Press Kit: History of the E-Class
Stuttgart
Jan 13, 2009
Model history – short version
Mercedes-Benz 136 and 191 series (1946 to 1955)
The 170 V (136 series), built from 1947 onwards, was the first passenger car model built by Mercedes-Benz after the end of the Second World War. Of course, production in Untertürkheim had already restarted in 1946 with commercial vehicles, ambulances and delivery vans on the same chassis. The 170 V model, the first vehicle of the modern Mercedes-Benz intermediate class, was largely based on the pre-war model of the same name.
In the years to come, the 170 V model became the backbone of the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range: from the saloon version with 1.7-litre petrol engine, in 1949 the engineers derived the L 170 D diesel model and the more representative 170 S saloon. The 170 DS model combined ride comfort and safety with low fuel consumption.
Comfort and performance of these models were greatly improved as a result of continuous refinement. As the last stage in the development of this series,
Mercedes-Benz introduced the 170 S-V and 170 S-D in 1953. The last vehicles rolled off the assembly line in September 1955.
136 and 191 series chassis frequently served as the basis for special bodies. Mercedes-Benz and various firms of coachbuilders developed, for example, ambulances, panel vans and pickup trucks, as well as versions such as the "Open Tourer Police" (OTP).
Mercedes-Benz 120 and 121 series (1953 to 1962)
In August 1953 Mercedes-Benz launched the 180 model from the 120 series. This saloon with its modern three-box design was the first Mercedes-Benz car to feature a unitary construction and self-supporting body. The diesel variant 180 D followed just four months later in January 1954. A third model, the Mercedes-Benz 190 (W 121), was added to the range in 1956; finally, the 190 D model made its debut in 1958.
The vehicle’s engineering was a fitting match for the innovative exterior of the so-called “Ponton” Mercedes. The front wheels were suspended from a subframe, for example, and in 1955 Mercedes-Benz improved the handling characteristics of the rear axle by introducing the single-joint swing axle. The various models were given improved appointments in 1957 and 1959.
The prestige class models of the 180 and 128 series were distinguished from the four-cylinder models mainly by their six-cylinder engines, longer wheelbase – and hence more spacious interior – and an extended front end.
To this day the debut of the Mercedes-Benz 180 has had a marked influence on the language used to report on new cars in Germany: in 1952 the magazine auto motor and sport published a first picture of a prototype together with a parody of Goethe's Erlkönig ballad. Since then, Erlkönig has remained the name Germans apply to a camouflaged prototype or mystery model.
Mercedes-Benz 110 series (1961 to 1968)
In 1961 Mercedes-Benz introduced the "tailfin" models from the 110 series. The first available models were the 190 and 190 D saloons. In 1965 the 200 and 200 D models followed with improved engineering and appointments. That same year the six-cylinder 230 model made its debut.
For the 110 series the developers fell back on the body of the luxury saloons (W 111). From windscreen to boot, the 190 and 190 D had the same bodies as the luxury models, the Mercedes-Benz 220, 220 S, 220 SE and 300 SE. The only features that distinguished the two variants were the front end and the wheelbase. But the era of the "standard body" came to an end in 1965 with the arrival of the new W 108 luxury car series.
Various bodybuilding firms equipped the W 110 chassis with special bodies (ambulance and hearse, to name but two). For the first time Mercedes-Benz also built its own production station wagon. These "universal" versions were produced in Belgium at IMA and were forerunners of the subsequent station wagon models.
Mercedes-Benz 115 and 114 series (1968 to 1976)
The saloons from the 115 and 114 series introduced in 1968 were the first autonomous generation from the Mercedes-Benz upper mid-range series. The body of the W 115/W 114 featured balanced proportions and straight lines, despite being compact in comparison with the then current large luxury models. Unitary body construction had previously precluded such independent design.
The four-cylinder models of the 115 series, the 200, 220, 200 D and 220 D, were the first models available, along with the six-cylinder 230 and 250 models (W 114). The
2.5-litre injection engine was initially reserved exclusively for the coupe, which was available from October 1969. In 1972 the 280 and 280 E versions joined the series as new top-of-the-range models. Finally, in 1974 the five-cylinder diesel engine in the
240 D 3.0 model celebrated a world premiere.
The suffix "/8" in the internal model designation initially only stood for the year in which the series was launched. It later gave rise to the more familiar "Stroke 8" – a moniker that represented the entire model series. In addition to the saloon, the "Stroke 8" was available as a coupe and a long-wheelbase saloon. A station wagon was developed, but never put into production. The chassis of the W 115 and W 114 were used as the basis for various special bodies. But the saloons also served as a basis for the Experimental Safety Vehicles (ESF) in which Mercedes-Benz studied future solutions for vehicle safety.
