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Lot 599: Mercedes-Benz 600 Landaulet

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

In an age when flaunting your wealth wasn't a crime, the 600 was the automotive equivalent of Monaco. It's a masterpiece of engineering, a quantum leap over its opposition, and redefines the word opulence.' - Classic & Sportscar magazine. By the commencement of the 1960s, Mercedes-Benz's ever-expanding model range was lacking in only one department: a super prestige saloon to rival the Grosser Mercedes of the past. This gap was filled in September 1963 with the appearance at the Frankfurt International Motor Show of the all-new 600. Representing state-of-the-art automotive engineering in just about every department, the supremely well-equipped newcomer featured an overhead-camshaft, fuel-injected, 6.3-litre V8 engine - Mercedes' first - air suspension with variable ride control, four-speed automatic transmission, all-round disc brakes, power-assisted steering, central locking and separate air conditioning systems for front and rear compartments. Its cosseted occupants enjoyed the advantages conferred by multi-way adjustable seating powered by a sophisticated system of hydraulics that also operated the windows and assisted in opening/closing the doors and boot lid. The most popular version was the 3,200mm (10' 6") wheelbase saloon that could seat up to six passengers, while the long-wheelbase Pullman limousine - a veritable leviathan exceeding 20' in length and beloved of Heads of State, not to mention a succession of Popes - could accommodate up to eight. Despite its not inconsiderable weight, the 600 was endowed with highly respectable performance, reaching 60mph (97km/h) in a little under 10 seconds and exceeding 125mph (201km/h) flat out. Celebrity owners of the Mercedes-Benz 600 have included Elvis Presley, John Lennon, George Harrison, Jack Nicholson, Coco Chanel, Hugh Hefner, Ronnie Wood, Aristotle Onassis and Rowan Atkinson. The roll call of dictator owners is similarly impressive: Nicolae Ceausescu, Marshal Tito, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot, Enver Hoxha, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il all being represented. This impressive Mercedes-Benz 600 is the first of a limited run of 59 cars constructed with landaulet coachwork by the factory on the long-wheelbase Pullman chassis, 49 of which were left-hand drive, 10 right-hand drive. The car was first registered on 13th May 1965 and the copy of the original production order records the owner as 'Fuhrpark Untert�rkheim' (motor pool Untert�rkheim), which then loaned it to the West German government for official duties. (No Mercedes-Benz 600 was actually owned by the West German government, they were all owned by the factory and supplied for official use when needed). One of these regal landaulets, quite possibly that offered here, was used as transport for the historic state visit of HM Queen Elizabeth II to West Germany in 1965. The production order lists the colour of the interior leather as 'Cognac 1505' and records the installation of hand rails on the roof edge, which would be held by distinguished passengers while standing in the rear. The car remained in the Stuttgart-Untert�rkheim motor pool until December 1971 when factory records show that it was delivered to Mercedes-Benz France in Paris, from where it was sold to an African head of state. Rediscovered in the early 1990s, it was brought back to Germany to be restored by a well-known Hamburg-based Mercedes-Benz 600 specialist, who undertook a comprehensive, no-expense-spared rebuild using new-old-stock parts. A specialist report by the German T�V testifies to the 600's generally very good condition. The car is finished in black with matching landaulet hood (power operated) and cognac leather interior, while noteworthy features include an internal division, vis-�-vis seating in the rear and a refrigerated drinks cabinet. The vehicle is offered with Austrian registration documents.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number599
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating0
Registration number
Chassis number100.015-12-000237
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors