The Mercedes-Benz W140 is a series of flagship vehicles that were manufactured by the German automotive company Mercedes-Benz. On November 16, 1990, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the W140 S-Class via press release, later appearing in several February and March editions of magazines.The W140 made its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1991, with the first examples rolling off the production line in April 1991 and North American examples on August 6, 1991. Short (SE) and long (SEL) wheelbase sedans were offered initially, as well as the coupé (SEC=S-Klasse-Einspritzmotor(Fuel injection engine)-Coupé) body style C140from October 1992. Like all Mercedes-Benz lines, the W140 S-Class was rationalized in late 1993 using the new “letter-first” nomenclature. The SE, SEL, and SEC cars were renamed the S-Class, with alphanumerical designations inverted. For example, the 500 SE became the S 500, and the 500 SEL became the S 500 L. In 1996 the coupé models following a mid-life update were separated into the CL-Class. The W140 series S-Class was superseded by the W220 S-Class sedan and C215 CL-Class coupe in 1999 after an eight-year production run.
Development on the W140 began in 1981, originally set for an October 1989 production start. The four-door sedan type body was styled by Bruno Sacco. From 1982 to 1986 several designs were reviewed, until December 9, 1986 when a definitive design by Olivier Boulay was approved. Several prototypes were tested onwards from early 1987 and the final production exterior design was frozen in 1987, with domestic design patents being filed on February 23, 1988 and U.S. patents six months later on August 23.The design was said by lead designer Bruno Sacco to be influenced by Jaguar’s XJ40 sedan and BMW’s E32 7-Series. Before production started, the exterior appearance of the W140 was revised in the form of the grille on all W140s being recessed as opposed to a planned exclusive grille on the top model, a feature which later spread to the rest of the Mercedes-Benz range. In 1987, an 18-month delay was made from 1989 to 1991 to accommodate a V12 engine and a high-performance braking system. This resulted in the final development prototypes being completed in June 1990. Pilot production models were made from June 1990 to January 1991. In 1989, Lexus introduced the LS 400 luxury sedan. To rival the LS 400,extra features were rushed for the launch of the 1991 W140 causing budget overruns and costing the job of Daimler-Benz’s chief engineer, Wolfgang Peter.