I can’t say I can remember running across an ad for the 600 before. Yes, it did take its place among the elite, if not at the head of the table, actually.
We haven’t done a CC on the 600, but we did a vintage review of six luxury cars from 1965, which included the 600, which it won, not surprisingly.
The 600 would seem to be one of those cars that doesn’t require any advertising, like a modern Corvette or pretty much any Ferrari. I guess when they first came out, they were still building their reputation.
I had an opportunity to buy one that was resting on its bump stops in the mid ’90s. I couldn’t have afforded the parts from MB Classic to put it back on the road at the time, and there seemed to be little point in storing it waiting for people to start worshipping dictators, aspiring oligarchs and the trappings of their lifestyle. Now we live in a world where Mercedes-Benz can sell every G63 it can produce while authoritarians shut down production of the affordable 1.5 liter Suzuki Jimny export edition on emissions grounds.
This coming week will be my last working with a small independent vintage Mercedes parts company, and I am very thankful.
The Classic Center was an invaluable resource for new parts and the (two!) people that worked there were often very helpful when I had to contact them. Want a new relay for a W124? That’ll be $800. Want a throttle pivot for a W123? Kick rocks, they can’t be found new.
We ran into the fact that so many parts were discontinued, it was unbelievable. Whenever anyone would call with a Mercedes from the early 50’s, I knew I was going to be in for at least an hour of trying to track down part numbers off microfiche. If I could find the numbers, then it was a matter of running down every source for this part and nearly always coming up empty handed. Not new, not aftermarket, and nothing used. Better luck next time!
Trouble is, the aftermarket for old Mercedes parts is basically non-existent when compared to something like Cadillac. On the surface that makes perfect sense, but until you’re in the thick of it, you’ll never really know how wild it all it all is. Or how massively expensive.
We had an auction to sell off a warehouse of parts we never should’ve bought in the first place just this last year. One guy in the Middle East bought three shipping containers worth of parts. Hundreds of thousands of dollars spent. Meanwhile, my family and I were sick with Covid and about to go bankrupt. I would help put together this guy’s orders for things like a fleet of 600’s, and know that just a tiny fraction of that money spent would mean I wouldn’t be going without medical care, or needing to shoplift medication to treat our symptoms to just *exist* while on the clock pulling overtime.
People thought that when I “worked for a Mercedes parts company” I must be doing pretty well. Nope! I was living in a trailer working a job that provides zero health insurance and pays just enough to keep my family from starving.
I understand every car company will have it’s fans and it’s detractors. I don’t begrudge anyone for liking old Mercedes. However when I see an old Mercedes or an ad for one, I’m reminded of what it was like to sell parts for them.
Here’s my take on your comment . . .
For about 30 years I sold vintage car parts, mostly for Packard and Rolls-Royce cars. One thing that has always amazed me was the “pricing” mind set where the price of a part for a 60 year old car was based on prices going back decades. For example, [1990s pricing] a water pump for a 327 Packard straight 8, in the original box. They were typically selling for under $100, while a new Lincoln’s water pump was 5 to 8 times that amount.
Then there is the M-B Classic Center. Over the last 10 years I’ve been going thru various parts in my storage trailers, and when I find something that’s hard to find and often in demand, or made of unobtanium, I’ve contacted the M-B Classic Center to offer them the part. I’ve never heard back from them, Not once.
A few years ago I found a NOS, in the original M-B box, 1950s Mercedes-Benz 190/220 chrome plated horn ring that doubled as the turn signal. As I’m sure you know, this is a part that usually requires re-plating, or if broken, must be replaced. Sent them photos, never heard back from them. Sold it at a local auction for a lot more than I would have asked them to pay.
I have a extremely nice [but not NOS] outer grill shell for a Mercedes-Benz 600. As you know, the 600 grill shell does not fit any other Mercedes, and they are difficult to find, always expensive. I sent an email to the M-B Classic Center, and never heard back. It wasn’t a case where the price was too high, I never wrote about the price.
I have a NOS [never used on a car] rear body panel [between the fenders, trunk lid and trunk floor] for a late 1960s Mercedes-Benz sedan, a part that often rusts and requires replacement if wrecked. A couple of months ago I sent the Classic Center a set of photos, and once again, heard nothing back.
As far as the place in the middle east with a collection of M-B 600 limousines, I’m pretty sure I know exactly who owned all those cars, as I used to supply spare parts for many different makes in that collection. It’s where the 600 grill came from as it was not mint, and they already had a NOS version in the box.
Since I’ve had no interest in the grill shell, and because the center section is missing, I’m thinking about creating a series of clear lucite shelves in the center for displaying model cars, with the original grill shell as the picture frame.
Another item I have came out of the former McNey Motors of Washington DC. McNey had been a Studebaker-Packard dealer that took on Mercedes as part of S-P’s program. This item came out of Mr. McNey’s office. It’s a large framed color print of a shipping port somewhere in the world, showing a large ocean-going ship unloading Mercedes-Benz vehicles, both cars & trucks. Down at the bottom is the title “Mercedes-Benz around the world” With the next line; “Sole importers Studebaker-Packard, South Bend Indiana” Again, it appears the Classic Center has no interest.
