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Ultimate Sleeper: 1993 Mercedes Benz 500E

A sleeper car is typically a normal-looking sedan but packs ferocious power underneath the hood. The Mercedes Benz 500e was one such example, being developed not only by Mercedes Benz but with Porsche too, making this an extremely rare and sought-after car. Did I mention it packs a 4.0l V8, and with only 1528 units ever shipped to the US for just 2 years, this is a very rare car. Hence the buy-it-now price of $36,900 on eBay here and available from Miami, Florida.

Now you can tell the owners loved to drive this car, as it has over 145,000 miles on the clock from its only 2 owners. However, that is the only information we have from the seller as they have only provided us with 13 words in the advert. Luckily we have plenty of photos to make our investigation. The metalwork and the teal blue paint look to be in great condition, but the black bumpers are scuffed and could do with a cleaning. It comes with lovely monoblock alloy wheels which don’t have any signs of scuffing. The interior fares well too, although this is where you can see some more wear and tear.

The headlining could do with some imminent repair work, and the seat bolsters are in need of work too – hardly surprising given the miles they have sucked up. However, for a car like this, it really shows the quality of the German sedan as Mercedes were famous for back in the day. These seats were supplied by Recaro as fitting a sports sedan of the time. As with a car of this calibre, it’s important to have all the recorded service history and this seems to come with full stacks of service records and papers which means it looks well-maintained and should be good for more autobahn runs in the future.

Coming round to that engine bay, dominated by that V8 pushing out 322hp and easily upgradable with turbos or nitrous if you wanted more power. And that’s the delight with this car, its infinitely upgradable, reliable and robust enough to make the ultimate sleeper. So that is the choice for you, the next owner – keep it stock and still surprise people at the lights, or turn it into a Black Hammer type of machine which would even embarrass top supercars of today.


  1. Avatar photo alphasud Member

    What makes this 500E interesting is the color. They all seem to come in either black or dark gray metallic. Not my favorite shade of green. Mercedes has a green called petrol green which ranks up there with the Porsche petrol blue. I think you meant this engine is a 5 liter and not 4 liter. The little brother 400E has the M119 4.2L engine that makes 268hp vs. 322hp. It is believed that Porsche did not do any development on the 500E. They were just contracted to build the car with Mercedes since the wider track had issues moving down the W124 assembly line. Porsche was struggling in the early 90’s and projects like the Mercedes and the Audi RS4 wagon helped keep the lights on. Porsche did however help with the development of the Audi and that car also shares some Porsche parts like the brakes and mirrors. The Mercedes did not.

    Like 14
    • Avatar photo Hansjorg

      Mercedes call this color berryl-metallic, color code 888. It’s the successor to petrol-blue metallic, color code 877. Both are really gorgeous turquoise colors.
      Unfortunately, the horrid blah – beige leather destroys the car. It would be stunning with black or dark brown interior.

      Like 0
  2. Avatar photo James Weidaw Member

    Has a 92 back in the day. Sold it when it hit 100000 miles. Worst car mistake of my life. Best car I ever owned

    Like 7
  3. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    Authors idea of “sleeper” differs greatly from mine. A 440 Dodge Dart with poverty hubcaps would be my idea of one,,,

    Like 13
    • Avatar photo alphasud Member

      I would have to agree. Not really a sleeper considering the performance potential of current cars. It’s a quick performance sedan that has a feel only classic Mercedes cars can deliver. The last series of what I consider a true Mercedes before unit cost and general appeal took first place over engineering. With any luck I will be the owner of a 400e by weeks end.

      Like 8
      • Avatar photo FireAxeGXP

        Alpha I’ve been thinking about a 90s 400e myself. If your deal works out could you update us about yours? Thanks!

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo alphasud Member

        Will be glad to update. Car is sold as a non runner and hopefully the pictures didn’t hide any nasty details. I could create a BarnFind story documenting the as found to what it takes to make it into a daily.

        Like 7
    • Avatar photo Greg B

      Diffrent generation of sleeper is all every generation of cars has their own versions of sleepers

      Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Rw

    Sleeper ???? Not in my opinion

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Jesse Mortensen Staff

      How’s it not? The company’s big V8 shoved into its small body. Sounds like a sleeper to me!

