Mar 8 2015
Mercedes-Benz has never seen any contradiction between innovation and tradition. On the contrary, as the inventor of the automobile, the world’s oldest automaker has always felt a special obligation to drive forward the development of automotive technology at the highest level and to keep on setting new standards for the industry.
This demanding objective which Mercedes-Benz has set itself also applies to its armoured special-protection vehicles, as is demonstrated by the Stuttgart-based premium brand’s unique track record in this field.
As early as 1928, with a vehicle based on the Nürburg 460 model, Daimler-Benz became the first company to factory-fit vehicles with special protective elements designed to provide the occupants with effective protection from attack with firearms and explosives.
This was the start of eight decades of extensive materials testing, focused development and continuous improvement, during much of which Mercedes-Benz enjoyed a unique position in the field of special-protection vehicles and acquired a reputation as a renowned specialist in this domain.
The first special-protection models from Mercedes-Benz differed from those of later years not only with regard to their design and performance, but also in terms of their technical basis. Instead of having a self-supporting body structure, which is now the norm, their bodies were mounted on strong frames. The weight of the protective steel plates therefore called for less extensive design changes than is currently the case.
Mercedes-Benz’ unique wealth of experience as well as its role as a technical pioneer in the construction of prestigious special-protection limousines – a role which has been demonstrated time and time again over the years – puts the Stuttgart-based premium brand in a class of its own in this demanding segment. This is why governments, heads of state and royalty all over the world choose to make dignified progress in Mercedes-Benz limousines which are eminently worthy of the “Pullman” label.
Like the famous Pullman railway coaches, the state limousines from Stuttgart are luxuriously spacious and outstandingly comfort-table. The Pullman name was originally used to designate the luxurious open-plan railway coaches built by the American Pullman Palace Car Company.
As early as the 1920s, this name began to be used in the car industry to designate large, comfortable touring cars and prestige limousines with a partition between the driver’s seat and the passenger compartment. Ever since, Mercedes-Benz has offered its customers Pullman limousines with an extremely spacious rear passenger compartment.
The luxurious Mercedes-Benz Pullman limousines offer their passengers not only a maximum of comfort, but also a superbly appointed setting for discreet meetings, equipped, of course, with all the key communications and entertain-ment systems. So they can always remain fully in touch with the rest of the world while enjoying the luxury and comfort of their own very special place in it.
Mercedes-Benz W08 PopeMobile
In 1930 Mercedes-Benz had a very special order to build a Mercedes-Benz for the Pope. The results are here:
The 1930 Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460 is the first car acknowledged as a formal Popemobile, built specifically for Pope Pius XI as a gift from Daimler Benz AG. The big Benz was equipped with a central rear-mounted throne and custom interior, which the Pope called “a masterpiece of modern engineering.”
Mercedes Benz Nürburg 460, Type 500 (W08)
This was true of the very first Mercedes-Benz vehicle with factory-integrated special protection, the Nürburg 460 (W 08) of 1928 which has already been mentioned. Unfortunately, there are no longer any documents which describe the technical details of this first special-protection vehicle. All that is known, thanks to contemporary archive photographs, is that a Pullman limousine of this type built in 1931 was armoured with sliding steel plates which allowed the window areas to be shielded from the inside. The windscreen was protected by a folding steel plate with only a small observation slit provided for the driver to see through when it was in use. As for the passengers, a roof-mounted periscope allowed them to survey their surroundings when the protective plates were deployed. A Pullman limousine version of a Type 500 (W 08), a later variant of the Nürburg, is still in existence today. The doors and windows of this vehicle, which was delivered to Japan in 1937, are protected on the basis of the same principles which apply today.
18/80 hp, 4,918 cc L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, four-speed manual gearbox with Maybach overdrive, solid front axle and underslung live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 3,670 mm
The Mercedes-Benz W08 Nürburg acquired a more powerful companion model, the 500, in 1931. With the engine bored out to 4,918 cubic centimetres, it was rated at the same 18/80 PS as the 460 model, which continued in production until 1933. Both touring saloons and Pullman limousines were offered, and the bodies remained much the same as the 460, but there was no short-wheelbase model.
The term “Pullman” has several connotations: In North America it is most recognisable as a luxury railroad parlour car or sleeping car, after George Mortimer Pullman, a U.S. inventor and designer. In the European motoring world, it is known as a large and luxurious automobile, and particularly in Germany, it denotes vast length. The name has been used by Mercedes-Benz over the years to describe their longest models, often in conjunction with a body style, as in the Pullman limousine, as seen here, or the Pullman kabriolett.
The 500 Nürburg, later simply called the Type 500 N, would succeed its sibling after 1932, when a vee-type radiator shell and slightly raked windscreen were adopted. The final iteration of the W08 style, with higher compression and more streamlining of the body, was built from 1936 to 1939.
This Mercedes-Benz weighs nearly 3,000 kilograms, primarily due to the fact that it is lightly armoured. Chassis and suspension have been strengthened. The car also has under-floor heating.However, the most interesting detail of this car is the interior communication system, which allowed the passenger to relay instructions to the driver without actually speaking to him. Buttons on a small console in the back were used to activate dashboard lights with directives such as: ‘Fast – Slow – Stop – Left – Right -Turn – Home’. The owner of this Mercedes was the last German emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Next will be the 1930 Mercedes-Benz W07 “Grosser Mercedes”.