Quite a car – I drove one a little while ago and its mighty AMG engine is enough to blow the grey slip-ons off the R129 SL's old man image. But I can't quite summon the passion.
This led to pondering the engine that makes the SL60 such a machine – the four-valve M119 V8 Mercedes used across a number of flagship cars in the early 90s. AMG bored it out to a 6.0 for its cars but even in stock 5.0-litre form it was a hell of an engine, no more so than when it was inserted into the W124-era E-Class.
Perhaps the most Mercedes of Mercedes saloons ever made, the W124 is to me the perfect intersection of the brand's traditions, rooted in Swabian sobriety and understatement but also – quietly – forward thinking and technologically advanced for its day. I'd happily run a wheezy four-cylinder example if one came my way. I'd be even happier with a V8 one, built with Porsche.
Urban myth has it this came about as a neighbourly favour for Porsche as it was going through a bit of a rough patch. Certainly the stories of part-assembled 500E's going to and fro across Stuttgart between the two factories adds to the mystique, likewise the handbuilt nature of the cars. Over 10,000 were built so, if true, it certainly kept otherwise idle hands in Zuffenhausen very busy for a period.
Commonly framed as the Mercedes response to the BMW M5, the 500E was a very different beast to the racy 5 Series. Subtle to the point of anonymity, the early 500Es with their 16-inch wheels are almost impossible to tell apart from a regular E-Class. Just a slightly lower stance and those wider front arches give the game away. I love that.