The 600 – often also known as the “Big Mercedes” – is a spectacular car per se, but the Pullman version with its extended wheelbase and a total length of 6.24 meters is even more imposing and offers unparalleled comfort for those lucky enough to be able to ride in it. Only the best was – just about – good enough for Hugh Hefner: He owned the legendary Playboy mansion (a huge 2,000 sqm, 29-room villa in Los Angeles), a private jet and a host of luxury and sports cars …. and he enjoyed being chauffeured around in a Mercedes-Benz 600.
Sporting the production number 00005, the 600 recently restored by Kienle Automobiltechnik was one of the first ones to be shipped to the USA. In 1967 Hefner had the luxury limousine registered in the name of his firm, HMH Publishing Company. The car was purchased by a major US hotel chain in the hope of having it restored in America, but the plan failed because no-one had the necessary know-how.
So it fell to Kienle to complete the work. No less than six “Big Mercedes” specialists set to work on the car in Kienle’s no. 2 works, purpose-built to accommodate the 600s, the big V8 Mercedes limousines, the SLRs and the Maybach models, and it took them around 4,000 hours to return the Hefner 600 to factory condition.
In future select VIP hotel guests will be able to luxuriate in the special comforts of the Hefner 600: Thanks to the long wheelbase of 3,900 mm (!!) and the perfectly adjusted air suspension, the chassis irons out all the bumps in the road – even modern-day luxury cars can hardly match the 600 in terms of (driving) comfort. Washboard road surfaces, potholes and railway crossings may have other cars stuttering, shuddering and jangling, but the 600 seems to literally glide gracefully over them all. There’s no pitching and rolling to disturb passengers’ enjoyment as they lean back and leaf through their copy of the Playboy. With the dividing window between the passenger compartment and the cockpit closed, it’s only a keen ear that can hear any engine noise at all, and if it’s real relaxation you’re after, you can press a button and the back seat will noiselessly recline, allowing you to stretch out your legs into the footwell’s sheer endless depths.
Give the driver a sign to put his foot down, and you’ll soon feel the temperament of the approx. 2.7 tonne, 6.24 meter long giant: The 250 hp 6.3 litre V8 accelerates the Mercedes flagship from 0 to 100 in just 9.7 seconds …. and it has a top speed of 205 km/h. During its construction era (1964 to 1981) the only cars that could match the 600 in terms of temperament and spirited handling were sports cars like the SL from the pagoda series.
Hugh Hefner, whose favourite outfit was a deep red dressing gown atop black silk pyjamas and who liked to wear a white captain’s hat for the photographers, died at the age of 91 almost exactly one year ago, on 27 September 2017. He was laid to rest in a burial chamber next to that of Marilyn Monroe in Los Angeles. Were he still alive today, the car fan would have taken great pleasure in this perfectly restored luxury liner