The Mercedes 500 E – the forerunner of Mercedes’ AMG Performance range – turns 30 and Mercedes celebrate its place in history.
When did Mercedes start to build ‘Performance’ saloons? Some may say it was the arrival of the 300 SEL 6.3 in the late 1960s, but the real start – pre-AMG Mercedes co-operation and ownership – was the 1990 Mercedes 500 E. And it turns 30 this month.
First revealed at the Paris Motor show in October 1990, the 500 E was a W124 Mercedes with flared wheelarches, a new front spoiler, suspension lowered from the regular W124 saloons and fitted with Mercedes 5.0 litre V8 from the R129 SL.
Mercedes turned to Porsche to help develop and build the 500 E – Porsche had spare capacity at the time, Mercedes didn’t – with each of the 10,479 500 Es built travelling backwards and forwards between Mercedes and Porsche up to 18 times during its build.
Good for 326bhp and good for 62mph in under 6.0 seconds (proper supercar performance at the time), the Mercedes 500 E cost twice as much as a regular 300 E. The 500 E ran until 1995 – turning in to the E 500 as Mercedes changed its nomenclature – and also spawned the E 60 AMG in 1993.
A small number of 500 Es made it to the UK (just 29), and one of the biggest fans is Rowan Atkinson, with the Black Adder star buying a 500 E new in 1991, flogging it four years later but getting back in to another, 1993, 500 E in 2015, followed by the repurchase of his original 500 E in 2017 and selling the 1993 car for £71k, and finally selling the original 500 E again.
So we’re sure Rowan Atkinson will be smiling as he reflects on the 500 E passing 30. Time for another?