If you’re a Mercedes S-Class coupe enthusiast, then this page should provide some interesting reading, and we certainly welcome additional information to bolster this page as a reference for other enthusiasts. This guide provides detailed facts and observations covering the evolution of the 140 series Mercedes S-Class coupe (model designation “C140”) through its short production run from late 1992 to 1998.1 Where appropriate, a number appears in superscript referring to relkevant information source / reference in the final section of this guide.

The 140 series S Class received a mixed reception following its launch, particularly in the European market where its size has always been controversial. However, this billion dollar engineering project went on to establish itself over the subsequent decades as King of the S-Class. The 140 is often referred to as the last over-engineered Mercedes-Benz car, built to a standard with little regard to cost. It introduced a plethora of technological, comfort, quality and safety innovations, many of which became standard features on vehicles as much as 20 years later, but some of which have never been seen on a production car since.

Development of the coupe derivative commenced in 1985, with the intention to launch the car only several years later. With the Saloon launch delayed by engineering and cost challenges, the coupe launch was also set back, and a final choice for the exterior design was only settled in 1987. It wasn’t until January 1992 that the coupe finally premiered at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, a year after the sedan launch. The European premiere took place two months later at the Geneva Motor Show, and production of the first coupes commenced in September 1992.2

At 5.065 metres (199.41 in) long, the C140 is the largest S Class coupe ever built. In typical Bruno Sacco style, its distinct shape reflects a softer and enlarged evolution of the C124, particularly from the rear and side perspectives. The front end retained the genetics of Sacco’s sporty C126 coupe, with a broad grille containing a large central star emblem, and shorter headlamps pushed to the corners - but now also wrapping over the top of the hood.

C140 production and build numbers:

With just over 26,000 units built globally3, C140 production remains one of the lowest volume production coupes in Mercedes’ recent history. By comparison, its predecessor (the C126) had a production of close to 75,000 units.4 The C140’s successor (the C215) totaled 47,984 units.5.

Production of the 500 V8 and 600 V12 coupes ran from September 1992 through to September 1998 (Confirmed by Daimler AG website and google play book).6 In March 1994, the smaller 420 V8 was introduced to the coupe, but only in selected markets. The 420 ceased production slightly earlier than its larger capacity siblings, in August 1998.7 A replacement for the C140 was not introduced to the USA until the 2000 model year. Therefore, excess 140 S-Class stock manufactured in 1998 were sold in the US as 1999 model year cars.8 

The following breakdown of models has been confirmed by several sources9:

Model Number built
S420 / CL420 2,496
500SEC / S500 /CL500 14,953
600 SEC / S600 / CL600 8,573
Production total 26,022

 

 

 

 

 


1. C140 exterior features part 1: (Badging, bumpers and colour schemes)

C140 exterior badging:

  • Model badges were fitted to the left top of the trunk lid, and there were three model designations throughout production, including:

- SEC

Early models up to June 1993 were badged as the 500SEC or 600SEC, continuing that name from the previous generation C126 S Class coupe. The 420 was never badged as an SEC due to its later launch date.

- S

Mid generation models from June 1993 to June 1996 were badged S420, S500 and S600

- CL

Later vehicles from June 1996 until the end of production were badged CL420, CL500 and CL600.

  • V12 models had a “V12” badge fitted at the base of the rear window pillar.
  • All models had a large star emblem built into the centre of the front grille, and small round Mercedes Benz crest badge on the hood above the grille. A star emblem was also fitted on the centre top of the trunk above the number plate area.

 

C140 bumpers, flank panels and colour schemes:

