1993 E320 AMG, 1991 190E 2.6 Sportline 5spd
I know all of MBs cars. None of them were sporty. The SL is a grand touring car, not a sports car. The closest thing MB ever had to a sports sedan was the 190e 2.3/2.5-16v, and even that was less sporty than the E30 M3, it lost all comparisons to it (although I would take a 16v over an M3 any day). The 500E was again, a cruising car, its nothing like the E34 M5, or the C4 S4, both of which were only offered with a manual transmission, whereas the 500E only came only with an auto.MB has always had sporty two seaters going back to the 300SL. And they've had sporty sedans like the 500 and the AMG prepared cars. What they don't have traditionally, is a clientele (in the States) who buys these cars new and then works on (and tunes) the cars themselves. Only recently when the older cars have become affordable (like the 124 series), has the need for tuning by the young lions become so prevalent. I.e., given today's prices of new cars, it's become attractive for young males to buy older MB's for $2,000-5,500 and then have the discretionary income to put another grand into speed accessories. Unfortunately, MB is not sympathetic to the DIYers and retro tuning of their older cars. Basically, the factory is working against you, would suggest you find a 500, AMG Hammer etc or just buy one of their sport models new. As beautiful as my old wagon is, when I drive 60 miles to the dealer, they look at my car like it's some white trash cousin to their new stuff. I know better, but still.....
And yes, you are correct that there used to be certain accessories available to the 124's that mirrored what AMG was doing to the cars.....and even more with twin turbos. Seems to me that's come back a little bit...but it will always be supply & demand.
And MB has nothing to do with the aftermarket. The aftermarket is made up of 3rd party manufacturers which don't bother making performance parts for Benzes cause there's no one out there to buy them. The majority of mercedes owners don't modify their cars. This forum is a perfect example. A person makes a post asking for upgrades and performance parts, and you get responses like "oh your engine is already tuned" or "the MB engineers did a good job already" etc. Give me a break, no one wants to read that. That's not helpful. Lets be more constructive here. There are people here with modified benzes so if anyone knows any aftermarket manufacturers that still make performance parts for the W124, please list them, I am curious to know myself.