From 2017, the C 124 models are going to be eligible for the H (historic) license plate in Germany.
Mercedes-Benz is in a festive mood these days as it’s blowing the 30th candle on the C 124 series’ anniversary cake. With the introduction of the all-new E-Class Coupe, the company with the three-pointed star has decided to celebrate (almost) three decades since the launch of the C 124 at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1987. The model’s original brochure included the following:
“The new coupés of the mid-sized Mercedes class a harmonious blend of exclusive form and powerful performance, ground-breaking technology, high safety and economy. The flair of the exceptional with the relaxing comfort of a vehicle that one drives every day and also uses on long journeys. The external lines: sporty elegance – distinct styling, perfectly designed in every detail.”
By turning 30, it means that in Germany the car will be old enough for the H (historic) license plate. The first C 124 models to see the light of day were the 230 CE and 300 CE, followed by other versions such as the 200 CE, 220 CE, and 320 CE, along with a new “Sportline” package introduced in 1989 together with the facelift. The optional kit bundled a stiffer suspension, 15-inch lightweight alloy wheels with wider tires, individual rear seats, and new leather-wrapped steering wheel with a slightly reduced diameter. Later that fall, the flagship 300 CE-24 joined the lineup with its six-cylinder engine producing 220 horsepower (162 kilowatts).
From June 1993, Mercedes gave all of its models from the 124 family a series of cosmetic tweaks and overhauled the car’s nomenclature by making the switch to the “E-Class” moniker, with the “320 CE” nameplate being replaced by the “E 320” badge. As the years went by, a variety of four- and six-cylinder engine versions were offered, topped by the 3.6-liter AMG engine producing 265 hp (195 kW) in the E 36 AMG launched in September 1993. It was one of the first products to be born from the cooperation following an agreement signed between the two parties in 1990 to jointly develop performance road-going cars.
Besides boasting a timeless design, the coupes were packed with the most advanced technology available during the late 1980s and the first half of the 1990s. Goodies included an independent multi-link rear suspension, ABS, S-Class-derived heated mirrors, and even a heated washer reservoir together with heated hoses and nozzles.
It was based on the W 124 sedan, but 85 millimeters (3.3 inches) shorter and with reinforced A-pillars, doors, and rocker panels to compensate for the elimination of the B-pillars. The required structural changes made the coupe slightly heavier than its four-door sedan counterpart.
Mercedes retired the C 124 series in March 1996 after making a total of 141,498 units at its plant in Sindelfingen, Germany. The most popular model of the bunch was the 300 CE, acquired by 43,486 customers between 1987 and 1992.
Gallery: Mercedes C 124 series
Sought-after young classic: From 2017: classic with H licence plate: the series 124 coupé turns 30
It was almost 30 years ago, in March 1987, that Mercedes-Benz brought out the coupé variant of the mid-sized 124 model series. This means that, from 2017, in Germany for example, the first vehicles will be ripe for the coveted H (historic) licence plate. Yet the coupé models have long been classics – for some aficionados, they have held that status since their very debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1987.
Stuttgart. "The new coupés of the mid-sized Mercedes class a harmonious blend of exclusive form and powerful performance, ground-breaking technology, high safety and economy. The flair of the exceptional with the relaxing comfort of a vehicle that one drives every day and also uses on long journeys. The external lines: sporty elegance – distinct styling, perfectly designed in every detail." This was how the first brochure from 1987 described the series 124 Mercedes-Benz coupé. Looked at today, these words are still appropriate. The only thing one might add is that these are precisely the characteristics that make the coupé a sought-after classic of the brand.
230 CE and 300 CE – these were the names of the debutants 30 years ago. Then as now, the coupé has a lot going for it. One of its principal attributes is the design of the two-door models: elegant, distinctive and yet closely related to the other vehicles of the 124 model series. A characteristic design element that highlights the distinctiveness of the coupés in comparison with the other body variants is the rub strips with integral longitudinal door-sill panels. Positioned between the wheel cutouts on a level with the bumpers, they form the visual link between the front and rear aprons and, like these, are painted in contrasting colours.
Of course, the coupés also featured all the technical details of the saloon and estate variants, such as the high safety standard, sophisticated suspension and the (then already standard) closed-loop emission control system with three-way catalytic converter. The 300 CE even came as standard with an anti-lock braking system (ABS). The sum total of their characteristics has for many years made these vehicles sought-after young classics. The fact that they now qualify in Germany for the H (historic) licence plate even further ennobles the status of these vehicles as classics in that country.
In their further history, the coupés benefited from all the facelifts of the 124 model series. For instance, from 1989 they were optionally available with the "Sportline" package, which was already familiar from the compact models. Launched in the same year, the top-of-the-line model was the 300 CE-24, which was powered by a four-valve six-cylinder engine rated at 162 kW (220 hp). From June 1993, the model designations conformed to the new nomenclature with a prefixed letter to denote membership of the E-Class. The 320 CE thus became the E 320 Coupé. Over the years, there were various four- and six-cylinder engine variants. Launched in September 1993, the most potent coupé variant was the E 36 AMG, which was powered by a 195 kW (265 hp) 3.6-litre four-valve AMG engine. It was also one of the first models to be jointly developed by AMG and Mercedes-Benz after the two companies signed a cooperation agreement in 1990. In total, 141,498 units were manufactured of all series 124 coupés between 1987 and 1996 at the Sindelfingen plant.