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E320 Cabriolet History

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Joseph Walker's picture
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Does anyone know the history of the 93-95 E320 cabriolet. From what I can gather, assembly began in the Mercedes-Benz factory, and at some point the car was shipped to another factory for the cabriolet option, and then sent back to Mercedes for final assembly.

Thank you in advance! :)

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rogo's picture
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No takers on this question, I see.

Perhaps it would be better directed to MBUSA.

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History

The way I understand it from my dealer is that the 93 is an aftermarket car. The 94 & 95 were from the factory.

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Not "aftermarket"

The information above that the 93 300CE Cabriolet was "aftermarket" is absolutely wrong. Completely incorrect.

Mercedes Benz produced the 124 series cabriolet for the US market for three years- 1993, 1994, and 1995. I do not know if or to who the cabriolet finish work was subbed out to, and I'd like to know as well.

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Hallo,im new here...
Im proud to say that i own E36 AMG cabrio w124 from 1996...
Sorry,but my English is not perfect!
You can visit Croatian Merc klub mercedesklub.net to see my pics,
Here is text that can answer youre questions:

DASHING DROPHEADS

With summer fast approaching, the appeal of the W124cabriolet becomes ever stronger –
writes David Sutherland.

Gazing out the window on a wet and dreary English spring day, it can seem ridiculous that we in the UK apparently buy more convertible cars than in any other European country. But sit behind the wheel of any modem Mercedes cabriolet and the mystery is at least partially explained.

You are cocooned in a snug, well-appointed car that is so well weather proofed it could easily be a metal-roofed coupe. The SLK and SL roadsters do indeed amount to that, with their elaborate and clever steel folding tops. But, when the weather lifts, breezy open top motoring is just the touch of a button away.

Several clunks, electric motors whirring for a few moments, panels behind the rear seats raising and lowering, and the hood disappears without trace. No awkward studs pop, no annoying canvas to struggle with.

Mercedes' first high-tech convertible, certainly in modem times, was the 1989 R129 SL. Its hood was one-button operation and without a single catch to undo, and the 17 switches, 15 pressure cylinders and 11 solenoids allowed the hood to be briefly dispatched under a flush metal panel.

SAFETY FIRST

But what would also help push the appeal of the SL beyond convertible enthusiasts was the then incredible safety system reportedly developed over four years at a cost of £8.6m. A roll bar concealed in front of the hood compartment would pop up the instant a system of sensors, registering suspension and body roll, 'predicted' that the car was in danger of overturning. Very reassuring for those nervous about convertible safety.

Impressive stuff, but it was the cabriolet version of the C124 coupe (two-door versions of the W124 are prefixed C-, cabriolets A-), first shown at the 1991 Frankfurt Show, that saw Stuttgart perfect the no-compromise, palaver-free convertible. Although the SL's folding system was clever, the hood itself was a quite crude affair with exposed metal struts. By contrast the A124's hood had a glass screen and was comprehensively lined and padded (it weighs hefty 43kg), to the point where the car doesn't feel that much different inside to the coupe when the hood is up.

16 years on from its introduction, it's still possible to be amazed by the lengths Mercedes went to in order to maximise refinement. The roll-over system was completely different from the SL, as it was thought that a pop-up roll bar would be unsuitable given the presence of rear seat passengers. Instead, the rear headrests became the protectors, these 'tombstones' popping up in 0.3 seconds following the appropriate signals from the suspension sensors.

To compensate for the lack of a roof, about 1,000 new parts were added to stiffen the body. Losing the roof took away 28kg, but the strengthening added 130kg. To counteract the inevitably increased body vibrations of the roofless body, four vibration absorbers were added: in the left damper strut, in the hood frame and at each side of the boot. That added a further 26kg.

Built from 1992 until 1997, the A124 was a highly coveted cabriolet, not least because it was among the few four-seaters available. But although exclusive, quite substantial numbers were sold in global markets, output totaling 33,952.

In the UK, the A124 was expensive, the minimum £37,000 buying you the basic four-cylinder version. And for quite a while after production ceased, prices remained high. This was no doubt partly due to the car being seen as one of the last ones built to Mercedes battleship build quality standards, partly because of the small numbers sold here, and perhaps even because there was no direct replacement. The nearest equivalent at the time was the CLK Cabriolet, which was based on the C- rather than E-Class and hence less roomy in the back.

But, as is the usual way of things in the Mercedes world, the A124 is finally succumbing to market forces. It's getting on, but won't be widely seen as a classic for a few years yet. It is therefore affordable.

If you want to you can still pay £25,000 for the very best examples, but at the other end of the spectrum they're available for less than £10,000. The question is: would you be getting cut price Stuttgart glamour, or would you be taking on a liability whose appeal lasts only until the first, wallet-shredding repair bill?

Six-cylinder models are much more satisfying to drive.

