- Engine Bay
- Trunk Area
- Chassis # 100.014-12-000165
- Engine # 100.980-12-000159
- 1 of just 304 ‘Four Door' Pullman Limousines produced, 1 of only 2 delivered new to China
- Delivered new to China’s Foreign Minister and Shanghai Mayor, Chen Yi
- Never restored and offered in incredibly original condition
- Showing just 21,186 kilometers from from new
This car is currently located in: Pontiac, MI
The Pullman name has been synonymous with luxury, spaciousness, and comfort for over 150 years. From the early days of innovative railroad sleeper cars to coachbuilt auto bodies, George Mortimer Pullman quite literally defined what it means to travel in style. Mercedes took a special liking to Mr. Pullman’s finishes and eventually contracted the company to make ultra-exclusive coachbuilt variants of their 1920s and 30s automobiles. It was the beginning of a long-lasting relationship that still exists to this day. In 1963, Mercedes-Benz introduced the 600 series (W-100), also known as Grosse Mercedes (Grand Mercedes) or simply The Grosser, a car that redefined luxury limousines the same way Porsche 911 redefined sports cars. The world had never seen a car so grand, so sophisticated and so expensive. It was built without cost consideration. Every single one of the 2,677 units were hand-built by craftsmen to the highest level of quality often times with special, custom features for some of the most important people in the world. It was the most expensive production car at the time but that did not deter buyers from opening their wallets. In fact, it instantly became the car of choice among heads of states, royalty, celebrities and even dictators. Famous owners included The Pope, John Lennon, King Khalid of Saudi Arabia, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il and Mao Zedong. Even Elvis traveled in a Pullman Mercedes!
The Grosser came in 2 versions – Saloons (short wheelbase) and Pullmans (long wheelbase). A number of Pullmans, known as Landaulets, featured convertible tops allowing their passengers be seen when the occasion calls for it such as during military parades. A highly sophisticated hydraulic system running at 2,000 psi pressure powers everything from windows control to door locks in absolute silence. Its air suspension delivered an unparalleled ride quality that was so smooth, it was like riding an ultra-plush, modern railcar across country.
The car on offer here, a 1965 Mercedes-Benz 600 LWB Pullman, Chassis #1001412000165 was first delivered to Automotive Limited Hong Kong, China on February 17th, 1965. This company was related to Zung Fu, the official Mercedes Benz dealer for Hong Kong and China, which was founded in 1938. Hong Kong was a thriving trading hub under the British rule in 1965 and China imported almost all its foreign goods through this port. The Grosser sold new to military commander, spokesman for Chairman Mao Zedong and one of the ten founding fathers of modern China- Chen Yi. When he moved to Paris in 1919, he met Deng Xiaoping, later to be regarded as the Architect of Modern China. Deng was working at the Renault factory’s labor union at the time. Returning to China in 1922, following his expulsion after participating in a mass protest, Chen joined the Communist Party. He steadily rose through the ranks, becoming the first Mayor of Shanghai in 1949. He was further promoted to Vice Premier in 1954 and ultimately became China’s Foreign Minister in 1958. He was one of the most prolific and well-traveled statesmen, often sporting a white suit and sunglasses during his visits abroad. His entrance to international politics is marked by his appearance on the cover of TIME Magazine (26 February 1965 Edition) under the headline “The Enemy in Asia – Red China’s Foreign Minister Chen Yi”.
Upon its arrival in Hong Kong, Chen’s Grosser was immediately loaded onto a train destined for Shanghai. Once there, it was used by Chen Yi and reportedly also used by Mao Zedong during his visits to Shanghai. Cultural Revolution broke out just over a year later and Chen was accused of disloyalty and came under investigation in Feb 1967. His innocence was eventually proven and his position reinstated in 1969. Nonetheless, his Grosser fell into the hands of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), one of the “Big Four” state-owned Chinese Automakers. It remains a matter of debate on how this Grosser came into Chinese ownership in the first place. Was it a secret gift from the West Germany government as a good-faith gesture in opening trade talks? Or did the Chinese order it with the intention of conducting reverse engineering on one of the world’s most advanced automobiles at the time to help develop its own limousines?
As the story goes, this car was reportedly used as a base for the design and manufacturing of Hongqi (literally translates as Red Flag, which was fitting, seeing as it had flags sticking out of the bonnet), China’s first luxury limousine used exclusively by high-ranking government officials. During the Cultural Revolution, the Grosser was put into long term storage until it was discovered in the 90s by Hans Luwich, a German engineer working for Volkswagen Shanghai (a SAIC subsidiary). Luwich acquired the car and exported it to Germany in 1993. It was featured in Germany’s leading motoring magazine Autobild. A collector in the Netherlands purchased the car from Luwich before the current owner’s acquisition in 2014. The current owner brought the car back to Hong Kong until its shipment to Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Los Angeles in the summer of 2018 where it received a full service.
