Mercedes-Benz has always maintained a tradition of building a vast array of vehicles ranging from basic transportation to magnificent, technologically advanced luxury cars. For example, in the 1930’s, the 170 was popular among police and taxi drivers, while a wealthy individual could order a 100 mph 540K in any number of coachbuilt configurations. But if you were more than just your average wealthy customer, you may have stepped up to the 770K, also known as the “Grosser Mercedes”. These incredible 7.6 liter, supercharged eight-cylinder monsters were reserved for heads of state, military leaders, a pope and a Japanese Emperor and featured some of the most advanced engineering ever seen on a pre-war automobile.
During WWII, Mercedes Benz factories were suffered tremendous damage and it took some time to bounce back. But by the 1960s, their post-war recovery was complete and the company recognized sufficient demand for another ultra-luxurious limousine to take on the likes of the Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood and Rolls Royce Phantom. The 600-series was born in 1963, known internally as the W100, reviving the “grosser” moniker. Available in four-door short wheelbase or six-door, long wheelbase Pullman configuration, the 600 was, quite simply, one of the finest and most thoughtfully engineered and cars in history. Unlike a body-on-frame Cadillac or Rolls Royce, the 600 used advanced unitary construction that was so strong, the rear roof could be cut off without the need for additional bracing. Of course, options were limited to the imagination and budget of the buyer and 600s are often seen with front and rear air conditioning, separate stereo systems, refrigerators, even televisions and telephones. An all-new 6.3 liter V8 with Bosch fuel injection was developed specifically for the 600. It produced 250 hp and a whopping 370 ft-lbs of torque, enough to allow the 6,100lb Merc to hang with a contemporary Porsche 911T in a straight line. A complex but ingenious hydraulic system, operating at 150-bar (2,176 psi) was incorporated into the suspension as well as to operate the window lifts, power seats, sunroof, and even the trunk closure. The 600 quickly became the ultimate symbol of power and prestige and was the favored by government officials, royalty, movie stars, dictators and cult leaders alike. The 600 remained in very limited production from 1964-1981 with total of 2,677 built in all configurations.
This 1972 600 SWB sedan is a very fine example with strong mechanicals and a fascinating history. Of the 600 family, the sleeper of the group is the short-wheelbase four-door sedan, offering surprisingly brisk performance for such a large machine, and despite a subdued limousine image, they make exceptionally good driver’s cars. According to documentation, this 600 was originally purchased new in Paris by Academy Award winning actor Yul Brynner, star of such classics as The King & I and The Magnificent Seven. A few years later, it was purchased in Paris by Toufic Gargour, a businessman and Mercedes-Benz agent based in Beirut, Lebanon. In the 1980s, Mr. Gargour gifted the Mercedes 600 to his son upon his acceptance to Harvard University. It seems the younger Gargour used it as his regular transport in college! Records show it received regular, expert care at Gullwing Service in Massachusetts during that time. At some point, the Gargour family sold the 600, and it appears to have passed through the hands of noted Grosser Mercedes expert, Karl Middlehauve who performed a service on the car prior to brokering its sale. Subsequent owners have continued to maintain and enjoy the 600, continuing its care and maintenance along the way.
In approximately 1999, photos show the car was treated to a bare-metal respray in the original silver color. The quality of the paintwork is very good, and it remains in attractive condition with only a few minor touchups visible on close inspection. Much of the bright work and exterior trim appear to be in excellent original condition. Thanks to a series of attentive owners, the mechanical condition is very good and signs of regular maintenance are apparent, though more recently, it has seen limited use. These overbuilt cars will reward proper care and maintenance with extraordinary longevity, and thanks to the care it has received, this example drives very well, delivering the performance and exceptional ride quality expected of a 600.
The black interior still wears its factory original upholstery, which is presented in very good condition, with an inviting patina to the leather. There are some minor cracks in the surface of the leather, but it remains supple and with a warm luster. Original carpets and door panels are also in very good condition, and the car retains factory-fitted instruments, switches and a period-correct Becker radio. The extensive woodwork that is a signature of the big 600 has recently been restored at great cost by the specialists at Madera Concepts in California, and the results are absolutely gorgeous. Whether behind the wheel or riding in the luxurious, hydraulically-adjustable rear seat, the cabin of this Mercedes 600 is a very special place to be.
The 600 was a technological tour de force that boldly asserted to the world that Mercedes-Benz was the greatest automobile manufacturer on the planet. This marvelous example is presented in honest, attractive condition, and is sure to please its next owner with its astonishing performance and peerless levels of luxury.