This, my, 1994 E500 Limited appears to be the only one purchased in Canada - North America, for that matter. Intended initially for the Swiss market (so I have read) the Limiteds were not marketed to this side of the Atlantic. So how did this one sneak in? The story goes, through a source at Mercedes-Benz Canada, that the then CEO imported one in and sold it to a friend or neighbour shortly afterward. E500 Limiteds also found their way into the UK, other European countries as well as the Orient.
Here is some info for those not aware of the 500E/E500/E500 Limited story;
First, the 500E/E500
The W124 body style, introduced in 1986 becoming Mercedes best selling cars in history, bowed out in 1995. During its nine year tenure various models were developed including the very popular 300E. Toward the end of the ‘80s AMG - at the time an independent Mercedes tuner company - took this model and shoe horned in a monster of an engine as well as making many performance improvements creating the "AMG Hammer". This car was ultra rare and ultra expensive. In 1992 a model was introduced in an attempt to capture some lost market share and to combat the speeds and power being produced by fellow German makers BMW and Audi - eventually limiting all makes/models to 171mph to curb potential escalating "speed wars". With the aid of fellow German automaker Porsche located in the same city (Zuffenhausen), the sedan powerhouse was reborn. It took 18 days to produce a car as it went back and forth a few times during paint and other stages of assembly between Porsche and Mercedes. The 500E/E500 (and 400E) were hand or coach built on the Porsche 959 supercar assembly line. Engines, transmissions and brakes came from the SL class. The 5 litre engine was so large for the what would have originally accommodated a 300E 3 litre inline 6, the battery had to be relocated to the trunk which also helped in weight distribution. Many other parts were also upgraded as well as chassis strengthening etc. Flared fenders at the wheel house openings were added to allow for wider tires - this along with the front valance with driving lights being the only two real tell-tale signs that this wasn't just an ordinary W124. In 1994, Mercedes-Benz adjusted their model nomclature by placing the class letter in front of the number (which almost always indictates engine displacement in litres ie. E500 = 5 litres. Two digit model names ie. E60 denotes AMG modifications and again in this instance, a 6 litre displacement. The "E" stands for "Einspritzung" or as translated "Fuel Injection" which in the E Class' inception decades earlier, was very innovative).
The E500 Limited
As a last bow to such an amazing car in 1994 Mercedes-Benz created 500 special models - the last 500 cars to roll off the assembly line, calling them “Limited”s. These cars where available in two monochromatic paint colours only - that is to say the lower cladding, which up 'til now had always been a slightly different/complimentary color was painted the same as the rest of the body: 200 Silver (Briljantsilbercars - translation: Brilliant Silver) and 300 Midnight Black (Saphirschwartz - translation: Sapphire Black) cars being the breakdown. The regular 500's were available in 14 colours. The 17” 6-spoke DTM wheels made a second appearance at least in style, previously finding themselves on the iconic 190E Evolution from the late ’80s - which I believed employed 16”. Interior wise, the black leather came with three seat insert, interior door panel and matching shifter knob, steering wheel grip areas and documents wallet colour choices; geometrically dyed patterns of red, green or grey. Wood accents were also available in the standard burr walnut as well as a special black birds eye maple.
AMG took a dozen of these Limited‘s and bored out the engine to 6 litres, making these twelve cars the rarest of the rare. I do not know the paint colour breakdown. AMG also converted 114 regular 500E/E500s to E60s. Renntech and others have also turned regular 500E/E500's into E60's as well.
There was talk in some online forums that the 1994 E500 was not produced with the help of Porsche. It is just my opinion but it doesn't seem to make sense to me that Mercedes would tool up an assembly line and facilities for one year on a car that was bowing out for that matter. What facts I can bring to my claim that Porsche involved themselves in the 1994 as well is documented by a slip of paper I found in my documents wallet with Porsche's name on it. This slip appears to be assembly documentation with codes, a date and even a time that I sermise in the time it rolled off the assembly line. I do not know if all E500 owners have this or if it was left there by mistake but I can tell you it was an interesting find indeed.
I have learned but cannot confirm the following import numbers (unless otherwise stated) for Canada and the US;
Canada: ? / USA: 633
Canada: ? / USA: 498
Canada: 18 (confirmed by Mercedes-Benz Canada) / USA: 374
1994 E500 Limited
Canada: 1 / USA: 0
The complete world-wide production of all 500E/E500's was 10,479 cars. The 500E went into production on August 6, 1991 as 1992 models. The 1994 E500 production ended on June 24, 1994. My car has an "In Service Date" of June 24, 1994.
Since December 2006 when I was lucky enough to find and purchase this car I have spent countless hours trying to learn the rarety of my car as well as further production numbers regarding the paint colour/leather insert colour choices/wood choices, confirmation on how many were originally sold in which country as well as what number of the 500, mine is - like numbered artwork if you will. Speaking with fellow 500E/E500 devotees, employees at Mercedes-Benz Canada, USA and Germany and local auto journalists has unfortunately got me no where in those pursuits.
note: Mercedes-Benz saddly was the least helpful even though they must have the information in their archives. Germany replied that it was proprietary information which given that I wasn't asking for specifics ie. owners names, addresses or VIN numbers, translated to me - 'we can be bothered and there is nothing in this for us'. Despite their rhetoric about passion and pride, it would appear there real main concern is just in selling new cars, period.
Ironically, Porsche Germany responded promptly and even went to the trouble of mailing me a photocopied German E500 Limited brochure. Alas, it didn’t get me any closer to the information I desired, but I thank them just the same for trying to be helpful. I also would like to thank those I have conversed with on line who have at least been helpful in my learning what I do know about this amazing marque.
As you can see by the pictures, my car is the midnight black paint, grey patterned leather inserts and black bird’s eye maple wood. The grey geometric dyed leather tends to come off looking a bit magenta in photos (the time of day, hence temperature of the daylight certainly has an effect on that) but to the naked eye, it definitely is a nice even grey.
The changes I have made (which can be quickly reversed for the purists out there) are;
After-market S600 style grille with a check pattern - I still have original grille
Bosch all clear front corner marker lens - I still have originals with amber relectors
All clear after-market rear tail lights - I still have original tail lights, red with smoke tinted signal strip
Added check patterned vinyl graphics (to match grille) to windshield wiper - easily removed
Added check patterned vinyl graphics (to match grille) to headlight wipers - easily removed
Added Aluminum tape to accentuate front valance grille - easily removed
Mercedes-Benz aluminum gas, brake and parking brake pedals with raised rubber dots
Made my own dead pedal with raised rubber dots to match above
Mercedes-Benz headrest covers
Rear door sunshades that match rear power sunshade (last photo)
Painted calipers yellow
Custom decal with applied Porsche logo that reads, "Hand Built and Assembled by"
Secondary windsheild wiper switch so car can be driven with wiper in vertical position like German DTM series race cars