  • Bumpers and flank panels were made from a polyamide material (heavy duty plastic substitute).2
  • The C140 was available in either single tone or two tone colour schemes up to June 1996, with single tone available thereafter.3 (ie. flank and bumper apron panels were a different colour to the main body above the apron line). After this date, only single colour schemes were available. Presumably, special order colour schemes may have been available at all times as an exception to this rule.4
  • Up until May 1996, C140s in markets outside of the USA and Canada had a reversing sensor system that used metal rods that protruded from the rear corners of the car when reverse was engaged. Only rear sensors were fitted to these earlier cars. The USA / Canadian markets cars seem to have continued to receive the protruding rod system until some time later, possibly up to late 1996 or early 1997.5
  • From June 1996 in markets outside of the USA and Canada, vehicles received a new parktronic system with the distance sensors built into both the front and rear bumpers. The USA and Canadian markets received the system from late 1996 / early 1997 (the precise timing needs more research). The later cars had six individual sensors on the front bumper, and four on the rear bumper, and also had distance indicator LED lights integrated into the dashboard and on a new rear centre overhead lamp (placed for ease of use in the line of sight of the rear view mirror). See the interior sections of this guide for further details.
  • The lower front air dam vent also received a change in design when the sensor bumpers were fitted. The earlier cars had 3 horizontal slats running the length of the air dam, while the later vehicles had a single horizontal slat.
  • Vehicles outside of the USA / Canada had a flat plastic bracket area fitted to the front centre of the bumper, providing a mounting position for the front number plate. Some USA vehicles (likely, in states where front plates are required), had a smaller version of the plastic bracket (shorter but deeper to suit the US plate design). However, the vast majority of US and Canadian cars were not fitted with a front number plate mounting area.6
2. C140 exterior features part 2: (Body accessories, glass and trims)
  • Front grille: All C140s were fitted with a 7-slat aluminium grille, with a metallic silver-grey finish. A 2-slat grille is available as a rarely fitted aftermarket option. See images for reference.
  • Trunk pop-out handle: Prior to June 1995, the trunk pop-out handle was black plastic. From June 1995, the trunk pop-out handle was chrome.1 (Benzworld.org)
  • Rear external antenna: An external antenna was fitted to many cars, located on the rear lefty side mudguard. The antenna supposedly performs a combined function for both the radio and Cell phone (if optioned). However, we have observed several cell phone optioned cars without antennas, this section of the guide needs more review due to some inconsistencies noticed. From our research, I note the following, which should be interpreted as observations rather than rules:
    • Where no external antenna was fitted, the antenna is believed to have been integrated into the rear windscreen.
    • From a large number of vehicles observed, all US and Canadian delivered vehicles appear to have been fitted with an external antenna.
    • Early vehicles in markets outside of the USA/Canada (up to and including 1996) are a mixed bag. The majority of vehicles observed with 1996 build dates have an external antenna fitted.  
    • From 1997 onward in markets outside of the US/Canada, the antenna was integrated in the rear screen. The integration in the rear screen is stated in a 1997 UK brochure.
    • We have observed vehicles fitted with a telephone, but with no rear antenna, and vice versa.
    • We have spotted bubble domes fitted to cars over a number of years from 1994 to 1997. We suspect this may have been some sort of booster antenna, or alternative to the integrated screen antenna. It doesn’t appear to be associated with the phone option, as we have sighted this on cars without that option.
  • Central locking sensors: Vehicles were fitted with infrared sensors for the central locking system. Sensors were located on the door handles, and below the rear trunk to the left side of the key barrel. The infrared system, according to most forum discussion, is known to be somewhat unreliable.2 A different combination system was offered on some C140s which used a receiver built into the rear view mirror, and deleted the rear trunk sensor. However, we note there are a number of examples of early model C140s (1993-1994) that don’t have the infrared receiver on the trunk. We seek comments on what systems these cars used, and need to undertake further research to clarify if it was as simple as just two systems offered. This is unclear from the research we’ve done.
  • Sunroof: A sunroof was fitted as standard to all C140s. This could be optioned as a moon roof (finished in glass), or a steel top. Most vehicles received the glass top.3
  • Side mirrors: These were electronically folding, and the mirrors were heated.
  • Trunk lid design: Trunk lids on US and Canadian delivered vehicles was of a different design (around the number plate area) to all other markets. The number plate area and trim piece above it was much narrower (## cm vs ##cm], designed to better suit the number plates of those respective markets. Refer to the images where we have included a comparison.
  • Glass: Side windows were double glazed. 
    • The front windscreen should have a "SEKURIT" sticker in the corner, with a small Mercedes emblem and the code (E1) 43 R-001216.
    • The rear screen should have a "SIGLA" stamp in the corner with the Mercedes emblem, and the code (E1) 43 R-001017.
    • The side double glazed windows should have a sticker labelled "SIGLAPLUS" with the code (E1) 43 R-001283.
  • Mudflaps: a very rarely sighted option, factory mud flaps were available for the C140, with the Mercedes emblem formed into the plastic (see image).
3. C140 exterior features part 3: (Lighting)
  • Headlamps fitted to US models had an amber reflector built into the side of the lamp. Non-US cars had full clear front lenses without the amber reflector (instead fitted with an amber bulb). Headlights had “Free form reflectors” from 1994. These headlights were 30% brighter than the earlier variants through a reduction in output loss in the lens design. Xenon High Intensity Discharge headlights were fitted to the coupe.1 [Motorbooks Australia].
  • Optional headlamp windscreen wipers / washers were available. These were optioned on a surprisingly large number of cars considering that many markets, such as Australia, would have limited use for them.
  • The front lower apron on the coupe contained fog lamps as standard across all model years and variants.
  • Tail lights on pre-facelift vehicles had orange/amber indicator lenses. Post-facelift cars received clear indicator lenses.
  • Cars prior to June 1996 did not have a 3rd brake light fitted at the base of the rear windscreen on the parcel shelf, unless specifically mandated in that market (such as Australia). There are inconsistencies however, with countries like the UK having cars fitted with and without in specific years. For example, we have seen 1994 UK vehicles with and without the lamp. However, from June 1996, all C140s were fitted with the third parcel shelf lamp.
  • Numerous markets mandated side indicators/repeaters which appeared on the front mudguards behind the wheel arch. However, some markets (including as the USA) never had these fitted. Amber lenses appeared on vehicles up to mid-1995. On vehicle’s from mid to late-1995, the lenses were clear / white. We have observed vehicles in the following markets with side repeaters fitted:
    • Australia;
    • New Zealand;
    • UK;
    • Japan;
    • German market cars (not all vehicles, but particularly those after mid to late 1995); and
    • Some other EU market cars.
4. C140 exterior features part 4: (Factory and dealer fitted wheels)

