We begin with the poster child of Porsche engineering in a non-Porsche car — well, aside from the Beetle, which seemed too obvious to devote an entire entry to.
The early ’90s were a troubling time for Porsche, as it was hemorrhaging money and fading into irrelevancy. Fortunately, Mercedes-Benz was keen to take on the E34 BMW M5 at right about the same time, and required the 911 maker’s services to do it.
Porsche was tasked with fitting the 5.0-liter V8 out of the R129 SL into the W124 E-Class chassis. What Mercedes perhaps didn’t foresee were all the other aspects of the W124 that’d have to be tweaked and bolstered to support the big engine. The suspension had to be redesigned, the front track needed to be expanded for effective cornering, and all this in turn widened the car. So much so that it no longer fit on Mercedes’ production line.
The result was the venerable 500E, and Porsche wound up manufacturing the car itself, mostly by hand. All told, just under 10,500 examples of the sleeper sedan rolled out of Porsche’s Zuffenhausen factory.