Mercedes-Benz launched the w124 in January of 1985 to replace the nine-year old w123, one of the most successful sedans it has ever built. Gone was the abundant chrome trim and the rounded lines that characterized the w123, the w124 had a boxy body that was strongly inspired by the entry-level w201 190 and adorned by a healthy dose of plastic trim.
Like its predecessor, the w124 debuted as a four-door sedan and it was joined by a two-door coupe a little later in the production run. Mercedes continued the tradition ushered in by the w123 and it built a wagon variant of the car that came with either five or seven seats depending on which market it was delivered in.
In addition to riding on a state-of-the-art platform, the w124 was offered with a large number of gasoline- and diesel-burning engines that included several all-new units designed specifically for the car. While many w124s sold in Europe were powered by low-spec naturally-aspirated oil-burners, the OM603 straight-six that was found in the engine bay of the 300D Turbo made it the world’s fastest regular-production diesel-powered car in the 1980s.
Better-equipped trim levels appeared in the early 1990s to fend off upstarts like Lexus, Acura and Infiniti, while a two-door convertible bowed in 1991. In 1993, the w124 got its second and last facelift and officially became Mercedes’ first E-Class. It was replaced by the w210 E-Class in 1995 and production ended in 1996 when the last wagon rolled off the assembly line.
As early w124s are nearing 30-years old, will they be cherished by collectors or driven into the ground by unloving owners?