4matic: How it all started - with the S124 in the snow

With the S124 to the Timmelsjoch. In the winter.

The Swabians do not make it easy. Always these cryptic type designations. The predecessors the E-Class, for example the 230 E and Co., belonged in the years 1984 to 1997 (yes, model series used to be built for so long ...) the W124 series. But only as a limousine. As a station wagon, or as the Swabian says, as a “T-Model”, it was the S124. At the 1985 IAA, Mercedes presented all-wheel drive for the W and S 124. In autumn 2015, again for the IAA, the all-wheel drive, which Mercedes-Benz baptized 4matic, will be 30 years old. You don't have to sing Happy Birthday anymore, but it's a good time to remember what it was like back then - with all-wheel drive.

4matic s124 01 timmelsjoch

Timmelsjoch: early December 2014

At first there is no snow at 2.175 meters. Here at the construction site for the new Timmelsjoch Motorcycle Museum, at the level of the former toll station, we start our “ascent”. Just as you would have done in 1987. Only then would the E300 TD T 4 matic have been brand new.

In this 300 TD T 4matic you don't just sit on the driver's seat, you are part of the seats. They take you in, they bed you down softly. The narrow A- and B-pillars hardly restrict the view; unlike in modern cars, you don't have the feeling of sitting in a NATO sheet metal box with peepholes welded in afterwards. Free view. The driver's seat is softly sprung, grandma’s sofa comes to mind, even that no longer exists today. The typical “this is how Mercedes must be” comes across immediately. The pumping sound of the 3 liter in-line six-cylinder pre-chamber diesel echoes in your ears. This is the taxi sound for generations of disco returnees. This nail-biting sound, hardly influenced by engine speed, is classic Mercedes diesel music. In the E300 TDT, it should be 147 hp and 273 Nm, which the oil burner sends to all four wheels for the first time in 1987.


In the master butcher's dream through snow and ice

The sun is laughing at us. The mountains are visible from the glittering side. Anyone who now gondolas too slowly over the partly cleared high alpine road, could be hit by outgoing avalanches at the end of the tour, when the sun is shining over the Scheibkopf. So quickly enjoy the safe sound of the closing doors. The prechamber diesel runs undeterred and is preheated, the automatic on D and pressed the pedal. Gas. So something like that.

The incredible inertia of old turbodiesel engines is impressive. Force? Well - at some point, while the six pots shimmy through the narrow speed band, the S124 also accelerates. Traction problems? Why exactly did you think about traction at the time? With four men, we throw the S124 around the first hairpin bends of the High Alpine Road. Speed ​​limits are not worth asking at the beginning. After four turns, the light patches of snow on the road become the first snow slush of the year. The top speed of 188 km / h for the E300 TDT 4matic now seem all the more theoretical.

Outside, the tires are now throwing the snow up in the direction of the exterior mirror. Nasty ice sheets under the loose layer of snow let the white station wagon move. ESP? This “anti-skid system” was still behind the steering wheel at the time and was known, among other things, as the “vehicle driver”. But the 4matic drive does not pose unsolvable tasks for the driver. The station wagon can be kept safely in the tiller on the large valance. Easily across? The S124 doesn't care. The turbodiesel stoically presses its power over the four wheels. The four-speed automatic keeps the engine speed in the basement. Nagging and grumbling with satisfaction, the 273 Nm wander through the oil pan. At that time, the Mercedes engineers had to pack the front differential into the oil pan of the E 300 TD 4matic, there was simply no more space anywhere else.

E300 TD T 4matic:

It was the dream car of well-paid craftsmen and self-employed. Even today, the S124 still impresses with its space and, of course, this unrestricted all-round view that is only known from classic cars. And as 4matic, the stoic traction range is reassuringly safe - even without ESP. At over 2.500 meters the snow is already meters high, the sky is closing and wants us to get out of it History of the Timmelsjoch tell. From smugglers and the trade route between South Tyrol and the Ötztal.

I myself don't have time for that, I'd rather have a little romp through the snow with one of the great fathers of modern all-wheel drive technology. So we drive down the high alpine road again. And up again ...

Performance E300 TD T:Series S124 4matic:
from 147 HPfrom 1987 to 1997
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