Our tame racing driver helps kicks off Evans's CarFest motor show...
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Classified ad of the week: Merc W100
50 years ago, the Mercedes 600 ‘Grosser’ - or ‘Big’ in English - was the most expensive car in the world. It was offered with hydraulic windows, hydraulic seats, hydraulic doors, a hydraulic sun roof, and a hydraulic boot lid. There were curtains. And a little window designed specifically to stop the draft messing up your syrup.
This sort of high endery attracted captains of industry, celebrities (Coco Chanel, John Lennon, Elizabeth Taylor, our very own Jeremy Clarkson, and Elvis), and pornographers (Hugh Hefner). But most of all it attracted dictators. Park Chung-hee, Nicolae Ceaușescu, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot, Josip Broz-Tito, Enver Hoxha, Leonid Brezhnev, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-Il, Saddam Hussein, Blofeld out of James Bond and Idi Amin all had one. The former Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos went a step further and bought four, including the super-rare Landaulet, a bullet-proof model and a six-door.
What was so special about the Big, then? It is, in every tiny particular, awesome. It weighs 2.8 tonnes. It’s powered by a Bosch fuel-injected 6.3-litre V8. It rides on air suspension. It has an air-conditioned cocktail cabinet. You can even stiffen up the suspension to 3000psi at the flick of a switch. These are the sorts of things you’d be lucky to find in a limo today, so just imagine the reaction when it launched in 1963, a year when car showrooms were filled with Morris Minors and the Vauxhall Viva was a hot new model.
So, this one. It’s Number 0505 of 2,677 built and has had just three owners from new. It was first registered in Portland, Oregon, had two owners there, then found its way to Dublin, Ireland. Finished in white grey with blue leather, it’s got less than 70,000 on the clock and a full service history. Worried about getting it home? It’s only 30km from Dublin Airport…
So, how much? £39,000.