Need a sturdy, four-wheel drive estate for the winter weather? Here's just the thing – from 1991
By Matt Bird / Wednesday, February 10, 2021 / Loading comments
Nowadays, a 4Matic Mercedes E-Class isn't notable – both AMG models have four driven wheels as standard (albeit with a drift mode in addition), as do the more powerful regular diesels and petrols. The all-wheel drive cars exist just as extra models in the line-up, much as they are for xDrive BMWs and similarly configured rivals. The technology has reached the point now where the impositions previously placed on buyers – in terms of cost, complexity and weight – have been greatly reduced. Why wouldn't you go for the car with more traction when there's so little penalty?
Not so long ago though, all-wheel drive asked for a more significant compromise, with systems that were often expensive to add on and inefficient to run. It was a more conscious decision to opt for four driven wheels, usually dependent on a use case more significant than 'it might snow'. You'd imagine, too, there was less demand for four-wheel drive before the SUV rose to prominence.
Or was there? Because here's a Mercedes-Benz W124 estate, a 300TE no less, with optional 4Matic all-wheel drive fitted. And a roofbox too, for all the adventures you and the family might have to tackle. It's full lifestyle spec, albeit from a time when a weekend away with the family was to the seaside. And not Ben Nevis. It sometimes seems that there's nothing left to say about the W124, given its reputation as the archetypal big Benz, the last bastion or Mercedes quality and the car that was never properly replaced – but this one is quite clearly different to the rest.
Because, to return to the point, there surely can't have been many 4Matic cars sold back in the late 80s and early 90s, especially in the UK. There just wouldn't have been the need for it. Especially given the more modest power outputs of the day – somewhere around 200hp for the rear wheels to contain in a top of the range saloon is a lot less intimidating than double that. Nevertheless, this car came with it, an option introduced in 1987 for the more powerful petrols and diesel in saloon and estate form. If anyone has any further information on the 4Matic cars, it would be great to know, because they clearly always were hard to come by; howmanyleft reckons just 20 are left taxed on UK roads, split between manual and auto, against 216 rear-wheel drive cars.
It's hard to imagine a W124 of any stripe being quite as good as this one, though. In Brilliant Silver over grey leather, it appears like so many others of the era, but look a little closer and the differences become evident. It was subject to bare metal respray last year, meaning that silver is factory fresh; and £8,500 was also spent on uprating the factory sound system for improved performance (while keeping a period look) as well as "anything that needed attending to". As such, despite 113,000 miles and 30 years of use, it's one of the most immaculately presented '124s we've seen in a while.
Which also means it's one of the most expensive. In a world of £20k four-cylinder cabrios and £65k 500Es, it's hard to imagine being surprised by a W124 asking price a quarter of a century after production finished. The very cheapest on PH is £7,000. Even so, the £30k asking price for this 4Matic is probably more than many would have expected. On the other hand, a lot of money has clearly gone into its upkeep recently, and the family will look no cooler than when it's packed into a four-wheel drive W124. It might not be the most cost effective way into classic Benz ownership, but it also isn't hard to see why someone might be one won over by this exceedingly rare TE. Only problem now, really, is that it seems far too nice for all this snow…
SPECIFICATION | MERCEDES-BENZ 300TE ESTATE
Engine: 2,962cc, straight-six
Transmission: 4-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 180@5,700rpm
Torque (lb ft): 188@4,400rpm
CO2: quite a few
First registered: 1991
Recorded mileage: 113,000
Price new: £N/A
Yours for: £29,850
See the original advert here
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