The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is widely known as the ground-breaking executive sedan, estate, coupe and cabriolet that it is today. But has it always been that way? Here is the story of the E-Class Coupes and Cabriolets.
The story begins with the Stroke/8 Coupe (model series 114) back in 1968. But the first cabriolet has only made its way onto the market in 1991 in the 124 model series. In 1993, the cars in the segment, the 124 model series, were assigned the E-Class designation.
An E-Class without a name
The coupes and cabriolets of the range have always stood for elegance, dynamics, luxury. And the first of them, the Stroke/8, produced between 1968 and 1976, confirms the notions. Customers could only order the two-door models with six-cylinder engines. It was actually a statement that the range was not to be underestimated. The top of the range M 114 engine delivered 150 horsepower and made the car run as fast as 200 km/h.
Two years later, in 1972, it was the time for the 280 CE to shine with all of its 185 horsepower. When the last 114 model series rolled of the assembly line in August 1976, Mercedes-Benz had built more than 67,000 Coupes.
The relay race continued with the C 123, the two-door introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1977. The range also received the four-cylinder 230 C variant with 109 horsepower, while the 280 C featured 156 horsepower and the 280 E boasted 177 horsepower. The 300 CD diesel variant followed with 80 horsepower, exclusively developed for North America. A 300 CD turbo diesel with 125 horsepower came in 1981. The 230 C and the 280 C carburetor models were discontinued in 1980. It was the year the 230 CE with a petrol injection system showed up.
In August 1985, the C 123 stepped off the stage after 99,884 units making their way to customers. The model then made room for the 124 model series, the company introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 1987, bearing a new name: the E-Class Coupe. In 1991, the cabriolet saw the light of day.
In 1989, Mercedes-Benz launched a thoroughly revised engine range. The 300 CE-24 took the lead with 220 horsepower developed by its 3.0-liter four-valve engine carried over from the 300 SL-24 (R 129) sports car. It came with light-alloy wheels, power windows, steering wheel and gearshift lever covered in leather.
The cabriolet of the 124 model series arrived in 1991 with a fabric soft top, the first with featuring one after a break of 20 years. The engineers made it of a 27-part linkage with 34 joints and it weight 43 kilograms. Compared to the coupe, they needed to redesign approximately 1,000 components.
The E-Class Coupes and Cabriolets get the S-Class radiator grille
In June 1993, Mercedes-Benz revealed the facelift models with discrete changes. A radiator grille carried over from the S-Class sedan was one of the few changes. The new E 36 AMG with 272 horsepower stood at the top of the range.
Mercedes made 141,498 C 24 model series coupes between 1987 and 1996 and 33,952 cabriolets came to life between 1991 and 1997.
Mercedes-Benz introduced the twin-headlamp look in 1993 at the Geneva Motor Show with the an innovative concept. The light layout made its debut with the E-Class 210 model series in 1995.
The CLK was a story within the story of the E-Class
In 1997, fans finally received the long-awaited CLK Coupe 208 model series with the official reveal taking place in Detroit. It was then the beginning of a new era in design. “We are trying to create a crazy demonstration car packed with nonsensical showmanship that causes short-term astonishment. But then disappears into oblivion after only a few motor shows”, the then Head of Design, Bruno Sacco, was joking.
Even though based on the C-Class 202 model series, the CLK joined the E-Class family, as it was a two-door model. The top of the range was the 347-horsepower CLK 55 AMG. Mercedes-Benz built 233,367 CLK Coupes between 1997 and 2002 and other 115,161 Cabriolets between 1998 and 2003.
In 2002, Mercedes-Benz rolled off the assembly line the 209 model series. It began with the coupe and continuing with the cabriolet one year later, with a newly-designed twin-headlamp layout and an increase in size compared to their predecessors. Seven engine choices were available, with the leading 367-horsepower variant.
The E-Class Coupes and Cabriolets joined motor racing
The CLK DTM AMG joined motorsport in 2004 as a coupe and in 2005 as a cabriolet. Only 100 units for built for each variant, powered by a 5.5-liter AMG V8 engine of 582 horsepower. Driving one of them was Bernd Schneider, a champion in 2000, 2001 and 2003.
Starting 1997, the CLK 55 AMG was the official Safety Car in Formula One. It returned in 2003. In 2006 and 2007, it was the CLK 63 AMG that paced the racing cars on the circuit.
In 2004 in Paris, Mercedes displayed the CLK 500 Cabriolet limited to 100 units, with colors and materials created by the famous designer Giorgio Armani. The CLK 63 AMG facelift, that came in 2006, was a true sports car with its 481 horsepower. Then a war machinery followed. It was the CLK 63 AMG Black Series with 507 horsepower, exclusively available as a coupe. Subsequently, in the summer of that year, a V8 variant with 388 horsepower also came to the market.
Mercedes-Benz built 240,878 CLK Coupes and 140,139 CLK Cabriolets of the 209 model series.
The model series 207 premiered in March 2009, with ground-breaking safety, design and comfort features. The coupe set a new value for aerodynamey ic drag with a Cd value of only 0.24. These were figures that made it the world’s most aerodynamically efficient production car.
The E-Class Coupes and Cabriolets in the past decade
The cabriolet arrived in the spring of 2010, with an acoustically enhanced soft top that provided it with the lowest noise level in its class. Mercedes-Benz equipped the cabriolet with the optional AIRCAP and AIRSCARF systems. These were thus air systems that offered comfort even when the outside temperatures were in fact too low for driving with the top down.
In 2013, the facelifted model brought design features that confirmed they belonged to the E-Class family. With a long list of optional assistance systems, six petrol engines and three diesels, customers had plenty to choose from. The premium car company built 221,556 coupes and 140,925 cabriolets of the 207 model series before the production came to an end in December 2016.
January 2017 was the time Mercedes-Benz revealed the 238 model series E-Class Coupe in Detroit, as the world’s most advanced in the segment.