1991 Mercedes-Benz W124 300E 3.0 litre 24 value (M104) from Australia and New Zealand


Engineered like no other car - Benz were not joking!



General Comments:

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

1991 Mercedes-Benz W124 300E 3.0 litre 24 valve petrol M104 from Australia and New Zealand


Glory, Hallelujah!!


Nothing major - sticky sunroof attended to.

General Comments:

An astonishing piece of engineering. Acquired the vehicle ex estate of a collector who sadly only lived for six months after acquiring it from the original owner, who was literally a little old lady who lived inland, garaged it constantly and drove it linearly just 3,600 km per year for 23 years from new, and it had a perfect written service history. It's like a new car that's been time warped-forward 24 years. It's utterly incredible and I adore it.

I'm in love with its passionate over-engineering, the ethos of its construction (where form follows function), its understated look, its luxurious minimalism, and the fact those four points alone make it the diametric opposite to almost everything inherent in a modern car.

Counter intuitively, this is a very powerful statement to make, yet it's whispered, since it personifies the whole European notion of savoir faire and cognoscenti. It is like a bespoke suit, and every second spent driving it is joyous. I spent four years looking for a perfect 24v CE because they are better looking than the sedan, but its condition was compelling, and the cinch was that it had the magic M104 24 valve engine. Mercy, it flies! Like a magic carpet for riding long distances. Not a race car at takeoff, but once the cams come on at around 90 km/hr or 4000 RPM, the engine wakes up and reveals itself. It sings for a while then settles, smooth, mighty fast and hushed within. Will sit on 200 km/hr for hours on end.

They simply do not make cars like this any more, but here's proof they can still be found. It's a cherished second car, so does not get driven on bad days or short trips. My infant son will probably drive it when he's an adult.

If real engineering appeals, and you can find a great one, grab it. You will not regret it, and you will still be smiling about it on your death-bed!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 29th October, 2015