MODEL RANGE, EVOLUTION

Mercedes' first four-seat drophead for 20 years kicked of with a single model, the300CE-24 Cabriolet, running the coupe equivalent's 24-valve, three-litre six-cylinder engine. That car was never sold here because by the time of the UK launch in 1993, the 320CE had taken its place. Its 3.2-litre gave the same 217bhp but torque was up 17 per cent to 2291b/ft.

Somewhat absurdly, it was listed as five-speed manual, but the number of customers who didn't tick the four- or five-speed auto box, must be small.

There was one development milestone during production, in June 1993. But because this - also the mid-term facelift for the 124 saloon and coupe — came so soon after the cabriolet's introduction, most cars sold in Britain were the later type.

It was Mercedes' usual subtle but quite far-reaching revamp. The most obvious difference was the smaller and less chunky grille, and the Mercedes star moved from the grille to the bonnet. The next most noticeable indicator was that the cladding panels along the lower side of the body were now colour-matched to the body. The front and rear indicator lenses were clear instead of orange plastic.

There was also a new model lettering system for the whole 124 range, with the 'E' a prefix, the cabriolet now badged E320. However don't get too puzzled should you come across an early cabriolet that seems slightly out of synch with the timing of the facelift. The odd pre-facelift car might, for various reasons not have been registered until later in the year, thereby seeming to be younger than an actual facelifted car (although this is more likely to have happened with the more numerous coupe).

Mercedes' desire to offer a cheaper alternative to the E320 was one reason the four-cylinder E220 was added to the range as part of the update, appearing on the price list in the UK a few months later. Its 2.2-litre dohc, 16-valve engine had replaced the old eight-valve 2.3-litre four in the 124 saloon and coupe, and was good for 148bhp and 155lb/ft torque. Like the E320, it was listed as a five-speed manual car but generally delivered with automatic transmission.

A 2-litre E200 Cabriolet was built but never imported to the UK, but another that did come here in 1993 was the E36 AMG, toting a 3.6-litre engine fettled by German tuner AMG to give 268bhp. It was also a very rare model in the UK, just 14 sold officially through Mercedes dealers, and priced at over £58,000.

ON THE ROAD

The 124 Cabriolet is a sweet and relaxed drive, with ample power - provided it's a six-cylinder car. The E220 has the same looks and style, but it four-pot engine strains to power the Benz, and it's also a dull-sounding motor.

The odd manual gearbox cabriolet may have escaped into the world. The transmission doesn't suit the car, particularly as it has first out on a left-and-back 'dogleg', making the car quite tricky to drive smoothly.

Handling is classic 1980s Mercedes: a taut ride but efficient bump absorption. The steering is lifeless, but also shock free. And it can come as a pleasant surprise to learn just how well the car can be hustled into bends, particular if it has the firmer Sportline suspension, which cuts body roll.

A convertible with a canvas top can never offer the same in-cabin refinement as the coupe equivalent, but the A124 comes close. It's quiet, with little obvious wind turbulence; perhaps the main difference in feel to the coupe is that the lesser glass area makes it darker inside. As with the coupe, the pillarless cabriolet is extremely pleasant to drive in nice weather with all four windows dropped.

The hood itself goes through a complicated procedure during lowering. The ignition must be on and the gear selector in Park, after which two front catches are released. Then, when the red button on the transmission tunnel is operated, all the windows drop, the hood raises itself, a compartment behind the rear seat opens up to swallow the hood, and finally the windows raise themselves. It’s all over in 30 seconds.

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Good article, great information.

Thanks for your contribution.

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I want one

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write a check

There are eight 124 cabriolets on ebay, six on autotrader.com within 100 miles of Baltimore, and I have not looked at cars.com lately. Cold weather season is a good time to buy a convertible.

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Re: History

mgboy;98650 wrote:
The way I understand it from my dealer is that the 93 is an aftermarket car. The 94 & 95 were from the factory.

Check this out. Care of the W124 Copue & cabriolet website.

http://groups.msn.com/1980extremetuning/sgsbiarritz.msnw

I am sure you will find it of interest and may just relate to the advice you received from the dealer.

Best regards, Inspector:)

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Re: E320 Cabriolet History

No rear headrests in any of those "customs" but lots of really ugly wheels and an ugly steering wheel.

Thank goodness Mercedes DIDN'T copy.

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Who needs one...?

Contact Jack L. Hunt Automotive on Fourth Street in San Rafael, CA...he has a 93, Black on black in black, very clean, 120K±, asking $15,000, badge on trunk is 300CE...
Noticed it while walking by, I am not Jack.

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Re: E320 Cabriolet History

Karmann Coachwerks did the tops at their factory is my understanding. :)

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Re: E320 Cabriolet History

W124 Cab is featured in current issue of Mercedes-Benz Classic.

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MB Classic

Kent, where does one get MB Classic? Thanks, Dave

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Re: E320 Cabriolet History

Got my subscription via amazon.com

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