The Mercedes-Benz 600 is a large luxury automobile offered in several variants worldwide. Introduced in September 1963, it had very few competitors, these being Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Cadillac Fleetwood 75, the stretched Lehmann-Peterson Lincoln, and the Chrysler Imperial Crown Ghia. Generally, the long-wheel-base (LWB) 600 was intended as chauffeur-driven; many featured a central divider incorporating a powered window between front and rear compartments. Short-wheel-base (SWB) 600 models were designed to be owner-driven
Production began in 1964 and almost 600 variants were built until 1972. The oil crisis, as well as the introduction of new S-Class models, slowed demand. Modest production continued until 1981. During this time, 2,677 vehicles were made.
The 600 came in two main variants:
- short wheelbase
- 4-door sedan
- 4-door sedan with a power divider window separating the front seats from the rear bench seat.
A single example of 4-door landaulet was built by Mercedes in 1967. The vehicle was commissioned by Count von Berckheim, the ex-racing driver. This car combined the handling qualities of a short-wheelbase design with the traditional virtues of the landaulet.
- long wheelbase chassis
- 4-door Pullman limousine with additional two rear-facing seats behind the driver compartment which was separated by a power divider window (three built).
- 6-door limousine with two forward-facing jump-seats positioned at the additional middle two doors and a rear bench-seat.
- A few of the limousines were made with a convertible top over the rear passenger compartment and were called landaulets. This was mainly intended for official use, by the Pope, or by the German government, e.g. in 1965 during the visit of Queen Elizabeth II, when she was accompanied by Kurt Georg Kiesinger in open-top tour in Baden-Württemberg. Production of this model ended in 1980.
Mercedes also made two coupés, one of them was made by Mercedes as a gift for Dr. Rudolf Uhlenhaut when he retired. He had designed the car, together with Fritz Nallinger and Karl Wilfert. A third coupe was constructed from a 600 SWB by Karl Middelhauve and Associates.
A SWB car was also converted into a funeral coach (hearse).
The 600 was so heavy that the largest engine of Mercedes at that time, the 6-cylinder 300, was inadequate. Instead a new engine with more than twice the capacity was developed to move the vehicle and its hydraulically powered amenities, the 6.3 L V8 "M100" engine with single overhead camshafts (SOHC), and Bosch mechanical fuel injection.
The 600's "M-100" engine and hydraulics were fitted to the 300SEL 6.3 model in 1968, creating - at that time - the world's fastest four-door sedan. Upon the introduction of the "W116" chassis, a larger version of M-100 was installed in the Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9.
The 600 featured many luxury features, including a complex hydraulic 150-bar (2,176 psi) pressure system that powered everything from the windows and seats to the automatically closing doors, sun-roof, and boot lid. Adjustable air suspension gave the car a good ride quality and handling over any road surface.