Can you explain the Mercedes Benz model designation?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1989

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm having trouble understanding Mercedes Benz model designation. Would you please explain it to me so I can tell what a 190 E 2.6 is?

TOM: It's actually very simple, Rob. The first number refers to the engine displacement. So a 190 would be a model with a 1.9 liter motor. A 560 would have a 5.6 liter powerplant. Got it?

RAY: The letters are even easier. The "E" stands for "einspritz," which is German for "fuel-injected." A 300 E, then, would be a fuel-injected 3-liter sedan, except that 300 is now a "class" and may not necessarily have a 3 liter engine. The letter "S" means that the car is an "S" class or "large" class sedan. You may also see a "D" for diesel, or a "T" for "transport"--German for "station wagon," except on the 300 TD where"TD" stands for turbo-diesel, not transport-diesel, and the 300 is the class, not necessarily the displacement. Do you follow? Then there's "C" for in the 300 CE...a fuel injected 3 liter coupe. There's also "L." What's "L" stand for?

TOM: Uh...long, I think. A big long Mercedes. The 420 SEL...a big, long-wheelbase, 4.2 liter "S" class Mercedes. Then you have the 450 SEC. That's a 4.5 liter Mercedes only available to members of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Then there's the roadster-- the 560 SL-- which is neither "S" class nor "long," but "sport light,"--German for "beer for jocks." This brings us back to your original question about the 190 E 2.6, which, as you can now figure out for yourself, is a fuel injected 1.9 liter Mercedes with a 2.6 liter engine. You follow?

RAY: Actually, Rob, there's only one guy in the whole world who understands the Mercedes designations. His name is Karl, and he's been dead for years.

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