I enjoy driving a superfast, exciting Ferrari. But given a free choice, I'd take the Mercedes 600. This car was designed to be the finest automobile ever built in regular production, regardless of cost. You can tell it's something special before you even get inside. An effortless touch of the handle opens the door. And the door helps shut itself - quietly, with hydraulic power.
Inside, it's the feel of the six-way power seat (even the rear seat is adjustable). It's the lavish use of real wood on the dash. It's the way nothing is loose. You don't even see mismatched joints in the rubber moldings. Nothing looks added on; all accessories are built in. The finish is superb.
A look at the drawing will tell you something about the level of engineering in this car. You may be surprised to see that it has air suspension and fuel injection -- items Detroit tried, and dropped. It seems that Mercedes-Benz delights in succeeding, at any cost, where Detroit fails to come up with something at one reliable, salable, and profitable. I put 2,500 miles on the 600. Throughout, everything worked to perfection.
One reason I prefer Mercedes-Benz over Rolls-Royce is the way Stuttgart factory designs everything for itself -- even power steering and automatic transmissions. Rolls-Royce buys its transmissions from General Motors, and its brake system is built under Citroën patents.
If you're a keen driver, you'll like the horn in the 600. For town use, it's not too loud. Flip a switch, and you get a flow-pitch air horn for highway use. Ride too hard? A handle on the steering column adjusts the shock absorbers while you drive. There's no end to its refinements. Even the trunk lid is hydraulically opened and closed. For $21,000, the Mercedes 600 has everything I want in a car.
|Crowded engine compartment is laid out for good access to units that need maintenance, such as distributor and plugs. Borbye jiggles the throttle, linked to both air valve and injection pump.||First thing you notice is the padded steering wheel hub -- common to all Mercedes cars since '59. Two large dials hold speedometer and tachometer. Gauges are supplemented by warning lights.|
|Steady is the word to describe its handling. The 600 doesn't wander in crosswinds, and steering feels the same at 115 m.p.h. as at 75. Despite its locomotive-like weight of 5,425 pounds, it would outdrag the 230SL in a quarter-mile. Ride is firmer than on the U.S.-built luxury cars, noise levels about the same as Cadillac's. Loudest thing in the 600 is clicking of injection pump. Clock is absolutely noiseless.|
|Text by JAN P. NORBYE / PS Automotive Editor
Reprinted from Popular Science, February 1967 pp.76-77