1991 Mercedes-Benz W124 300E 3.0 litre 24 value (M104)
Engineered like no other car - Benz were not joking!
My main concern was to find a pristine example of Mercedes' last hurrah, before accountants and marketers interposed themselves in the design process. This Merc is the complete antithesis of a modern car and a testimony to the apogee of engineering. Incredibly, my vehicle had been owned by that archetypal old lady who barely clocked up 3,500 km per year for 22 years. It had been garaged, serviced perfectly and every service date since new was recorded so it's immaculate and akin to a new car that has been time-warped forward 24 years. Or conversely, when driving it I'm time-warped backward 25 years to a new car.
Cosmetically, it's also an embodiment of the notion of savoir faire - it's so under-stated that it's almost proudly dull, with no need to remotely impress those who don't already understand. In this era of blow-hards, try-hards and outright fakes, this car is r.e.a.l.
There are no electronics, and everything is over-engineered. But the DOHC 104 engine is the prime joy - the engine has significantly more torque and horsepower than the SOHC 103, where you need it, on the open road. Hit 4,000 RPM and the engine is transformed as the cams come on song and the engine awakes, transformed into something very extroverted.
Of course it's no race car but an elegant, effortless, totally assured machine that's a joy to travel in and even more joyous to drive. It only comes out on good days, mainly in summer.
Aesthetically the coupe 300CE is more attractive, but after four years of searching none were under 180,000 km, with associated wear. This sedan is near perfect, and I suspect it's my duty to steward it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 29th June, 2016