When the Yom Kipper war broke out, there was an immediate shortage of trucks and transport vehicles to support the war effort. Amichai Harlap learned of this shortage and immediately looked to his contacts and suppliers to help solve the pressing issue. He made an emergency flight to Germany to meet with the Board of Directors of Mercedes Benz and requested an urgent and unprecedented appeal – to send Israel as many trucks as possible. They agreed, and began shipping their entire stock of trucks from warehouses all across Europe. 1,625 trucks reach Israel and are quickly put into service to move ammunition, supplies and equipment to soldiers in combat.
From the mid ‘60s, Colmobil began importing Mercedes Benz buses for the regional councils. As the business evolved, Colmobil expanded the market to include public transportation and luxury tourist buses.
In 1980, Colmobil supplied the “Egged” bus company with 1,165 buses for 3.5 million Israeli liras, along with a manufacturer’s warranty for either 24 months or 200,000 kilometers – an unprecedented warranty at that time. 100 buses of the fleet were luxury buses designated for tourism. Following this acquisition, many other tourism companies and regional councils upgraded their bus fleets to include well fitted and more powerful buses, and the level of comfort in Israel’s public transportation took a large step forward.
As the country continued to grow, many families and groups were interested in traveling out of town together. Amichai Harlap, having already imported taxis and buses from Mercedes, initiated building a stretch Mercedes taxi that would carry 7 passengers (aside from the driver), 3 more than the maximum capacity of taxis and private vehicles. Amichai wrote the specifications for a prototype Mercedes sedan, which basically was cut in half to accommodate another row of seating. The stretch Mercedes taxi became a success, and 2,000 taxis hit the road in a short period of time. Mercedes engineers were so impressed that they adopted the invention into their own line and began marketing the stretched 200 model worldwide. As the car was improved, Mercedes introduced the feature into its 220, 240 and 300 models.