Archive for December, 2011

BMW 5 Series Commercial (E34)


Test Drive: 1994 Mercedes-Benz E420 (W124)

On December 26, 2011, I test drove a 1994 Mercedes-Benz E420 at Ocean Imports in Huntington Beach, California. The car has a two tone black and grey exterior with a black leather interior. The car had 154,000 miles with an asking price of $2,950. The E420 has a 4.2 liter V8 engine (codenamed M119) that produces 279 horsepower @ 5700 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque @ 3900 rpm. The transmission is a 4 speed automatic with a rear wheel drivetrain.
The W124 E-Class was produced from 1986 to 1995. It was one of the most popular Mercedes vehicles ever produced with a wide variety of engines in the European market, from 2.0 liter four cylinders to limited production 6.0 liter V8s. There was also some turbo diesel engines available, but not as many for the U.S. market. Throughout the years, the most common W124s seen in the United States are the 300E (1986-1993). Those have 3.0 liter inline six cylinder engines. There was also the 260E and the 300E 2.6 models (both have the same 2.6 liter inline six motor.) For the 1994 model year, the W124 was refreshened with new headlights, grilles, taillights, and engine options. In 1995, The W124 was replaced with the W210 E-Class. Now let’s get back with the test drive.
When I saw this E420 listed on, I thought that it was rather cheap. It looked to be in good condition, but I though it was worth looking at in person. I went to the dealer and the car was parked in a garage.The salesman pulled out the Mercedes and he told me to take it for a spin. He didn’t look at my license, nor did he go with me. Before taking off I looked around the car for any damage. There were scrapes on the front bumper, scratches everywhere on the paint that can only be seen in person in bright sunlight, and a dent in the rear between the trunk lid and the rear bumper. The exterior needed washing. The interior was not too dirty and It was in good shape, except for a tear in the driver’s seat. I tested many of the electrical components before driving and the only issue I came across was the driver’s window switch for the left rear window. It rolls down but not up. I was able to roll up the window by using the switch for that same window in the backseat. The sunroof worked, but as you open it more it started working slower. I’m not sure if it the motor was worn out, but for the most part it works.
When I put the car in drive, it started vibrating, but not too much. When I took my foot off the brake petal it went away. The car drove very well and it doesn’t have a sports car feel to it. The V8 engine gives plenty of power for the car’s size. The Mercedes didn’t feel like a big car either. It reminded me of my grandfather’s 2001 Cadillac Deville. The E420 felt like a smaller version of the Deville with more nimble steering. The air conditioner and radio both worked fine. When the radio is turned on the antenna in the back will pop up; then goes down when turned off. There was no CD player unfortunately, so It only plays tapes. At one point I accidentally turned on the windshield wiper and it took me a few seconds to figure out how to turn it off. This car only has one wiper instead of two like on most cars. It moves at 180 degrees to cover the windshield. The E420 also has one wiper for each headlight, but I didn’t take the time to figure out how to use them. It wasn’t too important; besides, most cars that aren’t Benzes or Volvos from the 80’s and 90’s don’t have them.
It was a good test drive, but when I backed the car into a parking spot, it started vibrating again, and more so than when it was in drive. I’m thinking that the transmission was in need of work, but I’m not sure. If it did, then it would be very expensive since this was a $50k-$60k car back in its day. The buyer of this car should definitely have a mechanic take a look at it and request the dealer to order a Carfax on it before buying. Maybe the dealer knows that something is wrong and that’s why they’re selling it for so cheap. The current Kelley Blue Book suggested retail value in excellent condition is $6,100. This E420 does have some exterior blemishes so I would suggest it being in fair condition. I found another ad for this car on Craigslist, but they were asking only $2,500. That is a good deal for this car, but there could be a lot of catches to it. I checked the blue book values for private party. It was $4,708 for excellent condition, and $3,583 for fair condition. If I were to buy this car, I would not pay anymore than $2,500 like it said in the Craigslist ad. Although the car’s not the prettiest and the mileage is high, I would love to buy it.
Overall the Mercedes-Benz E420 is powerful and spacious without a big car feel. There’s not much that’s considered unique about this car either. The 400E and E420 models are not as common as the 300E and E320 models. The W124s are not too hard to find, unless you are talking about the 500E or E500 models which are rare. I think there are also E60s which no one knows about. If you want a W124 Mercedes, then buy one. I’m sure you can find one in good condition if you start looking. They are not hard to find and many of their owners have kept them in good shape for a long time.
Photos taken by Ocean Imports.