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  #1  
Old 01-10-2003, 01:45 PM
blackmercedes's Avatar
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Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
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1992 500e

Let me tell you about my cousin. She's my Dad's brother's daughter. My uncle John (namesake) died thirty years ago, and left a little something to each of his kids. Not much, but enough to make sure they got their young adult lives off to a decent start.

Jan is a fifty-something elementary school teacher. She wears sensible shoes and an outfit from Eddie Bauer is pretty avant-garde.

She bought a 1981 Honda Accord new in 1981, and just replaced it this fall, with a 1992 500E. She lives in Calgary and bought this silver/black beast from a private owner for the stunning price of $26,000. It's got 175,000 kilometers, and a reasonable service history, but needed work. She's brought the car back to excellent shape, though it's value won't ever be the same as a pristine original 500E. A repaint is the main reason.

However, the car looks good now, and drives like new. Lots of new bushings, a new steering box, new tires and brakes all around, and new timing chain and tubes make it a real runner.

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend an hour behind the wheel this morning.

Lat's begin with the stuff I don't like. That way all you 500E owners will have extra time to bang those flaming e-mails off.

I like the interior materials. The wood looks real (of course it is!) and the leather is heavy and of high quality. The dash plastics are beefy and the four seat configuration is attractive. The doors close with a heavy thunk. Now, the ACC controls really date the interior. The old wheel style temp set looks 1980's, but works well. The dash angles are also beginning to look aged. The front lit gauges are also "old-fashioned" but in usual MB fashion, clear and informative.

Many people call this the "four door Porsche." No! Not a chance! Not even close! Stop it! I know Porsche had a hand in the car, and it makes no difference. Has anyone owned/driven a Porsche from this era?

The 500E has superb ergonomics. Porsche? Hahahaha! The 500E has a competent HVAC system. Porsche? C'mon. The 500E can be driven fast by someone with a fairly low skill level, moderate understeer defeated only by a really heavy foot. Porsche? They don't care about low skilled drivers. The 500E has superb build quality. Take a look at a similar vintage 911. Not even close.

Been to a service department with a 500E? It's just a W124 with an M119 V-8. Some parts are pricey, but overall care and feeding of a 500E is like any other MB V-8 sedan. Porsche? Bring the title to your house bud. And don't you DARE make your own diagnosis comments.

Okay, now that we've got that settled, let's talk about driving this car.

It's great. It leaps. It roars. It rips. It howls.

The car does not handle as well as a W210 chassis, but pretty close. Just a little less precise. The one area it excels in for us MB diehards is in steering at speed. I love the old RB steering systems, and nothing has better high speed stability.

The V-8 has no mechanical rasping or giant induction roar, but a terrific snarl from the pipes. It could have a little more edge, but it would be out of character in this Q-ship.

The brakes are great, but that's pretty much the norm for a Mercedes. Pedal feel is good for a car of this age, but I would think about a new master cylinder some time. The car can still hammer you into the seatbelts, and the brakes are fade free on the road. A racetrack might bring them to boil, but only the most abusive and illegal road driving would hurt them.

The off-line performance is disappointing. The car is NOT a stop light racer. It can hold it's own, no doubt, but this car needs to be moving for it's true abilities to shine. Roll on is vicious and only some serious late model artillery can handle it.

Overall, it's like driving a 300E that is hiding an athlete's body under it's suit.

No wonder all the auto journalists ran out of superlatives when this car was new.

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  #2  
Old 01-10-2003, 02:44 PM
need2speed's Avatar
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There are two things Porsche has over MB when comparing the 500E/E500 with their products:
1. lots more racing goodies available for Porsche's in the aftermarket, and
2. NO SPEED LIMITER.

We'll have to go for a test ride some day John...then you can compare the stock versus lowered suspension.
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  #3  
Old 01-10-2003, 04:21 PM
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Elementary school teachers do well in Canada, eh?

Keeping my MBs in top condition is a near-impossible feat with my household income...and I honestly have to just suffice with "mostly running okay"!

I can't imagine how financially devastating it must be to resurrect a 500E from certain erosion!
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  #4  
Old 01-10-2003, 04:36 PM
Kuan's Avatar
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Re: 1992 500e

Quote:
Originally posted by blackmercedes
The 500E has a competent HVAC system. Porsche? C'mon
Ever have a weird tingly feeling that all of a sudden hits you when you sit in a Porsche? I have an explanation. It's the carbon monoxide

Kuan
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  #5  
Old 01-10-2003, 05:51 PM
blackmercedes's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally posted by G-Benz
Elementary school teachers do well in Canada, eh?

