Mercedes-Benz's Classic division received an unusual request in 2007. An enthusiast from Germany wanted to turn a 1975 600 into a Maybach, and the person had a wallet thick enough to cover cost of the unprecedented conversion. The company accepted the project and enlisted the help of Daimler engineers when needed.
Introduced in 1963, the 600 limousine (called W100 internally) stood proud as one of the most luxurious cars in the world until it retired in 1981. Maybach's 57 and 62 models were its spiritual successors, and both were still in production in 2007, so Classic had a solid foundation to build on. They started by gutting the 600's interior and replacing the original seats with updated heated and cooled chairs. They also added automatic A/C, front- and rear-facing cameras, Bluetooth connectivity, a fridge, a minibar, and a DVD player, among other features.
The 600's steering wheel remains, but it's fully adjustable. There's a navigation system integrated into a custom-designed center console, and cruise control, but the best place to be is in the back, where business-class-like tablets await the occupants. The panoramic, dimming sunroof comes straight from the Maybach parts bin.
The person who commissioned the work wanted to keep the 600 registered as a vintage vehicle, so making mechanical modifications was out of the question. Power comes from a 6.3-liter, naturally-aspirated V8 engine that sends 250 horsepower to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission. The drivetrain is original to the car, though the eight-cylinder and the four-speed were both completely rebuilt and are in like-new condition.
The seven-year restoration cost the 600's anonymous owner about €3 million, which represents $3.2 million in 2020. What has happened to the car since 2014 is a mystery, but it clearly wasn't driven often because its odometer reads 690 miles. It's now located in Holland, and it's offered for sale by an exotic car dealer named Auto Leitner who priced it at €2.1 million (about $2.2 million). All told, there's one last thing it has in common with the short-lived Maybach: a depreciation curve seemingly inspired by Tom Petty's 1989 hit "Free Fallin'."
The sale includes a book and a DVD, both provided by Mercedes-Benz Classic, that document the car's restoration in great detail. It's extremely expensive for a 600, stock examples regularly trade hands for under $500,000, and whether it's worth as much as a Lotus Evija is a topic we could spend hours debating. What's certain is that it's a one-of-a-kind car, and absolutely no expenses were spared during the conversion.
The person who signs the dotted line will join the small club of current and former 600 owners. Approximately 2,600 units were made during the 18-year production run, and they were prized by dictators, heads of states, and celebrities alike for their unparalleled comfort. The list includes names like Tito, Hussein, Zedong, Kim, Escobar, Brezhnev, Hefner, Clapton, and Presley. One even served as the Vatican's Popemobile starting in 1965.
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