By on November 20, 2020

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 the 2003-2005 run with a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V12. 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 alloy 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.

[Images: seller]

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38 Comments on “Rare Rides: A 2000 Mercedes-Benz S 600 Designo, Bespoke in Blue...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    With a little help from RockAuto, this beauty could run for another 20 years.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    A V12 and velour seats is utterly glorious, although this would be much flakier than the extremely staid Toyota Century.

    I would also put money on that backdrop having appeared in a W202 brochure at some point, with some young professional on his/her enormous cell phone entering the baby Benz. So, looks period correct, but slightly wrong for an S-class.

  • avatar
    parkave231

    I really wish velour would make a comeback. My first car (yes, a Park Avenue) had grey velour and it held up beautifully and was nice and soft. My second (yes, a second Park Avenue) had leather, and every car I’ve owned since, and it just doesn’t seem to last as long and loses some pliability after six or seven years.

    I would drape myself in velour if it were socially acceptable. (Close enough.)

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    According to Cargurus there 4 such beasts for sale in the US at anywhere from $8-$10K. Are you feeling lucky enough to pull the trigger on such a vehicle in hopes it will run long enough before you have to take out a 2nd mortgage to fix something?

    I’ve never been that lucky. A beautiful automobile that would keep me awake at night wondering if tomorrow will be the day that something goes horribly wrong

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      There’s just not much excitement when it comes to the W220. $15K will get you into an okay W126 or W221 and that’s where most people would end up going I think. Although it isn’t a Corolla I’ve read that keeping a W221 on the road is somewhat reasonable and a W126 is basically a “classic” at this point.

      • 0 avatar

        Sort of wondering if the W220 will just be a singular generation that never becomes a classic. It doesn’t have the looks of presence of the before or after versions, and the complex tech will take them off the roads.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I’d say yes. The W220 S-class and the W203 C-Class Mercedes seem to be nearly universally unloved. Whether you are a connoisseur or a low-budget gambler there are just way better options for buyers.

          The only thing that’ll really save it is value appreciation of the prior or future generations and that takes a long time to happen on luxury cars.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          Styling wise the W220 reminds me of a large Acura RL. They seem to be less Autobahn cruiser and vault like than the W126 and W140.
          You see plenty of decent ones reasonably priced but key up your Rock Auto account.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            “ They seem to be less Autobahn cruiser and vault like than the W126 and W140.”

            They were. Mercedes-Benz cost-cut the shit out of these W220s in terms of build quality, and made up for it with prototype-grade tech, like the infamous ABC system. This is why the Maybach 57 and 62 were on the W140 architecture, and not that of the W220.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            @Kyree, every time I think I’m over my S-Class obsession you fan the embers back into life.

            Have you had a W140? How bad was it on parts?

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            Before I purchased my 2018 Dodge Challenger GT I had considered a C208 or C207 CLK. 320 or 430. You can find nice clean ones even in AMG trim for the price of a pre owned Camry. Then you do some research and you find the have their issues. Everything from electrical gremlins to HVAC and timing chain issues. The MB cost cutting era. Then when I said pass. I’m sure my local German Autohaus was also disappointed.
            As I speak theres a very clean low mileage 2001 CLK 430 with the AMG wheels on CL in the NYC area for $5,500.
            At least with the Challenger you’re getting the Mercedes lineage without the issues.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I think these are MUCH more attractive cars than the W140s.

          I don’t have much use for a giant four door cruise barge though, and if I did, the utter stealthness of a Phaeton holds much more appeal to me.

          I am certainly not afraid of running any of these cars. The $100K+ discount for a really nice used one vs. a new one pays for a LOT of parts and repairs, and given how little I drive and how many cars I have it would likely be just fine.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      It might be a good candidate for an electric motor crate conversion. There are some kits starting to come onto the market. An old v-12 might be a good candidate.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    From memory, the 2.8 V6 S280 was exclusive to right-hand-drive markets with high engine displacement taxes. In Europe it was probably only offered in the United Kingdom, Malta and Cyprus.

    There was always a base S-Klasse. In the early 1980s the famous W126 had the base carbureted 280S, which was sold in developing markets in which local technicians could still fix a carburetor but were hopeless with fuel injection. The massive W140 also featured a 2.8-l motor (an inline-six, I believe), which again was only sold in right-hand-drive markets.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    pretty well known that japanese do not like leather, because of potential farty sounds.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Actually, it’s because those who work in slaughterhouses have traditionally been considered the lowest class of people, doing the least desirable type of work, and leather is a product of the slaughterhouses.
      They don’t share the value that the West puts on cow skin.
      On the other hand, the cloth seats in Japanese cars tend to last much longer than leather does, so maybe they have a point.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I once rode in the back seat of one of these. With the back seat reclined and the front seat set for a 6’1″ me to be comfortable, I couldn’t touch the headrest of the front seat without leaning forward out of the seat. Pretty sweet.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    “the lane-keep assist acts with an aggressiveness usually only shown by car salespeople at month’s end, and at least once it misread the lane lines and tried to send me into the curb.” Unacceptable and unforgiveable. Absolute fail. As I commented yesterday, under Perils of Driver Disengagement, this is an example of an “aid” that makes an otherwise excellent vehicle less desirable than its predecessor.

  • avatar
    JGlanton

    With 24 sparkplugs at $100 each at the next tuneup, you’d have to pay ME to take that S600 off your hands.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      I get that, but at the same time, a v12 isn’t for chums, is it now?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Rockauto sez more like $2 each…

      The most expensive coils are $95ea, but there are options down to $25ea.

      These cars aren’t cheap to keep by any means, but they aren’t really ruinous considering what they cost new. I would think that assuming modest annual mileage as a second car you could easily drive one for less than the monthly payment on a Corolla. Some years would hurt, but some years would be nearly free too. Being able to DIY and/or having a GOOD, reasonably priced MB indie mechanic would be key, of course. Go the dealer at your wallet’s peril. Also key is buying the right one in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      They are 100 bucks each only if you let the dealership install them.
      They would be about 95% cheaper to order them online.

  • avatar

    This car was popular among a$$holes in Russia. Does Alcantara come from the same region as the Corinthian leather

  • avatar
    lstanley

    Sometime in far future this car will be the main attraction at Demolition Man type “Museum of the Past” in San Angeles where the great great grandchildren of the last of those who remember how to drive gasoline vehicles will marvel at its velour opulence and non-white color.

    They’ll also have a story about how grandpas neighbor knows a guy who had one let them drive it around the block once, at night, before the drone police could find them.

    Be well.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    Sometime in far future this car will be the main attraction at Demolition Man type “Museum of the Past” in San Angeles where the great great grandchildren of the last of those who remember how to drive gasoline vehicles will marvel at its velour opulence and non-white color.

    They’ll also have a story about how grandpas neighbor knows a guy who had one let them drive it around the block once, at night, before the drone police could find them.

    Be well.

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