Rare Rides: A 2000 Mercedes-Benz S 600 Designo, Bespoke in Blue

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Lstanley Lstanley on Nov 23, 2020

    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.

  • Lstanley Lstanley on Nov 23, 2020

    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.

  • ToolGuy First picture: I realize that opinions vary on the height of modern trucks, but that entry door on the building is 80 inches tall and hits just below the headlights. Does anyone really believe this is reasonable?Second picture: I do not believe that is a good parking spot to be able to access the bed storage. More specifically, how do you plan to unload topsoil with the truck parked like that? Maybe you kids are taller than me.
  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
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