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The Mercedes W124 E-class saloon was the mainstay of the Mercedes-Benz range in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A few years into production Mercedes created a new flagship in order to inject some sparkle, and to counter BMW’s M5. The result was the 500E/E500. This combined the powerful, modern V8 5 litre engine from the SL with gorgeously flared arches and a lowered stance. A forerunner to the current AMG range.

It's also worth noting the E500 had one of the more unusual production methods. Porsche were asked to help with hand-finishing the production run and so each E500 was transported between the Mercedes and Porsche factories multiple times during its creation. It was a process that must make a Toyota Production Engineer faint just thinking about it. It must have been a contributory factor to the E500 being Mercedes' most expensive car at the time; on the plus side it took the legendary build quality of the W124 series a notch higher. 

The end result was always very highly regarded for its capability, stealth and rarity, and these attributes have only increased as it entered the collectors’ car world. Note that Porsche were so proud of their contribution that an example sits permanently in the Porsche Museum.

The Vehicle

This E500 is virtually perfect with a low 90,000 miles and excellent bodywork, interior and mechanics. This car has clearly been looked after and has had a recent service at a Mercedes specialist. The E500 only came in one, 'fully-loaded' spec but the seller did specifically request an example with the EVO alloys from the Limited model. The contrast with the 'plain' body adds extra intrigue. 

Having owned one of the 20 officially imported examples, the seller felt the time two years ago was right to own another. Knowing the quality of cars from Japan, he asked a Japanese specialist, newera imports, to search for an E500 as they are acknowledged experts in Japan for W124 cars. After a few months of careful searching, the example you see here is the result.

Some might say that at this mileage, a W124 is 'only just run in', but as this is such a dignified car, we wouldn't stoop to such language...

On the Outside

This E500 is resplendent in the dark grey metallic sometimes called blue black or black pearl. Having come from Japan, it is no surprise to find that the car, above and below, has no corrosion at all. Thankfully there are also virtually no dents or scratches on the paintwork either. Panel fit is perfect and consistent across the whole car and the paintwork shines as you would expect.  If you look close enough, the paint on the bonnet has a couple of minor cracks, and there is a very minor car park dent on one door (the former is photographed, the latter is too small for a photo to show) and a minor scratch on the sunroof.

The restrained body is set off by genuine Mercedes EVO-II wheels from the Limited E500 model combined with nearly new Continental tyres replaced in the last few months (the spare is also an EVO-II). As an example of the attention this car has had, the piano-black window and roof metal trims have been replaced as the originals had faded (a common fault). 

On the Inside

Built to last, as Mercedes intended, there are no marks or defects inside, the black leather, carpets and mouldings are all virtually as they left the factory, just a light patina on the leather. There are no screw holes for old mobiles etc, everything is as it should be. Both the central cubby sliding lids are in perfect condition. The only fault is that the wood around the gearlever/window switches has a few minor cracks. 

There are occasional reports of issues with W124 wiring, but in this car, all electric fixtures and fittings work exactly as they should. As further proof of the legendary build quality, there are no creaks or rattles; and the drive is smooth. Two sets of keys and alarm fobs are included.


This car also wants for nothing mechanically. The V8 hums delightfully when cruising, but on kickdown, its relentless shove is a surprise to most people (succoured by the 'Berlin-taxi' exterior), and is accompanied by a deliciously civilised roar. The gearbox changes gear beautifully, Mercedes’ reputation for automatic gearbox design was second to none in the 1990s. The A/C also works perfectly well. 

The suspension is firm but gives a good ride and there are no undue noises from any of the mechanical components. Underneath and under the bonnet is good, there are no signs of corrosion or oil leaks.

History Highlights

This car was found after a thorough search and was chosen because it had clearly been extremely well looked after. As part of the import process, it was also thoroughly inspected by a UK specialist before handover. The seller believes it was originally sold in Europe before going to Japan as it has the much prettier European bootlid/rear number plate. 

Since importing the Mercedes, the seller has used it as a daily car for over 10,000miles. Just 1000 miles ago it was treated to a major service by a well-regarded Mercedes independent and apart from a new distributor cap (an occasional fault with this engine - only genuine parts were fitted) it's condition was complimented. It has also just flown through another MOT without concern.

Unfortunately, as is often the case in Japan, there is no record of the servicing it had in the Far East, however we believe a car of this quality could not be in this condition today unless it had been well cared for.

What We Think

The E500 is one of the ultimate Q-cars ever made. Although it was a pilot for the shouty, blinged AMG models we are now familiar with, this is a totally different beast. One you could drive innocuously, aware that only a few would nod their head in approval. But one that could also tear down the autoroute and autobahn to Monaco or St Moritz in that style you read about in magazines or on the telly. 

And if that floats your boat, you would have to travel a long way, and wait a long time, before you found a Mercedes E500 in similar condition. This car is testament to what the original build quality (Porsche & Mercedes remember) and caring ownership can do more than 20 years down the line. The cars’ low production run, exclusivity and execution should ensure that future prices are in the same 'safe-as-houses' bracket as the build quality. Very special, and all for a guide price of £22 - 25,000 (and our reserves are always below the guide).

Viewing is always encouraged, and this car can be viewed at our HQ near Abingdon, Oxfordshire; to arrange an appointment please use the 'Contact Seller' button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section or view our frequently asked questions below.

If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we can recommend: Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car, AnyVan for transportation needs and Footman James for classic car insurance

Please note that there is an Auction Premium of 5% of the hammer price (plus VAT in UK & Europe only). Fees are minimum £600, maximum £6,000 (min Euro 720€/max 7,200€ & US$ min $500/max $5,000).

All vehicles must be collected within 7-days of the auction end. Storage fees of £180 + VAT apply (per car/per week) thereafter.

IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst Bonhams|Cars Online always strive to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings, we cannot claim they are complete analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer the opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle prior to bidding, and we encourage bidders to take advantage of this. We do look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this gives our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional. We do not formally test drive the cars.

Please also note that localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using cameras with standard microphones, which often result in inconsistent sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that all sales are 'sold as seen' (Caveat Emptor) and that, as is normal for all used goods bought at auction, a return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and ensure you inspect a vehicle you are interested in, to decide what it is BEFORE bidding.

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  • Location: Abingdon
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 143000km
  • Engine: 5000
  • Gearbox: listings/auction-view.Auto
  • Colour: Dark Grey
  • Interior: Black Leather

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