There are many memorable Mercedes models. For touring car fans there’s the 190E 2,5 16 Evo2, a car that battled door-to-door against the likes of the BMW M3 and Alfa Romeo 155 in the DTM race series. Lovers of classics will fondly recall the 300SL ‘Gullwing’ and the 280SL ‘Pagoda’. But for Mercedes fans who grew up in the 1990s, there is the Mercedes-Benz 500E aka the Porsche Merc.
Those unfamiliar with fast Mercs may not know the Mercedes-Benz 500E. This car was created, in part, as an answer to BMW’s M5 and similar super saloons. Mercedes wanted to create a powerful version of its W124 sedan. The natural option was to stuff a larger engine from another of its own products into the top-selling ‘E-Class’ of the day.
Mercedes engineers decided that the 5,0-litre V8 from the 500SL was a suitable candidate. The M119 powerplant produced 240 kW and 480 N.m of peak torque. Power was directed to the rear axle via a four-speed torque converter automatic transmission. Acceleration was brisk, for the era, taking less than six seconds to complete the benchmark 0-100 km/h sprint. Top speed was rated as 260 km/h.
What was quite unique about the Mercedes-Benz 500E is that it was assembled by Porsche. Yeah, you read that correctly, a rival car maker was tasked with putting together Merc’s (then) performance halo. Porsche assembled all of the approximately 10 500 examples of 500E, and later E500, at its Zuffenhausen plant. Learn more about how this collaboration worked, and how Porsche benefited, from the men who were there at the time in the video below produced by Porsche.