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A tale of two benzes

Started by Peter Anderson, 28 September 2005, 12:41 AM

Peter Anderson

Well what a mad weekend, I've done nearly a 1000 miles Friday to Monday in my 450SE and it didn?t miss a beat. I didn?t take any special precautions aside from the obvious of checking oil and water levels and tyre pressures but it just ate the miles up like you wouldn?t believe, quick (cruising between 75 ? 85mph, and lots of twisty country lanes too!) quiet and relaxing. This is what these cars were designed for. Apart from a huge fuel bill and the lack of an RDS radio (it has a period Blaupunkt Porto) there weren?t any issues at all. Proud of the old boy!

I popped in to the garage to see the progress on my 280SE yesterday and was greeted with the news that as well as 2 new sills that the passenger side (left) front wing was very frilly too, and was held in place by rust, sealant and filler! So that?s another part to replace. Any way I've posted pictures of the work to date are on the gallery garage section, one sill is fitted just needs new end plates welded in, and the other side is now stripped waiting for the sill. The cruddy front wing as it wouldn?t unbolt, has been cut away to allow easy access. BTW have you seen the thickness of the gauge of metal used for panels on these cars, unbelievable! It has to be an easy quarter inch thick!

Mforcer

Hi Peter,

Fantastic photos and thanks for sharing! Seeing these always makes e concerned about the condition of my car in parts I can not see. I know I have some tiny bits of rust and cross my fingers that there isn't more eating away the car without me seeing.

Also you are certainly right about how to really enjoy these cars. Nothing beats a good cruise on the highway. I am always amazed at how well they handle and just fly along without causing any concern. It really does become clear what MB intended for the car when they designed them.

Regards,
Michael
Michael
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200

Peter Anderson

Typical isn't it - all that gloating about how reliable my 450 had been and it goes and blots it's copybook! Driving home from work on Friday night, I stopped at the supermarket for some groceries. Get back in, turn the key and instead of whiring the engine back to life all I got was a click!

The recovery man (AA) turns up in about 10 minutes (a new record?), puts on jumper leads, with no joy, whacks the starter motor with a big mallet, still no joy. So I had to get the car trailered down to the garage where my 280 is in bits.

The great folks at 'Mercedes First' managed to fit in having a look at the car on Saturday morning, confirm the starter motor diagnosis and locate a recon starter motor. The motor is due to arrive today, so hopefully this evening despite owning 2 W116s I won't be walking any more!

Mforcer

You're bound to have some good luck with them soon. Before you know it you will have two cars driving well and will then have the problem of not knowing which one to take out!
Michael
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200

Peter Anderson

Finally the 280's welding has finished and it's ready to start being put together again. Pictures of it's new sills and wheel arches in the garage section of the gallery. I get the body shop quote today for fitting the new OEM front wing and painting (I've decided to stick with the original colour). So very soon I will have my 280 back on the road and looking beautiful... Can't wait.

In the meantime I've fixed the drivers window of my 450 (new regulator from ebay) which was annoying me as at work we have to swipe in and out of the car park and I was getting fed up of having to open the door to get access! I've also fixed the problem it had with the indicators not staying clicked on. I actually bought a new control stalk to replace the faulty one, but the one fitted was metal and the new one was plastic (both from '78 cars? though the donor was a 280SE). So I looked at the mechanism and fixed it by filing away a couple of new hollows on the profile that the stalk acts on (not too much or the indicators don't self cancel).

The lead me to thinking about the differences between my 2 cars. The 280SE has 3 different keys, one for the doors, boot and glove box, one for just the driver?s door, and one for the ignition. The 450 has a single key (the shape of the 280's ignition key) which works on all the locks. The indicator mechanism is metal on the 450, and plastic on the 280. My 450's rear compartment light comes on when the rear doors are opened, the 280's only works from the dashboard switch. So did MB really scrimp on the fixtures of the 280, and put better components in the 450? They were both built within 6 months of each other with the 280 being the later car, so that is the only explanation I can think of. Any answers...

OzBenzHead

Peter:

My 280SE (116) has:

* one key that fits all locks
* metal indicator stalk
* rear courtesy light operated by rear door switches
...
was built in December '79, and is a UK-market car, first sold from Mayfair.

It also has the fuller moulded trim on the doors - which I've seen missing in some brochures for the  plain 280S (no E), and the full complement of wood - also missing in some 280S brochure pics).

Is yours an S or SE?

Peter Anderson

My 450SE was first registered August '78, my 280SE in April '79. Both have the door cards you describe, and 'zebrano' wood on the dash and centre console. However the '73 280SE I used to have about 5 years ago had very simple door cards, but did have the same wood as these cars. All these were UK market cars.

See pictures below for details of what i meant earlier about keys and stalks....

Peter Anderson

I'm so excited, my 280SE has returned from the paintshop. I went to see it last night and it's looking so shiny and tidy. All the scabby bits now look like new, the valance under the front bumper, the sills, the wheel arches, even the rust blisters on the bumper and boot lids are gone!

