Innes Ireland was a man of extraordinary character, according to all those who encountered him, as well as a very talented driver – he won the 1961 US Grand Prix for Lotus – and, after retiring from racing, a respected Autocar writer.
It was in these pages, on 9 May 1968, that he detailed some time he had spent with a friend's newly purchased Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman.
The 600, produced from 1963 to 1981, is better known as the Grosser – a corruption of Große, the German for 'grand'. It was a rival to the likes of the Rolls-Royce Phantom; today's equivalent would be the Maybach version of the S-Class.
In the '60s and '70s, the Grosser was arguably the ultimate status symbol; owners ranged from the pop figures John Lennon and Hugh Hefner, through billionaire druglord Pablo Escobar to evil dictators Idi Amin and Kim-jong Il.
Of just 2677 examples of the 600 produced, less than 5% were the six-door Pullman variant – and it was one of these that our man Ireland had access to.
Stretching a staggering 6.24 metres from nose to tail, weighing 3340kg at the kerb (morbidly obese even by today's flabby standards) and riding on pneumatic self-levelling air suspension, it was shoved along by the 247bhp of a 6.3-litre petrol V8.
That doesn't sound a lot today, but you must remember that even the contemporary Mercedes-Benz 250 (a straight-six forbear to the E-Class) produced just 128bhp.
Ireland's first engagement with 'The Long Mother', as he called this particular Grosser, was to drive his friends from Paris back to London.
Leaving at 8.30am, the car "immediately warmed to the task," Ireland beamed, "and within seconds we were cruising effortlessly and safely on our way, between 110 and 120mph. Although there was a strong crosswind of 50mph, the three tons of weight pressing down on the tyres seemed to cancel out the vast expanse of car presented to the wind, and we steered a very straight course.