Keeping my MBs in top condition is a near-impossible feat with my household income...and I honestly have to just suffice with "mostly running okay"!

I can't imagine how financially devastating it must be to resurrect a 500E from certain erosion!
Jan bought her house 30 years ago with her inheritance, and drove that 81 Accord for 21 years. She probably has the first dollar she ever made! Heck, if I'd lived my adult life without a mortgage and no car payments for the past 18 or 19 years, I could probably afford a Maybach!

BTW, she STILL has that Honda, and takes it to the mall, etc.

The funny thing is the choice of car. Jan is so durned practical. A ten year old Mercedes performance car just seems like such an unlikely car to top her shopping list. And it sucks gas. Jan's husband is an environmental engineer, and pretty radical. They have a grown daughter that works as an environmental lobbyist in Ottawa. That V-8 probably gets a few frowns at family gatherings...
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  #6  
Old 01-10-2003, 07:16 PM
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John,
I agree with just about everything you say about it, however, I'm wondering if you tried a 1st gear start. And I also wonder if tire choice played into how you perceived the handling.

Glad you enjoyed the car overall and thanks for the (as always) great write-up!
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  #7  
Old 01-10-2003, 07:29 PM
blackmercedes's Avatar
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Glen,

unfortunately Jan is running Pilot Alpins right now, as it's winter. That said, the W124 feels different when running over some rough stuff during cornering when compared to the W210. It's not a tire thing, but a function of struts vs. control arms.

During our standing start run, I shifted the gal manually, so I did start in first gear. Hey, I'm not saying it's SLOW, but the off line performance is a little weak when you know what kind of roll on this car is capable of. Also, I was trying real hard not to roast the snow tires, and stay out of the ASR. Still, once hooked up and rolling in first gear, I still think any of the contemporary AMG products have an edge.

I think the fault lies in the internal ratios of the four speed with the 2.82 final drive. It's a tough job to balance acceleration and relaxed cruising, but still have autobahn top speeds. MB did a great job, but AMG had a real tuning advantage having five forward speeds.

On Highway 44 I passed six trucks in a row in a space that 99% of cars might have gotten past two. With space to spare...
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  #8  
Old 01-10-2003, 08:12 PM
Holson Adi's Avatar
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Exactly exactly how I feel about the 500E.

It definitely isn't the fastest street light racer. You could definitely feel the weight of the car.

I was driving my friend's 2000 BMW 323CI for the past few days. I must say the 323 had about as much punch off the line as the 500E and could probably give it a hard time in short-distance sprints..

However driving the 323CI just didn't have any of that special feel that the 500E does. Build quality namely. Maybe I'm just dreaming... but the 500E feels a lot more expensive inside (even my friend who knows nothing about cars felt the same)

The V-8 is definitely something. It has that lovely V-8 sound but not the rumble (don't like that kinda sound too much). It's smooth, and very powerful.

Once it moves (30+mph) the BMW would never catch up to the 500E... no way.. even without a G-Tech whatever I could definitely feel that 'push' a lot more in the 500E.

I also agree that it's almost like driving a 300E in the city (comfortable yet firm)

I have never driven a new AMG car... but I'd imagine they are just amazing...

again... I don't know why that car appeals to me so much but nothing will replace it right now as my dream 4-door sedan or in fact... it is my dream car.
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  #9  
Old 01-10-2003, 09:45 PM
Glen's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally posted by blackmercedes

Hey, I'm not saying it's SLOW, but the off line performance is a little weak when you know what kind of roll on this car is capable of.
LOL...I understand
It's that two tons (with driver) that needs to get moving that makes it feel sluggish...

Quote:
Originally posted by blackmercedes

I think the fault lies in the internal ratios of the four speed with the 2.82 final drive. It's a tough job to balance acceleration and relaxed cruising, but still have autobahn top speeds. MB did a great job, but AMG had a real tuning advantage having five forward speeds.
One of the reasons I think a 6-speed manual would make the car so much better!
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  #10  
Old 01-17-2003, 10:28 PM
roas
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I agree on your negative points John, the A/C controls are just plain dated as well as the Instrument lighting, backlit would have been nice.

It's a great everyday car.
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  #11  
Old 01-17-2003, 11:06 PM
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John,

Nice right up.

It took me a while to figure out how to describe the engine sounds under full throttle, the initial snarl is definitely there. Once under way I realized that it sounded like a Turbine..........music to my ears every time I drop the hammer!

BTW......exactly how fast were you going when passing those six trucks?

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