Mercedes-Benz 123 series (1975 to 1985)
In 1976 the 123 series opened up a new era in the upper mid-range series of Mercedes-Benz. The saloon was followed in 1977 by a coupe, a long-wheelbase saloon, and for the first time also a production station wagon. In the series' first year, the models 200, 230, 250, 280 and 280 E as well as the 200 D, 220 D, 240 D and
300 D were initially put on sale. During the lifetime of the series the performance of the various models was enhanced through technical improvements. In addition, in 1980 the 200 model was equipped with a new engine (M 102). The 230 E model (1980) introduced direct petrol injection to the four-cylinder engine, and the 300 D Turbodiesel (1981) brought supercharging to the diesel engine.
With its variety of body forms, the 123 series underpinned its role as an autonomous model family within the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range: the sportily styled coupe (C 123) and above all the elegant station wagon model (S 123) took their place alongside the saloon and long-wheelbase saloon. With the station wagon,
Mercedes-Benz set standards for a lifestyle and leisure car fit for families.
When launched by Mercedes-Benz in 1980, the station wagon was also the first passenger car in Germany to feature a turbocharged diesel engine. The 300 TD Turbodiesel model had the same engine as the 300 D Turbodiesel saloon and the
300 CD Turbodiesel coupe, both of which were built exclusively for the US market.
Mercedes-Benz 124 series (1984 to 1996)
The 124 series introduced in 1984 was the first vehicle family from Mercedes-Benz to bear the name E-Class. At its debut, however, the model designation still followed the classic pattern. Aesthetically and technically, the W 124 with its functional and sporty lines, high-strength sheet steel body and low cd figure closely followed the compact class W 201.
Mercedes-Benz first put the new series on sale with the models 200, 230 E, 260 E and 300 E as well as the 200 D, 250 D and 300 D; the 200 E was built for export. In the
400 E (later E 420), the 500 E (later E 500) and E 60 AMG models, V8 engines were offered for the first time in the E-Class. The range of 124 series models was expanded by different body variants (coupe, station wagon, cabriolet and long-wheelbase saloon). In addition, Mercedes-Benz introduced 4MATIC four-wheel drive in the 124 series.
In June 1993 the twice-revised series was given a new name: the family was henceforth called the E-Class, by analogy with the S-Class and C-Class. The individual models were designated by the letter E and three digits representing the engine displacement. Depending on engine type, supplements such as "Diesel" were added to the abbreviation. The different body shapes, on the other hand, were no longer reflected in the vehicle name.
Mercedes-Benz 210 series (1995 to 2003)
The debut of the new 210 series E-Class in 1995 made a strong visual impression: the new upper mid-range series from Mercedes-Benz now viewed the world through four "eyes". This fresh face, which immediately won the “red dot design award”, provided a fitting match for the car’s engineering and equipment features. Numerous technical highlights, from the Electronic Traction System (ETS) to the belt force limiter, were included as standard equipment. For the first time the E-Class afforded a choice between three design and equipment lines (CLASSIC, ELEGANCE, AVANTGARDE).
The W 210 entered the market with the E 200, E 230, E 280, E 320 and E 420 as well as E 220 Diesel, E 290 Turbodiesel and E 300 Diesel. In subsequent years further models were added to the series, including the high-performance E 50 AMG (1995) and E 55 AMG (1997) models, the innovative E 220 CDI model (1998) and the
E 200 KOMPRESSOR model (2000), which picked up on old traditions.
The station wagon (S 210) once again scored highly in this series as a true marvel of spaciousness, its load capacity a full 70 litres greater than that of its predecessor. At the same time the engineers further improved the station wagon’s passive safety. Long-wheelbase saloons, chassis for special bodies and, for the first time in the history of the upper mid-range series, special protection vehicles also featured in the 210 model series.
Mercedes-Benz 211 series (since 2002)
The 211 series E-Class was the eighth generation of this
Mercedes-Benz success model. The saloon was introduced in 2002. Its design put a new interpretation on the twin-headlamp look of its predecessor. The new E-Class was launched with three petrol engines and two CDI models and was available in the design and equipment lines CLASSIC, ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE.
The numerous innovations focused on safety and efficiency. The technical innovations ranged from a front end with even larger deformation zones through two-stage belt force limiters to active bi-xenon lights. Standard equipment included the SBC™ electrohydraulic brake system and a sensor-controlled automatic climate control. The standard equipment package was further improved in the 2006 facelift.
The 211 series E-Class also set standards in the area of drive system technology: In 2004 Mercedes-Benz presented the E 200 NGT model, then the most powerful production saloon to feature a natural gas drive. And in 2006 the E 320 BLUETEC model was the first car in which Mercedes-Benz marketed its innovative technology for the reduction of diesel engine emissions. The debut of the E 320 BLUETEC model in North America was followed in 2007 by the E 300 BLUETEC model for the European market; parallel to this, the E 350 CGI model made its appearance, featuring an ultramodern petrol direct-injection engine: the E-Class was well on its way to the future.
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