Widebodied versions of Mercedes-Benz' S-class coupe were very popular inthe 1980s. Who doesn't know the king of wide-bodied S-classes, the Koenig SEC designed by Vittorio Stosek? It's very well known, not always loved and in the landscape of tuner-Mercedes relatively common. For people that were looking for something even wider and more extreme, more expensive and arguably better built, the widebody Uwe Gemballa offered for the Mercedes 500SEC (W126) was something to seriously consider. It was the widest 500SEC available in the 1980s and it probably still is.
Converting the standard 500SEC to wide body spec was done a bit different from the way Koenig-Specials used to do theirs. You see, Koenig-Specials did alltheir body kits from fibreglass, Gemballa didn't: all flared wheel arches are hand made from metal sheetand have been skillfully crafted to make this car really look stunning andflawless. One of the main reasons for Gemballa to use metal instead of plastics for the conversion was the difference in appearance of thepaint that could be noticable after a few years due to temperaturechanges. Also, because the wide body really merges with the car's original wings, the paint might crack due to different shrinking and expanding of the materials, especially at the border line between the two. To overcome this Gemballa always made has made it's (early) wide bodies using metal,not only with this SEC but also with other cars like the Gemballa Cyrrus, Avalanche and Mirage based on the Porsche 911.
Not all the new parts were made from metal though. The front andrear bumpers were made of that common material fibreglass.
Because the Gemballa 500SEC wide body is really wide normal wheels would look completely ridiculous. Gemballa have fitted huge rims with even bigger tires draped arround them.
No Gemballa car goes without a spectacular interior, simply because thecompany was actually named "Gemballa Automobilinterieur" (Gemballa CarInteriors) in the beginning. No exception with this car. Gemballa hasfitted Recaro C-seats, not just in the front but also a pair to replacethe rear seats. To do so they had to build a special console where theseats fit in nicely.
The pricetag? Just the wide body conversion alone used to cost around 100.000DM in 1985. The whole car including all the interior options would cost350.000 DM.
Photos tell more than a thousend words...
Text: copyright Bram Corts