      Like 1
  5. Avatar photo Mitch

    These are special cars. Well-maintained or even accident-free examples
    are rare. It kept Porsche from submitting bankruptcy so Porsche built the
    bare body and sent it back to Mercedes to assembly.
    Here is a buying advice from an expert. ( He looks at what is checked
    during an mandatory after inspection without exhaust gas- light- seat
    belts- glass- suspension- and brake -tests). ((With faulty google trans-
    lation subtitles.)) That segregates the good cars from the bad.


    Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Mitch

    These are exceptional cars. Well-maintained or even accident-free examples are rare. To save Porsche from bankruptcy, Porsche built the raw body and sent it back to Mercedes for assembly.

    Here is a buying advice from an expert. (He looks at what is tested in a mandatory re-inspection without exhaust- light- seat belt- glass- suspension- and brake tests). ((With faulty Google translation subtitles.)) It”s what separates the good cars from the bad.


    Like 3
  7. Avatar photo Frank Barrett Member

    The 500E came in only a few colors, but Mercedes-Benz also offered a Paint To Sample option, which–given that the spare wheel well is the same color–is what this seems to be. This is a lot of money for a lot of miles, double the real-world price, so the guy is obviously fishing.

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo BigBlocksRock

    Always found the wipers on the headlights comical. How effective are they?

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Mitch

      they do their job – get visibility.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Mason Phillips

      They work when you use the windshield wiper spray feature to clean the windshield. They work well on the headlights also because they get sprayed also. I have a 300E btw. Great cars.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo alphasud Member

      If you live in a area where it snows they are a godsend. Anyone who has had to pull over in heavy snow to clean their headlights to see will appreciate.

      Like 3
  9. Avatar photo Mark Member

    I owned a 400E, a great car, and even consumer reports named it the best car in the group. There is no vin number in the EBAY add so I would be very careful with this one. It is desirable but you really can’t depend on the info that the seller presents.

    Like 1
  10. Avatar photo Homer

    Reply to alphasud on color. I worked for a Pontiac, MB, Honda dealership from 72-82. MB really did have a baby poo green sometime in that period. A doctor came in one day to buy a Merc and when sitting in the car he said he thought it made his skin look green, it was a really bad color.

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo algonquin

    I own a 500E. By the way the 500E has a 5 liter engine as distinct from the 4.2 liter engine in the 400E. This particular car shown on BF and in the ebay listing has been dissected on the 500E board in great detail, and the VIN has been determined, etc. Long list of issues with the car, none of which are fatal, but if the new owner wants to bring this car to first rate condition it will take some real money. The 500E was produced for more than 2 years, although it was “facelifted” to the E500 in 1994. The wikipedia page on the 500E is pretty thorough for additional info.

    Like 3
  12. Avatar photo Derek

    The headlights are horrible-looking compared to euro-type ones. Is it legal in the US (or does it vary state – to – state?) to fit euro ones? You get bigger headlight wipers, too.

    The big Mercs aren’t really much of a sleeper, because you know that the lowest-spec motor is still quite hefty.

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo John P

    “Easily upgradable” with turbos and nitrous??? We are talking about a cramped engine compartment with 30 year old electric gadgetry that’ll destroy your bank account…

    I think someone has been living around LS-power plants too much….

    Like 0
  14. Avatar photo Matt C.

    I recently got rid of my 300E/AMG. It was a 6 cyl with 277 hp. I considered it a sleeper in the plain Jane standard body without the flares this one has. It didn’t shine 0-60 as much as 80-140 range. The interesting part was if you floored it at 80mph in about 2 seconds you would be going 110.I had one experience one weekend I was commuting to visit my girlfriend and would usually cruise around 82mph where it was happy and quiet. When a Mitsubishi 3000 tailgated and I pulled over then followed him up to 120 where he pulled over then I went up to 145 where he managed 140. The top speed of these are usually limited to 155 despite the engine (Germany does this but it can be upgraded) the only thing that stopped me from exceeding the 150mph was the concern of traffic stepping in front of me going 70. Great cars and if maintained as aforementioned can be bulletproof. I stopped using mine on a regular basis and it began to atrophy with numerous small issues that began to become bigger issues. If you want this (sleeper), be ready to shell out a few bucks for minor repairs even if you do them yourself as I did.

    Like 2

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