A look back at the Mercedes-Benz W124 (1985 – 1995)
When it came to coming up with a replacement for the W123, the mentality at Mercedes-Benz was ‘more of the same’. Despite the style being much in keeping with the 1980s – similar in that respect to the 190E which had recently been launched – the range of engines and running gear had been taken from the older car.
Many enthusiasts consider the W124 as the final ‘hard-as-nails’ Mercedes-Benz; to that extent, they’re still popular amongst collectors and fans. Despite the similarities with the older, outgoing car, there were plenty of technological updates. The W124 featured multi-link independent suspension, a massive improvement on what had come before.
The overall safety performance was far superior to the previous mode too, both passively and active. Advanced crash protection saw a bodyshell that crumpled progressively in certain areas. Anti-lock brakes came as standard on the higher-spec editions at first before being rolled out across the entire range as the years passed.
An innovative new feature that made its debut was the panoramic solo windscreen wiper, which was brilliantly simple and worked exceptionally; sadly it never really caught on.
The choice of different variants of the W124 was extremely diverse; there was truly one for everyone. The range started with the entry-level four cylinder cars and continued right up to the V8 powered 500E.
All in all, the W124 has stood the test of time remarkably well. One complaint perhaps is that the edges were prone to rust, and this could date the appearance somewhat, the engines lasted forever though, a true brute of a car.
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