German engineer and coachbuilder / tuner Chris Hahn's Styling-Garage (SGS) was the first to make an attempt at the concept of fitting Gullwing doors to an SEC Mercedes-Benz (W126). In 1982 Styling-Garage made big news when they introduced their Gullwing-doored 500SEC Merecdes, named 500SGS Gullwing. This car was based on the 500SEC Mercedes and had undergone major work to make the Gullwing-doors possible. Styling-Garage had strengthened the roof and they also added steel beams in the doorsils so the car wouldn't bend as a result of cutting away parts of the original SEC roof. As you can imagine this was a very costly operation and so Styling-Garage would charge you with a bill of 83.000 DM in 1985 for converting a standard Mercedes SEC into a Gullwing, all extras not included. Just to put into perspective. 83.000 DM was about the same as the price of a new Mercedes-Benz 500SEC at the time. Styling-Garage is rumoured to have made 57 of these cars over the years, some of them used by other tuners and coachbuilders for further modification.

 

Before building, make a drawing.... a design sketch of the Styling-Garage 500SEC Gullwing. Note that the logo on the nose doesn't say SGS but SG for Styling-Garage.

 


 

One of the very early 500SEC / 500SGS Gullwing cars made by Styling-Garage. It was built in 1982 and the photo shown here is showing it with a clearly uncompleted interior, very stock.

 

The same SGS Gullwing as it was shown at the 1982 Essen Motorshow.

 

This might be the same car, in finished state. The interior, although not vissible in this b/w photo, is red leather with red velvet.

 

A close look at this rather vague photograph reveals this might be the same car once again, photographed in the late 1980's / early 1990's in London. It clearly sports an excotic licenseplate. The early multi-piece BBS wheels have been swapped for later models. Also interesting to not the doorhandle: if you look carefully you can see it has been relocated to the front of the door and is placed much lower than on the original SEC doors. This is a typical construction on some of the early SGS Gullwings.

 


 

Another early 500SEC Gullwing by Styling-Garage. This car is a widebodied version of the Gullwing fitted with flared wheelarches and Styling-Garage bumpers and skirts.

 

 

 

 

With the doors closed the 500SEC / 500SGS Gullwing looks strikingly different from a standard 500SEC Coupe. Most notably the doors (and the whole car in a sense) have been reinforced by introducing a b-pillar, clearly visible in these two photographs. Also note there's a reinforcement on the front end of the door (A-pillar) to make the whole opening of the doors possible and sustainable.

 

 


 

The famous red-gold widebody SGS Gullwing is another one with the door handles in an odd place. The paintwork and interior on this one is really extravagant with candy-apple red paint and complete golden interior. It has Recaro-seats, golden Falcons-head gearshifter, dashboard with G-series Clarion stereo and a TV, everything you would expect basically. In this photo the car wasn't fitted with the rather large rear-wing....

 

 

When displayed at the 1983 Geneva Motorshow the red/gold SGS Gullwing it sported a huge rear wing as well....

 


 

 

 

 


 

A black widebody 500SGS Gullwing with a Koenig-Specials style rear wing.... The black interior again looks very stock, I assume it might have been swapped before this car was delivered to the customer...

 

 


 

One of the 500SEC Gullwings that wasn't sold to the Middle-East, this narrow bodied car with white-red interior. This car was offered through a company called AutoSalon 2000 in Florida and is still in the USA.

 


 

Another US Gullwing, this white car with grey leather with white piping. People familiar with SGS Gullwings recognize this car as the one currently residing in Germany and featured in many classic carmagazines at the moment (2017). The car as we see it here is shown for sale in 1986 in the San Francisco area, only 2 years after it was built.

 


 

Another Gullwing built for a US customer. Typical US color combination of black exterior and palomino interior, very popular in the US back in the days!

 


 

A 500SEC Gullwing that was for sale in Germany, early 1990's. Black on white/creme with Borbet wheels certainly makes for an interesting variation.

 


 

 


 

A narrow-bodied 500SGS Gullwing, white on white, at the Geneva Motorshow of 1984 (?).

 


 

 

 

 


 

A 500SGS Gullwing for sale in Japan in 1988.

 


 

A blue 500SGS Gullwing in wintertimes. The interesting thing on this car is the intererior, which is lacking all means of luxuriousness. It's fair to assume that this particular car was in an unfinished state when it was photographed for the 1984 SGS calendar....

 

 

 

 



Text: copyright Bram Corts 2013

 

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