The ’80s was a significant period for foreign cars in the US. Much has been written on how the likes of the Camry and Accord built upon their popularity during the fuel crisis and slid into driveways across America. But if you’re looking for one of the most influential cars of the era, you’re going to have to look to the likes of the Mercedes W124 – or so says the latest video from Curious Cars.
The W124 touched American soil in late 1985. It was a very different offering to the preceding W123 that taxi drivers across Europe loved. The new mid-sized Merc presented itself as a car fit for decades of use, with parts such as serviceable window switches and durable materials fueling the W124’s reputation for durability. Had it not been for a biodegradable wire-harness and some dodgy head-gaskets, the W124 would have had an almost faultless record — but don’t confuse reliability with durability, says our host.
In short, it was the epitome of subtle luxury. It was a revolution when it arrived Stateside. The W124 was the perfect antidote to the loud, attention-seeking muscle cars. Here was a seven-seater (in wagon form), mid-sized executive car that had a 3.3-liter inline-six putting out nearly 180 hp — paltry by today’s standards, but impressive at the time. The engine, coupled with the W124’s aerodynamic design, allowed it to achieve the same 0-60 mph time of an ’84 Camaro and outclass it by more than 10 mph on top speed.
Numbers aside, the W124 is still widely regarded as one of the most well-built cars ever made. The car featured in the clip remained with its first owner for 34 long years.
Around 40 minutes into the video, you’ll see the host, Bill from Curious Cars, throw this 30-year-old car onto the highway. He stretches the three-decades-old car’s legs while explaining how the W124 feels the same way as it would have the day it rolled out of the showroom: strong, sturdy, and undeniably influential. And quite possibly the most driveable modern classic around today.