It is always difficult to try to attribute definitive values to automotive courage. Most of the cars featured in Brave Pill are obviously more expensive than others, and some are clearly more at risk of costly breakdowns. But this week’s offer bends the needle on those two dials. Indeed, in the face of fierce competition from the previous 131 pills, this is probably the daddy in terms of cost and complication. You are looking at a car with a power window switch for the driver that costs over £ 9,000 as a new part.
The W100 Mercedes 600 has never been a cheap club to enter or remain a member, but joining it puts you in famous (and infamous) company. Throughout its long life, the W100 was a favorite among dictators and flashy potentates, its user list reading themselves as a Who’s Who of late 20th century political bad boys: Idi Amin, Leonid Brezhnev, Nicolae Ceausescu, Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, Enver Hoxha, Saddam Hussein, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, Mao Zedong, Ferdinand Marcos and Josip Broz ‘Tito’.
Lesser notorious slebs loved him too – with buyers such as David Bowie, Coco Chanel, Eric Clapton, Hugh Heffner, Aristotle Onassis, Elvis Presley and no less than three-quarters of The Beatles – Paul McCartney is the one to resist. Oh, also Pope Paul VI. The owners’ club meetings had to be really special.
This is because the 600 was on a different plane than anything else, certainly when it was new and probably still now. It was grander, more expensive, and far more advanced than any contemporary alternative, being a car that made the Rolls-Royce Phantom appear small, stilted and technically shy. The pick of a 600 for Bond uber-villain Ernst Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (plus a cameo in Diamonds Are Forever) was, with the exception of a certain Aston DB5, the sharpest hunk of the cast. automotive overall franchise.
Mercedes had a lot of experience making large limousines before this one, especially the almost equally large 770 “Grosser” which was indelibly associated with the Nazi regime. But the 600 was still a considerable amount of boats pushed by early ’60s standards. Electric operation was new at the time, and Mercedes was determined to make the most of it. Yet electric operation was impractical for the number of functions the company wanted to automate. Instead, she created a motor-driven hydraulic system to power the windows, seats, sunroof and even a door-closing function.
The enormous power of this 150 bar network made it possible to use several functions at the same time, but also offered the strange option of variable pressure. So a light push on the window switch would slowly move the window, while a stronger tug would close it. There were no resistance sensors like modern power windows, and the W100’s movable window could be used at speeds capable of cutting fingers, a feature some of its most notorious owners arguably made use of. . Still, using hydraulic pressure to give a Citroën-style motorized suspension was clearly seen as too easy, with the 600 getting an air suspension system instead.
Finding an engine was another challenge. The size and complexity of the 600 meant that the long-wheelbase versions would weigh more than three tons and none of Mercedes’ existing powertrains were supposed to live up to the motivation. An all-new 6.3-liter V8 was therefore put into service, using a version of Bosch mechanical injection that debuted on the 300 SL and developed 250 hp. It may not sound like much to modern ears, but it did mean that the W100 was actually one of the most powerful sedans in the world, launched in 1963, with even the longer Pullman version capable of top speed. of 125 mph.
Not that the car encouraged such use. I was fortunate enough to experience a 600 belonging to Mercedes Benz Classic last year – the highlight of a day that also included a turn in a 190E 2.5-16 Evo 2 – with the Pullman at six-seater having previously been on the staff of the German Chancellor fleet. As such, the W100’s front compartment felt surprisingly cramped for something so large, thanks to the bulkhead that separated it from the rear. The controls were all light, with the exception of the stiff-spring throttle, presumably to improve smoothness, and the soft suspension settings meant abundant body roll even under modest cornering loads. The most notable feature was a switchable horn, with the louder air setting putting many ships to shame and being loud enough to be heard over the sound of a parade. Once the 600 was rolling, was almost unstoppable, the size difference between it and the smaller Benzes was proven by the fact that the “gunsight” star above its radiator had to be enlarged by 20% to keep it in proportion. .
Our Pill is a regular 1971 600 wheelbase, the lack of a limo bulkhead means it will be much roomier for the type of owner-driver it was intended for. The selling dealer claims this is one of the 273 right-hand drive versions, which makes it much rarer than the 2404 left-hand hooks. While it looks black in some pictures, it’s actually finished in a dark olive green with a light brown interior.
The history of the MOT called up by the license plate has a lot of red in it, but only tells part of the story. The car failed a test in September 2014 with a long list of flaws, most of them indicative of age and lack of use. It passed just after a week later – with the interesting “passenger seat (s) missing at time of test” notice, but has since been sent to Germany for a substantial restoration. While the details of the ad are clear, the dealer’s website says the 600 was sent to a specialist in Sygenstein where the work included € 28,000 for mechanical end fittings and hydraulics and an additional € 30,000. on a restoration and a body painting. He also received an interior retrim. He hasn’t had a MOT since, but he’s old enough that he doesn’t need one, and in the photos he certainly looks stunning.
While an asking price of £ 129,950 makes it one of our most expensive pills, that doesn’t sound outrageous given the car’s apparent condition. The purchase will only happen where the expense begins for one of them, and there are good reasons to start owning higher up the tree than a cheaper, more crappy car. A well-known American W100 specialist estimates that an unloved car can easily swallow $ 50,000 in mechanical work to be repaired, before the expenses start on cosmetics. The wide dispersion of prices reflects radically different conditions. There are still five-figure cars out there, although there are apparently none currently in the UK. But there are also much more serious prices being asked for examples of Pullman and even rarer open-top landaulets, with several being offered for over £ 500,000.
Whatever your budget, you’d be hard pressed to find a car that offers more presence than this. Remember to keep enough for Chairman Mao’s tunic and the fluffy white cat.