The E-Class name first appeared in the U.S. with the face-lifted W124 for the model year 1994. The W124 was introduced in 1986 but continued with the older naming convention until 1993, when all Mercedes-Benz models switched to a new system – E320 instead of 300E. Formerly, the E extension had indicated fuel injection, but since all Mercedes were injected by the time of this change, it worked. Mercedes now has the C-Class as entry level, the E-Class as mid-level and the S-Class as Executive Express, with a few others thrown in to meet market demands, and confuse the heck out of casual observers. The W210 E-Class, launched in 1996, brought the mid-size Mercedes firmly into the upper end of the luxury market. Though six-cylinder models were still offered, the four-light front-end and high prices moved the car upmarket. In September 1999, the W210 E-Class was face-lifted. This included visual, mechanical and quality improvements over the earlier versions. The W210s are the cars most likely to have long-term value. Their stylish front-end treatment is more timeless than the W124 and also more unique. The W124 looks like a smaller version of a real Mercedes, while the W210 stands alone.
The most collectible models will be the Convertibles and Coupes, although the Diesels and Estates have a cult following. While Mercedes parts are not cheap, they don’t tend to break very often, so maintenance isn’t as expensive as one would think. However, always be wary of cars that fallen into disrepair, or have not been properly maintained. Having to repair multiple systems in these cars can get exponentially out of control very quickly. Values are low at this point, usually less than $5,000 for Sedans and less than $10,000 for older Convertibles, so this is certainly an important consideration.