Micropost: W-140 redesign

In response to the lively discussion about the W-220’s predecessor, I have posted this little gallery of how one might go about redesigning the rear end.

1993 Mercedes S600 coupe: source

The initial problem is the narrow boot aperture and the odd business of the visible weld in the middle of what looks like one part.

I can see from Daniel Callaghan’s proposal that if you simply extend the lamps to the existing boot aperture one ends up with very small radii on the lamps’ inner corner. Mercedes did not want the lamps to have sharp corners: the whole car has quite large radii but especially the lamps are all given relatively rounded corners.

So, if one is to solve this problem and try to respect the general styling theme one must keep the large radii.

So, in the first version I simply extended the lamps inboard and re-angled the boot to make it wider.  However, this created a problem that the angle of the boot aperture was not parallel to the lamps.

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So, my second theme now has lamps that are parallel to the wider boot and have large radii. What Sacco would say is that this lamp form would be too square and not expressive enough. You can see that from the back in this slide show.

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You’ll have to squint a bit as these are hastily prepared sketches based on a ropey source photos but I think you plural get the gist.

I have learned that in car design everything hangs together with everything else. There is also the case that the version as designed could be said to be nicer than the rational versions devised by Messrs. Callaghan and Herriott and the overall look mattered more than the details.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

11 thoughts on “Micropost: W-140 redesign”

  1. Richard, I’m going to blatantly flout my comment ban and say that I prefer your final version. Although if I squint it does remind me of a Saab.

    1. I don’t know if I see Saab here. Yes, the first 9-5 had a similar arrangement. But for me the revised car looks more formal and more American for me.

      By the way, today all Mercedes saloons have this kind of light and bootlid arrangement. The lights have become narrower and the boot wider (at least optically), but overall, it was done much more nicely in the W140 coupe than in today’s cars.

    2. I’m with John: Richard’s final version also gets my vote. It may be more formal, but this CL is a formal design, so it’s very apt. The wider and deeper boot opening is also more practical. Slam dunk!

    3. Thanks. Is it like a Saab? I presume you don´t mean any of the nice ones.

      Simon Kearne is looking into what further steps DTW can take to enforce its policies. If you have heard of the London solicitors Gibbon, Gibbon, Rudge, Gibbon & Rudge you may reconsider this flouting more seriously.

    4. Maybe the revision needs to be looked at in relation to other competitors. We´d be scanning the period 1980-1986, perhaps. The gestation for this car was rather long and slow.

  2. I should have said that Richard’s revised scheme also aligns better with the shape of the original number plate recess.

    The spirit of Sacco lives on…*

    * I do realise he is alive and, I hope, very well.

    1. That´s a happy coincidence. I didn´t look too closely at that.
      Without much doubt those radii on the lamps meant a lot to Sacco. I see this car as being one where Mercedes tried to pay some attention to the rounded trend emerging in car design in the middle 80s which culminated in the fully free-form shapes of c. 1990. I also think Sacco might have been looking at the whole car rather than looking at it bit by bit as I tend to do. Still, one could have rounded corners, a wider bootlid and avoid that silly seam without producing a theme inconsistent with the front. Sacco must really have wanted those slante inner edged of the lamps – to suggest as John said, a semblance to the E of the time. It´s a juggling game, this design lark,

    1. I had a look and found some fairly block Saab 9-5 lamps. They seem quite generic. There´s another reason Sacco might have felt more angle was needed. Still, the cost was high in other ways.

  3. It’s interesting to note that Richard’s ‘wide lamps, wide tailgate’ treatment resembles the third generation Lexus LS to some extent, whereas the ‘wider boot, squarer lamps’ take is not dissimilar to the first LS400.

    Unlike Olivier Boulay’s W140, which, wheel size and track width apart, exudes an enormous degree of confidence (for better or worse), this C140 always struck me as a highly compromised, insecure piece of work. For it is quite obvious how the stylists struggled trying to marry any semblance of elegance with the bluntly gargantuan basic architecture of the car. The slight crease along its flanks (absent from the saloon), the freestanding rear lights and those almond-shaped front lights, not to mention the attempt at recreating the C126’s elegant c-pilar all have a whiff of desperation about them. If anything, this coupé only exacerbates the wheel size and track width issues.

  4. The W140 (and especially the coupe) left me distinctly underwhelmed for many years. However it has really grown on me over the years. The 2 aspects that still really jar are it’s too narrow track and those tail lights. I quite like that larger boot aperture and extended lights. If you could widen the track it would really be a desirable car.

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