and the 300SEL 6.3. So, do you think the 500 E/E 500 deserves a place within the Obscure Muscle Car Garage, or should it just be regulated with the Euro Trash that is reserved for all those 90’s Synth-Pop icons of the period? Debate away and let me know what you think, and while you’re at it, suggest some other Obscure Muscle that should be highlighted in the future.

93-Mercedes-Benz-500E-re.jpg (900×600) - Google Chrome 10232014 90440 PM.bmp

Would you induct the Mercedes-Benz 500 E (E 500) into the Obscure Muscle Car Garage?

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Please Note: All Images are screen grabs from around the web. If you want credit for any image, please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!

Mercedes-Benz 500E picture # 06 of 14, Side, MY 1991, 800x600 - Google Chrome 10232014 85415 PM.bmp

  • dukeisduke

    What a screamer. Definitely fits the category.

    But, since it used a M-B M119 V8, why did it have to shuttle back and forth between M-B and Porsche? Because of capacity?

    • Maxichamp

      They were over capacity churning out regular W124s (and other new Mercs). Plus, Porsche just discontinued the 959 so had some extra room.

  • buzzboy7

    Yes. Very much yes. Although not the Hammer, the 500E is still all that is Muscle.

  • Maxichamp

    I test drove a tired 500E recently. I could only imagine its potency when it was brand new. What a beast!

  • Dhalgren

    Did Diana die in one of these, or was it an S class? That's what I was thinking while reading this.

    • Maxichamp

      W140 S-Class.

      • MrRoadrage

        That's right. She wouldn't have been caught dead in one of these.

  • wunno sev

    YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

    oh are we talking about whether it belongs in the garage? i was expressing my emotions w/r/t the 500E more generally

    does it belong in the garage?

    YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

  • ConstantReader

    Diana was in an S-class (W140) but died in hospital. The French still haven't put up barriers around the pillars in the Alma tumnnel.

    • paulz67

      If she had been wearing her seatbelt, she might have stood a chance of surviving. IIRC, she was sitting in the right rear seat, and hitting the back of the driver's seat is what unfortunately did her in. Her bodyguard in the RF/passenger seat was belted in, and while seriously injured, survived the crash.

  • Prince Halibrand

    This was the car for the guy who could afford a chaffered limo, but preferred the pleasure of driving himself. Luxury AND speed. Talk about having it all.

  • david42

    Nope. They're full of awesomeness, but any car that is price-no-object can't be a muscle car. I've said it before, and I still think that what makes a muscle car is the compromise: an attempt to go as fast as possible for (relatively) cheap. A muscle car needs to have a flaw! Something that was sacrificed so that The People could have their big engine.

    • GTXcellent

      Remember, back in the "muscle car era" that the 'real' muscle motors – be it a HEMI, LS6 454, Ram Air IV 455, Boss 429, etc., etc, all added around $1000 to the price (when you factor in the also required heavy duty transmission/suspension/brake upgrades). You could purchase a brand new Nova for about $2000. Muscle cars were not cheap.

      • david42

        Very true, but all that extra money went into performance stuff. To my mind, muscle cars are all about prioritizing performance over comfort and luxury. A (real) GTO buyer is probably spending more money than a typical Nova customer, but they probably have some kind of limit on their budget. That's not the case (practically speaking) for someone who buys a 500E. A muscle car tells people about your priorities: I want to go fast, and I don't need that frou-frou plushness.

  • GTXcellent

    One of my prior requirements to a muscle car was that it couldn't have 4 doors. This is an exception to that requirement. Der muskel.

    • Sjalabais

      I am with you on this one. "It's not a truck relief" might play into this, too.

  • I love these things. My co-worker has one and he let me drive it. The power is damn impressive for a car of its era. That said, his ownership experience makes me not want to own one. It is a complicated 20 year old Mercedes, after all.

  • skitter

    Future candidates: Someone mentioned the MG ZT V8 recently, and there is also a rich vein of humdrum British cars packing Rover V8s in the land of the BMC A-series.

  • cosme

    This Benz reminds me a bunch of 80's 90's Squared Commodore and Falcon.
    Thoses four door aussies muscle are deffinitly members of the club.

    I'm always lost beetwen all series and codes who are part of models nomenclature… VK/VL…. XD/XE….
    IF an australian contributor could do some articles about them that would be awsome!

  • JTC

    Yes. Love mine. It's higher maintenance than a Toyota but worth it. I drive it 80 miles daily.

    Muscle car = big engine in a small platform. That's what it has.

  • paulz67

    At that same time, MB also released the 400E (later E420). Not nearly as interesting as the 500E (nor handmade), they weren't exactly slouches, either, with the 4 liter engine rated at 275 HP. I'm checking a couple of those out, as these days they're priced pretty much like a regular 6-cylinder W124 E-Class of that vintage.

  • Van_Sarockin

    One Haulin Fraulein! Jah!

  • Rover_1
    • Das Shtig

      What. Zonda wagon?

      • Rover_1

        So it appears. 🙂

  • Hank

    There is only one foreign muscle car, the Nissan Skyline. It only earns the distinction because it started life when Prince, the predecessor of Nissan, wedged their inline six into a small family sedan. Modern Skylines, while GREAT CARS, are far too refined, as is just about anything from Germany. A Muscle Car is, by definition, a blunt instrument.

    • Rover_1

      What about the Australian and South African muscle cars? And the British ones?

      Edit: And the Italian ones. If a 2.0 litre six shoehorned into a four cylinder counts,then what about the Alfa Romeo Montreal with it's 3 litre V8

  • ptschett

    I have no qualms about voting against this. I'd rather be voting for a wrongfront-wheel-drive GM.
    These cost $85,000 in their day per http://www.hemmings.com/hsx/stories/2007/11/01/hm… ; assuming 1993 dollars (midpoint of the run) that'd be about $140,000 now. (How the mighty havedollar has fallen.) If a car costs that much and doesn't have decent power, someone is doing something very wrong.

  • 1977chevytruck

    Next time I recommend the first gen Taurus SHO.
    Pros: American Sedan, fast, manual is the only choice.
    Cons: Japanese tuned V6 engine, front wheel drive.

  • Peugeotdude505

    Drool. .okay so it's not American but definitely muscle. .maybe a little more refined than most.

    The formula of taking the biggest engine available and putting it in a regular sedan also fits I think (before you could only get a v8 in an s klasse )

  • Jason

    All muscle cars have muscle, but no all cars with muscle are muscle cars.

    How about the URS4/6? Similar luxury, 0-60 and 1/4 times stock, near limitless tuning possibilities and all with a manual! Now that's muscle!

    • ptschett

      In my view those Audis are also in the part of the "cars with muscle" category that doesn't overlap with "muscle car". Great candidates for Obscure Autobahn-führer Garage though.

  • Andy

    too refined, luxurious, handles, practical, reliable… in other words too good to be a muscle car

  • cap'n fast

    look, it does not have a "big block". there fore, it cannot be "muscle".

  • cap'n fast

    how can you call anything "quality" or "muscle" unless the customer defines it? As a customer, I define "muscle" as there being no substitute for cubic inches.

  • Bruno

    First car I ever drove that could lick its own Balls !!