It is the 30th anniversary of the 500 E, the Mercedes-Benz built by Porsche
AMG is rightly regarded as a low-performance Mercedes-Benz and goes back to the 1970s, before the mother ship took control of the small tuner shop. But for a brief moment, German automaker is competing Porsche helped with the development and construction a Mercedes-Benz performance car. It was the 1991 Mercedes-Benz 500 E.and it’s celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The 500 E was based on the W124 generation of the venerable E-ClassBut it was a high-performance, low-volume model that Mercedes needed help building because a wider body wouldn’t fit the assembly line. The timing was right for Porsche, which was in financial trouble, so the project went well for both automakers.
Porsche was responsible for converting the W124 E-Class into a sports sedan with a V-8 drive and for much of the building process for the car. For the 30th birthday of the car, Porsche produced two videos with two of the engineers who worked on the project, Michael Hölscher, project manager development, and Michael Mönig from prototype management.
Mercedes-Benz 500 E.
In order to transform the W124 into a performance touring sedan, the Porsche engineers have redesigned a large part of the body. The new body was 2.2 inches wider than the standard E-Class and featured various bumpers with distinctive wings. The bonnet and engine bay were modified to fit the 5.0 liter V-8 with overhead cam on the Mercedes SL 500. Air flowed through the GS around the headlights into the engine compartment, and the intake had to be modified and isolated because it was making too much noise. The entire area under the hood was reconfigured for the larger engine, and both engineers said it was a tedious process in the days leading up to CAD. In its final form, the 500 E produced 322 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque, which could get it from 0 to 62 mph in 5.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 155 mph.
Porsche engineers have also put the battery in the trunk for better weight distribution, lowered the car by 0.9 inches, modified the center tunnel for a new exhaust and installed larger brakes. Every 500 E was a four-seater because the large rear differential provided space for a center rear seat.
The E 500 debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1990 and production began that year. The creation process for the 500 E. was complicated. Mercedes supplied body parts to Porsche, who assembled the body with additional parts. The body then went back to Mercedes for painting and back to Porsche for final assembly. The process took 18 days, and Porsche had built a total of 10,479 cars by the end of the drive in 1995.
Mercedes-Benz 500 E.
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary, Hölscher and Mönig drove an example of the car, and Hölscher loved the way of driving even after all this time. “The handling is great. The longitudinal acceleration is excellent, the brakes are great and it is a pleasure to drive this car with its dynamic character,” he said. “I enjoy the beautiful and inconspicuous sound of the eight-cylinder engine.”
Given the high standards of both brands, that’s no surprise. In this case, Porsche tech improved a Mercedes, and the project helped keep an iconic but difficult sports car brand afloat.