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280" Concourse; Diary of a layman

Started by floyd111, 09 March 2015, 04:44 AM


IT has something to do with the change of politics at the time, and the excessive price of the W116, plus excessive taxes. It made the W116 only available for the richest top 20 in the country. One car could get you five apartments in the capital..
Mid 70's car imports were relaxed. The W123 was cheaper, and that's the one that was sold by the bushels.. Soon followed by scores of W126's, still available in the thousands, and unsellable.
Therefore, anything pre-1978 is almost unavailable. Silly W114's sell for 20000usd here, in poor shape. A bad W108 sells for 25-30000usd, and a good one at twice the price.
Yeah, it's bizarre.


Well, while I am considering therapy after seeing Ptashek's tin-dipped chassis, things on my end seem to spell more doom than strides forward.
Three weeks ago, I was promised a temporarily drivable W116, ready in 2 weeks. Considering there's a storage room full of new parts available at the garage, no need for further delays, I thought.
I thought wrong. Yesterday I went to have a look, expecting the last hand to be laid on the car, but was shocked to see that only rear driveshaft and brake disks and calipers had been done.
Yes, the calipers were sand-blasted, primed and painted, internals refurbished, brake disks honed. They looked great, but that was all the news. At this speed, I am 2-3 months away from having my first day on the road. Not good, coz I need wheels fast, lest having to buy another car.

Moreover, I used the occasion to inspect all 2 cars for audio-options. One of the cars has top-dash speakers, ovals, 3.x4" There is literally nothing that can fit there except shallow 4" tweeters
The other 2 cars have low-mount dash speakers, again, no more room than 4", but unlimited depth. Allows for 4" 2-way Focals, 100W, but that's it. No further mods possible without hacking into the dash. Not an option.
I carefully measured all space under the seats, hoping for room for head unit, amp, and 2 ovals in custom-made boxes. There isn't.
I can fit an amp of good size, and one oval. That's it.
Checked the rear seat, hoping for space underneath for a custom-built woofer box. Never know the rear seat floor is absolutely flat. Can barely slip a magazine between the floor and the seat. Another no-go area.
As much as I love this car, this is some p-poor design. German businessmen must have really had a dislike for music. I was told it was an audio-unfriendly car, but this is impossible.
Naturally, hacking into the doors is a no-no, so we move to the hat shelf. None of my 3 cars have DIY holes there, which I thought was great, coz I don't like such mods.
But, this means I am properly out of options.
All that can be fitted there is a carefully designed woofer box, in the First aid compartment, removing the plastic casing, and lowering a box in there that can be fitted without damaging the structure. At least, that way, there is always the alternative to remove it, and place the first aid unit back in it's position. Could build a Zebrano speaker cover over it, as to hide the modern unit.
Guess that I will have to live with 2 tweeters visible in the corners of the hat shelf.

This gives me mid/high in the front, bass and tweeter in the back, a head unit hidden deep inside, behind the dash panel, and an amp under the seat..
Need to be lucky to be able to fit an oval under each chair, pointing rear-wards, whilst leaving room for an amp. My guess is the amp will have to find another location, maybe under the glove box, well-out of sight.
Then, I need to hope that rear-wards pointed ovals will sound good to the driver.
It needs to be tried, at risk of cost. One can't cruise a W116 without proper tunes!
If that fails as well, only then will Ibuild a new hat-shelf and place ovals in it, again leaving the option to return to original at any given time. I DO dislike the look of speakers in the hat shelf. That won't stop bothering me.

Anyways, while I was checking the cars, I bumped into more worrisome issues.
I had asked the mechanic to remove the Zebrano in one of the cars for me to do a restoration.
So he did, handing me the longest piece broken in half, and the smallest piece with only the veneer, and the main wood still in the car. Not good at all, for a first move towards restoration, but since I am supposed to learn how to restore wood, I did not make a big point out of it.

Second, the gaping dash hole had wires coming out of it in all directions, non-labeled. How was anyone going to remember where everything goes, 1 year from now?

Third, screws, washers, bolts, nuts, locks, bushings and rubbers were scattered over the floor and mid-console. Nothing was bagged, or marked.
I could foresee a restored car with all the wrong screws in the wrong places, missing washers, rivets and what not. Very worrisome.

Fourth, the mid console was removed, but apparently the mechanic dod not find the right way to remove it. Force was used, ripping one screw out of the dash, and breaking the connector on the mid console on the other side.
Vinyl was ripped.
This means I need to re-wrap a donor console. Very bad.

