Mercedes Benz E500 W124 1993
This was the real thing. Wolf, as the russians call it. I bought it in 1999, and although the new E-Class had already been out for a few years by then, the E500 W124 was still a very impressive car to drive. With its wide wheel arches and other unique modifications when compared to the regular W124, such as the different front and rear bumpers or the 4-seat layout, it was a car like no other. It was quick for its time – an information booklet promised 0-100 kph (0-60 mph) in 6 seconds flat, the same as a ’98 Subaru Impreza GT, which I actually bought a few years later. Of course an Impreza STI could beat the E500’s acceleration, and an Impreza GT with the same stats was quicker on slippery or snowy surfaces due to its 4-wheel-drive and general build, but no-one can obviously seriously compare an E500 with a Subaru Impreza.
I paid around €19k for it back then, and had I kept E500 W124 until today, I could’ve sold it for a similar price. Then again, the prices once dipped a lot lower – it’s likely this car will only appreciate in value.
As for the E500 itself, I remember a lot of carefree miles and the stares of people at zebra crossings, wondering how a 21-year-old could possibly afford such a car. Clearly it looked a lot more expensive than what I actually paid for it – likely due to its similarity to the W140, which was produced until 1998 and was a reasonably expensive car, easily worth €40k (at least from the facelifted ’94MY model onwards). Further, this was a car I didn’t buy based on the conservative approach of accounting for the ratio of car cost to income, which I’d relied on up until then. Even the fuel price had risen due to a combination of oil price and tax increases, to around €0.8/L (€3.6/gallon), a nearly four-fold increase compared to just four years earlier, when I’d bought my first car.
But I discovered something about myself by spending more than what some would consider reasonable. When the costs moderately exceed this imaginary “sensible spending and income ratio,” it actually motivates me to work harder and to make more money, in order to be able to cover all of the expenses. I admit that this logic might not work for everyone, because if one is on a fixed salary there may be little opportunity to change anything, but it is applicable to people who rely on that particular entrepreneurial gene. Even then it has to be done within sensible limits – by spending 10% or 20%, or in some cases maybe even 30-40%, over the limit. If your fixed expenses stand at 300% of your income, it will be a stress-inducing rather than a motivating factor, and it’ll provide you with very little inspiration.
Some years after selling this E500, perhaps late 2002 or early 2003, I considered buying another W124 E500 – a Limited model, in decent condition with 120,000 km under its belt, was available for roughly €10,000. Were you to check the prices today, you’d be unlikely to find one under €25k. Unfortunately, I instead opted for a second consecutive Subaru Impreza (WRX).