► My personal icon: Mercedes W124
► E-class specialist Nicholas Froome reveals all
► Why the classic E estate is best of all
> ‘I purchased my first W124 estate in the early 1990s. A friend wanted a safe car for his wife and I suggested the Merc. He bought an E250TD, but she loathed it so I bought it off them.
> 'I had it 12 years and it had 235,000 on the clock. It was used primarily as a support vehicle – I was racing my Triumph TR4 and needed something tough and reliable. I sold it and purchased a gruntier 300D estate for towing and realised then just how obsessed I was with W124 estates. I began to buy and sell them and it grew into a second business.’
> 'When I started out I was surprised there was – and still is – real demand for these cars. It’s a steady business, very niche, but I’m always busy. I use any money I make to fund my racing. There’s nothing else like the W124 estate for comfort, refinement, space and design intelligence. The build quality of the early cars was outstanding – the high-watermark for German automotive quality.’
> ‘I like the integrity of the design and the depth of the engineering. It’s obvious Mercedes’ engineers considered every detail and developed it to the best of their ability. The folding and removable rear seats, the way the cargo net operates, the incredible turning circle, the clever self-levelling suspension, the flat and low rear bumper – it does everything so well. The only other car I’ve owned with such a dual-purpose personality was an original Range Rover.’
> 'I think one of the keys to its success is that the word ‘sporty’ wasn’t in the car’s lexicon. In a way that liberated rather than restricted its development. It wasn’t shackled by this marketing-led need we have for everything to be sporty. It was the best family-focused, mid-range estate Mercedes could produce.’
> 'Over the last 13 years I’ve sold around 200 of them. Almost all are the estate, along with a few coupe and cabriolet models. People just want to keep their old Mercedes on the road – I can’t think of any other mainstream car out there that has that appeal. It’s classless.
> 'What does it say about the driver? Well, I think it says, “I know what I’m driving… I could have purchased something new and shiny but I’ve put my money into something intelligent”.’
Read more from the June 2016 issue of CAR magazine