There were a limited number of factory fitted wheels, and several AMG wheel options available on the C140 from new. There are also many additional varieties from suppliers such as AMG, Brabus and Lorinser outside of those factory fitted options. Below, we detail the standard factory wheel options, and this information is largely based on the availability of wheels noted in C140 brochures. Below that, we run through the other wheel options available from AMG, Brabus and Lorinser.

Factory wheel options:

From our research, the following factory wheels were available on the C140 (all being 112mm x 5 stud pattern):

  1.  “Flat face” 16-inch 15-slot alloy wheels were supposedly fitted as standard to very early C140s, being part number 140 401 05 02. However, the only evidence we have of this is reference in a 1992 brochure [and the Google Play book]. While there is no doubt these wheels fit the car (they were fitted to many early W140 sedans), we have only sighted a couple of coupes in our research fitted with these wheels. If this was a standard wheel, it was very rarely fitted, and customers clearly tended to prefer the Alamak wheel (b) below.
  2. “Alamak” 16-inch 8-slot alloy wheels appear to be the most common standard wheel fitted to pre-facelift cars, being part number 140 400 09 02. The wheels are 16 x 7.5 ET 51, hub 66.6mm. These wheels were available throughout the car’s entire production run in most markets. This wheel is shown on the cover of earlier vehicle log books / service books for 1993 - 1995. Most of these wheels were finished in a standard alloy silver, but some had a chrome finish (which is prone to flaking). We presume this was a dealer or factory option given the number of cars that have had it applied. However, this needs more research to confirm. In most markets outside of the US, this wheel became optional, with most cars receiving the Eltanin 18 inch wheels as standard.
  3. “Eltanin” 18-inch 5-spoke monobloc alloy wheels made by Ronal in Germany, and were fitted to many C140s from 1994 onward, being part number 140 401 13 02. The wheels are 18 x 8.5J ET47. It is suggested by [Google Play book] that these wheels were introduced on the coupe in 1994, and premiered at the Geneva Motor Show that same year. Note, by observation during our research, these wheels do not appear to have been fitted to any US / Canadian vehicles, and are not documented in US brochures from 1994 onward. The wheels do appear in Mercedes brochures from as early as March 1994 from markets outside of the US. [Check service books and brochures for 1993/4/5 to confirm]
  4. “Gildun” 16 X 7.5-inch 6-spoke alloy wheels appear to be fitted exclusively to the late model US CL vehicles, They were available in other markets, such as Australia, on the sedan, and part number 140 401 14 02, made by Ronal in Germany.  The wheels are 16x7.5 / 7.5J 16 ET 51. Those wheels were mostly finished in a standard silver, but some vehicles had a chrome finish (which was known to flake). Again, we are unsure whether this chrome finish was a dealer or a factory option, and further research is necessary.
  5. The S600 had wider rims supposedly (according to google play book). We need to confirm the exact specs. [Check on Benzworld + brochures].
  6. One way to quickly confirm the correct factory fitted wheel size is to check the sticker on the inside of the door B-pillar. The sticker confirms tyre size and specifications / air pressure etc.
  7. Benzworld.org suggests that at some point in 1995 they started using a better finishing process on the wheels (clear coat). The clear coat degrades / goes foggy earlier in pre-1995 cars. https://www.benzworld.org/threads/w140-buyers-guide.1484464/

