When most people use phrase “death car,” usually they mean cars that are dangerous to drive or cars that famous people kicked the bucket in. However, the reigning king of the death cars is a seemingly innocuous luxury barge from the 1960s, the Mercedes-Benz 600.
The king death car
The term “death cars” or “death car” might be taken to mean different things. For instance, the Ford Explorer might be considered a death car because the tires had a nasty habit of flying apart. There are also cars known for famous accidents. For instance, the Porsche 550 Spyder might be considered a “death car” because James Dean got killed in one. However, in that case, “death car” merely means “a car a famous person died in.”
Those are all lightweights. In fact, they aren’t even lightweights; they are bacteria on mosquitoes on an elephant’s back.
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The grand daddy, the reigning king of the death cars is the Mercedes-Benz 600.
Also known as the “Big”
The Mercedes-Benz 600, called the W100 in Mercedes’ nomenclature, was the pinnacle of luxury vehicles in its day, second-to-none and rivaled only by Rolls-Royce. It was the preferred luxury car of the uber-rich, celebrities and a “who’s who” of dictators. It’s also known as the “Grosser,” or “Großer” using German spelling, which means “big” or “large.” Another Mercedes to wear the name was the 770K, one of Adolf Hitler’s favorites.
It was made in two formats, short and long-wheelbase, according to MotorTrend. The short-wheelbase models were the bulk of production. Long-wheelbase versions were often sold as limousines to foreign governments. It had an air suspension for a fantastically soft ride, hydraulic comfort system for seats and convenience and a 6.3-liter V-8. A small number of Landaulets, limousines with a convertible top at the back, were also made as well as, according to Car and Driver, at least one hearse.
Preferred ride of the mass murderers
Perhaps they all should have been hearses. Some of the owners included the following: Leonid Brezhnev, premier of the Soviet Union following Nikita Khruschev, and Mao Zedong, a.k.a. “Chairman Mao,” dictator of China, according to Der Spiegel, Saddam Hussein and Idi Amin, according to Car and Driver, and according to MotorTrend, Nicolae Ceausescu, Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il of North Korea, F.W. De Klerk of South Africa, who threw Nelson Mandela in prison, and Fidel Castro.
Also, Elvis Presley.
A celebrity car crash does not a death car make. There are a few surviving examples, but it isn’t like one can pop down to a Los Angeles, Oklahoma City or Spokane used car lot and buy one; usually an example will be at a specialty dealership. However, the good news though is that Mercedes-Benz still makes every part for every car the company has made, so it can be kept on the road in perpetuity.