300 Mercedes-Benz 124E (W1986) – Driving with a smile

Driving a special Mercedes Benz 300 E (W124) from 1986
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The Mercedes-Benz 300E (W124) is seen by friend and foe as a determining factor within the upper middle class of the eighties. The Benz is also highly regarded by us. When the opportunity arises to drive this type of car, we will of course not pass it up. Certainly not in the case of the beautiful and richly equipped example from 1986, in which I was allowed to drive on a beautiful day.

The Mercedes-Benz 300E was ordered in 1986 with a tasty combination of Mittelrot interior and exterior in Nautikblau. And options such as power windows, power front seats with headrests, a sliding/tilting roof that opens and closes at the touch of a button were also checked. Extra things such as headlight wipers, Klima Anlage and the Mercedes-Benz four-speed automatic transmission with S and E position give the car a boost.
As much as the accessories appeal to me, the biggest attraction has not yet been named. That is the M103 six-cylinder with a capacity of 2962 cc, which turns silky smooth and is linked to the fine automatic transmission. A classic car valuation at Wilbers Oldtimer Valuations is always wise.

Nice torque build-up

The Reihen Sechs has a nice torque structure. The maximum torque is reached at 4400 rpm, but the delivery is noticeable at all quietly. In this car, the M103 E30 engine doesn't force me to have steroids, especially when I've put the slider of the four-speed automatic in economy mode. It is also possible to make the “S” (default) choice. In that case, the automatic transmission switches on later and that benefits the tempo accelerations. But the Mercedes-Benz 300E certainly does not elevate the not childish acceleration potential to a must in that case.

Kick down

Of course there are possibilities to let the power source get the most out of its performance. When the liquids are up to temperature, I floor the accelerator in one movement, which means kickdown. The first gear is therefore activated and that resistance is - while the impressive potential of the power source comes to the surface - held for a long time. Then it is also possible to accelerate to a speed of 100 kilometers per hour within nine seconds.

Relaxed driving style most appropriate

This Mercedes-Benz 300E, however, is better suited for calmer driving away from a standstill. That choice means a completely different driving characteristic and, moreover, the W124 then drives away in second gear, unless the selector lever is put in “2”. Then gear one is activated and you can shift to the two by moving the lever to “D”. We mainly drive fully automatic (ie from “D”) and combine that choice with the E-mode. That configuration fits perfectly with this six-cylinder W124.


The automatic transmission switches up relatively quickly in that position and that means that the revs are kept relatively low. Furthermore, it is indeed possible to run the engine a respectable number of revolutions in eco mode. In that case, too, it is striking how excellent the sound insulation is for each other. In fact, I lower the window electrically and open the sliding/tilting roof to take in more serene volume from the mighty forepeak.

Excellent chassis

And then the excellent chassis. This combination of the shock absorber-guided front axle and the Raumlenkerachse, in which the rear wheels are carried on both sides by five independent arms, filters everything out. The excellent leather seats make a contribution to the comfort pocket and the steering is simple and with feeling, prompted, among other things, by a fine in the hand and electrically adjustable (airbag) steering wheel. The combination of steering, throttle and chassis also leaves a lot of room for a largely neutral cornering behaviour, and confirms the extremely safe feeling that this Mercedes-Benz 300E offers.

Occupants are carried

This Benz takes a lot of work off your hands. It carries the driver and passengers from A to B, as it were, and beyond. We already mentioned the excellent chairs. The aforementioned Mittelrot provides additional chic. The center console is fitted with attractive Zebrano and the rear headrests can be folded up from the driver's position for a better view.

Test drive extended

This 'Swiss' W124 has only covered two tons in just under 32 years. In many respects it can be seen that the Mercedes-Benz 300E is well preserved. The condition is excellent. There are no traces of rust, the car is in excellent condition. Apart from a few traces in the leather, there is nothing to criticize about this Benz, which is also equipped with the later available 15″ Achtloch rims. It will not come as a surprise to you that we decide to extend our test drive in this completely harmonious Benz. Because we don't drive every day in this combination of comfort and quality, especially in this luxurious configuration. This 300E offers true enjoyment, which has since been appreciated by the new owner.

Also read:
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- Mercedes-Benz 240 D. Driving with a historic success number
- Mercedes Benz 190 (W201). A monument turns forty
- A Mercedes Benz 400 SE. A jubilee series in Auto Motor Klassiek


Give a reaction
  1. I have my w124 convertible Oct 1994 now 21 years old. Still happy as a child when I take it out of the garage after the winter break. Lovely car and a nice side effect is that the prices are now rising

  2. I myself had 2 types of the W 124, a 300D from 1986 with which I have toured 270.000 KM and a 300TE 4 Matic from 1988 which served as a winter sports car until last year and returned it at 210.000 KM. Completely safe and cheap cars to maintain. Only got rid of the last one because we decided not to go on a winter sports holiday anymore, because 16% increase with snow and good winter tires was enough for the 4 Matic to get up, so I didn't have to do all kinds of tricks in the snow to get the to install snow chains.

  3. It is my daily transport, but with the economical and quiet 250D engine, linked to the four-speed automatic. Still a great car, after 37 years on the road.

  4. Did an oil and filter change myself, did not come to the garage for years, nothing further broke and these 124s did not rust, unfortunately the types after that all the more

    • This rust was (and is) partly due to the transition from solvent-based paint to water-based paint from 1995 at Mercedes.

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