Foreign Affairs: 1990 Mercedes 560 Limo

Blame Hollywood. That’s what I say when faced with a wild imagination and a heavily-tinted Mercedes limo up for grabs. I can’t help but wander off to a place where ex-KGB agents use stretch Benzes to kidnap opponents and visit political dignitaries on the same trip, and this 1990 560 limousine here on craigslist in Canada looks like a perfect way to live out any criminal underworld fantasies you may have (without the actual kidnapping, of course). 

Wearing the desirable European-market glass headlights and sporting the must-have poles for telling the driver where the edge of the car is, this handsome Benz limo must have an interesting past. You can find Towncars with stretched proportions by the dozen, but Mercedes used for the same purpose don’t show up all that often. Given their popularity in Europe and Asia (heck, North Korea’s leaders have owned Pullmans for years, typically with bulletproof glass and panels), I’m curious what sort of backstory accompanies this particular example.

International intrigue aside, the 560 appears to be in sound condition. Blue leather seating surfaces are untorn, and the rear seats feature a sliding sunshade which both helps keep passengers cool and protects things like the headrests and seat-back tops from sun damage. With the European headlights fitted and the car being for sale across the border, it may have less-restrictive emissions equipment than what American models were saddled with. Although any power increased would be negligible in limo formation, it’s still a desirable “upgrade.”

Ah, but all is not well – the JVC mini-TV has gone missing. I don’t know how hard you want to search for one that will fit that (likely) real-wood cubby, but I’m sure eBay will turn one up once you confirm the dimensions of the opening. If you’re going to ride like a dictator in the 1980s, a suitable TV and VCR combo is a must. Despite being in Canada (eh?) there is said to be no rust on this Benz – the only question I have is whether the glass is as bulletproof as the mechanical components. Anyone know of a driver looking for work?


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  1. bill

    im the first to comment!

    • Tirefriar

      And your point is?

      • bil


    • Puhnto

      Yay, Bill!

  2. David

    Speaking as someone who grew up in a diplomatic family, those poles on the front corner were used to fly the flag of the country you represented. I don’t think it’s done anymore – probably for security reasons.

    • Jeff Staff

      That’s what I thought but a friend of mine said the flags were just attached as needed, whereas those “curb indicators” stayed attached. He could be wrong.

      • David H.

        That’s true — the flags are only used for special occasions (I can’t remember which ones since I was too young to understand at the time).

    • Jeff Staff

      Also note it’s on the side furthest from the driver, and not on the driver’s side bumper.

  3. Woodie Man

    I have a serious thing for limos…still want a ’57 Chrysler Ghia…….had a ’60 Caddy division window. The only problem is I want to sit in back and theres no kulaks available to drive me!

    • Tirefriar

      Do you know the meaning of kulak?

      KGB agents did not operate stretch Benzes, well not until Putin got into one. Car of choice was a black Gaz 21 and later Gaz 24. Most were black and some of them were modified with V8 engines

      • whippeteer

        By the time that Putin was in office, it was FSB (post KGB) and they were all driving G-wagens.

      • tirefriar

        For those that are dying to know here it is:

        “Kulak” means “fist” in russian. It was also a name commies had for prosperous farmers during and right after the revolution of 1917. “raskulachivanie” was a campaign the red army and the commie political officers led against these farmers, taking away their land, live stock and often their lives. It is still to this day used as a slang for someone who won’t share…

  4. Terziev

    Actual western European luxury cars were introduced in bigger numbers well into the 80’s in eastern Europe literally a hand full were imported for the highest members of the communist party. Until then the soviet Chaika (Чайка) or translated in English “seagul” was considered the most luxury of limos. The car was equipped with a Russian build V8 used in trucks called GAZ (ГАЗ) . The car had power windows and even A-C as well as an automatic gear box. Which was extremely rear as almost all soviet build cars in that era were never introduced to the automatic transmissions. Lower class communists and members were often driven in the more common Volga GAZ M21 or later on in the later model the Volga GAZ M24 both models were powered by 4 cylinder engines 2,4 or 2.5 liters if memory doesn’t lie. I grew up in ex soviet Bulgaria well into Eastern Europe so i have been around loads of these cars . The Volga as one of the more “exotic” soviet cars is almost unknown in the states but you can fetch a low mile one for less than 2k usd. . US cars of any kind were considered as enigma back then . Sorry for the bad English it has been a while since i was in the US.

    • Tirefriar

      If you can get a low mile gaz21 for $2k, I’d buy one from you. In Russia, these go for $25k plus in restored condition. They do come up on the US market now and then for about the same money…

      • RayT Member

        Tirefriar, I believe there’s a company here in Massachusetts that sells Soviet — and Russian — cars. I’ve seen ads on eBay offering Volgas, Moskvitches and Ladas. They’re not cheap: I’d say they’re the Beverly Hills Motoring Club of the former Eastern Bloc!

        Me, I’d love to go all-out and get a Chaika or, better still, a ZIL. Had a ride in a Chaika in Germany many years ago, and felt like Nikita the K with more hair.

      • jbh110tdi

        My mum had a Gaz M21 before I was born my dad converted it to diesel as the original engine was wrecked.

        they bought it back a few years before my mum died but sadly it was never ran and was put into storage for 15 years until my sister and her ex man was promising to do something with it.. ( by this time my dad had picked up an estate version as a spares car )

        sadly that was the last I saw of them.. I would love to find it again and have it as a daily with a modern diesel engine in it.

  5. Nova Scotian

    After all those years…if this car could talk.

    • Jeff Staff

      My thoughts exactly!

  6. alan

    Euro bumpers and lights. It would be nice to run the vin to see what it really is.


    why is the console torn apart?

  8. tirefriar

    Putin was a colonel in KGB, his last post East Berlin before becoming part of administration in St. Pete. G-Wagons were the choice of transportation for bankers and mafia. FSB still relied on gaz 31 and later variations. Of course, they had all sorts of machinery at their disposal. Perhaps the higher ups did use G-Wagons for their personal transportation, but most of the cars were still produced by Gorkievskii Avto Zavod.

  9. Bruce Best

    I have owned a 560SEL of this design and it was the best built car I have every owned or worked on. I find it in many ways better then the current crop of Mercedes. There is a reason so many of them are around. Mine had right at 400K on it before it as destroyed in a road accident were the road collapsed as I was going over it at high speed.

    Blew out three of the 4 tires, damaged the transmission, rear end, rear shocks and very nearly rolled it over on me but the body looked fine and dimensionally was as good as new. I miss that car and I very well maybe the next car I get for myself.

    If an it is a BIG IF the modifications were done properly this could be an excellent buy for the style is still modern enough and elegant enough to be a limo for weddings and such.

  10. chad

    all I can tell is it seems to B in British Columbia and may B a 6 cyl?
    Interior & mechanical condition? about 7K$…

  11. Mike Burnett

    I have a 560SEL and I agree it is one of the best built cars I have owned. I love it and if driven sensibly, the fuel economy is not too bad. They are 5.6 litre V8’s, by the way chad.

  12. Melvin Burwell

    Love to own this ride. Show it off to the the neighborhood. How muck are they asking?

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