The Carat by Duchatelet W140 S-class is a very interesting car that shows how the 1990s were so different from the 1980s when it comes to high-end conversions. This 1991 S-class of the at that time brand new W140 model. The first cars were made in 1991 and Duchatelet must have been one of the first companies to modify the car to level it up to an even higher standard.
The exterior of the W140 S-class was slightly enhanced by Duchatelet by some new bumpers and new wheels. Both modifications can be called very subtle, they don't draw too many attention but give the car a distinctive "Duchatelet-look".
The car with the black interior has several new tricks up his sleave: a TV between the front seats in a special console, picnic tables, a car-phone mounted in the back of the RHD seat and a fax-machine that can be pulled out of the centre console. Extra burr-wallnut finishes complement the interior. The second car with the light grey interior has a separation for more passenger privacy. In the saparation wall a space could be left were the TV could be fitted in. Picnic tables could be pulled out and above/behind them there’s a stowage compartment (to store documents, magazines and paper work). In the centre console we find a small table that is beautifully integrated in the console when not needed. There’s a small drawer to store the telephone and in the armrest there’s a compartment with something that looks like a VCR. Last but not least a small fridge (or “beverage compartment“) is fitted between the backrests of the seats.
From the photos it's very obvious that both cars are very passenger-orientated. The front half of the car is virtually left untouched.
If we look at these 1991 Duchatelet Mercedes S-classes and compare them with their 1980s predecessors one can see that in 5 to 10 years all lot had changed. The 1991 car has very discrete modifications, very different from the early/mid-1980s S-classes when more loud exteriors were more populair with fatter bumpers with more foglights, crazy paintjobs, gold everywhere and boomerang antennas on the bootlit. Interiors were way more extreme with every chance to change the standard Mercedes-parts was taken with both hands. Duchatelet was known for completely re-designing the seats, re-arranging the interior of the car with several TVs, Wilton-carpets and roof mounted HiFi-systems. By the end of the 1980s the trends that this 1991 car represent were already coming up. The main reason for this was that the whole tuning-market changed. The most customers now came from Japan because the Arabs were in financial troubles because of a slight dip in the value of the US-dollar which lowered their oil-incomes. The Japanese were the ones with the money now and with the Japanese a different taste-levell was introduced. A lot of the cars converted in the late 1980s and early 1990s had more of a “bussiness taste”, a transport for a chairman of a big Japanese company and not so much show-off car. One could say that this car is more of an improvement of an already very good Mercedes-car, whereas the 1980s cars were more a complete transformation of a Mercedes to Rolls-Royce level.
Text: copyright Bram Corts