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For a complete overview of all S-Class models see Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Mercedes-Benz W140
aka Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Production August 6, 1991 – 1999
Class Full-size car
Body Style 2-door coupé
4-door sedan
Length Sedan
  • 5113 mm (201.3 in)
  • 201.3 in
Width Sedan
  • 1886 mm (74.3 in)
  • 74.6 in
Height Sedan
  • 1486 mm (58.5 in)
  • 56.2 in
Wheelbase Sedan
  • 3040–3139 mm (119.7–123.6 in)
  • 2944 mm (115.9 in)
Weight Sedan
  • 1890 kg (4167 lb)
  • 4652 lb
Transmission 4-speed 4G-TRONIC automatic
5-speed 5G-TRONIC automatic
Engine I6V8V12
Power {{{Horsepower and Torque rating}}}
Similar {{{similar (competition)}}}
Designer {{{Designer (lead designer if it was a team effort)}}}

The Mercedes-Benz W140 is a car that was manufactured by the German automotive marque Mercedes-Benz. The car premiered at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1991, with the first examples rolling off the production line on August 6 1991. Short (SE) and long (SEL) wheelbase sedans were offered initially, as well as the coupé (SEC) body style from January 1992. Like all Mercedes-Benz lines, the W140 S-Class was rationalized in 1994 using the new "letter-first" nomenclature, dropping the named distinction between body styles. The SE/SEL/SEC cars were renamed the S-Class, with alphanumerical designations inverted. For example the both 500SE and 500SEL became S500 regardless of wheelbase length. The W140 series S-Class was superseded by the W220 S-Class in 1999 after an eight year production run, and C215 CL-Class for 2000.

Design and engineering

As with its predecessor, the W140 was the first of the "next generation" of Mercedes-Benz models to feature the company's new design theme. The W140 introduced new innovations such as double-pane window glazing, self-closing doors and boot lid, electric windows which lowered back down when encountering an obstruction, rear-parking markers which appeared on the rear wings and a heating system which emitted warm air even after the engine was turned off.

For details like this, the W140 is often known as the last Mercedes to be "overengineered", a Mercedes trait that was costing the company in product delays and overbudgeting. For the consumer, the W140 cost a considerable 25% more than its predecessor, the W126. In addition, the intense pressure from Infiniti and Lexus led to adding more features and options as to set the W140 apart from the rest and to justify the higher price.

The W140 was to feature air suspension as an option, but Mercedes was still perfecting the technology and chose to launch air-suspension in the next generation S-Class in 2000. Following the mid-year facelift in 1995, Mercedes-Benz made Electronic Stability Control a standard fixture to both sedan and coupé body styles in the W140 range.

Like its predecessor, the car was available in two wheelbase lengths along with the shorter-wheelbased W140 coupé. In 1992, a new 6 litre 408 horsepower V12 engine joined the lineup for the first time with the 600SE, 600SEL and 600SEC. A "V12" badge was affixed to the C-pillar. In 1995, grille was redesigned on all models, including a new and distinctive one for S600's.

In 1993, the 408 horsepower V12 engine was slightly detuned to 389 horsepower to comply with tighter emission control regulations in the United States and Europe. The V8 models were tuned down from 322 horsepower to 315 horsepower.

The W140 S600 was available with a leather dashboard and a suede headliner, unlike the V8 and inline 6-cylinder models. In 1995 the S600 also came with a wood/leather steering wheel, wood/leather gear shifter, wood rear ashtray covers, and two tone leather seating – further distinctions from its lower rung siblings.

Following the new Mercedes-Benz tradition of mid-life facelifts (starting with the W126 in 1986), the W140 received a minor facelift in 1995.The clear turn signal indicator lenses on the front and the smaller rear taillights were the most obvious changes. Headlamps were fitted with separate low H1 and high H7 beam reflectors in 1995, pre 1995 used a H4 bulb and H3 for the fog lamp. In 1997 the two tone exterior bumpers were painted to match the upper portions of the vehicles. The rear indicator lenses became clear.


Criticised at launch for being overweight, oversized and generally unpleasing on the eye (attributes that were somewhat at odds with the so-called 'caring, sharing 1990s'), the sheer depth of engineering in the W140 has stood the test of time, and there are those that still prefer the car's unwavering capability and strength to that offered by later models. A properly maintained W140 is still a viable proposition today. Over-engineered at launch it may have been, but as a way of showcasing the company's talents, the W140 was unbeatable.

Wheelbase Body style Body code Years Model Engine Notes
119.7 sedan W140.134 1992–1993 300SD 3 L OM603 I6 Turbo-Diesel
1994–1998 S350 3.5 L OM603 I6 Turbo-Diesel
W140.032 1992–1993 300SE 3.2 L M104 I6
1994–1998 S320
W140.042 1992 400SE 4.2 L M119 V8
123.6 sedan W140.043 1993 400SEL 4.2 L M119 V8
1994–1998 S420
W140.051 1992–1993 500SEL 5.0 L M119 V8
1994–1998 S500
W140.057 1992–1993 600SEL 6.0 L M120 V12
1994–1998 S600
115.9 coupé W140.070 1993 500SEC 5.0 L M119 V8
1994–1999 S500
W140.076 1993 600SEC 6.0 L M120 V12
1994–1999 S600


Top Gear

In Series 8, Episode 4 of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson had bought himself an S280. He didn't like the interior and wanted it to look like the inside of his house. The new interior design featured a wood burning stove, 2 kitchen chairs and an arm chair, a bookcase with a globe, a flagstone floor with wood and cement base weighing about 2 tonnes and plastered doors as well as a gear shift that consisted with an umbrella handle.

The car nicknamed Anne Hathaway's Cottage had no seatbelts and the kitchen chairs weren't held down and when Richard Hammond and James May took the car for a run, it took 35.4 seconds to reach 60 mph and through the test track, loose objects tumbled including Hammond and May.[1]


  • Schlegelmilch, Rainer W., Hartmut Lehbrink, Jochen Von Osterroth (2004). Mercedes. Könemann. ISBN 3-8331-1056-2
  • Kevin Smith. "Mercedes-Benz 500SEC". Car and Driver (March 1993): 45–49.
  • William Jeanes. "Mercedes-Benz 300SE". Car and Driver (March 1993): 126–127.

External links

<--earlier Mercedes-Benz road car timeline, 1980s-present Edit
Type Class 1980s 1990s 2000s
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Supermini A W168 W169
Entry-level C W201 (190) W202 W203 W204
Mid-size E W123 W124 W210 W211 W212
CLS W219
Full-size S W126 W140 W220 W221
Maybach W240
Roadster SLK R170 R171
SL R107 R129 R230
Coupé CLK W208 W209
CL W126 W140 W215 C216
Supercar SLR C199
SUV G W460/W461 W463
Crossover SUV GLK GLK
M W163 W164
GL X164
MPVs B W245
R W251
Vaneo Vaneo
Sprinter Sprinter