Notwithstanding performance-oriented tuners such as AMG, Brabus, Carlsson, and Schulz, the well-heeled Mercedes enthusiast of the late 1980s was spoiled for choice when considering further customization. Quite simply, the niche coachbuilding market had seen a resurgence of companies across continental Europe, all bolstered by a booming global economy. Companies like Carat Duchatelet, Zender, Trasco, Styling Garage, ABC, Pollmann, and Sbarro lavished the OEM Mercedes-Benz Catalog with packages of untold extravagance; engine swaps, armoring, body style conversions, exotic interiors: No request was too wild for these coachbuilders during the “decade of excess.”
The Hamburg-based coachbuilding outfit Caro International GmBH is, unlike many similar companies from this era, still in business. Their period builds were unrivaled for their fit, finish, and utilization of OEM parts over complete in-house fabrication. This 560 TEL conversion offered here offers a fitting testimony to Caro’s reputation.
This Pearl Black metallic over black leather estate conversion started life as a home-market 560 SEL and was delivered to Caro’s Hamburg facilities when new in May 1990. As expected, Caro executed this conversion with the utmost level of creativity; shrewdly, the taillights and rear deck are sourced from the contemporary W124 wagon, with minor modifications of superb quality made to ensure fitment. The revised cargo area is similarly outfitted with an amalgam of components from the W124 wagon with revisions from Caro’s coachbuilding staff.
Interestingly, Caro could not utilize the W124’s rear trio of windows—as such, each of the 560 TEL’s rear windows are custom. Essentially scaled-up version of the W124 units, they cleverly mimic an OEM finish. The roofline, C-pillars, and rear quarter panels were all carefully revised to maintain the SEL’s proper geometry and styling when surmounted by the new rear deck. Factoring in the cost of a brand new 560 limousine and the cost of the estate conversion, this 560 TEL featured an out-the-door sticker price of over DM 337,000 when complete.
All told, this unique and coachbuilt 560 TEL by Caro is not likely to be replicated in the marketplace anytime soon. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/az21.