Acquiring the German moniker “Der Große Mercedes” (The Grand Mercedes), the Mercedes 600 remains one of the most innovative and influential vehicles ever produced. Created without compromise or care for costs, the Mercedes 600 sat as a true competitor to ultra-luxury car brands such as Rolls-Royce.
The project was headed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut, father of the legendary 300 SL. With him at the helm, the 600 would need to be luxurious without compromising performance. At the time, Mercedes did not have an engine powerful enough for the 600. As such, they produced a massive 6.3L V8 outputting 250 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.
Setting the foundation for future AMG models, these engines were handbuilt by a single engineer. Short for Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach, the names of its founders and their hometown Großaspach, the AMG badge is reserved for the best Mercedes has to offer. Today, AMG pays homage to this 6.3L engine with the company’s “63” trim level.
Paired with a four-speed automatic, this over two-and-a-half-ton luxury sedan could reach 120 mph with a 0-60 mph time of about 10 seconds, more than impressive at the time. Massive disc brakes were at each wheel to help with added stopping power.
Despite an eighteen-year production run, the 600 is one of the rarest Mercedes to date. From 1963 to 1981, Mercedes built only 2,677 models in total.
Two lengths were available for the Mercedes 600, a Short Wheelbase (SWB) and a Long Wheelbase (LWB). While dubbed “short,” it was anything but short. At 218” in length, the Mercedes 600 SWB was 10 inches longer than today’s S-Class. The LWB, also known as the Pullman, stretched to 245”, offering ample room for luxurious passage.
The more common example was the SWB, with 2,190 built throughout its history. The remaining vehicles mainly were split between two versions of the Pullman, a four-door sedan with 304 produced and a six-door limousine variant with 124 produced. In the four-door version, Additional rear-facing seats were installed behind the separated driver compartment. These additional seats were forward-facing in the six-door, installed at the middle door. The rarest Pullman, the Landaulet variant, came in the form of a partial convertible, with 59 built.
Unique models existed as a testament to the endless options for customization, including armored versions for statesmen, two coupe versions, and a 4-door model with a shorter wheelbase for better handling.
Today, the world recognizes Mercedes for its luxurious smooth rides, something the 600 helped establish decades prior. The Mercedes 600 came well equipped with an air suspension and innovative hydraulic shock absorbers. Drivers, or powered passengers, had control over three firmness options, allowing them to choose among various ride options.
To avoid the noise and unpredictability of early electric motors, Mercedes created one of the most complicated hydraulic systems ever put in a production car. Adjustments of both front and rear seats, opening and closing the doors, the trunk lid, the windows, and the top on Landault models were all operated via hydraulics.
With such an ultra-exclusive vehicle, it’s no surprise that many influential people have owned the 600. The list includes the likes of David Bowie, Elvis Presley, several Popes, and Kim Jong-un.
While the company has yet to produce a comparable vehicle since this final production run of the 600, its genetics can be seen in every Mercedes built since. The Mercedes 600 set the foundation, allowing the German brand to secure its spot as a desirable and luxurious automaker worldwide. Today the Pullman name lives on with the extended Maybach wheelbase, further emphasizing the 600’s historical importance.