The Original 4-Door Porsche | 1994 Mercedes-Benz E 500 Review

There’s a lot of confusion around the internet when it comes to the performance-spec W124 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. One version was tuned by AMG, the other was co-tuned by Porsche. We’re looking at the latter, the 1994 Mercedes-Benz E 500 sedan.

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Special thanks to James from Throttle House for helping out and hanging out with us during this film shoot, without his help we’d have no rolling footage of this W124 in action. Check out their Channel at:

The W124 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is widely regarded as one of the best vehicles the German luxury brand ever produced, if not one of the best cars ever made period. It’s legendary reliability solidified the W124 as a practical luxury vehicle when it was new, and still to this day as a solid choice for those looking for a classic daily driver. Over 2,500,000 W124 models were produced during its production run, but less than 11,000 came with the 500 designation.

Our full tour and review of this 1994 Mercedes-Benz E 500 is a comprehensive overview of this specific trim, and how Porsche and Mercedes worked together to create a performance-oriented four-door sports car to rival AMG’s own Hammer. For North America we got the 500 E / E 500 for 3 model years, and only 45 were originally sent up to Canada during that production run. These W124s came fully loaded with only the carphone and CD changer being optional extras.

The E 500’s legendary performance comes from it’s naturally aspirated 5.0L M119 DOHC 32 Valve V8 engine which Mercedes developed for the 500 SL and asked Porsche to engineer to fit in the smaller E-Class chassis. Porsche was also tasked with tuning the suspension and ride of the W124 to make it perform better and handle the additional weight of the larger M119 engine. Mercedes also used the brakes from the 500 SL and later SL 600 to help stop the car, though many enthusiasts find that even those brakes aren’t strong enough to stop the weight of this beast, opting for even grippier brakes off the SL 600 Silver Arrow.

Porsche helped assemble the E 500 as the Mercedes production facility couldn’t accommodate the additional width of the E 500’s tire track and flared fenders, and took 18 days to fully assemble one car.

Often confused with the AMG Hammer, both vehicles share the same W124 chassis/platform, though AMG’s version took the 5.6L V8 engine from the 560 SEL S-Class / 560 SL roadster and bored out the cylinders to 6 litres, producing more power at the cost of additional weight. AMG at the time was not a subsidiary of Daimler/Mercedes-Benz but rather an independent tuning house. They’d buy a 300 E and custom build a Hammer out of it, giving it the designation E 60 AMG. A number of smaller version were also produces like the E 34 AMG for the Japanese market (shown in this video) and the E 36 AMG, also for European markets where engine displacements were typically smaller.

The rest of our episode of TestDrive Spotlight goes over the features and mechanical specifications of this specific E 500 along with taking it on a road test to talk about how a 25 year old car like this compares to the other W124s we’ve featured on TestDrive, along with the other E-Classes we’ve driven also. We discuss our impressions on the road for this vehicle being used as a daily driver and how it handles and performs by today’s standards.

We wrap up our full tour and review on the 1994 Mercedes-Benz E 500 with a rundown of what to look for if you’re in the market for this kind of car, including the common problems associated with the W124 and E 500 specifically, along with a quick buyer’s guide for what to look for.

If you’re thinking of owning a vehicle like this we strongly recommend joining one of the E 500 specific forums like, which is an active community specializing in this car.

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TestDrive is proudly produced in Acton, Québec, Canada. This episode was filmed on-location in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.

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