There are a lot of misconceptions about the Porsche-built W124 Mercedes 500E, and Jason explains why the 500E and E500 was NOT a Porsche sports sedan with a Mercedes badge. First off, there’s not a single Porsche part on the car.
Porsche Engineering Services helped with reengineering the W124’s engine compartment to fit in the 32-valve, 4-cam M119 V-8 — for both the 400E and the 500E.
But the 500E doesn’t use the same V-8 as the 500SL. It needed shorter connecting rods so that it fit in the same physical space as the 4.2-liter 400E — this way only one structural variant needed to be produced.
The 400E was a response to the Lexus LS400. Why do you think it wasn’t called a 420E?
Porsche also did the engineering to bolt up wheels, tires, brakes, and suspension components from the wider and heavier R129 500SL and W124 500SEL. That necessitated fender flares so wide that the 500E didn’t fit down the regular W124 production line in Sindelfingen.
For both models, Porsche performed the physical modifications to Mercedes-built W124 chassis, and sent them back to Sindelfingen for paint. The 400E remained there, but because of its width, the 500E was sent back to Porsche, which assembled the 500E at a second Zuffenhausen factory.
With Bruno Sacco’s revolutionary looks, aerodynamics, obsession with safety, and Mercedes build quality and engineering might, the W124 was certainly among the best (and most expensive) sedans in the world.
Still is. It’s close to perfect. But it’s not a Porsche Sports Sedan.