The Mercedes-Benz W124 E36 AMG Cabriolet

The Mercedes-Benz W124 E36 AMG Cabriolet

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class convertible is without a doubt the most classy 124 around. It was no secret that the open version of the W124 would quickly become a classic. The four seater convertible had everything you would expect from Mercedes Benz. Beautiful lines drawn by Bruno Sacco, quality craftsmanship and extremely reliable (well aware this could be a point of discussion. But before the biodegradable wiring started degrading they were extremely reliable).

Before the introduction of Modellpflege 2 (MoPf2) the inline-6 engines from the W124 300E with a M103.980 producing 180 Hp (132 Kw) and the W124 300E-24V M104.980 producing 220 HP where the only engine options they were built in. With MoPf2 they were supplemented by the E200 with the M111.940 producing 136 Hp (100 Kw) and the E220 with a M111.960 producing 150 Hp (110 Kw). A new inline-6 was also introduced, the E320 with a M104.992 producing 220 Hp (162 Kw). This was actually the first real M104 engine in the convertible. The M104.980 is an engine that is somewhere in between but that’s a story for another time. All these engine upgrades where done in view of stagnating sales.

This might have something to do with why the E36 AMG variety is an absolute rarity. The fastest of the roofless 124’s was built from 1993 to 1996 and they only built 68 of them. The 3.2 liter M104.992 is a very capable, reliable engine but it lacks the raw power to get your heart beating a little faster. The obvious choice might have been the 5.0 liter M119.974. However, it was not the V shaped 8 cylinder reserved for the W124 E500 that made its debut in the R124, but a significantly upgraded M104 engine.

The boys from Affalterbach completely rebuilt the 24 valve engine at their AMG laboratory. An increase in displacement by 800cc allowed the stroke and bore to grow to an almost identical level. The best prerequisites for an optimal torque curve. The power increase meant that over 300Nm was already available at 1500 rpm. Only a few more revolutions and the 3.6 liter M104.941/M104.992 pressed a lush 350Nm on the crankshaft.

Developed from the more pedestrian 2.8 Liter M104.942 with 195 Hp, AMG had to make some changes to turn it into an angry pedestrian engine. To make it angry they installed individually selected pistons and connecting rods as well as a finely balanced crankshaft. In order for the 276 Hp to survive long periods of full load, AMG relied on additional oil spray nozzles under the aluminum pistons.

To make it really angry it was required that the gas exchange could take place quickly. The standard 4 valve cylinder head received polished intake and exhaust ports and some modified camshafts. The engine management system was adjusted accordingly in the very last stage of the rebuild. As with most things produced by AMG, it shows their will to perfection. It took 2 days just to assemble the engine. It was such a perfect engine AMG claimed that up to ten more horses where available and that this was attributable to the engine’s largely hand assembled nature.

Now they had an engine but they weren’t done yet. The E36 with it’s perfect engine needed some stopping power. A reinforced brake system with 4 piston fixed calipers and ventilated brake discs from the R129 Sl500 was installed to take care of that. The engine boys from Affalterbach had some fear that the standard 4 speed automatic transmission could destroy their amazing work. But this turned out to be the opposite. The 4 speed automatic makes the E36 a relaxed cruiser. And yes, switch it to sport and it gets angry, very angry. But even in angry mode there is always the feeling of sovereign, resilient sportiness, which corresponds well with the body and interior of the convertible, which has been refined with a subtle AMG gen 2 trim, a set of AMG Aero rims, a AMG exhaust and so on.

The most extravagant convertibles of the 86 where highly modified to the clients wishes. This could include Recaro RS seats or AMG embroidered throughout the car but a 5 speed automatic or manual gearbox was also an option. Some clients chose a more subtle approach and had it look stock with only the mechanical parts changed. These clients might have had a different opinion on looks, but there was one thing they could agree on. This is a truly fantastic car.
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