In 2000, shortly before the ill-fated revival of the Maybach brand into a gauche purveyor of S-Class Baroque Editions, the 12-cylinder S 600 resided at the top of the Mercedes-Benz model hierarchy. This example in particular was ordered with a unique feature at the behest of a very well-heeled original owner.
We’ve covered an older S-Class recently, in the stunning 560 SEC. Between that Teutonic square and today’s more… organic S-Class was the enormous W140 generation. I’ll find one of those for another Rare Rides entry; today we’re all about W220.
The W220 had a long development time, as Mercedes started the project in 1992 right as the W140 was released. Work progressed in an organized fashion, and though the W220 debuted for model-year 1999 around the world (2000 in North America), the design was approved in June 1995 and finalized in March of 1996. W220 ran through 2005 globally but stretched to 2006 within North America.
Compared to the W140, the W220 was smaller in exterior size and much less square. More efficient space usage meant passenger space inside was improved over the outgoing model. Two different wheelbases were available as in S-Class sedans of the past: Standard sedans used a 116.7-inch wheelbase, while long-wheelbase versions were 121.5 inches.
Engines varied by region and were especially different between the North American and European markets. At the bottom end (and not offered in the US) was a 2.8-liter V6. Six-cylinder power increased in displacement to 3.7 liters, at which point a jump in price granted a V8. V8 power started at 4.3 liters and topped out at a 5.4-liter mill with a supercharger. Top of the line were the V12 options, of 5.5-, 5.8-, 6.0-, and 6.3-liters displacement. A couple of those had a twin-turbo variant, in case a naturally aspirated V12 sounded boring. There were also two diesels. All transmissions were automatic and of five or seven forward speeds. Let’s talk 600.
The S 600 was the most powerful S-Class sedan which was not a special AMG version. Standard power on the S 600 between 1998 and 2002 was the 5.8-liter V12, which was swapped out for 2003-2005 run with a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V12 instead. In the initial offering, 362 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque resided beneath the driver’s right foot. All examples were long-wheelbase and stood out from other, lesser S-Class sedans with a polished chrome wheel design only available on V12 versions.
There were two factory Designo editions for the W220, which meant an upgraded leather interior, some nicer trim around other places inside, and an Alcantara headliner. Called Silver and Espresso, they were available in either silver or black paint. But the original owner of today’s 600 wanted a Designo all their own. Upgraded leather and a silver or black car did not appeal. Navy blue paint was ordered instead, and that ever garish ruched leather was replaced with a fine, quiet beige velour. The ruching was retained, like an homage to Buicks of yore.
I’d like to tell you more about today’s Rare Ride (like the asking price), but as of writing the link to the listing is no longer working. Nevertheless, enjoy the pictures of what was a custom ordered (and likely one of one) S 600 Designo.