Absolute exclusivity: modern Pullman limousines from Mercedes-Benz, 1956 to 2008

  • Initially custom-made designs for the Federal Government and the Pope
  • Soon available with integrated special protection on request
  • 2008: Mercedes-Benz S 600 Pullman Guard
The Second World War and its aftermath resulted in a break with the tradition of representational Pullman limousines. By the time the economic recovery was finally under way, there had been a fundamental shift in design technology for passenger cars: modern cars were now built with self-supporting bodies. This made individual variations in body design incomparably more difficult than in the days of the independent bodybuilder, so that the range of vehicle variants was reduced to just a few versions.
Initially, this was also the case with the 300 model, the first luxury limousine built by Mercedes-Benz after the Second World War – although this continued to follow the traditional concept of chassis and separate body.
In fact, this elegant vehicle, which was launched in 1951 and quickly earned the name “Adenauer-Mercedes”, was never available as a Pullman limousine. But then in 1956 came an extra-long special version of the third model series, the 300 c (W 186), introduced in autumn 1955, at the request of West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. This version was equipped with a sliding roof and partition wall, and the wheelbase was a full ten centimetres longer – this would become the hallmark of the modern Pullman limousine for state dignitaries and official engagements. But it was not officially designated a Pullman, not even when the special version was included in the regular sales range in June 1956.
Pullman versions as custom-made models for the Pope and the Federal German government
The Mercedes-Benz Pullman limousine finally appeared with its present-day characteristics in 1960 as a trio of 300 d (W 189) special production versions. Derived from the fourth series of the “Adenauer-Mercedes”, these variants (a limousine and two landaulets) had a 3600-millimetre wheelbase in place of the standard 3150 millimetres. A raised roof further emphasised the exclusive character of the individual vehicles.
The Pullman limousine and one of the Pullman landaulets remained at
Mercedes-Benz; the other landaulet with lavish appointments was delivered to the Vatican as a new chauffeur-driven limousine for the Pope. The two Stuttgart vehicles were leased to the German government or other interested parties for special occasions.
The quintessential Pullman limousine: the Mercedes-Benz 600 model
The first new-style Pullman production version supplied by Mercedes-Benz was the 600 model. With this vehicle, the German carmaker set standards for prestigious state limousines that hold to this day: what rendered the Mercedes-Benz 600 (W 100) distinctive were its technical innovations, elegant lines and high exclusivity. This was particularly true of the Pullman versions of the limousine and landaulet, which had a 3900-millimetre wheelbase instead of 3200 millimetres. The 250 hp (184 kW) V8
M 100 engine ensured the Pullman variants enjoyed a respectable top speed of
200 km/h.
With the introduction of the Pullman variant of the 600 one also became aware of the increased security requirements demanded by top politicians and business leaders. In addition to being offered as a version with regular wheelbase, the Pullman limousine could also be ordered as a special protection version. In 1965 and 1980 two copies of a very special armoured version of the Pullman limousine were built, identifiable by a slightly higher roof. These two cars remained part of the plant car pool and were available for hire on appropriate occasions.
Integrated protection from the factory only on request
Mercedes-Benz made systematic use of its in-depth knowledge of integrated special protection over the next few years to develop protection technology for state limousines. The downside here was the enormous weight of the vehicles: the Pullman limousine version of the 600 model weighed almost two tonnes more than the production version. At an earlier date, the additional weight would have been even greater. Mercedes-Benz offered the Pullman version of the 600 model as a limousine with four or six doors, as well as a landaulet with four or six doors. Depending on the arrangement of the seats, this vehicle design offered enough room for seven or eight passengers. The standard version is the four-door model with facing rear seats. In 1965, a landaulet with this arrangement was extensively converted to operate as a new papal vehicle. In addition to the individual seats in the rear, its special features included a raised roof, extended rear doors that were flush with the front doors, and a raised floor in the rear to avoid interference from the transmission tunnel.
Pullman-limousines based on the- 109 and 126 series
In addition to the benchmark-setting Pullman variant of the 600 model, a number of special production models were also created by Mercedes-Benz on the basis of the premium class 109 and 126 series. First, in 1967 two Pullman limousines were built for the Vatican based on the 300 SEL from the 109 series and featuring a wheelbase lengthened by 650 millimetres. These cars were primarily intended for chauffeuring distinguished guests, less for representational purposes such as the traditional papal cars with their single rear seat.
In 1983 and 1985 two further Pullman limousines were built – this time on the basis of the 500 SEL from the 126 series. Here the wheelbase was lengthened by 200 millimetres and the roof height raised by 30 millimetres. The first of these, which was completed in January 1983, added a further luxury limousine to the corporate fleet. The second car was built to Vatican specifications for the Holy Father, and was presented to Pope John Paul II in August 1985. Both Pullman limousines were manufactured as special protection versions.
