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It’s the 30th anniversary of the 500 E, the Mercedes-Benz that Porsche built

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Mercedes-Benz 500 E

AMG is rightfully regarded as the performance arm of Mercedes-Benz, even going back to the 1970s before the mothership took control of the little tuner shop. But for a brief moment in time, rival German automaker Porsche helped develop and build a Mercedes-Benz performance car. It was the 1991 Mercedes-Benz 500 E, and it’s celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The 500 E was based on the W124 generation of the venerable E-Class, but it was a low-volume, high-performance model that Mercedes needed help to build because a wider body wouldn’t fit down its assembly line. The timing was right for Porsche, which was in financial trouble, so the project worked out well for both automakers.

Porsche was responsible for turning the W124 E-Class into a V-8-powered sport sedan and for much of the car’s build process. To commemorate the car’s 30th birthday, Porsche produced two videos featuring two of the engineers who worked on the project, Michael Hölscher, project manager development, and Michael Mönig from prototype management.

Mercedes-Benz 500 E

To turn the W124 into a performance touring sedan, Porsche engineers reworked much of the body. The new body was 2.2 inches wider than the standard E-Class, and it featured different bumpers with distinctive wings. The cowl and engine compartment were modified to fit the overhead-cam 5.0-liter V-8 from the Mercedes SL 500. Air flowed into the engine compartment through the gaps around the headlights, and the intake had to be modified and insulated because it created too much noise. The whole area under the hood was reconfigured to fit the larger engine, and both engineers said it was an arduous process in the days before CAD. In its final form, the 500 E made 322 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque that could launch it from 0-62 mph in 5.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 155 mph.

Porsche engineers also moved the battery to the trunk for better weight distribution, lowered the car 0.9 inch, modified the center tunnel for a new exhaust, and installed bigger brakes. Every 500 E was a four-seater because the large rear differential sapped space for a middle rear seat.

The E 500 debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1990 and production began that year. The build process for the 500 E was complicated. Mercedes provided body parts to Porsche, which assembled the body with additional parts it made. The body then went back to Mercedes for paint, and returned to Porsche for final assembly. The process took 18 days, and Porsche built a total of 10,479 cars by the end of the car’s run in April 1995.

Mercedes-Benz 500 E

Mercedes-Benz 500 E

Hölscher and Mönig drove an example of the car to mark the 30th anniversary, and Hölscher loved the way it drove, even after all this time. “Its handling is magnificent. The longitudinal acceleration is excellent, the brakes are outstanding and it’s a pleasure to drive this car with its dynamic character,” he said. “I really enjoy the beautiful and unobtrusive sound of the eight-cylinder engine.”

That’s not a surprise given the exacting standards of both brands. In this instance, Porsche engineering made a Mercedes better, and the project helped keep an iconic but struggling sports car brand afloat.

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Audi to launch last car with internal-combustion engine in 2026

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Markus Duesmann

Audi CEO Markus Duesmann used Tuesday’s Climate Neutrality Foundation conference in Berlin to confirm the automaker’s plans to transition to a fully electric lineup.

Duesmann said Audi will launch its final car equipped with an internal-combustion engine in 2026. Beyond this date, the automaker will only launch electric vehicles, he said.

Audi expects to finally stop selling vehicles equipped with an internal-combustion engine (including hybrids) by 2033 though may push this date further out depending on market conditions. According to Duesmann, there may still be demand in some markets, particularly China, for vehicles with internal-combustion engines beyond 2033.

Markus Duesmann

By eventually moving to a fully electric lineup, Audi will dramatically reduce its carbon footprint. The automaker aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, at the latest.

Audi is joining a growing consortium of automakers committed to switching to electric lineups within a decade. Fellow Volkswagen Group brand Bentley as early as last November confirmed to make the switch by 2030. The most aggressive among established automakers is Jaguar which in February said it will be an electric-only brand by as early as 2025.

By that 2025 date, Audi aims to have more than 20 electric vehicles in its lineup. Already on sale are the E-Tron, E-Tron Sportback, and E-Tron GT, and arriving soon are the Q4 E-Tron and Q4 Sportback E-Tron.

Audi A6 E-Tron Concept - 2021 Shanghai auto show

Audi A6 E-Tron Concept – 2021 Shanghai auto show

And further down the pipeline is a Q6 E-Tron due in 2022 and an A6 E-Tron due in 2023, as well as a technological flagship that may go by the name Q9 E-Tron that’s due in 2025. The new A6 E-Tron which will be sold alongside the gas-powered A6 was previewed in April with a thinly veiled concept.

There will likely also be an A4 E-Tron as part of the next-generation A4 family, though Audi is yet to confirm plans for one.

To ensure adequate charging infrastructure, Audi is working with other companies to promote the expansion of renewable energy sources and public charging stations. Audi is also testing the waters with its own line of premium charging stations that can be booked in advance.

