It was, for decades, the choice of dictators, plutocrats, and the seriously monied around the world. Less savoury owners included Idi Amin and Pol Pot, but then John Lennon had one too, so maybe that balances things out a little. We'll try and gloss over the fact that Jeremy Clarkson had one, but there's little doubt that the Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman (known as Der Grosser Mercedes, which translates as The Grand or The Great Mercedes) is one of the greatest cars ever made.
Sold in short, or long-wheelbase forms, with four or six doors, and entirely hand-built, only 2,677 600s were made, between 1963 and 1981. Many would end up in government service, festooned with armour plating and bullet-proof glass, but some went into private hands, as the transport of the staggeringly well-heeled.
Famously, everything in the car, from the suspension to the windows, was powered by hydraulics, which guaranteed a smooth ride and the fastest window-winding you've ever seen. In fact, more or less everything in the 600 is hydraulically powered. Mercedes would probably have made the window curtains hydraulic if it could have...
This 1975 600, currently on sale at Auto Leitner, a classic car dealer in The Netherlands, is a little different, though. From the outside, it looks pretty stock, but a Mercedes expert will tell you that pearlescent white was never a paint finish offered for the car originally. Look in the back, and the penny starts to drop; this is a 'restomod' - a car rebuilt to look original and classical on the outside, but with the most modern of mod-cons on the inside.
While the interior at the front is all-original (aside from the addition of a small, discreet touch screen), in the vast rear compartment, the cabin has been refitted with components taken from a 2000s Maybach 62 (Mercedes' failed attempt to recreate the 600 with a modern car based on the S-Class saloon). Choice options include a vast TV screen with DVD player, an electro-chromatic dimming panoramic glass roof, electrically-adjustable seats, a minibar, a surround camera system, ambient lighting, and a minibar (of course).
Mind you, the original owners (who sank some €3 million in the restoration) knew better than to mess with perfection. The 600's original 6.3-litre V8 engine has been retained, as well as its four-speed automatic transmission. Interestingly, the engine develops a robust 300hp (and 500Nm of torque) but only 250hp makes its way to the wheels - that massive hydraulic system needs a full 50hp all for itself...
While we're fantasising about leaving a house we can't to spend €2 million we don't have, it's worth remembering that this week is the 120th anniversary of the Mercedes name, in a vehicular sense.
On April 2, 1900, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft decided to call its automobiles Mercedes, after the daughter of Emil Jellinek. The Austrian businessman, who lived in Nice, sold Daimler vehicles and registered them for racing events. Those first Mercedes-badged cars, including the Mercedes 35 PS racing car, were something of a wonder - all elegant bodywork and brass detailing. So much so that, upon seeing them, Paul Meyan, then Secretary General of the Automobile Club of France, said after the race week: "We have entered the Mercedes era."
The trademark of Mercedes was registered in June, and legally protected by September, and ever since every car that has left the Stuttgart factory has been called a Mercedes, even after Daimler merged with Benz in 1926.
Mercedes is claiming that the 120th anniversary should be remembered as much for its meaning for feminism as for motoring - the company claims that it's the only brand to be named after a woman. "Women like Mercedes Jellinek or Bertha Benz shaped the success story of Mercedes-Benz from the start," said Bettina Fetzer, head of marketing at Mercedes. "With our She's Mercedes initiative, founded in 2015, we are building on this tradition for our numerous female customers around the world. The future of Mercedes-Benz will combine sustainability and luxury in a fascinating way."
Gorden Wagener, chief designer at Mercedes said: "Our quest for the perfect realisation of luxury and the driving of innovation is part of our brand DNA. It forms the basis of the sustained success of our brand. Our design will turn cool-looking technology and emotional staging into a desirable experience, as is currently the case with the new compact GLA or the progressive EQC, for example."