 

 

AMG Wheel options

AMG wheels were available as dealer fitted options in some markets, and are shown in several brochures for the C140 confirming this. From our research, we have identified two wheel designs available (with the names taken from a German brochure):

  1. “Styling II AMG Monoblock wheel” – this is a clean 5-spoke wheel, with the spokes further inset into the rim / deeper dish than the Eltanin wheels, with AMG embossed in one of the spokes. It is described as the “AMG Monoblock” wheel in the 1998 CL Presentation Guide, which appears to cover the US market cars. The wheel is also shown fitted to a C140 in a 1998 US brochure, stating “dealer installed accessory 18 inch AMG wheels”. This wheel has been sighted on several cars, and is believed to be available in three different sizes confirmed by the 1998 German brochure:
    1.  8.5JX18 ET47 on 255/45 R18
    2. 8.5J X 19 ET46 on 255/40 R19
    3. 9.5J X 19 ET46 on HA 285/35 R19
  2. “Design IV Multi-part AMG wheel”, 8.5J X 18 ET 44 on 255/45 R18. This is also a 5 spoke wheel, but with a very flat centre face with sharper edges, and a thick rim incorporating 20 rivets fixing the wheel face to the rim. It is referred to in the German 1996 CL Brochure, directly translates, as the “Multi-part AMG wheel”. This wheel also appeared in the UK 1996 brochure as an option, and it appears alongside the Eltanin 18 inch wheel as a standard option in the 1996 and 1997 German brochures. We have observed this wheel applied to several C140s, including in the US.
5. C140 exterior features part 5: (Paint colour options)

Coming soon

6. C140 interior features part 1: (Steering wheels, dashboard and consoles)

Steering wheels:

  1. Several steering wheels were available on the C140, all based around the same 4-spoke design with large dual horn centre pad. However, the wheel was available with different rim and centre boss designs and finishes, including:
    1. Full leather wheel: This is the standard wheel which did not include any timber trim. This wheel was available throughout all years on the C140.
    2. Timber trim wheel 1: From introduction through to around 1997, the C140 was available with an optional wood-rimmed steering wheel. This rim has a 50/50 leather / timber rim (timber applied to the top and base of the rim between the spokes, matching the timber type applied to the interior). The wheel is otherwise identical to the full leather wheel noted above at (a), containing the same large centre pad and 4-spoke design.
    3. Timber trim wheel 2: From around 1997, a revised timber-rimmed wheel was introduced as an option.  The rim design with leather and timber remained the same as that offered for the “Timber trim wheel 1” noted above. However, there were changes made to the centre pad, including a gloss finish silver Mercedes badge on a black background, and imitation stitching effect around the edges of the centre pad.
  2. Several timber trim options were available. Those are detailed further in the next section of this guide which covers trim colour options.

Dashboard and front centre console

The C140’s dashboard changed in several areas over the car’s 6-year production period:

A. Instruments:

The main Instrument panel included the following (from left to right):

  1. Fuel level;
  2. A multi-gauge incorporating temperature, oil consumption and oil pressure;
  3. 260km/hr or 160MPH speedometer (note, instruments on US and UK vehicles had both MPH and km/h incorporated) [Check what Canadian cars have].
  4. RPM gauge; and
  5. Analogue clock.

 

B. Climate Control:

  • Pre-facelift climate control buttons were positioned in three square sections above the stereo.  I think it changed in June 1995 (per Anthony’s car – and others bserved – with the 5 speed upgrade),
  • The post-facelift climate control system is a single unit similar to the stereo in size/shape, fitted in the same location. [Need to confirm exactly when this was introduced​

B. Parking sensor LEDs

  • Pre-facelift cars did not have any parking sensor LED light bars/indicators integrated within the dashboard, nor did the indicators at the rear.
  • Post-facelift cars benefited from LED bars which operated both front and rear. As a result of this new system, there were minor revisions to the dashboard design. The LED light bars were installed above the driver’s A/C vent, and between the A/C vents in the middle of the dash.  Rear sensor light bars were integrated into the rear centre interior overhead light. The rear overhead centre light was introduced in the post-facelift cars, and was not present in the earlier cars as they didn’t have the sensor LEDs.

