Back in 1971, when production of the coveted Mercedes 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet stopped, nobody would have guessed that there would ever be another Mercedes 5-seater convertible available to the public.
Almost twenty-three years later, in the fall of 1993, Mercedes offered up the 1994 E320 Cabriolet. It would be in production for only two short model years, until August of 1995 and to this day no other S-class or E-class
About twenty years old and thus at the bottom of their depreciation curve, a fine 1994 or '95 E320 Cabriolet is a sure-fire collectible with an enormous upside potential. With bullet-proof mechanicals and a solid-as-a-vault body, a clean and well-taken-care-of star cruiser represents a small but solid investment that you can actually enjoy day in and day out, without ever losing money. Buy a new C-class convertible and see how deep this will put you in the financial hole within a few short years!
One of only 1,698 cars built for the US market in 1994, the Mercedes E320 Cabriolet presented here, VIN *WDBEA66E2RC114522*, apparently has led a babied life. It's all original, inside and out, and exudes a presence matched only by much more expensive competitors, such as Bentley convertibles. We've been handing this car over to the valets of upscale restaurants, and it's been parked prominently up front every time.
Car comes with all the factory-supplied books and manuals inside the original, black morrokide pouch, as well as a clean carfax report. It's a low mileage example that has always been driven sparingly, less than 6,500 sunny-day miles per year, on average.
Let's take a closer look now.
Inside a tooth-brush clean engine bay resides the Cab's marvelous 3.2-liter "M104" inline-6-cylinder engine. Made entirely from Reynolds aluminum, it features double overhead camshafts and 4-valves per cylinder. With 220 horses on tap, the Cab is able to cruise north of 140mph on the Autobahn (or on deserted Montana highways) all day long, if so desired.
Engine starts, runs, sounds, and acts in a most civilized manner, with no bad habits -- such as smoking or (oil) drinking -- to report.
Undercarriage is clean, dry and rust free. There are no indications of any previous accident damage or severe usage of any kind.
Click on the image to the left for an XXL-sized view
Click on any of the above images for a full-size view
Above photos show the undercarriage in more detail. Make sure to enlarge them to their full size.
Mercedes' coachwork is arrow straight. Apart from a very small ding atop the left rear quarter, there are no blemishes to speak of. Quality workmanship is evident in every detail, such as the perfect fit of doors and hoods, which still close with a satisfying "thunk."
The black canvas convertible top is an intricate affair, its operation being completely automatic. Alas, it's not a mechanic's nightmare as so many other attempts at convenient top operation, but, with the aid of numerous solenoids, works with quiet precision. The canvas material itself remains in fabulous condition.
White paint (factory code 050) looks beautiful, very smooth and glossy, without scratches, bubbles or anything else one would lose sleep over.
Factory alloy wheels are very attractive and wear high speed performance tires in the correct size 195/65-15 with about 90% tread life left.
Inside, we appreciate the usual understated Mercedes elegance, here enhanced by the optional burled walnut accented steering wheel. Dash top looks pristine.
Gauges look crisp -- and they all work, even the clock.
Gray leather complements the white exterior perfectly. Large seats are electrically adjustable and very comfortable, even on long drives. High quality leather shows very little appreciable wear, will last another lifetime.
Back bench offers big space for three adults, unlike the cramped rear compartments of most of today's conveyances. Rear head rests can be manually adjusted; in the unlikely event of a rollover, they deploy automatically as protective roll bars.
Ready for a test drive?
So are we, but before we take off, let's inspect the trunk, shall we?
Very large trunk looks very clean; by now, that should not come as a surprise. Optional, removable wind deflector is stored here.
Complete factory tool roll and unused, matching spare. Neat!
Friday, January 31st, turned out to be another lovely and quite warm "winter" day here in our old California mission town. The beach just a stone's throw away, driving topless seemed to be the natural choice.
The big convertible performs faultlessly. It is a joy to pilot, quiet, surefooted and powerful. Best of all, it seems to be constantly mistaken for a $100,000.00 late model luxury car, with admiring smiles and appreciating glances accompanying our every drive.
From behind the Volant, the experience is quite uplifting and almost majestic. No, rattling, no squeeking, no ill behavior of any kind mars the experience. It's like driving a luxury car that's built like a vault, because it is indeed a luxury car that's built like a vault.
Returning home, we are full of praise for our E320. Where else can one acquire so much luxury, prestige and, most of all, sheer enjoyment for so little? The E320 is definitely on our personal short list of "must have" automobiles.
"Buy low, sell high" is the secret of a successful investor, and the same maxim applies here. You will never be able to own such a clean Daimler-Benz Cabriolet for less money. Depreciation is a non-issue, appreciation is virtually guaranteed. All the while, you'll have fun driving your beautiful and very reliable classic Mercedes. What's there not to like?
We sold this fine Mercedes in Spring of 2014.