Imposing by nature and luxurious by design, the 700 was powered by an eight-cylinder in-line engine with overhead valves and aluminum pistons. The 7.7-litre motor delivered 150 horsepower at 2800 revolutions. As an optional extra the customer could order a 700K, which was equipped with a Roots-type compressor, raising the power to 200hp at 2800 rpm. The 700K variant could comfortably hit a maximum speed of 160 km/h. Under the bodywork, the 700 had a four-speed gearbox with a direct first gear and a fourth-gear overdrive. The body of the 770 sat on a space frame chassis measuring 3750 mm between axles and 1500 mm at the track. In terms of the suspension, this model used leaf springs on both axles.
Working to order, the 770-factory also manufactured exclusive versions such as the Pullman limousine in which several personalities could travel in utter luxury. They also produced the Pullmansteel, an armoured version for the protection of dignitaries.
Being the largest and most expensive Mercedes-Benz, only 117 units were produced from 1930 to 1938 in their Untertürkheim factory. The armoured Pullmann limousine accounted for 42 of these units. Emperor Hiroito of Japan acquired three of them, and two came to the Portuguese State in 1938.
In addition to its armour, the Pullmansteel body offered levels of comfort and luxury unmatched in the W07 series. The spacious interior was hand-crafted by highly skilled workers to ensure that occupants travelled in the highest level of refinement. Available in various configurations at the rear, the most popular choice was two rows of seats on which the occupants sat facing each other. Able to accommodate up to six people, the Pullman limousine was the benchmark in its time, rivalled only by Rolls-Royce models.
In Portugal, one of the 770’s famously belonged to Salazar, having been one of several armoured models acquired for the State figure. The history of armoured vehicles acquired in the name of Oliveira Salazar, then President of the Council of Ministers, forms one of the most curious chapters in Portugal’s history.
After the failed bombing attempt on Sunday, July 4, 1937 on Avenida Barbosa du Bocage, when Salazar was on his way to morning Mass, the PVDE ordered two Type 770 Pullmansteel in October of that year. The order was made through the Mercedes-Benz agent in Lisbon, Sociedade Comercial Mattos Tavares, Lda. But given the specificity of the model, they transferred the order to the brand’s offices in Germany.
According to the factory files, both chassis’ were completed on 18 January 1938 and the Pullmansteel bodies on 9 March. Both cars were then shipped to Lisbon on 12 April. They were registered in June 1938, in the name of PVDE, and were immediately made available to the Presidents of the Republic and the Council, General Óscar Carmona (AL-10-71, chassis # 182 067) and Prof. Oliveira Salazar (DA-10-72, chassis # 182 066).
Salazar, who had not been consulted on the purchase of the cars, soon expressed his discontent, refusing to use the Mercedes-Benz assigned to him. This was not only because it was an ostentatious car, but also because it was thought to have been a gift from Hitler to the President of the Council. The car was used only once—on the occasion of the official visit of Generalissimo Franco, in 1949. The car’s scant usage was by driver Raúl to transport visitors to and from Palacete de S. Bento. Because of this, the odometer read only 6,000 kilometres when seventeen years later, he was ordered to sell the car at public auction by the Directorate-General for Finance.
The auction was won after six counts by the scrap dealer Alfredo Nunes, who registered it in his name on February 9, 1955. It was sold shortly afterward to the Beato and Olivais Voluntary Firefighters to be used as their ambulance. The conversion costs however proved much too high, and they sold it on June 16, 1956, to João de Lacerda, to be displayed in the Museu do Caramulo.
Nowadays, the car having circulated since 1956 has now clocked up 12,949 kilometres, most of which have been in Caramulo—to and from the maintenance garage. There was never a need to restore the car because from paintwork to chrome and upholstery, it is impeccable. Even the Buna rubber tires are original, being maintained at 40 pounds of pressure so as not to cause cracks in the flanks.
The 770 in the Museu do Caramulo is considered by experts to be the best-kept and most perfect Mercedes-Benz Grosser in the world.