Mercedes-Benz at the Techno Classica in Essen 2003

At this year's 15th Techno Classica from April 10 to 13, Mercedes-Benz will be staging a special exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz 600 (W 100).

"Climb in: everything is as before, only completely different." This comment, made not without pride, is attributed to the fathers of the Mercedes-Benz 600 which exuded distinction and luxury in every respect: Chief Engineer Dr. Fritz Nallinger and his team, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, Josef Müller and Karl Wilfert.

The Board of Management of Daimler-Benz AG had given the green light for a 'Grand Mercedes' to serve as a large touring and representative car on June 4, 1955. This car was to represent the capabilities of the best designers, engineers, technicians, stylists, bodybuilders and interior appointment designers – with no regard to costs. Imagination was not just permitted – it was demanded. In this way, the 600 became "the engineers' playground," as Nallinger put it.

And that's how it presented itself to the public: long, broad and commanding respect. The "normal" version of the 600 was 5,450 millimetres long, the Pullman version as much as 6,240 millimetres. The car's width of almost two metres provided space in abundance. Its height of 1,500 millimetres was somewhat baffling in that it was quite low for a limousine of this calibre. But the impression was deceptive: driver and passengers in the 600 experienced a completely new feeling of wellbeing and wide expanse: occupants were able to keep their hats on.

Three of these luxury limousines will be displayed at the Techno Classica: a short-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz 600 (the second unit from the W 100 series to leave the Sindelfingen plant), the state limousine from the Mercedes-Benz Collection and finally the papal car on its first outing from the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim since 1986.

Story and photo: Daimler Chrysler.

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