Look at all the screaming, crying seniors and young children waving the papal flag as the Popemobile passes! They are jumping up and down like mad as the Pope waves and rolls down the crowded streets of Amelia Island, Florida! Well, not quite, but as the 125 year anniversary celebration of the invention of the automobile continues for Mercedes-Benz the 1965 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman landaulet built specially for Pope Paul VI will roll into the Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on March 11-13, 2011.
And though the religious faithful may have long gone from the flank of this particular Mercedes, the MB faithful will be out in force to view this car. The historic vehicle is making its first appearance on U.S. soil at Amelia Island and is part of a featured Class of Mercedes-Benz 600 vehicles on display during the automotive event, which features nearly 250 rare vehicles.
The Benz 600 Pullman landaulet was originally presented in September 1963 at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany, and quickly became the vehicle to have among Europe’s wealthy elite. Weighing in at nearly 5,000 pounds, the 600 featured a number of technological advances for the day and was equipped with Mercedes-Benz’s first ever V-8 that could reach 0-100 km/h (kilometers per hour) in an impressive 10 seconds – similar performance to many of the sports cars of the period.
Specially customized for the Pope, this Benz was constructed with an individual seat for the pontiff that could be raised and lowered during the car’s procession through crowded streets. An elevated roof, extended rear doors, and raised floor were fitted along with other special equipment such as bulletproof glass. Over two decades, the car was used by three popes and was returned to Mercedes-Benz’s Stuttgart, Germany headquarters in 1985. It comes to Amelia courtesy of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, where it is one of many famous and priceless cars in its collection.
The 600’s basic equipment package was far above anything offered at the time and included air suspension, power brakes, central locking systems and an electronic heating and air conditioning system. With the numerous body designs and interior features to choose from, no two 600s were alike which ensured exclusivity for the owner. This was especially true for the owners of Pullman limousines and landaulets. The last 600 rolled off the assembly line in summer 1981 and during its 17-year production run, 2,677 were built of which 428 were Pullman limousines and 59 were landaulets.
“We are deeply indebted to the people at Mercedes-Benz for agreeing to send us the Pope’s personal 600,” says Bill Warner, Concours founder and co-chairman. “It has never been seen here in the United States and it makes a statement worthy of the Pope’s status around the world. It is an incredible vehicle and a true showcase for Mercedes-Benz workmanship and advanced technological thinking.”
The Amelia Island Councours is one of the premier Concours on the East Coast. We love the fact that since 1996, the show’s Foundation has donated nearly $1.7 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc. and other deserving charities. The 2011 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will be held March 11-13 on the at The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach. www.ameliaconcours.org