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Mercedes-Benz 600 'Grosser': Buying guide and review (1963-1981)

Mercedes-Benz 600 'Grosser': Buying guide and review (1963-1981) Classic and Performance Car
Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser
It sounds glib, but the Mercedes 600 really did live up to its ‘world’s most luxurious limousine’ tag; not just at the time of its introduction in 1963, but right through to the end of production in 1981. And, to be fair, there still aren’t many cars that can even come close.
 
What an utterly unique proposition a Mercedes 600 is. There’s nothing truly comparable – they’re fast, they handle well when setup correctly, they’re genuinely enjoyable to drive – and they have road presence like no other car.
 
Under the skin they’re equally unique. If the hydraulic system isn’t enough for you, then how about the brake servo working off the air pressure of the suspension, or the engine water pump that’s driven via a torque converter by the engine oil? 
 

Which Mercedes 600 to buy?

 
Propelled by Mercedes-Benz’s first V8 engine, a 6.3-litre, 250bhp marvel of engineering, the short wheelbase version of the 600 could top 125mph. Even the long wheelbase model – the legendary Pullman – could boast 120mph, despite its 2640kg weight.
 
How could a 1960s car weigh this much? Easy, once you consider the driver-adjustable self-levelling air suspension and the high-pressure hydraulic system used to self-close not just the boot but the doors, too, as well as to adjust the seats and power the windows, the air-con flaps, the glass central divider, the sunroof and the damper control!
 
The Pullmans could be ordered with either four or six doors, while there were also a few Landaulets built, with a convertible top over the rear passenger compartment. No two Pullmans were the same, with options that could include a bar, fridge, TV, armour-plating... you get the idea – and so did film stars, royalty, world leaders and dictators.
 

Performance and specs

 
Engine 6329cc all-alloy V8, Bosch mechanical fuel injection
Power 250bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque 434lb ft @ 3000rpm
Transmission Four-speed auto, limited-slip differential
0-60mph 9.0sec
Top speed 120mph 
 

Dimensions and weight

 
Wheelbase 3200mm
Length 5540mm
Width 1950mm
Height 1480mm
Weight 2640kg
 

Common problems

 
• When these cars go wrong, they’re often laid up for years – but almost always under cover. This, combined with the high-quality steel used, means that rot isn’t the major problem. 
 
• It won’t hurt to check the front floors, bulkhead and leading edges of the sills, just in case. In extreme cases front inner wings rust, too.
 
• The M100 engine is near-indestructible, but long storage with old engine oil can allow the acidic hydrocarbons in the lubricant to eat into the big-end and main bearing shells, calling for a rebuild. 
 
• Fuel injection is trouble free but water pumps can cost £3000-plus to fix. The transmission is extremely tough.
 
• It’s the hydraulic system that causes the most trouble. The pump, unique to the 600, wears and becomes noisy; a replacement is more than £20,000, but they can be reconditioned for around £3000. 
 
• An accumulator stores pressure; if it’s OK it should be possible to operate a window up and down 30 times after the engine has been switched off. Pipes can develop leaks anywhere around the car.
 
• The air suspension uses three height control valves: two at the front, one at the back. If they’re in good condition, the car will remain at correct height for up to eight weeks. If it sinks within hours of the vehicle’s use, they need replacing, at £1800 each.
 
• Airbags crack and develop leaks, but they’re a service item and relatively easily replaced. The air compressor is extremely reliable, and air system parts are shared with the 3.5 and 6.3 SE L and the 300SE range.
 
• Interiors were often velour and PVC, and prone to scruffiness, so many have been retrimmed in leather. Not cheap! There are swathes of wood panels, too, and of course these are expensive to recondition.
 

