35 years later, the Mercedes W124 estate is still gorgeous
4,788 mm of beauty
The Mercedes-Benz W124 estate was introduced at the 1985 Frankfurt Motor Show as the first iteration of the W-series to officially bear the E-Class nomenclature (from 1993). By the time the second generation came along, Mercedes had built a total of 340,503 units and it was, as it is often the case with Mercedes, a ground-breaking vehicle.
For starters, it had an admirable 0,340 drag coefficient, which was pretty good for a wagon at the time and Mercedes relocated the fuel tank underneath the vehicle floor at the rear, which improved both comfort and safety. Comfort, because there was more room for passengers and more space in the boot for luggage. Safety, because in the event of a collision, the fuel tank would be deflected towards the bottom and held by cables.
Several engine options were available, including a lot of diesel powertrains, from the 72-hp 200TD to the range-topping 182-hp unit found in the 300 TE. Some of the engines were exclusively manufactured for the estate. The 300 TD Turbo, for example, featured a three-litre turbocharged six-cylinder diesel putting out 143 hp and it was only available for the wagon. The same engine would also later be used in the US-spec 300 SDL S-Class.
The 124 also served as a testbed for the development of Mercedes' proprietary 4MATIC four-wheel drive system and in 1987, an actual production version was introduced, the 300 TE 4MATIC, followed a few months later by the 300 TD Turbo 4MATIC.
The face-lifted version, unveiled in 1989, was given new doors, new sills, new mirrors and more chrome. The cabin was also revamped and so were the engine range, with the addition of the 200 TE injection engine and the 220-hp 300 TE. A few years later, in 1992, things like central locking, airbag and power mirrors became part of the 124 estate’s standard equipment.
In 1993, Mercedes unveiled the high-performance version of the 124, officially known as the "E 36 AMG", powered by a 3.6-litre engine, producing 272 hp for a top speed of 150 mph (240 kph).
There's something about long wagons that just does it for me - I don't know why - and the 124 is certainly one of the most iconic examples of it.