Tag Archives: 600

Der Großer Ultra Luxury – Mercedes Benz 600 SWB

So here is a little teaser question to start the week, what do American actor Jack Nicholson, Cambodian totalitarian dictator Pol Pot and Colombian drug dealer Pablo Escobar all have in common ? Answer at the end of this blog.

In order to compete with Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Cadillac, Lehmann-Peterson stretched Lincolns and the Chrysler Imperial Crown Ghia in the Ultra Luxury market segment Mercedes Benz built the 600 also known as “Der Großer” which was launched in September 1963.

Mercedes Benz 600 SWB, Brooklands Double Twelve

Since the biggest Mercedes Benz 3 litre 183 cui was never going to be up to the job of propelling this heavy weight, Mercedes Benz developed it’s first V8 engine, featuring single overhead cam shafts, with a capacity of 6289 cc / 383cui that produced 250hp.

To ensure the silent operation of the air conditioning, power window’s, sunroof, seats, auto door and boot/trunk closure and the suspension damping Mercedes Benz eschewed complex electrics and developed a complex hydraulic system that operates at a nominal 3200 psi, all well and good until it develops a leak and or the system gets refilled with synthetic automatic transmission oil, which eats the all rubber seals, instead of the correct mineral based oil.

Mercedes Benz 600 SWB, Brooklands Double Twelve

The windows are hydraulically activated by door switches that have a variable rate of closure depending on how hard one presses the switch, whack it inadvertently and someone could loose an arm, similarly if one touches the open boot/trunk lid it will close automatically, try and push it shut and one will likely as not break the hinges.

To keep ones hydraulics in order Mercedes Benz thoughtfully equipped the car with a hydraulic spares kit that contains brass spacers to keep the power seats from collapsing in the event of hydraulic system failure, three hydraulic blocks, three line connections, a set of hydraulic line plugs and clips, four wooden wedges to insert in to the window channels to keep the windows up, a spare hydraulic flex line, an oil container and an instruction manual to help you use all of the above correctly.

Mercedes Benz 600 SWB, Brooklands Double Twelve

The design of the 600 is credited to Italian Bruno Sacco, German Friedrich Geiger and Paul Bracq, the latter allegedly helped in the design of 600 pick up and hearse conversions that were built by Karl H. Middlehauve in the United States.

In all 2,677 Mercedes Benz 600’s were built up until 1981 they include; 2,190 Saloons, like the 1965 example seen at Brooklands Double Twelve a couple of years ago in these photographs, 304 4 door Pullmans, 124 6 door Pullmans and 59 Landaullets and 2 Coupé’s one of which was given to Mercedes Benz 300 SLR designer Dr. Rudolf Uhlenhaut upon his retirement.

By now you have probably guessed that Jack Nicholson, Pol Pot and Pablo Escobar have all owned a Mercedes Benz 600, the latters was destroyed in an attack in an attack in 1988 five years before his death. Other entertainers who owned a 600 include; Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon, George Harrison, Karen Carpenter, Elvis Presley and Rowan Atkinson, politicians who owned 600’s include; Josip Broz Tito, Nicolae Ceaușescu, Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, F. W. de Klerk, Leonid Brezhnev, Idi Amin, Fidel Castro, Ferdinand Marcos (times 4 !), Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, Saddam Hussein and Chairman Mao Tse-tung / Zedong, no other drug dealers are recorded as having owned a 600.

Thanks for joining me on this “Der Großer Ultra Luxury” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a vehicle said to be responsible for the cancellation of a rivals model amid accusations of industrial espionage. Don’t forget to come back now !


Twin Rocker Shaft – FIAT Abarth 1000TCR

Between 1955 and 1969 FIAT built 2,695,197 Dante Giacosa designed FIAT 600 models at there Miafiori plant near Turin, further examples were built with a variety of bodies and names at factories in Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Serbia, Spain and Australia.

Supplied initially with a water cooled 4 cylinder inline 633 cc / 38.6 cui motor capable of 59 mph, empty, it was not long before Carlo Abarth set to work building performance parts for the popular Seicento, one thread of Abarths 600 evolutions culminated with the ‘Double Bubble’ FIAT Abarth 750 GT Zagato Coupé complete with 747cc / 45.6 stretched motor that produced 47hp.

FIAT Abarth 1000 TCR, Race Retro, Stoneleigh,

By the end of Sceicento production FIAT had offered the model with 767 cc / 46.8 cui and 843 cc / 51.4 cui motors, while Abarth’s final Seicento iteration using the original FIAT 600 shells was the 1000TCR as featured in today’s blog.

1000TCR’s with a 982 cc / 59.9 cui motor that required a front mounted radiator and oil cooler first appeared in 1969, Rob Dijkstra raced his example to victory in August of that year at Zandvoort and continued to be raced until 1976 particularly in the The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

FIAT Abarth 1000 TCR, Race Retro, Stoneleigh,

Producing 112hp the 1000TCR motor features an Abarth reinforced cast iron block based on the original 600 block rather than the larger factory blocks because the later factory engine blocks made use of a centrifugal oil on the front of the crank which was deemed unsuitable for competition requirements.