Model history

 
1963: The 600 ‘Grosser’ Mercedes (model name W100) is launched in two lengths: five/six-seater with 3200mm wheelbase and seven/ eight-seater with 3900mm wheelbase. Four- and six-door versions of Pullman available. 
1965: Landaulet version with convertible rear passenger compartment is introduced. 
1966: Instrument binnacle styling changed to less attractive vinylor leather-trimmed version. Hubcap design changed. 
1968: Hydraulically powered self closing door mechanisms deleted (buyers now prefer cars without self-closers, for reliability). 
1971: Minor facelift: climate control improved, interior door handle design changed. 
1981: Production ceases after 2190 SWB limousines, 423 Pullmans and 59 Landaulets built. At least two two-door coupes also thought to have been made.
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

 
• www.mercedes-benz-club.co.uk – The Mercedes-Benz Club UK
• www.m-100.cc – The International M-100 Group
• www.mbca.org – Mercedes-Benz Club America
 

Summary and prices

 
Nothing is simple and everything is expensive, while regular use and correct maintenance are paramount. A 600 can’t be run or rebuilt on anything less than an extravagant budget, and unfortunately that has left the short-wheelbase models out in the cold to some extent, as costs far outstrip values at the moment. But as Pullman prices climb, the short-wheelbase cars should gain status.
 
The short-wheelbase cars range from £45,000-50,000 when they’re in good, useable condition, up to £100,000 for the very best. A good Pullman starts at £70,000 and goes up to £130,000, with a premium for the six-door. But you won’t find a Landaulet in useable condition for less than £300,000, and a great one can easily fetch £600,000 to £800,000.
Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser
Last updated: 11th Oct 2016
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  • 1973 Mercedes 600 Pullman

    POA POA

    Previous owners include an obligatory African Head of State, in this case Hastings Banda, President of Malawi, and Sir Run Run Shaw owner of the film company behind the legendary Bruce Lee films. The Mercedes-Benz 600 was a large luxury limousine produced from 1963 to 1981. Generally, the short-wheel-base (SWB) models were designed to be owner-driven, the long-wheel-base (LWB), often incorporating a central divider with power window, by a chauffeur. The forerunner of the modern Maybach marque, the 600 "Grosser Mercedes" ("Grand Mercedes") succeeded the Type 300 "Adenauer" as the company's flagship and most expensive model. The Pullman, configured with two conference seats in addition to the rear seat all separated from the driver compartment by a power divide window. From a total production of 304 cars built only 39 were Right Hand Drive making this car very rare. Although they had a reputation as the Dictator’s car of choice the list of true A list owners ranged from Hugh Hefner, through the Beatles to Elvis and Coco Chanel! The 600 Grosser was the transport of legendary Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever. Our stunning car

    For sale
    POA POA
    Duncan Hamilton ROFGO
  • Mercedes Benz 600 Pullman 6 Door

    POA POA

    1975 MERCEDES-BENZ 600 SIX-DOOR PULLMAN  ONE OF ONLY TWENTY  ORIGINAL MB FACTORY DATA CARDS Production of the Mercedes flagship 600 model began in 1964 and continued through to 1981. Production numbers were tiny; in total 304 Pullmans! 124 of these were 6-door examples but fewer than 20 were Right Hand Drive. Exclusivity is the watchword of this model. Highly prized by the glitterati of its era and hugely respected by enthusiasts and collectors today. Believed by many to have been the most stylish limousine ever to have been built. The level of appointment is naturally to the very highest standard available when new; featuring the 600's 150-bar (2,176 psi) hydraulic pressure system, which is silent in operation, powering the windows, seats, boot lid, as well as the door locking mechanism. Adjustable air suspension delivered excellent ride quality and sure handling over any road surface. Of the twenty Right Hand Drive examples distributed across the globe no one is able to say how many exist today. Our car is one of these rarer than rare survivors. Finished in the original specially ordered Magnetite Blue and luxuriously upholstered throughout in its original sumptuous light beige velour with beautiful Burr Walnut veneered woodwork. This is, we believe, the finest example for sale anywhere in the world today. Our magnificent 600 Pullman is an extremely rare UK supplied example which has always been kept in England and throughout its life has mostly been maintained by Merecedes Benz UK or its appointed main agents. The history file contains many service invoices and old MOT certificates confirming the mileage of only 68,000 and testifying to the care and maintenance carried out on the car throughout its life. Cosmetically impeccable, structurally undoubted and crucially, fully functioning in all respects; the air suspension holds good pressure, while all of the power assisted accessories work as they should. Available for inspection here in Kew, surely the first knowledgeable enthusiast to view will buy.  

    • Mileage: 68000 mi
    For sale
    POA POA