The Mercedes W123 was, and still is one of the most memorable Mercedes models of all time which meant that Mercedes had to do quite a bit of work in order to replace it with a worthwhile model. This is where the W124 comes in, and it’s safe to say that the W124 is also one of the most memorable Mercedes models of all time.
The W124 is known for its bank vault levels of build quality, long-lasting engines, stately design, and a much more modern-looking silhouette than its predecessors. However, the W124 came in many different variants including both diesel and petrol engines and a sedan, a convertible, a coupe, and an estate version.
The W124 was in production between 1985 and 1996 and even then this iconic car was offered with both heated and memory seats. This only further reiterates that the 80s were the Golden era of Mercedes engineering both because of reliability, but also because of innovation.
The W124 is also available as both a manual and an automatic, but most people understandably went for the automatic. The most potent E36 AMG model is already a classic, but the E400 and the E500 were even co-developed with Porsche. Many people believe that the E500 was the very first true German performance sedan.
Mercedes W124 – The powertrain
The engine is the beating heart of any car thus it’s only understandable to start from the engine and the gearbox combo. The W124 is widely known to offer some of the most dependable engines out of all cars ever, especially the 6-cylinder versions.
The W124 was also offered with 4-cylinder petrol and diesel options, but these were deemed as a bit too slow for the W124. The 6-cylinder engines, especially the 3.0l V6 are commonly referred to as the best powertrain options for the W124, but the 8-cylinder 500E is definitely the most iconic W124 of all time.
The W124 was even available with an early iteration of the Mercedes 4MATIC AWD system, but this was not all that popular because the 4MATIC system was not as dependable as the rest of the car. Gearbox-wise, the W124 was offered both as a manual and an automatic, but the majority of customers went for the automatic.
As previously mentioned, the W124 is an incredibly reliable car, but the engines did suffer from problems such as leaks, distributor cap issues, and occasional fuel system issues. However, these engines are known to last a few hundreds of thousands of miles without needing extensive overhauls.
Mercedes W124 – Design language and chassis
The W124 showcased the new era of Mercedes design because the W123 did look like a true 70s car while the W124 looked fairly modern even in the late 90s. However, the greatest issue associated with older Mercedes models is corrosion, and the W124 is no stranger to corrosion issues.
The good news is that there are loads of replacement parts for the W124, but if you come across a heavily corroded car, you should go away and never look back. Estates were known to suffer from corrosion even more because of the angle of the rear window.
Mercedes W124 – Suspension and comfort
The W124 was positioned as a higher-end Mercedes sedan which meant that it had to offer superior comfort and an overall sophisticated driving experience. Mercedes cars from this era are also known for suspension wear, and this is also the case for the W124.
The ball joints are some of the weakest components found on the W124 and they sometimes require special tools for removal. The estate and coupe model even utilized a special self-leveling rear suspension system that was also known to sag after a while.
Mercedes W124 – Value and practicality
Nowadays you can find a decent example of the W124 Sedan with all the right options for around $19,000. It is rather obvious that good examples of the W124 tend to increase in value over time which also means that buying one now could potentially reap rewards in the future.
A decent range-topping Porsche co-developed 500E nowadays costs more than $30,000 while the very best examples go for double that. All in all, the W124 offers a lot of Mercedes for the money, and given the fact that the values continue to do strong, it is a worthy proposition if you are in the market for a modern classic sedan.
Practicality-wise, the W124 is decent. Even though the successor of the W124 was the first E-Class, don’t go on thinking that the W124 offers similar space to an E-Class. It does offer lots of storage spaces and a fairly large cargo area, but the interior space is nowadays more similar to a C-Class.
Should I buy the Mercedes W124?
The Mercedes W124 was often referred to as the best entry-level Mercedes classic car because it offers everything a true Mercedes classic should. It looks stately with an aura of the past time while also offering the technology some mid-size luxury sedans still don’t offer.
You should be able to enjoy the W124 for a long time because it is so incredibly dependable. As such, if you are in the market for a 80s-90s modern-classic sedan, the W124 is likely one of the best options out there.
Is the Mercedes W124 a true Mercedes?
The Mercedes W124 is actually a car many people deem to be the last “proper” Mercedes model because it came at the end of the Mercedes golden era of engineering. As such, the W124 is one of the “most Mercedes” models of all time because it offers a perfect balance between luxury, reliability, sophistication, and value.
The range-topping 500E was co-developed with Porsche and is often referred to as a definitive part of Mercedes Benz royalty.
Is it easy to maintain the Mercedes W124?
Compared to most cars from that era, the W124 is a fairly easy car to work on. The suspension ball joint failure is one of the most difficult to fix and common issues of the W124. These cars are not nearly as complex as modern-day cars are which means that most mechanics should easily be able to work on the W124.
All in all, the W124 should not cause you many issues, especially if you maintain it correctly.