Having only been in “the hobby” for the past few years (actually now I guess it’s been 17, but there was a 10-year break in there), I would say the Packard Parts Vendors are fair, knowledgeable, and helpful, and it is amazing how many parts are still available. I only hope their cash-flow is sufficient to sustain them. I was lucky to have picked that brand, as I really had no idea. It seems support for 1950’s Packards is better than even GM brands from the 1950’s, where unless you have a Tri-Five Chevy, you are comparatively on-your-own.
As far as Mercdedes 600’s, they just feel too much like the car-of-choice for an autocrat. Cadillac’s have a little of style of the “up-and-comer”, the self-made-man as it were. Rolls-Royce’s have that old-money style, the Queen et. al., the London Banker, with maybe a bit of “Swinging London” thrown in for good measure. With a Mercedes 600, I don’t know, it just has the air of oppression hanging over it. There is no joy in a Mercedes 600.
I’ve been to the Classic Center (at the old location in Irvine, they moved closer to the airport semi-recently but not a much larger location) and watched those guys work, leaving through catalogs and making calls/doing research etc. I’m frankly not surprised they aren’t interested in parts from anywhere but where they know and can prove the provenance of a part. If that’s a single part that needs to be recreated from scratch and sold at whatever that price is, then so be it. The single worst thing they could do is buy a part that has been out “in the wild” from someone, even the most reputable person in the world, and then the part arrives or worse is resold and there is an issue with it or it’s some sort of forgery etc; that one instance can take down the credibility of the whole enterprise. In other words, not worth it.
Nobody is calling the Classic Center for an ashtray for a 1990 190E or a spark plug wire for a ’74 450SL. But people who call want something that can’t be found elsewhere and generally will pay what the determined by MBCC fair price is. Some people ship their cars there to have the part or parts installed or their cars rebuilt frame up. The fair price for a part is whatever time it takes for those dudes to research it, a vendor to research it, quote it, mark it up, build i (often as a one-off), inspect it, warrant it, and ship it out while (perhaps) covering the overhead of the rest of the operation as well. If it’s not on a shelf it’s going do be hundreds of dollars (or more) at a minimum. And the people keeping those guys busier than ever are perfectly happy to pay for it. The sell a few keychains at the front counter as well 🙂
The place to sell that NOS stuff is ebay.
PS How much do you want for that print and is there a picture of it?
Expensive parts were always a reason not to own a Mercedes. Plus the fact that their image here (Netherlands) was a bit iffy. They were seen as taxis, and for old conservative rich people. If you had money you would want something more dynamic or flashy.
Older Mercedes were often picked up by southern immigrants which did not good for the image either.
The new Ambassador. Does this marketing team realize that the Ambassador is AMC ‘s flagship model? Oops!
Given the era and the lack of a “Mercedes-Benz Sales Div. Studebaker-Packard Corp, South Bend, Ind.” tagline I think this was written for a global audience.
That being said, the US had to have been an important export market. Elvis had one of these.
Ambassador – The King Of The Indian Roads!
I’ve never seen this ad before, though I have come across the ad below, which stuck in my mind because it just seemed a bit odd. First, like Tom mentioned above, The 600 seems like one of those cars that doesn’t require advertising. But also, the lounging chauffeur-driven woman just give off an odd vibe, in my opinion.
I like the featured ad here better.
There wouldn’t be room for her ‘do if she sat up straight.
The feathered dude on the red carpet is pretty weird–and unnecessary.
Of course, we all know that real aristocrats prefer their Ford LTDs over a Mercedes 600 any day:
They got the style of that car absolutely right. Unmistakeably Mercedes, yet somehow it looked lower and sleeker than their smaller sedans. Conservative, yet at the same time its proportions seem sporty. Genius.
The shape looks clumsy to my eyes. The previous generation of Grosser Mercedes handled the long greenhouse better. In fact the Lehmann-Peterson Ford on this page is more graceful than this 600.
China bought ten W100 Benze 600 as they preferred to call thus vehicle. Through out 70st to 90s they were used by some senior leaders and King of Kembodia. At least one unit was still in active used by the State Guest Compound in 2006 as it was featured as its VIP fleet profile. The top leaders like Mao, his successor Hua and later Dan never use any W100 — Mao’s limo was Sil 115, and rumor was Dan driven around a bullet proof Cadillac Fleetwood limo. But i saw him in person in Canton coming in 1980 Toyota HIACE passenger van with air conditioning, and TV news he was seen to ride a Toyota Croaster minibus
As a teenager at the 64 Chicago Auto show, I saw and had photo taken with this car. BUT was much more interested in upscale American autos. My late brother had a 78 Cadillac Series 75,then went to ROLLS-ROYCE 🏆. He abruptly went to Mercedes and drove them for the rest of his life. Never could understand the love of Mercedes! Too stiff and uncomfortable! Give me the GREAT AMERICAN LAND YACHTS of days gone by! USA 🇺🇸 😎
I recall a friend in the early 80s. Lost touch long ago. Nice guy, very unassuming. But he was clearly in a different tax bracket than I was, though he never acted like it. I think at the time he was driving a RR, but he’d had a MB 600, sedan not limo IIRC, and talking to him he clearly liked the MB better, said it was the best car he’s ever had.
That’s as close to one as I’ve been.
Always loved the 600 on Falcon Crest. Angela Channing looked stunning with the car. Very sad when they switched limousines to the point where Angela was riding in a mid 1980’s small Cadillac 75. How tacky was that?