Author Topic: Mercedes-Benz South Africa Collection  (Read 6399 times)

Grant V

  • Classic
  • **
  • Posts: 178
  • One day soon....
  • Location: Pretoria, South Africa
Mercedes-Benz South Africa Collection
« on: 20 December 2007, 08:31 AM »
On a recent racing trip to East London, I was taken by a friend to see the Mercedes Collection, which is housed at the Mercedes-Benz manufacturing plant.

For me, the main attraction was the Presidential 600 Landaulet which was used for state occasions by apartheid era presidents since 1974, and put into retirement by FW de Klerk in the early 90's. Apparently he thought it was too ostentatious... The car had fallen into neglect, but has been restored by the MBSA training division over the past few years. This is such a rare car - only 49 landaulets were ever built, and apparently only 10 in right-hand-drive.

Feeling like royalty.....

Another notable car is the 600 SWB that belonged to Mrs. Oppenheimer, the wife of Harry Oppenheimer of the De Beers and Anglo-American diamond and gold mining fortune. This car has sadly fallen into disrepair and was robbed of certain parts, like the gearbox, to get the Presidential 600 going again:

Also to be seen is the red W126 500SE which was presented to Nelson Mandela by the workers of MBSA. The parts were donated by MBSA and the workforce worked overtime at their expense to build the car for Madiba. If I remember correctly, it has only 43000km on the clock!

The collection also has the last of each model assembled at the plant over the past years and this W126 300SE is an absolute gem - only 280km on the clock and it still smells brand new!!!

MBSA have won the contract to build all the C-Class Mercs for the US market, one of which can also be seen in the collection, identifiable by it's side reflectors and left-hand-drive steering. I saw one American spec petrol engined C-Class drive past with a C300 badge on the back. I wonder if it's a C350 badged as a C300?

And, of course, there was also a locally built 350SE to be seen:

"You've bought another bloody car?!? We should have you committed!" he shrieked, storming out of the room

s class

  • W116 Addict
  • ****
  • Posts: 4,176
  • I'll keep the 116's, the rest can go
  • Location: Squeezing 3 W116's into a double garage
Re: Mercedes-Benz South Africa Collection
« Reply #1 on: 20 December 2007, 09:17 AM »
Thanks Grant for sharing that.

I was interested to see the presidential laundalet has light coloured leather - first I've seen of that in a 600. 

Its a shame that the oppenheimer car has lost major items like the gearbox - surely these items are not so impossibly difficult to obtain from people like Middelhauve that an essentially complete car had to be sacrificed.  And what could have been so wrong with the original gearbox that it couldn't be rebuilt?

'76 6.9 Euro, '78 6.9 AMG, '80 280SE, '74 350SE, '82 500SEL euro full hydro, '83 500SEL euro full hydro , '81 500SL


  • Vintage
  • ***
  • Posts: 735
  • Location: Warwick, Queensland
Re: Mercedes-Benz South Africa Collection
« Reply #2 on: 20 December 2007, 03:07 PM »
Awesome stuff Grant,

from what I know about the new C's in the states, the C300, is the C280 everywhere else (bringing back memories of the W124 300E that was a big hit for MB USA).
1995 Mazda MX-5
1975 280SE
1978 280SEL
1990 300SE


  • Vintage
  • ***
  • Posts: 721
  • Location: Northern NSW, Australia
Re: Mercedes-Benz South Africa Collection
« Reply #3 on: 20 December 2007, 06:51 PM »

Feeling like royalty.....

Royalty indeed!   ;D ;D ;D ;D

Great post - thank you.

And my (only) real political hero just got bigger - he drove a (red) Benz!


  • Classic
  • **
  • Posts: 116
Re: Mercedes-Benz South Africa Collection
« Reply #4 on: 20 December 2007, 11:48 PM »
grant, interesting, didnt even know that there was a musuem there. i shall have to drive down and go and check it out.
interesting story i have. when we lived in kenya, the president had a merc 600 and whenever he went anywhere every one had to pull off the road and let the cavalcade with lights and hooters blaring pass.sometimes when driving down to the coast, you could be cruising at 150 odd, no speed limits in those days and the pres and his convoy would overtake you.and when you saw the lights you had to slow down and move off the road.
my parents tried to buy his 600 when he got a new one, only to be told that the only person allowed to own one is the pres, so sorry, no go.dont ask us again type of thing.
didnt want anyone mistaking whos who in the land


  • Vintage
  • ***
  • Posts: 871
  • Location: Bonerland - I like big butts and I cannot lie!
Re: Mercedes-Benz South Africa Collection
« Reply #5 on: 23 December 2007, 02:13 PM »
Great collection - I'm definately putting that on my list of places to see if I make it to RSA and Bots..

Love the Presidential 600 - can any visitor just jump in the back and stand for posed photos (like yours?) or did you have to bribe someone or take the picture while the authorities looks the other way??  I'd expect increased wear in the back of that car if hundreds of tourists a week were able to jump in it...

Curious that an apartheid-era RSA Presidential car should be painted black... I'd have thought they'd have automatically ordered white for all cars for government duties...

450SEL 6.9 #5440 = V MB 690 , 450SE # 43094 = 02010 H , 190E/turbo # 31548 = AOH 68K


  • Classic
  • **
  • Posts: 454
  • Location: Honolulu, Hi
Re: Mercedes-Benz South Africa Collection
« Reply #6 on: 25 December 2007, 11:16 AM »
those are some great pictures! i like the TE Roadside assitance 124:)
Johnny B

Old German Metal