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.