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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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Mercedes-Benz 600
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  • 1969 Mercedes-Benz 600 SWB Sedan

    $139,500(£0) $139,500(£0)

    Mercedes’ ultra-luxury 600-Series sedan and limousine were born in 1963, though the tradition of a factory-built flagship suitable for Heads of State and Captains of Industry alike goes back to the 770 Grosser of the 1930s. The 770 was one of the most technologically advanced cars of the 30s, though it gained a reputation for its favor among infamous members of Germany’s ruling party. By the 1950s, Mercedes’ post-war recovery was well underway, and a newfound optimism and demand gave way to a new factory limousine, the 300 “Adenauer.” The elegant Adenauer served as the company flagship from 1951(W186) through 1963 (W189). The Grosser Mercedes moniker was revived in 1963 with the introduction of the W100 – officially called the 600. In the spirit of the pre-war 770, Mercedes-Benz engineers threw everything they had at the 600. It was one of the most sophisticated automobiles of the era and stands as one of the most meticulously engineered cars of all time. Unlike a body-on-frame Cadillac or Rolls-Royce, the 600 used advanced unitary construction that was so strong that the roof could be lopped off for landaulet versions without the need for additional bracing. A complex but ingenious hydraulic system operating at 150-bar (2,176 psi) powered the suspension as well as the window lifts, power seats, sunroof, and even the trunk closure. Without a suitable engine in their portfolio, the new M100 V8 was developed from scratch to power the 600. With 6.3-liters capacity and Bosch fuel-injection, the M100 was a beast – making 250 horsepower and 370 ft-lbs of torque. It was enough to allow the 6,100 pound Mercedes to hassle a Porsche 911 T in a straight line. The 600 quickly became the ultimate status symbol for the famous and the infamous – with Elvis Presley, and Coco Chanel joined by the likes of Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro as 600 owners. Limited production lasted from 1964-1981 with a total of 2,677 built, in all configurations, from SWB sedan to the range-topping Pullman Landaulet. Of the 600 family, the sleeper of the group is the short-wheelbase four-door sedan, as presented here. All of the expected luxuries are there, and they make for surprisingly good driver’s cars thanks to that sophisticated suspension and glorious, torque-laden 6.3 liter M100 V8. This 1968 600 SWB Sedan is a particularly fine example that has been treated to extensive, professional care in the hands of its past owners. It is accompanied by an impressive stack of paperwork that documents the maintenance and essential, specialized upgrades it has received in recent years. This 600 is a very well-optioned car, finished as-delivered in Anthracite (code DB172) over a lovely tan leather interior and equipped as original with European headlamps, Bosch fog lamps, and a sunroof. The body is in very good condition and the doors shut with the vault-like precision expected of a 600. The paintwork is said to be mostly original and while some minor crazing is apparent upon close inspection, it remains glossy and attractive. The chrome and brightwork are similarly good, and is straight and largely original with a light care-worn appearance. Interior appointments include a cooled compartment between the front seats, complete with shot glasses and a thermos, as well as rear picnic trays, ivory steering wheel, power adjustable rear seats and rear privacy curtains. The tan leather has mellowed nicely, appearing well cared-for and in very sound condition. Extensive woodwork adorns the dash, windscreen frame, door caps, and picnic tables and it presents in excellent condition overall, with only some fading visible at the base of the windscreen. Updates include a modern radio and rebuilt window switches on all four doors. Original handbooks are included along with the 600-specific toolkit and very rare factory hydraulic service kit. Accompanying this car is a large stack of receipts documenting the extensive care it has received in the hands of its previous owners, including one former president of the Gullwing Owner’s Club. The hydraulic system has been comprehensively rebuilt, the heating and air conditioning fully sorted, and brakes rebuilt. All of the work was carried out by the W100 experts Star Motors of Endicott, New York. The no-expense-spared service continued with Karl Middelhauve-developed upgrades to the ignition system (a fully-engineered EFI with modified intake) and a Middelhauve-designed front subframe to accommodate W140-type hydraulic engine mounts. The engine was removed and resealed as part of the service as well. The big V8 presents in a tidy, unrestored manner that is reflective of the regular care and maintenance. The suspension has been serviced with new bushes as needed, and the ancillary hydraulics rebuilt with new window lift cylinders, new trunk actuator, upgraded billet-type switches for all four doors, and a rebuilt pump and actuator. Over $100,000 was spent on these services and upgrades between 2001 and 2011, and the car has continued to be well-maintained by its current enthusiastic owner. Driving a Mercedes-Benz 600 is an experience unto itself, delivering astonishing levels of performance even by today’s standards. Built in very limited numbers for an elite clientele, very few have survived in such fine original condition, and fewer still have been as lavishly maintained as this exceptional example. The 600 stands today as one of the most luxurious, stately, and imposing of all post-war automobiles and is quite simply one of Mercedes-Benz’s finest achievements.

    For sale
    $139,500(£0) $139,500(£0)
    Hyman Ltd
    314-524-6000 View contact number
  • 1973 Mercedes 600 Pullman


    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
  • Mercedes Benz 600 Pullman 6 Door


    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