I checked out the link, and noticed that it's more accurate to say that it's a 2.8 liter M104 engine. It's not really a toned-down M104 engine, just a 2.8 liter engine instead of a 3.2 liter.
It's the same 2.8 liter engine that was used in the 1995-1997 C280.
I don't think it was built for performance, really, because the performance model would have been the 300E, which had the 3.2 liter M104 engine.
I think it was built to be the value model. If you look at all of the production numbers and original invoice prices of the 300E / E320, the single most expensive year of the 300E / E320 in it's entire W124 model run was 1993, which listed for $49,900.
The previous value model was the 260E / 300E 2.6, but with the change to the M104 engine in place of the M103 starting from the 1993 model year, the smaller displacement engine was the 2.8 liter instead of the 2.6.
The pricing information also tells me that Mercedes realized that their pricing structure was way out of whack with the marketplace.
In 1993, the 300E (3.2) was $49,900, and the 300E 2.8 was $43,800. In 1994, the 300E 2.8 was dropped, and the 300E (3.2) was finally badged properly as the E320, and the original list price of the '94 E320 was $42,500 - cheaper than the '93 300E 2.8, and even cheaper than the 1988 300E!
I think it's fair to say that the 300E 2.8 is probably a fantastic car. I haven't seen acceleration numbers on this model, but I'm sure it would clearly out-perform the 90-92 300E's as it has more horsepower and torque, and didn't have the 2nd gear start. I don't know how it would stack up against the 86-89 300E's as they were lighter cars. And this engine in the C280 has proved to be reliable, even though I'm sure it has the same bad engine wiring harness in all M104 engines from 93-95.
2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
Last edited by suginami; 05-27-2002 at 02:49 PM.