Following my previous article on the 600 Sedan and Pullman I now devote attention to the most extravagant and rare version of the 600, the open topped Pullman Landaulet.
A silver-beige example with a burgundy coloured roof… so elegant.
In the carriage era, a landau was an open carriage. A landaulet retained the rear portion of a landau’s open top.
Only 58 Pullman Landaulets were constructed. There was also one landaulet produced on a non Pullman (presumed shorter Limousine body). This represents ony 3% of 600 series production. All were constructed on the lengthened Pullman chassis. It took 91 days to construct a Pullman Landaulet, compared to 50 days for a short wheel base 600 Sedan.
Pope Paul VI accepting delivery of his specially modified 4 door "long roof" 600 landaulet. Note the single rear seat in velour, rear doors which were 10" wider and directly joined the front doors. The roof was 3’’ taller than in a standard Landaulet. This car is now in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Suttgart.
Mercedes-Benz offered its customers four different Landaulet versions based on this exclusive design: the standard version had four doors, facing rear seats, and a folding top extending as far as the front edges of the rear doors. There was also a special six-door version with a seat bench in the rear and additional fold-out seats facing in the direction of travel. In this variant, as in the six-door Pullman Limousine, the middle doors could also be provided without handles.
32 of the 58 landaulets were 4 door models, 26 were 6 door models.
Both the above Landaulets - the four-door and six-door design - could also be equipped on request with a long convertible top reaching as far as the partition. Circa 17 were long roof models with the fabric roof extending to the partition behind the front seats. These are also referred to as Presidential landaulets.
A stately "short roof" 4 door model in a grand setting. This car lacks the C backwards chrome garnish surrounding the side rear air conditioning outlet.
Long roof Landaulets were favoured by heads of state as it was easier for them to stand up and hold on to a grip near the partition and be seen by crowds as they wended their way through a ceremonial procession.
The 40 or so short roof models, which were more numerous, only had a foldable soft top roof which could be folded to the front edges of the rear door, above the furthest back seat row.
North Korea’s Kim Jon Il displays his 600 "long roof" 4 door landaulet in Pyonyang.
All these versions were based on a long-wheelbase W 100 chassis, but in 1967 a one-off short-wheelbase W 100 landaulet was also produced. The vehicle was commissioned by Count von Berckheim. The ex-racing driver’s Mercedes-Benz 600 combined the handling qualities of a short-wheelbase design with the traditional virtues of the landaulet.
All Landaulets came with an air conditioning outlet above the rear wheel well, usually garnished with a chrome highlight. It was impossible to install outlets at the rear B pillars as was done with the hard roofed Limousine and Pullman 600 variants.
The King of Brunei’s six door "short roof" 6 door landaulet. The middle door has no exterior door handles.
The Landaulet model was not specified in the conventional 600 sales literature of the period. It was a special model available upon application only. Landaulets took 91 days to construct and an official price list was never published.
The Pullman Landaulet was the most expensive version of the 600, more costly than the 600 Sedan or the 600 Pullman. Although I have been unable to confirm this, I suspect that almost all were sold to governments for use by heads of state or politicians, rather than to super wealthy individuals. Most rich individuals would have prefferred the relatively discreet anonymity provided by a 600 Limousine or Pullman The 600 Landaulet was a chauffeur driven car made for a governmental parade or ceremony in the days when security concerns didn’t prevent political figures from appearing in convertibles. The Landaulet became popular with royalty, democratic leaders and dictators of a left or right political persuasion. The exception to this seemed to be Commonwealth nations where adherence to a Rolls-Royce as a ceremonial marque seemed a patriotic and sentimental article of faith. The model seemed particularly popular within the official garages of independent African and Midle Eastern nations, more so those which had French, Portuguese, German or Belgian colonial ties rather than British.
Another rare six door (without exterior handles on the middle door) example in olive green with black velour seats and rear TV aerial.
Ironically, the German Government did not own a Pullman landaulet. It had a long standing arangement with Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart to borrow one for ceremonial occasions when required. One such occasion was when Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain visited Germany in 1965.