The Middle-East in the 1980s was a place where it was a sport of the rich to stand out, at all cost. This was very noticable when looking at the cars that were sold to Arab sheiks and Royals in the 1980s. It's very clear that modifying cars wasn't just about making them more beautifull, it was also very much about being unique and to have something that truely stood out from anything standard. That's no problem, because that might be the reason why I like them, but it also makes sure that not a whole lot of people appreciate the sometimes very unsubtle design-changes that were done by tuners and coachbuilders in the 1980s, all under the banner of 1000SEL-type conversions.
One of those alterations offered that wasn't much appreciated by purists and press of the time was introduced by Chris Hahn's Styling-Garage (SGS) in the early / mid 1980s. They called the option the 600-nose and that's what it was: a new bonnet / hood for the Mercedes W126 S-Class that included the a grille styled in the fashion of the Mercedes-Benz 600 "Grosser-Benz" (W100). The choice of the 600-nose was actually quite a nod to the actual , since the discontinuation of theMercedes-Benz 600 in the early 1980s paved the way for companies like Styling-Garage to create customized luxury versions of the S-class to fillthe gap, with the stretched versions replacing the legendary Mercedes-Benz600 Pullman.
Allthough this option was not soley fitted by Styling-Garage, most of the 600-bonnets were made by them, then supplied (sometimes as part of a full car) to other tuning companies like Kugok, Panther Cars, Car and Driver and Ronny Coachbuilding. The first bonnets were made using actual W100 parts from Mercedes-Benz which were hard to come by, later on moulds were made to replicate the grille. The 600-nose wasn't cheap either, selling at about 16.000 DM in the mid-80s. You could buy a decent family car for that kind of money!
A 1000SGS brochure from Styling-Garage showing an early 600-nosed Mercedes 500SEL on the cover.
Various photos showing the same white-on-red car by Styling-Garage
A 1984/85 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL by Styling-Garage, showing a 600-nose with some slightly differing details like the lower part of the grille which is flattened.
A Auto-Design Kugok "1000SEL" with the 600-Nose fitted. The above photo shows a photo from the Kugok brochure that shows the Mercedes-stars removed by the censor; it's obvious Mercedes-Benz didn't want anything to do with this kind of conversion. At the auto-show however they still show to be on the actual car.
A L'Etoile 1000SEL by Belgian coach builder Ronny Coachbuilding, fitted with a 600-Nose. Note that the grille has a flattened underside opposed to other variants with a more rounded underside.
A 600-nosed 500SEL offered by Panther Cars from the UK.
Text: copyright Bram Corts