It's just waiting now on a few bits of trim (that the garage removed) being reattached, the sills painted black (Someone wasn't listening!) and then the interior from my 450 being put in it - I should have it finished by Friday. I can't believe the end is in sight (just when it starts to get wet and miserable here with all the sail on the roads).

Anyway - new pics posted in the garage section of the gallery if you want to see her looking all shiny and new!

Peter Anderson

Wow, it's finished (as much as restoring a classic is ever finished!). My 280SE is back from the shop and on my drive looking very lovely. ;D

I picked it up after the final bit of trimming on Friday, (a little delayed as it had failed it's MOT test on a couple of minor points - headlight pattern and alignment, binding brakes, and a small fuel leak). So I've had the weekend to appreciate it in all it's new shiny glory! Looking back at some of the during shots it's hard to believe the state it was in at some points of the resto.

I am so pleased with the results, and I'm looking forward to getting some serious use out of her now. Only question is what happens to the 450 now....

Oh and the best bit - posting the pictures in 'Showroom' and not the the 'Garage' section!!!

Mforcer

Hi Peter,

Your car is looking great and the black interior with gold exterior looks very smart too.

I would not be too concerned about the performance of the relatively lowly 280 engine. As I am sure you are well aware these cars are made for comfortable cruising and the 280 will handle that with plenty to spare. Myself not having the top W116 either take comfort knowing that the chassis of the car will always not be pushed to its limits so easily.

Cheers,
Michael
Michael
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200

OzBenzHead

Quote from: 450SE on 19 December 2005, 02:20 PM... the 280 will handle that with plenty to spare. ...  the chassis of the car will always not be pushed to its limits so easily.

It seems to me that Benzes are, at least, over-engineered in such a manner that the chassis is capable of surviving the largest engine in the range of a model, leading to even greater than planned longevity for the smaller-engined versions.

This has to be an improvement over the approach of other manufacturers who design for the bottom end of a range and then stretch the chassis to its limits by fitting increasingly over-powered engines.

An example that comes to mind is an (allegedly) Australian car by an (allegedly) Australian manufacturer in the 70s - the Torana (colloquially called "Piranha" because it used to fatally eat up so many young men). That was a car originally designed (by Opel or Vauxhall, I think) to take a light 1.5 litre four; it ended up with a heavy 5 litre V8. The body used to flex so badly that bits were forever falling off, and it was not unknown for front and rear screens to spontaneously shatter from the chassis torquing. A complete heap of dung! Despite their being sold here in far greater numbers than Benzes of that era, you hardly see a Torana on the roads today - certainly far fewer than Benzes of the same vintage.

And Peter - looks great!   :)

Peter Anderson

The power of a 280 vs 450 discussion really got me thinking about what I am looking for with this car. My first taste of a W116 was a 280, and what I really loved was how utterly relaxing it was to drive. It's not a ball of fire, but that wasn't what appealed. I have had sports cars, and tend to find while I enjoy driving quickly, I get too involved in trying to beat the next guy, pushing up my stress levels and not doing anyone any good. With the 280 I found that I could switch off from this, knowing I was never going to 'win' and found that my driving life suddenly became a whole lot more chilled out.

Then I bought the 450, and it had the instant urge of a modern quick car, a great engine note, and I could 'compete' again. The car felt right with a V8 up front, the lazy low down torque making it feel much quicker than the extra 40bhp would suggest - but it wasn't really the driving style I had learnt to enjoy in my Benz. It didn't help the 450's cause, that the 280's the suspension, steering, brakes and gearbox are all smoother and tighter making the rest of the driving experience nicer.

So there we are, with my 450 I was racing off the lights, diving for gaps in the traffic, enjoying the surprised look on other drivers faces at the speed of this old boat. But I also find a quickly driven old car tends to raise other people's aggression levels for some reason. And what I really wanted was a car that was going to lower my heart rate, keep me out of all that madness, cosset and comfort me and put a zen-like smile on my face!

Anyhow, thanks for all your compliments, the car now has a white layer of salt all over it from the ice treated roads. Where's that jet washer?

Mforcer

Peter, I agree with you completely. Before my 450SE I had a Toyota Corolla which was a great car but never had the relaxed driving of a W116. The only time anyone should rush in traffic is when they need to get out of their car as soon as possible becasue it isn't a W116  ;D
Michael
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200

Peter Anderson

Styria, you certainly sound full of the Christmas spirit!!! I had better put a pipe, slippers and a flat cap on my Christmas present list!

Anyway I?d just like to say to everyone here on the forum, (even the six-point-niner speed freaks!) thanks for the fun stuff, the interesting discussions, and technical help. But mostly thank you for the sense of community you?ve all created around W116 ownership.

Merry Christmas everyone and  I hope the new year brings the motoring that you want.

Mforcer

This has been a great community and even better to see it still growing. Everyone has been so friendly and helpful. Thanks to everyone for participating in the forum!
Michael
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200