Unusually the Abarth’s Radiale 1000TCR cylinder head features separate rocker shafts for the inlet and exhaust valves in the hemispherical combustion chambers, to save weight a magnesium oil sump is used with the exact same oil capacity of the original.

FIAT Abarth 1000 TCR, Race Retro, Stoneleigh,

The operating range of the TCR’s motor is between 6000 and 8000, said to be ear piercing when sat with in a stripped for racing cockpit, rpm.

Note how the engine cover will never close as it was effectively not only aiding cooling by being propped open, but also acting as an aerodynamic aid.

FIAT Abarth 1000 TCR, Race Retro, Stoneleigh,

Today’s featured 1000TCR, seen at Race Retro, belongs to long time Seicento fan and Middle Barton Garage proprietor Tony Castle Miller.

It was built originally as a 1000TC race car 1966 and has been continually updated to include the 1000TCR full glassfibre rear wheel arch extensions and the twin rocker shaft Radiale cylinder head first seen in 1969.

Thanks for joining me on this “Twin Rocker Shaft” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


The Little Car Show 2014 – City of Marina

Today’s post starts with an apology, a couple of years ago I posted a blog called “Continental Curiosities – Carmel By The Sea Concour’s d’Elegance” turns out it should have been called “Continental Curiosities – The Little Car Show City of Marina” or something similar and a little more snappy, I hope you will accept my unreserved apologies for any confusion.

Bantam Convertible Coupé, The Little Car Show, City Of Marina

Today’s post comes courtesy of Geoffrey Horton who kindly forwarded these photographs comes from the 2014 edition of The Little Car Show held last month in the City of Marina. Above a 1940 American Bantam Convertible Coupé also known as the Hollywood a body style apparently penned by Elanor Powell’s Custom Motors stylist Alex Tremulis.

Crosley 2 door Sedan, The Little Car Show, City Of Marina

Not sure of the exact age of this Crosley but the absence of chrome suggests it was built in 1946/7 with the original not terribly reliable copper brazed ‘CoBra’ 4 cylinder motor that was to be replaced by the Cast Iron Block Assenbley ‘CIBA’ in 1949.

BMW Isetta 600, The Little Car Show, City Of Marina

The Isetta was the ultimate version of the BMW 250 Isetta three wheel bubble car built under licence from Iso Rivolta. This 1958 example is powered by a two cylinder BMW motorcycle engine and can accommodate four passengers who enter through it’s single front door.

Enzmann 506, The Little Car Show, City Of Marina

I had not heard of Enzmann before Geoffrey sent me the photograph of the fibre glass bodied 506 model above. The Swiss company named it’s first, only (?) model, based on the floor pan and running gear of a VW Beetle, after the number of the stand it was allocated at the 1957 Frankfurt Motor Show at which the company made it’s first public appearance.

Michelotti Shellette, The Little Car Show, City Of Marina

For those with a private island or private yacht in the Mediterranean in need of occasional transport designer Giovanni Michelotti built the Shellette under his own name in limited numbers. It is believed around 100 of these vehicles with wicker seats and Fiat 850 running gear were built and around 10 are thought to exist today.

FIAT Vignale Garmine, The Little Car Show, City Of Marina

Based on the smaller FIAT 500 is the Viganle Garmine which was a pet project of designer Alfredo Vignale which bankrupted his coachworks business.

Thanks for joining me on this “The Little Car Show 2014″ edition of Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again for Americana Thursday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Ultimate Cars Ultimate Race – Porsche 917K #053

If there is one race I’d love to be able to turn the clock back for in order to attend it would be the 1971 Le Mans 24 hours which for my money was the ultimate road race with the ultimate cars.

Porsche 917K, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

Lined up on the grid were seven Porsche 917’s with a variety of body configurations against 9 Ferrari 512s in both closed M spec, earlier open S Spec and two unique 512’s one from the Penske team which had a large rear wing and the F spec car of Scuderia Filipinetti that had a narrow cockpit built around a Porsche 917 windscreen.

Porsche 917K, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

The race was an uneven contest between the Porsches as the Ferraris suffered from inferior reliability and top speeds were down on the Porsche’s 230 mph plus capabilities. However it was the fastest to be run at the circuit until 2010.

Porsche 917K, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

The winning car chassis #056 seen here at Goodwood Festival of Speed featured a special lightweight magnesium chassis built only for the works supported Porsche Salzburg team much to the annoyance of Porsche’s other works supported team run by John Wyer who’s employees had developed the Porsche body work in short (K Kurz) and long (LH Lang heck) tail forms and shared them freely with all the other teams running 917’s.