Fifth, the Italian-imported battery I bought brand new had not been on the trickle for 6 months. It was dead, and was going to remain dead.

Sixth, the white interior -the reason for importing this complete car from Holland, was covered in oil from oily mechanics hands.

At this point in time, I am properly worried, and p-off above all.
I am ready to get a trailer, load all 3 cars, and bring them elsewhere.
But where?

Today I will meet with the boss, and put down my foot.
They need to learn how to do these things, and not at my expense.
I will tell him that they need to take the donor car apart until the very last screw, in a professional matter, bagging screws, taking photos, categorizing and listing all parts. -At their own expense.
Only after that, I will pay them to commence work, completely dismantling the other 2 cars, meant for restoration.
If they refuse, I will walk. Any other option would be unwise.

With all the new, correct parts already sourced and imported by myself, this restoration job is no longer that difficult for a garage, I would think. 1. Finding parts, done. 2 Chassis-work, 10000 companies available. Leaves only, 3. Taking apart/putting back together. If I had the space, and time, I would do that myself. Alas, not an option.
We will see what happens today.

One thing is for sure.. I will not be driving a W116 any time soon.


Well, I had my talk with the boss, and he admits his regular mechanic is not up for the job. He will cover damages and has asked me to find 2 foreign mechanics abroad, to be employed in his new facility, being decorated as we speak, with 4 new bridges, and all the required gizmos.
That thread is now all over this forum.

I bought the first set of hifi, after comparing data for over a month. Scored from eBay Italy
Front, Focal KRS 100. Per set, 280 euro, containing 2x 4" mids, 2 tweeters and 2 filter units. (799usd at Crutchfield!)
Front amp Vintage Harman-Kardon CA260, for under the passenger chair.-on a sled. 200 euro.
Rear, JL Audio 10TW-3 shallow mount subwoofer, 10" to be fitted in the First-aid box on the hat shelf. 320 euro instead of 799usd at Crutchfield
Focal FPS 1500 monoblock for subwoofer, to be fitted in the bottom of the rear seat 400 bucks
Scored from eBay Japan:
Head set Pioneer DEX-P99R, (Japanese version DEH-P01. Same model, named Carrozzeria, 760usd, instead of 1150usd online for the Western version, with only the Japanese FM-radio band issue, something that can be easily solved by connection a small regular digital FM receiver)

I really hope this will do the trick. Well aware it is technically lacking strength in the lower-mids, but I see no way to install larger lower-mids anywhere in the car. I hope that the quality of the Focals and the Pioneer's auto-EQ will compensate for that.
To save on shipping and cost price, I bought an extra set KRS100, and maybe I will later find a way, -if required- to custom-build 2 small boxes for under the chair, with these 4" Focals in there, for further mid-support.
In the meantime, the second KRS set's free Focal tweeters will be placed in the hat shelf's corners. Regrettably, that much has to be.
I will now have to build a Zebrano speaker cover to hide the woofer from view.
The Pioneer will be mounted under the glove compartment, hidden from view.

In the meantime, shopping continues.

In Holland, I found a Yorke compressor for 55 bucks, a new windshieldwiperpump for 60 bucks, a first-aid kit, still sealed for 25 bucks, a rear-head-rest set, complete with mounting parts for 50 bucks and a source that has classic Benz OEM booklets of all types and sorts, in all kinds of languages. He has so many of them, says it is not even possible to give me a list.
I have ordered a OEM documentation holder, with parts manual, workshop manual, maintenance booklet, showroom folder and user manual, all for W116, in one language.

In Germany and Holland, I found 2 Behr Copper coolant overflow reservoirs, normally (optional) for 450 and 6.9
eBay offers these for 200 euros upwards, each.  I got them for 25 and 35 euros.
They will look smashing after stripping and waxing!
One of them has a cap missing.
Would anyone know  these have a special size, or are such caps generic in size?  If you have a cap, let me know!

Next up, I will be comparing my 3 sets of tool kits and figure out what's supposed to be in each of them.
After that, the hunt is on for 2 new tool bags-only, and if needed, plus 1 or 2 new A116 jacks.
Seems most jacks I find online are A124, and tool bags are A126.
Both can still be bought new at MB, but this car should have the A116 models, not?
Still, it looks like a very difficult task to find all of these in mint, complete condition.
Your links are appreciated, if you have any!


Here are some photos..


