The Pullman Saloon: a cultural history of elegance.
A revolution in travel.
When ambitious industrialist and entrepreneur George Mortimer Pullman patented the “Pioneer” sleeping car in 1868, he wanted to revolutionise – first and foremost – rail travel. Until then overnight rail travel meant huddling in cramped compartments, cushioned only with straw sacks, and the only blankets available were those the travellers brought along themselves. The shrewd entrepreneur and hotelier detected a gap in the market: a sleeping car that impressed with its spaciousness and comfort.
From the sleeping car to the saloon.
Although his “Pioneer” cost five times as much as a regular sleeping car, already in the 1920s around 100,000 people per night were checking in to the Pullman wagons that came to be known as “the world’s greatest hotel”. From that time on, the Pullman Palace Car Company transferred the concept of spaciousness and luxury to the automotive industry, which they also supplied with vehicle bodies.
Over 150 years later a Pullman coach still remains the epitome of luxury, comfort and exclusivity.
Unlike the subsequently lengthened “stretch saloons”, vehicles with a Pullman body are conceived and built with a significantly lengthened wheelbase. Mercedes-Benz used this majestic coachwork with four to six doors and windows and two or more rows of seats – and created a sensation in the field. The “Grand Mercedes” for instance was a legend in its own time. Also known as the Type 770 or W 07, it fascinated the greatest statesmen of its time, such as the Japanese emperor Hirohito, Popes Pius XI and XII as well as Paul von Hindenburg. But of course, they did not drive their state limousines themselves: there was always a chauffeur at the wheel. And in that respect nothing has changed to this day.
A great Mercedes for great men.
The garage of the former German Emperor Wilhelm II not only housed a “Grand Mercedes”. It was also home to another Pullman jewel: the 260 D, also known as the Mercedes-Benz W 138, which was the first diesel passenger car in the world. And to this day it still holds a special fascination as a pioneer of automotive history. When in the 1950s Konrad Adenauer chose the Type 300, also known as the Mercedes-Benz W 186, and its successor, the W 189, a further large limousine went down in history as the vehicle of great men.
This time explicitly as the “Adenauer Benz”. Moreover, the vehicle was also appreciated and bought by the heads of state of other countries as well.
Elvis, too, had a soft spot for the Pullman.
Although the Pullman body had been used in numerous fascinating models for years, the first Mercedes-Benz that also expressed this fact in its name was only to be launched at the IAA International Motor Show in 1963. The model series 100, also known as the Mercedes-Benz 600 or Mercedes-Benz Pullman, is the origin of no less than four generations of prestigious saloons. The first one was built from 1964 to 1981: the W 100 Pullman brought agreement amongst those whose opinions otherwise differed and enthralled nobility and celebrities alike – from John Lennon to the Shah of Persia. Elvis Presley too was not immune to the magic radiated by this unique long-wheelbase saloon.
New edition of the Pullman Saloon.
Production of the “Six Hundred” series ended in 1981; then in the autumn of 1995 Mercedes-Benz expanded the model range, once again incorporating a Pullman Saloon. This vehicle version, one metre longer than the long-wheelbase S-Class (model series 140), was likewise available in an armoured and a non-armoured variant. In late 1999 a Pullman Saloon version of the successor model series 220 was presented. However, only a few of the special-protection version of this vehicle were produced; these are designated with the term “Guard”, introduced in early 1999.
In 2008, on the occasion of the anniversary of “80 years of special protection”, Mercedes-Benz launched the S 600 Pullman Guard state limousine. It is based on the S-Class long-wheelbase Saloon (model series 221), but with a wheelbase 115 cm longer. Like its predecessors it is used as a state limousine and mobile conference room.
Fascination never dies.
In 2015 the Mercedes-Maybach S 600 Pullman is presented to the world. These breathtaking 6.5 metres of sheer luxury not only speed up the pulse of sheikhs, kings and pop icons. With its concentrated elegance, the Pullman stands firmly in the tradition of fascination that Mercedes-Benz has nurtured with every single Pullman since the last century.