BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Subscribe to Top Gear magazine
Sign up to our Top Gear Magazine

You must buy Rowan Atkinson’s Mercedes 500E

Comedian’s ‘91 V8 Mercedes is surely one of the world’s best Q-cars

Published: 08 Apr 2019

Looks like an ordinary W124 Mercedes E-Class, but isn’t. The 500E was a very special thing indeed - a limited-production, V8-powered super-saloon developed and built in collaboration with none other than Porsche.

It had the 5.0-litre V8 from the SL of the day, giving around 320bhp and 0-62mph in less than six seconds. Supposedly the 500E was also among the first cars to have its top speed limited to 155mph, in-line with an agreement between all the big, German car manufacturers.

Advertisement - Page continues below

As well as messing about with the chassis to make the V8 fit, Porsche re-did the suspension (lowering the car by an inch in the process), added Recaro seats, a subtle bodykit with flared wheel arches and fitted bigger brakes. It was also recruited to actually build the 500E - a decision made when Mercedes realised the car’s flared arches made it too wide to fit down the normal W124 production line.

Between eight and 12 500Es were built every day, largely by hand, in the same factory where Porsche built the 959. Mostly, anyway. Once the chassis were completed at Porsche, they were shipped back to Benz to be painted. Once dry, they were sent back to Porsche to be finished with engines and interiors, before finally being sent back to Mercedes for final sign-off.

This particular 500E is one of just 29 officially imported into the UK. The comedian bought it new in 1991 and kept it for four years before selling. Then after 23 years Atkinson bought it back, from the same chap he’d sold it to. Now it’s going up for auction, at CCA’s sale in Warwickshire on May 25th. Comes with loads of history, but apparently needs a bit of TLC. Shows it’s been used, then…

Price? Well there’s no reserve on the auction, and so far no estimate. Boo.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Internet, is there a finer factory Q-car than the 500E? Let us know in the comments.

Top Gear

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

More from Top Gear

See more on Mercedes-Benz

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine