We wonder if the 1991 Mercedes-Benz W140 might have fared better, both in stylistic terms and in the market, if Bruno Sacco had been allowed to realise his original vision for the car.
One of the surprising nuggets I uncovered in my research on the W140 was that Bruno Sacco, Mercedes-Benz’s highly talented but modest and self-effacing Head of Styling, was an admirer of the Jaguar XJ saloon. Sacco very much liked its low and sleek lines. His original concept for a replacement for the W126 S-Class was a Germanic interpretation of that car. Unfortunately, his vision was corrupted by demands that the cabin should have generous headroom, even for two 190cm (6’3”) adults sitting one behind the other. This resulted in what most would adjudge to be an excessively tall glasshouse, making the car more suitable for monarchs and dictators on parade than fast and discreet point-to-point travel by captains of industry.
Sacco and exterior designer Oliver Boulay even tried to see if a further exaggeration of the glasshouse could be turned into a distinctive design feature, as can be seen in the photo of a W140 concept below:
Thankfully, they thought better of it.
But what if Sacco’s original concept had prevailed? Here is the production W140, below which is a Photoshop rendering with 50mm (2″) taken out of the overall height above the waistline and no other changes:
To my eyes, the transformation is extraordinary. The modified image has lost the ‘top-hatted’ look of the production car and is now strikingly handsome and dynamic looking.
Of course, given the insistence on the extra headroom, could it have been incorporated more discreetly? Here again is the production W140, below which is a Photoshop rendering with the same overall height as the original, but with a higher waistline and shallower side windows:
Although this version lacks some of the dynamism of the lowered version above, I think it is still better balanced and more pleasing looking than the original. What does DTW’s readership think?
Fellow author, Richard Herriott, made his own attempt at alterations to the W140 to cure its dropped waistline. That piece may be found here. Richard carried out an experiment on the rear end of the contemporary C140 coupé, to see if it could be improved. That piece may be found here.