Name: 1972 Mercedes-Benz 600
Year(s) Produced: 1964-1981
Number Built: 2,677
Class: Luxury car
Body Type: 4-door limousine
Engine: 387.3 cui, Daimler-Benz M 100 6.3
Power: 360hp @ 4600 RPM
0-60mph: 9.3 seconds
Top Speed: 126 mph
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Length/width/height: 218.1 in./ 76.8 in./ 58.5 in.
Wheelbase: 126 in.
Base Price: US$61,000 (NADA)
Highest Price: US$160,500 (Hagerty)
Jack Nicholson is without a doubt, Hollywood’s most successful actor of his generation. Considered as the most nominated male actor in the academy’s history, this iconic actor can easily pick any vehicle for his ride. Instead, the apple of his eyes turned out to be a car that was ‘built for the Devil’. That can be a misnomer though, because the car in question is far from being grotesque or hellishly repugnant, but more of a heavenly gift that only a few chosen people may enjoy. It was a completely lovely experience when Nicholson first drove it at the set of the 1987 film, ‘The Witches of Eastwick’.
Now at nearly 79, Nicholson is still convinced that his Mercedes-Benz 600 is as close as to car heaven that anyone can get. Even after 30 years, he still considers it as the best touring car of all time. Well, there is nothing really mysterious or mystical about why the Mercedes stands out for good ‘ol Jack, but in case you want to know, here are some of the things that you may want to know about this ‘wicked’ ride.
Other than Jack Nicholson and other high-profile celebrities, the Mercedes-Benz 600 is also the choice of ride of a bunch of dictatorial sociopaths who didn’t mind committing genocide.
For such a long time, the MB 600 was considered as the most luxurious car on the planet. So it will not come as a surprise if power-hungry sociopaths with a narcissistic flare will consider this as their ‘ride-that-will-ran-over-you-and-I-don’t-give-a-damn’ choice of travel. Names such as Leonid Brezhnev, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, Mao Tse Tung, Irish leader Éamon de Valera, Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Korean dingbats Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, and Ferdinand Marcos comes to mind when you pair up this Mercedes with people who wields such influence and authority.
The 600’s legendary hydraulic system is highly advanced for its time.
With an impressive ‘centralized’ hydraulics that controls the power functions of the 600 – from the reclining rear seats to the sunroof – it is kind of absurd, if not outrageous to consider how remarkably complex and frighteningly durable this car is.
If not ‘properly’ pressed, the 600’s $11,200 window can literally chop your arm off.
The windows of the MB 600 is operated by a variable-rate switch that is pressure sensitive. Slamming the switch shuts the window fast enough that it makes a sound similar to a cleaver striking a chopping block. You definitely don’t want to mess with that switch.
Advanced as it is, you can easily break the 600’s trunk hinges using your bare hands.
Yes, that’s right: This car is so fancy you can break the trunk by trying to close it yourself. But really, who expects to close a lid with their hands, anyway? Not if you’re on the list of one of top 2,000 richest guys on the planet that owns an MB 600.
Its designer has a very impressive resume that any car designer will envy.
Paul Bracq, the 600’s designer, acquired his degree from the École Boulle, the famous art and design school in Paris. In 1957, he became chief of Mercedes-Benz’s advanced design studio and was credited for the 1960s “Pagoda” SL the W108/109, W111, and W114/115 sedans. Bracq was also chief of BMW design from 1970 to 1974, Peugeot’s lead interior designer for more than two decades, and currently a world-renowned painter residing in France.
Its front suspension is shared with no other Mercedes model of its time.
Where other Mercedes-Benzes used a service-intensive and wear-prone kingpin setup, the 600 featured front uprights located by ball joints unique of its own.
The 600 is virtually indestructible built out of industrial-grade chassis.
Because of the relatively large mass and the construction of the car, the 600’s plain chassis was stiffer as compared to the rest of its sedan siblings 300. Strict quality control played a large part as well when every piece of the 600’s interior and exterior trims are custom handmade and finished.
The 600’s twin-tone horn is like Jekyll and Hyde, depending on how you turn it.
Press the rocker switch one way and you have a mild-mannered horn that doesn’t stand out from the crowd. But turn it the other way around and you’ll have a thunder-like boom that can turn the Hulk greener from embarrassment.
The parking brake is magic. As is the cowl vent, the trunk-mounted hydraulic spares kit, and just about everything else.
The footwell-mounted parking brake releases automatically when you put the car into drive or reverse. If this doesn’t sound impressive, try that in your ’63 Chevy.
You could have a 600 built whichever way you wanted.
Before production of the MB 600 was discontinued by 1981, a total of 2,677 builds were rolled out and from this number came various customized models such as the famous Pullman model, standard four-doors, six-door jump-seat models, convertible Landaulets, armored models, and one with a high roof designed for the Pope.
Nicholson’s Mercdes-Benz 600 is recently showcased in the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles where it once joined a Petrolicious rally last November travelling from Malibu through Ventura County and back to Paramount Ranch.