A modern classic

    Published on Sep 26, 2021 09:00:00 AM

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    Perseus talks about why he thinks the W124 was one of Mercedes-Benz’s greatest hits.

    The W124 is a brilliant over-engineered Mercedes-Benz. The fact that you still see so many on the road is testimony of the car’s build quality and engineering.

    Critics may say that the design looks a bit boxy and squared, like it was designed using only a ruler, but I think Bruno Sacco’s design is absolutely timeless. Look at the car from above and it shows a tapered boot, like a teardrop. Details like this gave the W124 a coefficient of drag of just 0.29 (later models were as low as 0.26), making it one of the most aerodynamic cars of all time. Astonishing for a car that made its debut in 1984. In fact, every Mercedes-Benz since has been influenced by the W124’s design.

    Even the tail-light lenses are ribbed, so that they emit light even when covered with mud or snow.

    Another feature that mesmerises me is the articulating single wiper arm that covers a record-breaking 86 percent of the windshield.

    Ride quality too, is supreme. Though one may argue that it is down to the high-profile tyres, it isn’t just, and the made-for-India cars even sported taller springs and spring pads to handle bad roads with aplomb.

    Everything on the W124, like the dual-zone air conditioning, feels well thought out and ahead of its time. Your regular car may have just two sun visors in the front, but the W124 has three. The third covers the gap above the rear-view mirror, and an extremely cool seat belt reminder just below looks straight out of an aircraft. That’s not it, for better visibility, the rear headrests collapsed down at the touch of a button, and turning and holding the key in the door lock could roll up or roll down the glasses when you lock or unlock the car. This was well before the advent of today’s smart cars.

    Even though the W124 was one of Mercedes-Benz’s greatest hits, only around 2,465 were produced in India. The newer W210 replaced the W124 internationally, just after it was launched in India. In hindsight, this was great for W124 fans like me.

    As much as I would have loved to see the 3.2L straight-six M104 engine model sold here, the 2.2L four-cylinder M111 engine on the E220 we got was, in fact, the most powerful four-cylinder in the range. On Indian cars, the absence of electric seats means you do not have to worry about jammed seat motors, which are expensive and troublesome to fix in the long run, and a missing sunroof makes the ownership experience even more hassle-free.

    I’ve been obsessed with the W124 for years and one of my first stories for Autocar (as an intern back in April 2009) was a guide on buying a pre-owned Mercedes-Benz W124.

    Today, the W124 is a quintessential modern classic globally and the car has become the backbone of the modern classic movement in India, with values fast appreciating.

    Truth be told, my W124 kick-started my conversation with Hormazd on the Mercedes-Benz Classic Car Rally back in 2014 too.

    The next time someone tells you that the W124 is an overhyped, boring old Mercedes-Benz, make sure you silence them with your ‘did you know’ facts. After all, this car is like no other.

    Also See:

    Mercedes-Benz Classic Car Rally 2019 image gallery

    Mercedes-Benz Classic Car Rally 2020 image gallery

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