Deutsche Bundesbahn had been operating InterCity trains at up to since 1973. The following year, research into even higher speeds began. At the DB works in Munich-Freimann, a workgroup called Forschungsgruppe Rad-Schiene was founded to evaluate the feasibility of high-speed traffic on conventional rail systems.
After several trials with conventional locomotive-pulled trains and the construction of a roller dynamometer test bench capable of reaching speeds of up to , it was decided in September 1982 to build a trainset, with the locomotives permanently fixed to the carriages, to evaluate the specific concept of such a train.
The cost of construction was split between the Federal Ministry for Research (61%), the DB (17%) and the involved companies (22%).
The trainset consisted of two Class 410 powercars, built jointly by Krupp, Krauss-Maffei and Thyssen-Henschel and three unpowered intermediate cars, of which two were built by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm and one by DUEWAG and Linke-Hofmann-Busch. The powercars weighed 78 tons each and had a maximum output of 3,640 kW. They were mostly based on the DB Class 120 locomotives developed earlier, but had been equipped with an aerodynamic outer hull and a corporate identity livery.
The train was delivered in 1985 and was used mainly for testing purposes for the new InterCityExpress trains and as a showcase train. It set the new land speed record for railed vehicles on May 1, 1988, at , which remained unsurpassed until 1990.
The delivery of the ICE 1 powercars (now called Class 401), based on those of the ICE-V started in 1987. After that, the train was mainly used for material evaluation. The train was retired in 1998 and its powercars and cars were placed on exhibition at various sites. It was replaced by the ICE-S.