Welcome to a new feature, In The Hood, where I chronicle some of the eclectic cars seen on the streets of the old money neighborhood where I happen to rent a one-bedroom apartment.
This car is the inspiration for In The Hood. Behold, the Mercedes 500E, one of the greatest subtle sedans in the history of time, painted in a color only a German could love. Interestingly, this isn’t the worst color for the 500E. There was also a purple, which occasionally showed up in Mercedes advertisements that convinced people to buy BMWs.
The story on the 500E is this: Porsche was going down. Their product line was down to three embarrassingly dated models: the 944, which had come out a decade earlier; the 928, which actually replaced the chariot in ancient Rome; and the 964, which was purchased by people, apparently.
Headed for failure, Porsche got a break when Stuttgart neighbor Mercedes came by and asked for help building the 500E. It may look like a normal W124 E-Class, but the 500E used a 5.0-liter V8, which was completely unheard of at the time. The period M5, for instance, used a straight-six, while the engine in Audi’s performance model was unknown since it wouldn’t stop unintendly accelerating long enough for anyone to check.
The old story goes that the 500E kept Porsche in business, allowing them to develop the 993 and, eventually, a hatchback whose dimensions roughly resemble the Mayflower.
I had a 500E once. Mine was black. This guy’s is green. I would expect nothing less from the unusual daily car show that is my neighborhood.