This week is all about finding trained mechanics. Been browsing Taiwan sites and blogs, and saw confirmed what we already knew: There isn't anyone in the country with any experience in this field. Not a single web page of anyone showing off, or offering restoration.
So, I have taken to my business Rolodex and have written letters to our suppliers in 15 different countries, hoping that may do the trick.
How else does one find mechanics that want to emigrate?
In the light of the state of the western economy today, there must be countless looking for a better life, I would think.
It simply about the hook-up.
I will also try the Dutch, Italian, Irish, French and German W116 forums.

Needless to say that I am beginning to feel quite worried now, with 3 cars, a container full of new parts, and no mechanic.


The brick wall remains. Even  though my cars have all been towed to the new facility, (under the same owners and mechanics), and now stand indoors, with a bridge reserved for them, I still have no mechanic.
Been digging in France a bit more, but nothing remotely certain for now.

In the meantime I am in love with a Citroen CX 25 Prestige...
May pick one up here  that is on offer, to numb the frustration a bit.
The bridal day is yet far away.


What can you do yourself?  Find a local specialist in each field and just move the car/s from one to the next....  It's almost impossible to find one person who can do everything well
1979 6.9 #5541 (Red Bull)
1978 6.9 #4248 (Skye)
1979 6.9 #3686 (Moby Dick)
1978 6.9 #1776 (Dora)
1977 450SEL #7010 white -P
1975 450SEL #8414 gold -P


Yes, I know.
Problem is that I already did that.
I only need someone that can take the car apart.. without a crowbar.
That's a pretty low threshold, not?
None can be found.


Here's a pic I found from the first week I started, the first W116 I bought.. Broke down 30 minutes after I bought it.


This is the third one I bought..Imported from Holland for parts.. I'll save you from having to see the many, many hidden holes in the chassis.. But: a mint Parchment interior and a 280se D-jet engine with a Dutch MOT.


The second one I bought is so ugly, I never bothered to take pics.
Imagine a once-Maroon-colored W116, in the Iraqi desert, parked in the bleaching sun for 40 years, with local kids having tossed a grenade in it at some point in time.
That leaves nothing to be re-used, except for the chassis, that is virtually rust-free.
Isn't it the strangest thing that the gorgeous looking red car is a disaster, and the disastrous Maroon one is a great restoration object?
The gray one has a good chassis as well, and looks to have a mint outfit, but that one -after close inspection- turned out to need replacements for almost every part imaginable.
All 3 cars ended up costing the same after having arrived at the workshop parking lot.
Conclusion: If you are going for a full rebuild, buy cheap, ignore everything, except the chassis. You won't be able to re-use much or anything else.


Well, while the hunt for a mechanic still goes on, finally a great update;
A contact in the Netherlands had all the interior parts I needed for a complete mint Bambus/Palomino outfit, as well as the replacement door panels etc for the parchment car. It took more than a year to find such an all-in-one supplier, but we're finally there.
We're shipping tomorrow, and I really hope it all turns out as pretty as the pictures promised.
This shipment includes a large pile of other new and used rare parts I bought in Germany, Holland and Belgium, and  can't wait to unpack them!
Photos in a week or 2!
What about a new-in-the-box tail light for 40 euros?


Some car audio updates..
Do NOT buy the high-end Pioneer DEX-P99, unless you know exactly what to expect.
This head set is immaculately fine, but it will require 2 external amps to function, one 6-channel amp and one monoblock.
The OUT's that come out of the head set are already split in 4 specific frequency ranges.
This means you MUST install 2 tweeters, 2 mids, 2 lows and a sub.
Good luck with that in a W116!
If you are not going that way, you will need more equipment to re-combine those 4 Out's into regular broad frequency Out's
That really makes buying such a high-end set redundant, and you will be better off just buying an external 24-dac unit to connect to a much-cheaper standard head set.
I am still to find out what it will be for me.
That said, I also did a 24-DAC upgrade at home, by installing the Sound Blaster ZXR Sound Card in my desktop, and there are no words to describe the size of that upgrade.
It is stunning. Buy one now!
I literally could take my expensive Onkyo pre-amp out of my amplification chain, and connect the desktop-out straight to the heavy duty final amps.

The Infinity Reference 6030CS 6.5" I ordered from the USA are very, very good for the modest price.
I now have them installed in my crappy CRV, connected to an even crappier head set, without external amps.
They sound absolutely amazing, considering they are given every possible disadvantage, bar a hot shower.


