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Estate Sale: 1990 560TEL WagonCoachbuilt by Caro

Crossing the block at RM Sotheby's on January 22nd is a car that we previously featured here on The MB Market back in August.  At the time, the car was offered at a hefty $95,000 from the Stuart Parr Collection (and still is according to this listing on Hemmings) but now it's set to sell at No Reserve at the Scottsdale RM Sotheby's auction with a much more reasonable estimate of $30,000 - $40,000 USD.

Using a 1990 560SEL as a base, coachbuilders Caro of Hamburg successfully re-imagined what was considered to be the ultimate luxury sedan at the time, into the ultimate luxury “T-Modell” (German speak for Station Wagon or Estate), hence the “T”EL designation. Beautifully finished in what appears to be 199 Black pearl metallic over black leather, a Burlwood accented interior and European bumpers and headlights, this handsome example is a tasteful execution of a Mercedes offering that we would have loved to see put into production. Utilizing what we presume are S124 parts to complete the build, the fit and finish looks both excellent and appears to have held up quite beautifully over the years.

According to Sotheby's, 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.

We think this is an incredible, rare and fun car to add to any serious MB collection and, if it sells anywhere close to the estimate, it would be a bargain in our opinion. Considering the price of excellent W126 sedans, this custom carry-all would be a steal at under $30,000.


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