- World premiere at the NAIAS in Detroit from January 11 to 19, 1992
- Flagship models of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class-based passenger car range
- Exclusive modern classics (or “youngtimers”) are among the contenders for H plates (reserved for historic vehicles) in 2022
stuttgart. With an assertive design, the Mercedes-Benz SEC 140-series luxury coupés entered the global automotive scene 30 years ago as the flagship models of the brand’s passenger car range alongside the S-Class. These premium sports touring cars were based on the 140 series luxury sedans, but were stylistically more distinct than was the case with the earlier 126 series coupes and sedans. “The new SEC coupes offer very little wind resistance, and all the more fashionable uniformity. After all, anyone who is a technology leader must also be a role model when it comes to design,” says the sales brochure for the first one. year.
In 1992, the 600 SEC was the most expensive production car made in Germany. There, in February 1992, it cost DM 220,020.00 with its equipment and opulent appointments – not including additional items available on request. Today, all fascinating luxury coupés from the model series with fine wood and leather interiors shine like special stars among “youngtimers” and have long been discovered by enthusiasts as stylish contemporary witnesses of the early 1990s under the sign of luxury and innovation. Technology. In 2022, SEC coupés will be among the first particularly exclusive candidates for the coveted H-plates, which cars can receive 30 years after they were first registered.
Technologically, the luxury coupés were at the forefront with, among other things, the introduction of the Electronic Stability Program ESP® shortly afterwards: the pioneering assistance system was developed by Mercedes-Benz in collaboration with Bosch, unveiled as a world premiere in 1994 in the 140 series coupés and launched in 1995 in the exclusive two-door passenger cars. In other respects, too, the development of the Coupé model – as with the S-Class sedans – focused on perfecting comfort and safety.
These ranged from double-glazed windows for optimal acoustics and seat belts with feeders to electric seat adjustment (with memory function as standard in the 600 SEC), and automatic air conditioning with separate zones for driver and front passenger. (standard in the 600 SEC) to the finely tuned suspension. The latter consisted of a newly developed double wishbone front axle, which was vibration decoupled from the body, and a multi-link independent rear suspension with a fundamentally revised wheel location.
The 600 SEC in particular left almost nothing to be desired with its standard equipment. The trade magazine “auto, motor und sport” wrote about the top model in a twelve-cylinder coupé comparison test in issue 3/1993: “So if the Mercedes is not the queen of the highway, it’s the undisputed queen of driving The sound, the suspensions, the seats, the air conditioning, each an optimum, add up to a level of comfort far superior to that of the two twelve-cylinder competitors.
Beginnings in Detroit and Geneva 30 years ago
The stylish two-door models had their world premiere at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit from January 11-19, 1992. European debut followed at the Geneva Motor Show from March 5 to 15, 1992. Initially, the two 500 SEC variants (V8 engine with a displacement of 4,973 cc and 235kW/320 hp) and 600 SEC (V12 engine with a displacement of 5,987 cm3 and 290kW/394 hp) were offered. Engine output matched that of the 140 S-Class sedans of the respective model series. From 1994, a third model with a 4.2-liter V8 engine with four valves per cylinder completed the range of luxury coupes. At this time, however, they no longer carried the SEC designation, but were known as S-Class Coupes following the introduction of the new Mercedes-Benz nomenclature for all passenger car model series in June 1993. 1996 until the end of production in 1998, the elegant two-door models were finally called the CL-Class.
That the SEC coupés have earned their top spot with more than technical excellence, performance and a proud price tag was highlighted in particular by the reviews of the two-door models in the international media: “Fit for a king ( and fetching a princly a somme)”, wrote the specialist magazine “Road & Track” about the Mercedes-Benz 600 SEC in its April 1993 issue. In March 1993, the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” even praised of the same model as the “Autobahn Emperor” in a driving report titled “Her Majesty the Coupé will see you now”. However, the author also paid tribute to the dynamics of the large coupé: “Amazingly nimble, the bulky car throws itself around the bends [on the country road] as if he weighed only half that weight.”
This unique combination of luxurious elegance and sporty performance delights brand enthusiasts today as much as 30 years ago. In total, exactly 26,022 140 series coupés were built at the Sindelfingen plant in six years. Of these, almost a third were flagship V12 models (8,573 vehicles). Significantly more than half of customers opted for the variant with the 5-litre V8 engine (14,953 vehicles).
For fans of the brand and owners of classic cars with the star, brochures and technical documentation on many historic model series are available from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Store (https://www.mercedes-benz -classic-store.com/en).