Wide Body Mercedes-Benz SEC conversions weren't rare in the 80s. Lots of tuners introduced wider versions of the top-of-the-range coupe from Mercedes, the AMG Wide Bodied being the best appreciated and the best known, Koenig-Specials the most vulgar, the Gemballa one the widest, the Chameleon Typhoon the according to some the ugliest and so on.


Out of alloptions, one might say the car created by Benny-S (Bernd Schneider from Solingen in Germany) wasn't the worst attempt at all. The Benny-S Widebody SEC was called the "Panam" and was unveiled for the first time at the 1984 Paris autoshow.


If you look at the photos one could argue it wasn't as elegant as the AMG conversion, but there's something to it what makes it attractive. For 60,000 DM in 1985 a Mercedes-Benz 500SEC could be converted into a Benny-S Panam, complete with AMG-suspension and special interior


The Benny-S catalogue also carried a car named "Indy 500", which was infact a Panam with extra spoilers and air inlets. It's questionable thiscar was ever built, because till date I've only seen a sketch of it.

The Benny-S Panam at the 1984 Paris Motorshow.


Stylish is not the word for this Benny-S Panam Mercedes 500SEC, for that the wheel arches are too indiscrete (styled like touring cars of the late 1970s) and the paintwork too loud with all the bright work changed into a very loud red color.


From this angle the Panam's new skirts and front bumper can be appreciated. The design was fairly simple, with smooth lines. As also can be seen on this photo, Benny-S had the same problem as most of the 1980s tuners: the star had to be taken off just to make sure no legal issues with Mercedes-Benz had to be faced, so instead a Benny-S logo was installed.


This side view shows the red chrome trim arround the windows very well. Also, one can see that the bumpers are quite short, unlike the bumpers on Mercedes-Benz' stock US-version SECs.



Fat BBS multipiece rims  painted red. Sure gets the people's attention.



The interior of the Benny-S Panam. Red nappa-leather all over and what makes the car very special is the wood work that's been painted silverish to match the car's exterior.



A Benny-S special, a digital speedo, different from the ones that were available from Gemballa and Styling-Garage.


The Benny-S logo proudly showing it's descent, although I think Bernd Schneider probably would be even more proud if Mercedes-Benz would allow the star on that car. 


The Benny-S Panam at the Benny-S shop in Solingen.



A design-sketch of the Benny-S Indy 500, a slightly upgraded Panam 500SEC with extra spoilers and air scoops.





Text: copyright Bram Corts


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