Today, the car remains in highly original, unrestored condition with light patina in all of the right places. The opportunity to own a Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman is extremely rare, but one that comes with such a fascinating piece of history in Sino-German diplomacy is truly an opportunity of a lifetime.
body and paint
This Mercedes is believed to have had 1 repaint in its life and is currently finished in its original colors. Upon delivery to our Pontiac Michigan showroom, this car was sent to Finish Touch Auto Spa of Sylvan Lake were it received a thoroughly comprehensive detail to the tune of almost 40 hours spent on the car. Upon returning to us the black paint shows in an absolutely fantastic nature, with a deep dark color and smooth and consistent finish. There are only a few blemishes on the car which is remarkable given its long life and journey to the states. There is a small 1 inch scratch that has been touched up on the passenger side of the car in the area where the hood release from as well as a small rub mark on the passenger side door just above the belt line. The body of the car remains incredibly straight, smooth, and solid especially given the original nature of the vehicle. Panel gaps are tight and consistent throughout the car.
glass and trim
The chrome and brightwork throughout the car appear to be original and present very nicely with only minor pitting and scratching. The aging is consistent throughout the vehicle and compliments the original nature of the car nicely. Rubber trim and seals appear to be aged and original with some cracking and deformation throughout but still show as structurally sound. The windows appear to be largely original, containing their proper Sekurit etchings and showing minor aging and wear consistent with the rest of the vehicle. Likewise, the headlights are in good order but do show their age in the form of some minor clouding and pitting in the glass. Tail light lenses have a few minor scratches but are free of cracking etc.
The polished wheel covers compliment the condition of the rest of the brightwork on the vehicle very well. They present clean and tidy with a smooth and bright surface finish and only minor surface abrasion.
This vehicle is highly original with a believed 1 repaint in the original color. Because of this, it has some imperfections inherent with the nature of originality. Please look carefully through the photos and read the above description for more info on imperfections.
seats and surfaces
The interior of this Mercedes remains remarkably original and as such has some imperfections and patina that come along with the territory. The beautiful wood trim, which is scattered throughout the car, appears to be original and remains in really good condition with some cracking in the clear coat in high wear areas but an overall very nice finish. The main carpets both front and rear appear to have been replaced and are in good condition showing only minimal wear. The seats, headliner, dash, curtains, and headrests all appear to be original to the car and show some patina and lovely aging to them while remaining in relatively good overall condition. The seats show some wear in the form of creasing and some minor cracks and splits in high wear areas. It is also believed that some of the seats were re-dyed at some point in the cars life, however they were completed to a very high caliber. The rear passenger side, forward facing seat, shows some of the heaviest aging with slightly heavier creasing, slight splits along the seams and a small puncture. The front seats also show some heavy creasing, and the passenger side has what appears to be a letter carved into it as well as a small split.
functionality and accessories
The gauges remain in good cosmetic condition with clean, clear, and easily legible faces, and only some minor swirling and scratching on the glass faces. The clear veneer on the wood surrounding the gauges has begun to crack but the wood itself is in good order. The chrome trim surrounding the gauges has some slight pitting but retains great shine and surface finish. All the doors open and close with ease and it appears that all the windows work as they should. Switches and knobs throughout the interior of the car appear to be in solid cosmetic and mechanical condition while showing some signs of their originality in the form of fading color or dirty lettering.
The interior of this vehicle remains in highly original condition. Because of this, it has some imperfections inherent with the nature of originality. Please look carefully through the photos and read the above description for more info on imperfections.
engine bay and trunk
The engine bay was thoroughly detailed while the car was at Finish Touch Auto Spa and presents very nicely with smooth painted surfaces and clean metal finishes. It appears overall very correct with only one or two minor items that are likely incorrect for the age of the car. All hoses, tubes and wiring appear well kept and looked after and there are no cosmetic signs of issues. Tags and stampings all appear to be present and in their correct locations.
The trunk area of the car appears to be solid and shows no signs of any issues. It currently has no carpet or finishing material in it. There is some slight chipping of the black paint but nothing of real concern.
The underside of the car shows as clean and highly original. It was treated to a steam cleaning during its detail to help remove any road dirt accumulation from over the years. The original undercoating is present in places. This particular car lived a relatively easy life while in service and then sat for a while, aiding in the clean and well looked after nature of the underside.
Although we did not carry out thorough testing, it appears that mechanically this Mercedes is in good order. The car starts with ease and settles into a smooth idle. On the road it makes ample and smooth power and does not appear to have any flat spots or stumbles under throttle.
The transmission engages gears smoothly and appears to hold power with ease. There was no excessive jerkiness or odd noises to note.
brakes and suspension
The brakes bring the car to a smooth and controlled stop with no signs of any issues. The suspension feels appropriately tight and compliant. There were no odd noises or road behaviors to note under our brief testing.
The tires appear in good condition. They show plenty of tread and solid but supple sidewalls. They are Hercules brand, white wall tires which were produced in the 7’th week of 2015 according to the DOT stamping.