Porsche 917K, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

Gils van Lennep and Helmut Marko shared the winning 600 hp 4.9 litre 299 cui aircooled flat 12 powered #22 car which traveled 3,107.7 miles in 24 hours covering 397 laps at an average speed of 138.6 mph the equivalent to five consecutive Coke 600’s !

They beat the next car driven by Richard Attwood, Herbert Muller and Brian Redman in a Gulf Porsche 917 by two laps, 16 miles, and the third finisher the Ferrari of Sam Posey and Tony Adamowicz by 31 laps.

After the race chassis #053 was immediately retired and so has a 100% winning record.

Thanks for joining me on this “Ultimate Cars Ultimate Race” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a 1925 3 litre / 183 cui Bentley. Don’t forget to come back now !


Goat Nimble Variomatic – DAF 600 Luxe

Despite innovations like the worlds first four wheel drive car, a 60 hp Spyker, with a single engine the Dutch motor industry failed to really take off prior to the Second World War.

DAF 600 Luxe, Goodwood FoS

Prior to the war Hubert Van Doorne founded a trailer manufacturing business with finance from a brewery in 1932 Van Doorne’s Aanhangen Fabriek that was abbreviated to DAF.

DAF 600 Luxe, Goodwood FoS

In the early 1950’s after the reestablishment of DAF, now as a manufacturer of military and commercial vehicles and trailers the company became Van Doorne’s Autombiel Fabriek and Hub van Doorne set about designing a passenger vehicle.

DAF 600 Luxe, Goodwood FoS

Allegedly impressed by the Dyna Flow automatic transmission in his Buick Roadmaster, but unimpressed with it’s inefficiency Hub developed his own belt driven vacuum controlled continuously variable transmission CVT operating with centrifugal clutch, getting inspiration from the belt driven machines operating in his factory.

DAF 600 Luxe, Goodwood FoS

In 1958 the 22 hp DAF 600 with variomatic transmission was demonstrated and became the second commercially available motor car CVT, after the British Clyno system which was available from 1923 to 1927.

DAF 600 Luxe, Goodwood FoS

With additional design work attributed to Johan van der Brugghen the DAF 600 was manufactured from 1959 to 1963. Harry Walton in the December 1959 edition of Popular Science applauded the DAF 600 for it’s fully automatic drive, and positive differential action, which meant the car was unlikely to get stuck in mud, sand or snow because if one wheel slipped additional drive would automatically be transferred to the other wheel.

Harry also noted that the 600 although standing on only 12 inch wheels it had seven inches of ground clearance making it as “goat nimble on rough roads as the mourned Model T”. One thing Harry did not notice, or try as I once inadvertently did on a far more recent CVT equipped vehicle, is that it will go as fast backwards as it does forwards, all of 57 mph in the case of the DAF 600 Luxe.

Thanks for joining me on this “Goat Nimble Variomatic” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a 1965 Studebaker which made an early appearance at Indianapolis. Don’t forget to come back now.


Classic Expo – Race Retro, Stoneleigh, Coventry 1/2

A couple of weeks ago Tim Murray, Secretary of the Pegasus Motor Club, kindly invited me to join the club for a trip to Race Retro held at the Stoneleigh Park Exhibition and Conference Centre near Coventry, UK.

Here is an oversight of some of the details I saw in a hand full of the 500 plus photo’s I took, I’d filled up my phone with images just getting from the Centre’s car park to the Exhibition Hall !

Amongst the many celebrations at Race Retro was a celebration of the achievements of the Italian tuning house Abarth.

On the Minibus on the way up to Stoneleigh I found myself sitting next to the legendary classic slingshot drag racer Chris Hartnell whose infectious enthusiasm was all I needed to commit myself to going to a Drag event this season !

This is the view from Adz Prices ‘Go Hard or Go Home‘ known, I believe, as an Altered, the car features a Topolino body and a 360 Mopar with Weland Tunnel Ram. Drag lingo is something I am going to have learn fast. I hope to come back to this vehicle with a full blog in the near future.

It’s the 50th Anniversary since the launch of the iconic E-Type Jaguar. I’ll be back with a few E-Type blogs to celebrate in the fullness of time.

Amongst the many Jaguars and Jaguar replica’s on display was this fabulous XJR15 a model I had not seen in the flesh before.

There was an awesome display of rallying Lancia’s including this Group B Delta S4 which was the highest evolution of rally cars ever devised, this particular all wheel drive car had a mid mounted engine that was both turbocharged AND supercharged. It was my good fortune to see this very vehicle in action when it came second in the 1985 RAC Rally on it’s debut driven by Markku Alén and Ilkka Kivimäki behind team mates Henri Toivonen and Neil Wilson. Another vehicle that will be the subject of a future blog.

With thanks to Tim Murray and the Pegasus Motor Club without home this blog would not have been possible.

Hope you have enjoyed the first half of my report on the Race Retro Exhibition and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for part two. Don’t forget to come back now !