If you're in the market for a large, comfortable long-distance cruiser with future classic status, then this might be one of your best options. The C140 V12 coupes are among the most desirable of the S Class variants, and this is the first time we've see one in Australia for under $20,000 (AUD). At the time of writing, this car was advertised on carsales.com.au for $19,995. Upon further investigation, we stumbled across a Mercedes Benz forum post where a member confirmed they were in touch with the owner, who indicated a cash offer of $15,000 may be considered by the seller. This represents phenomenal value for a car of this type, particularly considering these vehicles were retailed new for around US $135,000 in the United States. We haven't been able to confirm the original Australian retail prices for these, however, forum discussion has indicated it was far higher than that, plus an allowance for currency conversion.
The C140 coupes initially carried over the naming from the popular C126 series S Class Coupes. Known as the "600 SEC" from 1992 - 1993, this was changed to S600 from late 1993 - 1996, which then became CL600 from 1996 - 1999 (specific timing depending on the market). Significantly, the C140 coupe was the first V12 coupe produced by Mercedes, and only 8,573 units were built worldwide. The vast majority of these were of course left hand drive, to satisfy the various European markets along with the United States. Right hand drive examples are hard enough to spot on the streets in the form of the S500, so this S600 really represents a unique and rare opportunity for the Benz enthusiast.
The W140/C140 S Class vehicles have a formidable reputation as one of Mercedes' last "over-engineered" cars, which benefited from the type of planning, testing and engineering fit for space shuttle design, rather than a consumer vehicle. The C140 had many features only now becoming standard on everyday cars, among other comfort, performance and safety technology considered state of the art in their time. Unfortunately, it was not until around 1995/96 when the cars benefited from additional safety features such as side airbags and electronic stability control, but they are likely the safest pre-95 cars on the market. The C140 is also the largest Mercedes coupe ever produced. To give you an idea, this two door coupe is longer than the current E Class four-door family sedan. The sheer size combined with features such as double glazing of the windows mean the C140 has a bit of weight, measuring at around 2 tonnes. As an ultra-luxury grand tourer, however, it provides a glorious ride, and these were gerenally purchased new on the assumption that if you could afford one, you can afford to fill it up. With asking prices coming under $20,000 AUD, that argument doesn't really stack up anymore, and such a car would probably be more suitable as a weekend tourer, given that city fuel economy is over 20l per 100km according to some reports. Once on the freeway, however, this figure comes down to around 11 or 12l per 100km, which is quite reasonable.
As with other Mercedes cars in the range during this era, the design of the C140 was conceived under the guidance of the renowned Bruno Sacco, whose reputation with Mercedes over a long career saw him inducted to the Automotive Hall of Fame. The conservative, but stylish lines of the car are typical of Bruno's designs, and to many enthusiasts represent the best of Mercedes. We've always liked the elegance and simplicity of these coupes, which have a further raked windshield and lower roofline than the sedan equivalent. This difference compensates for and disguises the car's extraordinary size. The elegance and size of the car are a couple of elements that we believe make this model of S Class coupe stand out from others as a future collectors' item.
This particular car appears in good condition, with low mileage for its age, and the seller confirms that service history is available. That would be an essential consideration for the V12, which if in need of repair can be quite expensive. Interestingly, the car is described as being sold as part of a collection - we would love to see whether the seller has anything else similar. If you were considering alternatives, we don't think there are many options that offer the same level of class and comfort as the S600 provides. A couple of cars that come to mind are the BMW E31 850 CSI, and the late model Jaguar XJS V12. Both cars provide a V12 power package in a luxury tourer body, however, are substantially different cars in many ways. The Jaguar is a beautiful car, and certainly has its unique styling cues derived from its early 1970s roots. The quality, power and safety of the Jaguar are, however, decades behind that of the C140. The BMW is more on par with the C140 in terms of technology and power, however, is tailored more towards the sports and handling side of motoring, with less focus than the C140 on luxury, safety and obsessive quality. The decision will simply be down to what you're looking for. If it's quality, safety and luxury, you can't go past something like this.
If you have a rare 600SEC / S600 / CL600, we would love to hear from you and get your car on Classic Register so we can preserve the details of as many of the remaining rare V12 coupes as possible. Please follow us on Facebook for more discussion about rare and interesting vehicles.
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