Return to production: Pullman version of the S-Class 140 series
In September 1995 Mercedes-Benz once again unveiled a production Pullman limousine. The S 600 Pullman was initially developed as a state limousine with special protection technology. The wheelbase of this impressive vehicle measured 4140 millimetres, exactly one metre longer than the standard S 600 with long wheelbase. In line with the principle of the Pullman limousine, the extra length was solely for the benefit of the rear passengers, who were comfortably seated on vis-à-vis seats and could segregate the rear compartment from the driver’s area by means of a sliding partition.
Whereas the special protection versions of representational vehicles were based on the standard designs, the traditional development stages were turned on their head with the Pullman versions of the W 140 series. Here the engineers derived the non-armoured S 500 Pullman limousine and S 600 Pullman limousine models from the top-of-the-range model with special protection. Both models were unveiled in the summer of 1996. All three variants of the Pullman limousine based on the S-Class
140 series were built up until the year 2000.
The weight of the vehicle gave an impression of the scope of the special protection measures fitted to the S 600 Pullman: whereas the armoured vehicle presented in 1995 weighed in at a hefty 4.4 tonnes, the standard version of the 6.2-metre-long state limousine was a comparatively light 2.7 tonnes. In developing this exceptional vehicle, engineers also paid special attention to chassis detail. This permitted much higher maximum speeds to be achieved than in the earlier special protection vehicles: while the armoured Pullman limousine could reach speeds up to 160 km/h, the non-armoured version had a top speed of 210 km/h.
The state limousine for the new millennium: the S-Class VV 220
The Pullman variant of the W 220 series (VV 220) was unveiled in autumn 2001. Compared with the long version, its wheelbase was extended by one metre, to 4085 millimetres. The extra space was enjoyed by the passengers in the rear, where the seats were in a vis-à-vis arrangement. The Pullman was available with the five-litre, eight-cylinder engine (225 kW/306 hp), or with the six-litre V12 engine (270 kW/367 hp).
The basis for the vehicle was a reinforced body shell and a modified chassis. The
S 600 Pullman Guard state limousine with B6/B7 special protection, which rounded off the very top of the Mercedes-Benz luxury range in 2004, also adopted this concept in typical special protection tradition, since the best and most effective way of integrating the protective elements into a vehicle is if the conversion takes place during the body construction phase.
In true Mercedes-Benz tradition: the S 600 Pullman Guard
The new state limousine from Mercedes-Benz, which will be unveiled in the autumn of 2008, is to combine the brand’s Pullman tradition with innovations in the current
S-Class W 221 series. The S 600, the current Mercedes-Benz flagship model, featuring a twelve-cylinder, bi-turbo engine, was the technical basis for the new Pullman limousine. The engineers developed a new chassis and body from scratch in order to guarantee permanent overall stability with the extra-long wheelbase. After all, the combination of special protection technology and long wheelbase will mean the vehicle will be exceptionally heavy.
The special features of the S 600 Pullman Guard include a rear entrance with increased headroom, a partition separating the rear compartment from the chauffeur and classic vis-à-vis seating for four passengers. This latest state limousine from the world’s oldest carmaker continues the proud tradition of the legendary Mercedes-Benz 600. But the Mercedes-Benz philosophy of always striving to produce better vehicles also firmly anchors its new flagship model in the overall history of the Mercedes-Benz Pullman.
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    Majestic tradition: Mercedes-Benz Pullman limousines from the W 220, 140 and 100 series (from right).
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    State limousines with a history: Mercedes-Benz Pullman vehicles from the W 220, 140 and 100 series, and a Pullman limousine from the pre-war era.
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    Successful reinterpretation: the Mercedes-Benz S 600 Pullman Guard from the W 221 series was built from 2008 on.
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    A grandiose backdrop for a truly great car: the new Mercedes-Benz S 600 Pullman Guard (W 221 series).
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    The embodiment of the official limousine until well into the 1980s: the Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman (W 100 series).
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    Individual production for the Pope: in 1967 the Vatican took delivery of two 300 SEL Pullman limousines (W 109 series) with long wheelbase and extended rear doors.
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    More room, more technology: Mercedes-Benz S 600 Pullman (W 220 series) with innovative multimedia system.
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    Four facing single seats: the interior of a Mercedes-Benz S 600 Pullman (W 220 series) with “vis-à-vis” seats.
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    Trip to Italy by state limousine: Mercedes-Benz S-Class Pullman limousines (W 220 series) in a group photo.
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    Third generation: Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman limousine (W 100 series) and the Pullman limousine from the W 140 series.
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    Strong protection and extra-long wheelbase: the Mercedes-Benz S 600 long Pullman from the W 140 series was initially offered only as a special protection version.
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    Manufacture of state limousines: assembly of a Mercedes-Benz Pullman limousine from the W 220 series.
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    Even more room: the shell of this Mercedes-Benz S 600 Pullman from the W 220 series gives an idea of its final dimensions.
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    Detailed work on the Pullman chassis (W 220 series): the state limousine with extra-long wheelbase was brought to engineering perfection.