Mercedes 600 - Between 1963 and 1981 Luxury and quality were always presentThe Mercedes-Benz 600 (W100) is a line of ultra-luxury cars produced by Mercedes-Benz from 1963 to 1981.

The forerunner of the modern Maybach marque, the 600 Grosse Mercedes ("Grand Mercedes") succeeded the Type 300d "Adenauer" as the company's flagship model. It was positioned well above the 300-series Mercedes-Benz W112 in price, amenities, and status. Its few competitors included British and American equivalents from Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Lincoln, Cadillac, and Imperial.

Generally, the short-wheelbase (SWB) models were designed to be owner-driven, whereas the long-wheelbase (LWB) and limousine models, often incorporating a central divider with power window, were intended for chauffeur operation.

The 600 replaced the Mercedes-Benz W189 limousine, which was nicknamed the Adenauer, after Konrad Adenauer, who employed several of these during his term as the first West German chancellor.

Production began in 1964 and continued through to 1981. During this time, production totalled 2,677 units, comprising 2,190 Saloons, 304 Pullmans, 124 6-door Pullmans and 59 Landaulets.

The 600 succeeded the 1961 Mercedes-Benz W112 in using a pneumatic self-levelling suspension, an enhancement of the Mercedes-Benz 300d Adenauer's dashboard activated mechanical torsion bar based system. A version is incorporated in Mercedes' current Active Body Control.

With its demise in 1981, the 600 marked the last ultra-luxury model that the brand produced in an unbroken line since the model 60 hp Simplex from 1903. The company would return to this segment some 20 years later with the Maybach 57/62 (but the Maybach was extremely expensive), but these cars ultimately failed to captivate customers in the same way as their British rivals. As a result, Daimler ended production of the Maybach brand in 2012 and has not returned to this segment. As of 2019, the Mercedes flagship is the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, which occupies a considerably lower price bracket and is not a true successor to the 600 and earlier models. However, it is seen as a spiritual successor, since it is the first luxury Mercedes since the 600 to feature some bespoke design touches not available on the standard S-Class.


The 600 came in two main variants:

A short wheelbase 4-door saloon, available with a power divider window separating the front seats from the rear bench seat, although most were built without this feature.
A long wheelbase 4-door "Pullman" limousine (with two additional rear-facing seats separated from the driver compartment by a power divider window, of which 304 were built), and a 6-door limousine (with two forward-facing jump-seats at the middle two doors and a rear bench-seat).
A number of the limousines were made as landaulets, with a convertible top over the rear passenger compartment. Two versions of the convertible roof were made: long roof and short roof. Of them, the short roof, which opens only above the last, third row of seats, is the more common version. Rarer, especially with the 6-door landaulets, is the long roof, called the Presidential roof. In all, 59 landaulets were produced, and of them, only 26 were 6-door landaulets. Of these 26, only nine were 6-doors landaulets with the long Presidential-type roof. One of these nine cars was used by the former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito, and it was sold in 2017 in England, for £2.5 million.

Landaulets like these were also notably used by the German government, as during the 1965 state visit of Queen Elizabeth II. The Vatican, in addition to an elongated Mercedes 300d 4-door landaulet, used for the Pope a specially designed Mercedes 600 4-door landaulet, which now resides at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. Production of the landaulet versions of the 600 ended in 1980.

Mercedes also made two special 600 coupés: one as a gift for retiring long-time Mercedes chief designer Rudolf Uhlenhaut, and the other for Fritz Nallinger, head of the Mercedes research and development centre in the 1950s and 60s. These cars had a wheelbase 22 cm (8.6 inches) shorter than the SWB saloon.[citation needed] A third coupé was much later constructed by 600 enthusiast Karl Middelhauve of Wausau, Wisconsin, from a SWB saloon.

Karl Middelhauve also created a questionable pair of matching Chevrolet El Camino-style coupes from 600 SWB saloons. One of them with a Vortech supercharger. The majority of purists question the reason for destroying a classic such as an original 600 into a modified vehicle, while a handful of purists think Middelhauve is extending function in the true spirit of the 600

A single example of a SWB 4-door landaulet, combining the handling of a short-wheelbase with the qualities of a landaulet, was built by Mercedes in 1967 for former racing driver Philipp Constantin von Berckheim.

The 600's great size, weight, and numerous hydraulically driven amenities required more power than Mercedes' largest engine at that time, the M-189 3-litre 6-cylinder M189, could produce. A new V8 with more than twice the capacity was developed, the 6.3 L M100. It featured single overhead camshafts (SOHC) and Bosch mechanical fuel injection. It developed 250 hp (186 kW).

The 600's complex 150-bar (2,176 psi) hydraulic pressure system powered the automobile's windows, seats, sun-roof, boot lid, and automatically closing doors. Adjustable air suspension delivered excellent ride quality and sure handling over any road surface.

In 1968 the M-100 engine and pneumatic suspension were fitted to the much smaller but still substantial W109 300SEL 6.3, creating the world's fastest four-door saloon. In 1975 a larger 6.9 litre version of M-100 was installed in the W116 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 and air suspension was replaced with a hydraulic suspension.

In popular culture

In cinema, the Mercedes 600 was featured in several James Bond films, most notably as transport of the villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever. In Octopussy, the villain Kamal Khan is seen leaving Sotheby's London auction house in a 600 Pullman. Near the beginning of 1978 movie Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?, the character played by Jacqueline Bisset is abducted from Heathrow Airport in a 600 Pullman.

In television, a 600 was used by fictional Channing/Gioberti family matriarch Angela Channing in the American television series Falcon Crest. Images of the car driving from San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge to the Falcon Crest vineyard were featured in the opening credits of the first four seasons. It was also prominently featured in the television show Friday the 13th.

The limousine and landaulet versions of the 600 is favored by various heads of state, particularly dictators and monarchs during the 1960s and 1970s. This is similar to how its predecessor, the 770 limousine, was associated with Nazi Germany, being used as the official state car of Adolf Hitler.

There was also a Pullman version used in the movie High Anxiety by Mel Brooks.

A red 1972 Pullman was seen in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.

Prince Ital Joe and Marky Mark are seen driving a 600 in the music video for their single "United".

Several 600s are seen in several episodes of Amazon's original series The Man in the High Castle, transporting Nazi officials.

Jack Nicholson's character drives a red 600 in The Witches of Eastwick.

In X-Men: The Last Stand, Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr arrive in a black 600.

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