Author Topic: Is there a difference between Euro and US springs, or is it just the spacers?  (Read 231 times)

Bad Benzo

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I want to lower my 1977 280SE and I located a Euro 280SE about an hour from me to pull from.  I already have a handful of parts I will be taking from this car, but I am really curious to know if the Euro springs are different, or if it is just the spacers/shims that change the height.

Thanks in advance!

UTn_boy

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There is no such thing as a Euro or U.S. spring or spring pad shim.  Each car had it's own set up of springs and shims, and it all depended on what options the car had.  The more options it had the more it weighed the car down.  Consequently, the static height had to be corrected.  There was also an option for cars driving on rough terrain, and those springs made the car sit higher.  Even if you put the thinnest shim atop the springs you'd only lower the car by no more than 10-20mm.  If you want to get the car really low you'll have no ability to correct the camber in the rear of the car unless you install adjustable lower control arm bushings, which is a pain, but not impossible. 
1966 250se coupe`, black/dark green leather
1970 600 midnight blue/parchment leather
1971 300sel 6.3, papyrus white/dark red leather
1971 280sel Black/black leather
1973 300sel 4.5, silver blue metallic/blue leather
1976 280s astral silver/blue MB Tex

Bad Benzo

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I don't want to go very low, maybe like 2" lower all around, possibly 3" in front from where it is now.  It seems like the front of my car is sitting a little high.  A friend of mine recognized my car from when he saw it on the road over a decade ago.  He remembers that it had oversized wheels on it at the time, so he thinks it might have 300SD springs.

I know my W114 had colored paint on the springs and driveshaft as some sort of factory code.  Is there a chart that breaks down what the colors mean?

UTn_boy

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The 300SD models would have have stiffer springs, not higher springs.....meaning that it'll take more weight to compress the spring.  At first glance most people think that a W116 sits too high, , but yes, the paint marks on the springs mean something.  The paint marks give an indication of how much force is required to compress the spring 1 inch.  Not how tall or short they are.  Most springs you'll find have the same unladen static length.  The only springs that'll be different in visible length would be the ones for cars that had the rough terrain option that raised the car an additional 1-2 inches. 

The markings on the driveshaft have nothing to do with what the markings mean on a spring.  In the service manual, which should be on this forum somewhere, the literature will tell you which springs and upper spring pads to use according to the options the car has, as well as which engine is in the car.  And again, even lowering the car 2 inches will require you to take out the excess negative camber.  Below is a picture of what your rear wheels will do if you lower the car past a certain point.  If the car is a trailer queen leaving the negative camber is ok, but if you'll be driving the car you cannot drive it with negative camber.  It'll cause handling issues, and you'll be buying tires every month.  It'll also ruin your rear suspension and rear sub frame bushings . 
1966 250se coupe`, black/dark green leather
1970 600 midnight blue/parchment leather
1971 300sel 6.3, papyrus white/dark red leather
1971 280sel Black/black leather
1973 300sel 4.5, silver blue metallic/blue leather
1976 280s astral silver/blue MB Tex

Mattr

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I don't think there were a bunch of different spring options, based on different setups? As far as I've seen/read, there were only two types of springs used in these cars: standard duty or heavy duty (stiffer). Which was used depended upon engine/trans combo, customer preference, and/or destination country. If I'm wrong, I'd happily accept correction.

As far as lowering it goes, options seem to be rather limited? I think I found one company that offered 'sport' shocks that were shorter, but I forget who. My long-term plan is to air bag my 450SE.
1976 450SE 6.9 FrankenBenz (#2288?)
1977 450SEL 6.9 #2333

floyd111

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I am quite sure that MB offered 4 types of spacers to adjust the riding height of the W116. That must be confirmable when checking the EPC. But lowering the lowest factory height is a different matter.
The standard W116 shocks are not very advanced contraptions, for sure. They are dirt cheap and aftermarket companies can offer them even cheaper at times.
if you insist on lowering the lowest factory spec, indeed, camber can become an issue.
But, suspension quality also becomes an issue there. If you reduce the spring height, you reduce the stroke of the shock absorber. Even though you would probably not cause anything to bottom out with mildly lower springs, less stroke and stiffer springs normally do not make a recipe for more ride comfort.
You mention "sport shocks" There is a persistent urban legend that such a "shorter/harder" setup would automatically increase grip. That is surely not the case. A sport setup is done by creating a shock that separates compression and rebound, and since a one-size-fits-all-sports creation is just another bad idea, such C+R shocks needs to have a verifiable adjustability.

The W116 is a heavy car with simple shocks, made to do the job. if you're gonna mess with that setup, especially when lowering things, I would first get some advice from a trusted specialist.
Anyone promising softer springs , the same length as the stiffer version, really needs to be able to back all of that up with verifiable data, preferably in real time with a spring test machine.
You'll find that data missing in many cases.
Anyone promising shorter springs that 'will do as well" as longer springs, needs to back that up.
Or, you could just decided that none of that matters, and you just want to lower stuff.
It's what that aftermarket industry thrives on, in the end.
They also won't be footing the bill if your car  decides to continue in a straight line when cornering at speed on a wet or bumpy surface.
« Last Edit: 24 May 2020, 07:01 PM by floyd111 »