C. Front Centre console

  • Three different designs were applied to the centre console lid:
    1. Single large lid (observed across all model years);
    2. Split lid (observed across all year models). This lid was designed to house the optional Mercedes telephone, and cup-holders (X 2 on the right side)). Some of these lids did not have the phone or the cup holder fitted, but instead had simply a separate storage compartment in the top part of the lid. On pre-facelift cars, the centre part of the lid was trimmed in perforated leather.
    3. Revised split lid (observed on very late models (1998/99 US models only). This lid has distinct side panels on the top part of the lid that lift open, and house drink holders on one side (right side), and, if optioned, a phone on the other. [Needs further review of cars]
  • As a matter of observation, the vast majority of cars were fitted with the split lid console, type (b).
  1. There appears to be an optional Phone mounting plastic mount that fits to the passenger side of the dash / partly in the passenger’s foot well.
  2. The C140 could be optioned with a leather dashboard, door cards / rear side panels and rear centre console from some point in 1995 (“leather trimmed panels”).  The leather trimming consisted of a series of stitched leather seams which ran along edges of the dashboard / door cards etc, as distinguished from the standard flat vinyl finish applied to other 140s. This was a finish available on both pre and post facelift interiors. L
  3. Some sources have suggested that leather trimmed panels were exclusive to the V12 models, and that all V12s received this option. While large number of V12s did receive the option, but certainly not all. The option has also been sighted on V8 vehicles. We note the following further comments:
    1. 1993 and 1994: No vehicles were observed with leather trimmed panels (including V12 cars).
    2. Leather trimmed panels were available from 1995 (precise date unconfirmed).
    3. Most V12 cars from 1995 onward received leather trimmed panels. However, this was not always the case and we have observed several V12 cars between 1995 and 1998 with standard trim panels fitted.
  4. If you had a trip computer optioned, the buttons to control it were placed next to the seatbelt extender buttons (behind the gear shifter).
  5. If you had a rear window sun blind optioned, the button was placed behind the gear shifter. – same as trip computer
  6. The ESP/ASR on/off switch button is located on the right hand side of the ash tray
  7. Note, the rear AC vents – it’s possible that the surround on those  / the fascia was timber trimmed on the V12 like the gear selector panel. We can’t confirm due to having no images, but suspect it from a 1994 brochure.
  8. Note, the V12 600 cars had timber trim on the gear selector panel, while the 500s did not.
  9. Instruments: The main Instrument panel included the following (from left to right):
    1. Fuel level;
    2. A multi-gauge incorporating temperature, oil consumption and oil pressure;
    3. 260km/hr or 160MPH speedometer (note, instruments on US and UK vehicles had both MPH and km/h incorporated) [Check what Canadian cars have].
    4. RPM gauge; and
    5. Analogue clock.

D. Rear centre console:

 

It appears the V12s have a separate lid/compartment built into the top of the arm rest that pulls down between the centre of the two rear seats. This feature was optional on the V8 cars, and rarely seen (see Newcastle CL500 which was fitted with this option). Most V8 cars instead have a basic large leather arm rest that deploys from between the rear seat backrests. [Might be part of the leather trim dash option]?

References

Introduction references

  1. Google play book - confimed the production period for the C140 (Para 1).
  2. Google Play book - confirming dates that each model was launcged at Detroit and Geneva
  3. C140 production numbers = Daimler website + wiki + benzworld
  4. C126 production numbers = Daimler website + wiki + benzworld
  5. C215 production numbers = Daimler website + wiki 
  6. Production period = Daimler AG website and Googel Play book
  7. Google play book - confirming t he 420 ceased production in August 1998.
  8. Benzworld.org confirmed a replacement was not there until the 2000 model year. https://www.benzworld.org/threads/w140-production-numbers-available.1445107/.
  9. Production numbers, came from: http://www.peachparts.com/shopforum/tech-help/89165-how-many-c140s-were-manufactured.html

Section 1 Exterior:

  1. https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=hpMmBAAAQBAJ&hl=en&pg=GBS.PT19 - badges applied andthe years to which they did.
  2.  https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=hpMmBAAAQBAJ&hl=en&pg=GBS.PT19 and brochures in each year
  3. Daimler Website
  4. This is only an assumption. With cars that cost as much as the C140 new, we suspect that certain dealers were able to offer effectively whatever colour the customer wanted, for the right price.
  5. Google play book and based on our observation + consider other sources that have confirmed the timing for introduction of the in bumper sensors.
  6. The US / Canadian number plate lack of mounting base area on the front bumper is purely based on observation of a number of cars advertised for sale online over a 12-month period. Nor formal documemtation confirms this.