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Modern electric Bus starts testing

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2024 Volkswagen ID Buzz production model test mule spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Volkswagen’s electric successor to the iconic Microbus based on 2017’s ID Buzz concept vehicle has finally been spotted testing, albeit at a very early stage of the development.

Our spy shots show a test mule, where the new mechanical package is hidden beneath a makeshift body, in this case the modified body a T6-generation VW Transporter/Multivan.

It’s hard to spot exterior differences but it looks like the ID Buzz test mule’s wheelbase is slightly shorter than the wheelbase of the standard Transporter. Two wheelbase lengths are planned for the production model, with the United States expected to receive the longer version as standard. A shot of the interior reveals dash controls borrowed from existing VW ID models like the ID.4 compact crossover sold here and ID.3 compact hatch sold overseas.

2024 Volkswagen ID Buzz production model test mule spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

The final design is likely to be tweaked significantly from what you see here and may have already been previewed in a teaser sketch of a self-driving ID Buzz (shown below) that’s slated to enter a commercial taxi service in 2025. The service will be run by VW Group’s Moia mobility division using a self-driving system developed by Argo AI, which VW Group is a major shareholder of.

The ID Buzz, which will likely be called something along the lines of ID.7 or ID.8 in production guise, is due to start sales in Europe in 2022. Unfortunately it won’t reach the United States until 2023, meaning it will likely arrive as a 2024 model. That’s a year later than originally promised.

VW has been hinting at a modern Bus for years. In fact, the automaker rolled out the first concept for one as far back as 2001. Now production is finally happening. The production will be handled at a Volkswagen Group plant in Hanover, Germany, which is being upgraded to handle electric vehicles. The plant is where VW currently builds its T-series van, the true successor to the Microbus.

Volkswagen ID.Buzz AD self-driving car prototype

Volkswagen ID.Buzz AD self-driving car prototype

The T-series earlier in June spawned the new T7 generation in passenger-oriented Multivan guise. The T7 van, which is based on VW Group’s MQB platform, will be sold alongside the ID Buzz. The ID Buzz will ride on VW Group’s MEB battery-electric platform.

Look for a base model with around 201 hp and rear-wheel drive. Above this should sit a 302-hp model with a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system. The biggest battery option should offer close to 300 miles of range.

Like the ID Buzz concept, the production version will have its batteries in the floor, allowing short overhangs front and rear, and a compact van footprint. Both passenger and commercial versions are planned, the latter previewed by 2018’s ID Buzz Cargo concept. The U.S. is only expected to receive the passenger version.

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Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster honors oldest Aston in existence

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Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

It’s been 100 years since chassis number 3, now known as A3, rolled out of Aston Martin’s first facility at Abingdon Road in Kensington, London. It was the third car ever produced by Aston Martin.

To celebrate the centenary of A3, the HWM Aston Martin dealership in Walton on Thames, Surrey, collaborated with the Aston Martin Heritage Trust & Museum (AMHT) to commission three modern cars dubbed A3 Vantage Roadsters, which are now for sale.

The cost of each of these limited-edition roadsters wasn’t released, and they will all likely be sold in England.

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

The original A3

The car now known as A3 was originally driven by company co-founder Lionel Martin, and it was acquired by the AMHT in 2002. It’s powered by a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder side-valve engine with 11 hp. It set several records including an 84.5 mph run in 1923 at the Brooklands Circuit. A3 recently underwent a restoration to bring it as close to original factory condition as possible by Ecurie Bertelli, a renowned pre-war Aston Martin specialist.

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

A3 Vantage Roadster

Each of the three new A3 Vantage Roadsters features a black square mesh grille insert and a bright aluminum surround with a heritage badge inspired by the original A3 model. Another nod to the original is the gill inserts in the front fenders. They feature exposed aluminum panels that were hand polished by Bertelli, engraved with “NO_3,” and outfitted with fixed saddle leather straps. Unique 20-inch lightweight forged aluminum wheels painted gloss black were designed for these cars, and they hide bronze brake calipers.

The interior of the A3 Vantage Roadster features perforated seats with the heritage Aston Martin script embroidered on the center console lid. The Obsidian Black interior contrasts with brass trim and Chestnut Tan accents and stitching.

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin A3 Vantage Roadster

A3 Vantage Roadsters will be powered by the Vantage Roadster’s standard Mercedes-AMG twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 with 503 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The A3 Vantage Roadster will be shown to the public for the first time on Saturday, June 26 at the Dallas Burston Polo Club in Southam, Warwickshire. A display of pre-war Aston Martin and Lagonda models, Feltham-era D2 cars, plus DB4, DB5, DB6, DBS models will also be on hand, as will V-8-powered cars from 1969-2000, the DB7, the V12 Vanquish, the One-77, and the Vulcan.

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