Well, since I have nothing else to do, and still no mechanic found, I thought I'd make a little list of mistakes I have made till now, maybe helpful to other people with silly plans like me.

First mistake.. no mechanic to build my car. Only thought of that after spending 50.000 on cars and parts. Still, that is a Taiwan-only issue, bar Burma.

Second biggest one... I bought 3 cars, not 1
It is hard enough to restore 1 car, let alone 2
The savings I thought I would make doing 2-in 1 shipping, etc, are not worth while.
In the end, unless you start as a mega-professional person, you will end up doing a lot of single shipments.
Also, many NLA/ONS stock items are not available in pairs.

The actual use of having a parts-car is yet to materialize.
A full restoration means you will have to buy mint parts.
Most parts cars do not have mint parts, just usable parts.
At best, for me, I hope to play even in cost and savings, which means there are no savings, in the best of cases. Not good.

Finding a mint interior is near impossible.
I spent 1.5 years searching for a set, and when I imported the first parts car, thinking the interior was mint, it turned out to be almost as bad as what I had already.
Sure, GAHH upholstery is great, but there is so much more paneling..
The solution is to restore the panels you have. Nobody suggested it to me.
If the plastic is faded, use vinyl-die, plus all the other preparation goodies in bottles.
If there are breaks in the plastic, fill them with resin, and then use vinyl die.
The door cards need to be redone with GAHH rosette vinyl.
The cardboard from the door cards need to be re-made out of new cardboard, same spec as the old ones.
Add new PU foam underneath and buy new rivets to hold the thing together.

When you put the doors back together, use the opportunity to sound-insulate all you can

Don't try fix the front seat springs. Order new units from MB
Rear seats can only be stiffened with PU rolls between the springs. Weld the broken parts. No new MB available.
Rear seat pads are now hard to come by. GAHH no more. Others not found yet.
Front rear pads are available from GAHH

Don't mess up the wooden interior parts with a fresh layer of lacquer. Take them out and have them restored properly. Anyone offering a 1 month job is not doing a good job. It takes 4 months at least.

HIFI. Read my post in this thread. It is not easy, but easy to get it wrong. I did it wrong, but it DID leave me with fat hifi for my daily car.

Rubbers. Jury is still out on that one. Equal people telling me to buy MB or aftermarket. I went MB all the way. Still need to see how the main door and window rubbers will fit -and hold.
One bonus: I spent months tracking down the cheapest suppliers worldwide, and ended up buying at the best prices.

If you are gonna do a full Monty, do not insist to do your own car, just because you have a w116.
Ignore everything on the car, except for the chassis. Make sure it's not rotten, underneath the seemingly mint interior and paint job. Better even, buy a stripped chassis if you have the option. Even better, buy a stripped one from a dry country. The extra shipping costs will be well worth it.

Time span: Forget about time spans. Drive something you can drive without a headache, and mark your W116 project as a non-scripted long-term project.

Do not buy parts until you have stripped your car completely. More problems will surface as you learn about the reality of things. For example, brake disks and calipers can easily be refurbished to mint condition. Rarely need for new.
Brake lines are easily forgotten and they can be very bad.
How about the rivets that hold the brake lines in place? Did you think of those, and do you know where to get them?

Do not start fixing anything until you have a complete collection of all the parts you will be needing.
If you prepare very well, the list of parts you forgot about will still be big enough for a decent headache.

Just like the door-fix, the moment the chassis has been refurbished is the time to cover what you can in durable sound/heat insulating materials. It really improves the ride. Airco needs not work overtime and less driving noise. It's the wrong time to save money here.

Do not use your old cable-tree. Have a new one made from scratch. Make sure the all cables are covered in a non-degradable coating. Many cables rot after a decade. Ask GM/Opel about that.
Make sure your fuse box is excellent.


For now, last thing to add to my list of mistakes.. Get the EPC, learn to use it properly, before doing much of anything.
I did it almost last, not advisable!

Anyways.. good news it seems: My restoration guy says they are now getting ready to commence doing my W116's
They have the staff it takes, and we are even talking about a 6 months time span, to get to the point where 3 cars have been stripped, parts bagged and photographed, and 2 selected naked chassis have been restored to new.
That will allow me some time to finalize my final MB bulk purchase, and order my last GAHH batch, the Palomino leather outfit.
With these last 2 shipments, added to 1.5 years of preparation and random worldwide shopping for NLA/NOS and discounted parts, I should be at 99% completion of my collection of the parts required to do 2 "Concourse" cars in one go.
Could it really be happening now?