The ultimate in luxury isn’t dropping millions on whatever hypercar is making headlines that day, but commissioning your own one-off. A car built and trimmed to your exact specifications, whatever they may be and however long it may take.
This Mercedes 560 ‘TEL’ is one such car. Built in the Nineties by German coachbuilder Caro International, this wagon-ified W126-era S-Class is set to be auctioned in Arizona later this week, where it should sell for an alarmingly reasonable US$30,000 to $40,000 [approx. RM121,440 to. RM161,920].
With the exception of a few outrageous V12-engined monsters built for the Sultan of Brunei, Mercedes has never done an S-Class estate. Meaning those who want one have to go aftermarket. Caro International still exists to this day and is renowned, says auctioneer RM Sotheby’s, for its “fit, finish, and utilisation of OEM parts”.
Which explains why the 560 TEL looks like an OEM-quality conversion. As though it’s the work of Mercedes – its designers and engineers – and not a comparatively tiny coachbuilder. RM says some parts were sourced from the contemporary Mercedes W124 estate, while others (such as the rear windows) were specially fabricated.
Mechanically it’s the same as the 1990 560 SEL saloon on which it’s based, with a 300bhp 5.5-litre V8 and four-speed automatic.
Including the cost of the then-new donor car, the TEL’s first owner paid 337,000 Deutsche Marks for their one-off in 1990. For context, at the time a new Volkswagen Jetta cost 14,715 DM.
Images: RM Sotheby’s