Dirk de Jager ©2020 Courtesy of RM Auctions
  • Delivered new in 1967 to the Ivory Coast for President Felix Houphouët-Boigny
  • Presented in original colors of black over natural leather
  • Replacement engine fitted
  • Restoration work by Koster and Karl Middelhauve
  • Supplied with spare engine

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1967 Mercedes-Benz 600 Six-Door Pullman
Years Produced:1964–81
Number Produced:428 long-wheelbase versions
SCM Valuation:$98,000
Tune Up Cost:If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. (In reality, about $1,200 for ignition service, spark plugs, valve adjustment, oil service and fuel filters)
Chassis Number Location:Stamped into right frame rail adjacent to front of engine, under a/c compressor bracket
Engine Number Location:Behind left cylinder head, stamped on pad in top of bell housing
Club Info:International Mercedes-Benz M-100 group
Alternatives:1968–90 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI, 1968–92 Daimler Limousine, 1967–78 ZIL-114
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 387, sold for $299,587, including buyer’s premium, during RM Sotheby’s Online-Only: The European Sale on June 11, 2020.

This writer has been itching to inflict his commentary on the importance of preserving the originality of the Mercedes W100, so if you have bad taste or are easily offended, you are my target audience.

Every 600 represents a piece of history

It could be argued that every Mercedes-Benz 600 built — even the most humble short-wheelbase model — has some kind of connection to the development of the world between 1960 and 1980. The 600 represents obvious wealth and power — and success, control, intelligence and importance. While prices of these cars may have fallen over time, their presence has not diminished. Like ownership of a key historical artifact, a Catholic relic or a dangerous weapon, pursuing and buying a 600 should not be taken lightly. There is a code of conduct associated with the W100, and owners should adhere to it.

A list of sacrilegious acts against the W100

All of us are likely familiar with a certain comedian whose 600 has become somewhat of a fixture on YouTube. This car is tastelessly modified into a goofy limousine with a plethora of crass upgrades. It has bothered me that other 600 owners have contemplated these same modifications.

So in case you are a new 600 owner — and particularly a long-wheelbase-600 owner — here is a list of things you should not do:

Don’t have your 600’s colors and interior retrimmed to match your personal whims. I have seen these cars painted all sorts of horrible colors — including French Blue and modern, ugly gray metallics — with ugly interiors to match. One would not alter a historical artifact to make it more aesthetically pleasing, and this is the case here. Such whims only yield disappointment when sales time arrives.

Don’t do weird things to your 600’s interior. Don’t try to reconfigure the interior seating, add a minibar, a big-screen TV — or turn it into a “party pad.” This sort of foolish behavior obliterates the historical and collectible value of the car. This also makes the car unserviceable when all of the garbage added to it fails. The 600’s interior is best described as private — a place where one would engage in contemplation or critical planning. It isn’t some kind of adult playground.

Don’t carry out ridiculous mechanical alterations to your 600, such as adding modern electronic fuel injection (the equivalent of castrating a stud horse) or even modern wheels. The engineering on the 600 was perfect from day one.

Your 600 is not a toy for your amusement. Just like you would not bathe with a real Monet hanging in the shower, these cars must be taken seriously and preserved with dignity.

This brings me to my first point about our subject car. It had not been tampered with. Even the much-hated divider window was left in place. If you are considering selling your 600, this car should be a lesson to you. Well-documented history and original presentation yield the strongest market result. With all 600s, historical influence wields a notable influence on market values. And history must be presented authentically and accurately.

No modifications mean fewer headaches

Our subject 600 has never been the victim of another person’s foolish whims. Inside, it is fairly consistent, with what appears to be replacement leather on the front seats, its original intercom system and its original radio. Anyone who is serious about purchasing a 600 will pay up for details such as these. Cars that have had divider windows removed, seats reconfigured and inches added will likely suffer serious hydraulic-system issues.

Ahh, that hydraulic system. It is as pervasive in a 600 as the veins are in the human body. Everything — from the sunroof, to the shock absorbers, to the climate-control air flow — is tied to this system. If you remove one item, you risk failure of all the components. Every hydraulic control in the W100 is calibrated to work at a specific pressure. Add or remove one of them, and your carpets could be soaked in red hydraulic fluid.

It’s almost as though the Daimler Benz engineers designed the car to punish those who think they know better.

I am sure a few of you are worried about that non-matching engine. It is highly likely that President Papa Houphouët’s complex car may have run into mechanical issues from the inevitable lack of maintenance in a developing country.

Mercedes’ standard practice at the time was to replace the engines and not rebuild them. Hopefully, this was the case. However, if this engine was replaced following the car’s exodus from the Ivory Coast and swapped for a better used unit, then shame on whoever did it. With so much extra mass to drag around, it is quite possible that this early 600 was ailing mechanically by the time its stint as a presidential car was over.

The 600 compared to the modern Maybach

If you’re wondering, the Maybach 57 and 62 are not a worthy successor to the 600. They will never be the 600, and they are not a substitute for the 600. I often find that most Maybach owners may have considered a 600 — but wisely acknowledged that they could not withstand the responsibility and cost of ownership. The 600 is an unrepeatable technical tour de force, a car that will never have an equal. Heads of state at the time understood this, which was why these cars were highly sought after in period.

The exclusivity of the 600 is firmly established in the Mercedes-Benz model range.

Originality, history create a noteworthy sale

These monoliths often quietly show up at auction, frequently sitting in a dark corner with sinking air suspension.

While Ferraris or Maseratis might tell tales of racing and Porsche 356s might tell personal success stories, if these megalithic automobiles could talk, they would tell stories of world history and development, parts of which unfolded in their backseats.

Our subject car doesn’t just represent the best money can buy — it is a part of the African independence movement, a culmination of Mercedes’ greatest era and a relic from a significant period of world history.

From a practical standpoint, replicating the fit and finish of this car would cost at least $600,000 today, so this restoration was purchased for pennies on the dollar. And a long-wheelbase 600 in any condition starts at just under $100k. So if you must have a long-wheelbase 600 for personal reasons, this car was well bought. I only hope the new buyer is prepared to be a responsible custodian of this historically important Mercedes. ♦

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