﹒Project car imported from Japan earlier this year and UK registered
﹒Very rare car with well preserved body-shell
﹒Requires a small amount of work to restore to full health
﹒Offered with no reserve
Hard though it may be to believe today, back in the late 80’s, Porsche was struggling a bit. So when Mercedes decided that their design team was too busy working on the next S Class to realise its ambition of shoehorning the 5 litre V8 from the SL into the W124 E Class, Porsche offered its services. Part of their redesign involved widening the wings to incorporate subtly flared wheel arches which in addition to looking great, also provided a visual clue to those in the know to help distinguish this Q car from the rest of the range. One side effect was that the bodyshell would not fit along the Mercedes production line and so Porsche were commissioned to build the car as well. This provided their under-utilised “Reutter-Bau” plant with a valuable lifeline as they ultimately went on to build over ten thousand of examples of the 500E, later known as the E500. Happy co-incidence or a ‘holistic’ approach to design? The answer is lost in the mists of time.
Either way, the Porsche team did a typically thorough job, widening the track by 38mm, using the brakes from the SL and tuning the chassis to cope with the 326bhp put out by the 4973cc M119 V8 with 32 valves through the 4 speed automatic gearbox to the rear wheels. Dubbed “the wolf in sheep’s clothing” at the time, it was only available in left hand drive and sold in limited numbers in the UK. This was not solely because the steering wheel was on the ‘wrong’ side, but also the price; the fact that the E500 was largely hand-assembled meant that it commanded a significant premium over its closest rival, BMW’s M5.
Those who did take the plunge were rewarded with a 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds and a top speed limited to 155 mph, not too shoddy even by today’s standards. All this was wrapped up in the usual tank-like build quality of the W124 and the model quickly gained modern classic status among Mercedes enthusiasts, previewing as it did the direction that the company would take with its ever closer relationship with and eventual acquisition of AMG.
This particular example was acquired by the vendor as part of a collection of cars put together by a private collector in Japan. Little is known about its background in Japan other than that is believed to have been stored in a warehouse for approximately four years prior to export.
It was imported to the UK around nine months ago and has since received sufficient attention to achieve an MOT pass but there are a number of items which remain to be addressed and which the seller does not have the time to attend to. As a result this is being sold as a fully UK registered ‘project car’ which, with a relatively small amount of attention, should be able to be restored to its former glory.
Since arriving in the UK, the car has received a full service and a rebuild of the brake callipers, though it has yet to be fully tested on British roads. We’ll cover the known areas that require some work in the following sections.
Let’s not beat around the bush: there’s an MOT and a V5 and that’s your lot. However, the condition of the car speaks for itself and the Japanese do have a deserved reputation for looking after their high performance machines.
As is evident from the photographs, the interior is generally very well preserved. There is little sign of wear on the four Recaro seats or the carpets and the wood veneer on the rear console has been refinished. Only the veneer on the dashboard shows some cracking around a presumably aftermarket metal stud which has been added and whose function is unknown. The steering wheel has the optional wood finish on it but if that is not to your taste then the car also comes with an non-wood spare.
There are some items that will require attention: the electric driver’s seat adjustment, while still functioning, has lost the covers to some of its switches. The electric rear blind is not operational and only the driver’s electric window works. Some of this may be down to over-enthusiastic application of the valeter’s pressure washer to the engine bay but it will need some diagnostic work.
Once addressed, the interior should be back to looking its best which is to say one of the finest of its time.
As with the interior, the exterior has worn very well with a few blemishes consistent with its age but no signs of rust bubbles or big scratches. A machine polish has restored most of the paintwork’s lustre and the wheels by Carlsson, the noted Mercedes Benz tuner, give the car a distinctive look although could use a refurb to bring them up to the standard of the bodywork. The tyres all have a good tread depth. Underneath, the car is typical of Japanese imports in being very clean aside from some surface corrosion on the suspension components.
Again, there are a few areas to attend to: the front valance is missing a small grille from the offside, the driver’s mirror is missing the cover for the mounting plate, one of the door handles is cracked and the roof strip is coming away at the rear on the nearside.
None of these are urgent issues and could be addressed over time as it’s currently very presentable. But it shouldn’t take a whole load of effort.
Mechanically the car is believed to be standard save for a fully adjustable coilover suspension setup and a stainless steel exhaust. What definitely isn’t as per the original design is an ever-present battery warning light which, following a couple of replacement batteries is believed to be alternator-related. The car starts with a boost pack every time but intermittently with just the battery for power. The problem lacks a definitive diagnosis at this stage but should be within the grasp of a competent car mechanic.
The W124 comes from what is widely regarded as the peak period for Mercedes quality levels and the merits of any of the many variants have been widely discussed on carandclassic.co.uk. But the E500 is not just any W124, but one with a thumping 5 litre V8 which has been engineered and assembled by Porsche.
Now it seems that we live in a time when anything over a certain age bearing the ‘Porsche’ moniker attracts an ever-increasing valuation and that seems to be rubbing off on the E500 too. Although too small in number in the UK to form a representative sample, over in the US where they are more numerous, values have been steadily climbing over recent years.
So whilst this is not a mint example ready to show off at Mercedes concours events, it’s not that far off and any investment required to bring it back to life is likely to be recouped very quickly. The only question then is whether to preserve it or use it. There are strong arguments for either option but only the next owner will get to decide. Best get bidding if you want to be in the enviable position of making that choice!
**The images in this listing have been provided to us by the seller**
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