Author Topic: My first W116 here at last  (Read 99355 times)

gavin116

  • Classic
  • **
  • Posts: 407
  • 1979 450SE
  • Location: London, UK
My first W116 here at last
« on: 10 April 2011, 11:54 AM »
Dear All,

I thought I might introduce myself now that I am the official owner of my childhood dream car, a W116.  Back in 1974 when I was going on five, my interest in motor cars was sky rocketed by this marvellous car.  Our next door neighbour (an orthopaedic surgeon) decided to spoil his wife: a 350SE in Sahara Yellow with Bamboo leather upholstery.  However not to be out done, the civil engineer living across the road from us, done very similar, and soon his wife too was driving a 350SE in Signal Red with Parchment leather.  I really preferred the latter, and I still think any Benz looks great in red!  Aside from the looks, another thing still firmly entrenched in my mind is the sound of that wonderful three and a half litre V8 being floored, as the civil engineer's wife Sheila gunned it up our hilly road.  (The 350 was the flagship in South Africa, as we didn't get the 450 in the W116, although I think it may have been an option in the R107 although I stand to correction.)

Well, having trawled the internet for ages looking for a W111 300SE, I had all but given up hope of owning a classic Mercedes, when I stumbled on the 'org'.  This rekindled my childhood dream, and soon I was looking for a W116.  Having done a bit of homework, I discovered that the 350 wasn't a popular model here in the UK, and that the 450 was the car to go for.  As the car may yet be used at our Spanish home on occasion, I needed a car with air-con, and because our drive is so steep and curved, a SE would be more manoeuvrable than a SEL.

The internet revealed a few really nice single owner 450SEL's in lovely paint combos, and I really liked a metallic blue as well as an icon gold car, but alas neither had air-con (both cars sold really quickly).  Undeterred, I continued to search, and would you believe another 450 came up for sale, SE wheelbase and air-con!  Problem being it was Classic White with black plaid upholstery, not my ideal colour or choice of upholstery.

Nevertheless, here I went again (having looked at a few W116's which were unsuitable) to take a look and a test drive.  Well, what can I say, it was love at first sight, it nearly took a lemon to get the smile off my face.  The car has a one owner history, and is very largely unmolested and in original near mint condition.  The owners pack in the glove box even included the "blank spare key" (not sure what you called this key, it is basically the metal component, without the black plastic housing), it has a full service history stamped in its logbook (till she was laid up in a garage for several years), and her data card, revealing that she was a very nicely specked car (except maybe the cloth upholstery - in my opinion), even the red card from the cruise control etc., etc.

I bought the car there and then, or rather paid a deposit.  A few weeks later, I completed the deal after some strong negotiating by text messages whilst skiing in the French Alps, although I still feel that I paid £1K too much.  But then, I figured you don't see many 116's come up for sale in the UK in this condition.  Indeed, I cannot say that after living in the UK for 12 years that I have seen a single 116 on the road! After much wrangling, I finally managed to organise a gap to go and fetch the car; you see my partner doesn't know that I have bought a classic car! ... yet ...

So here I stood one week before my birthday outside Leeds train station with the keys to my 116, and early birthday present to myself. I thanked the owner for delivering her to the station saving me a lot of time and hassle to get get to his village some 40 miles away.  I hooked up the TomTom, inserted my new iPod cassette into the radio, selected Neil Diamond, ABBA and other seventies music from my play list, slipped the gear lever in D, and off I went!

The car does have some idling issues, and idles fairly roughly when cold, and is slightly better when warm.  Nevertheless, she handled the Leeds city centre traffic with ease, and then, she took to the motorway with just the same level of consummate ease. The auto gearbox is truly amazing!  It shifts up and down wonderfully well.

The next issue I found was that the cruise control wasn't working properly (on the test drive, the air-con wasn't operational, and the cruise control did engage, but the speed wavered up and down by 5 miles either way).  The vacuum system is well, as the unit will accelerate, but it will not hold a speed.  I realise that I will need a rebuilt actuator.  Otherwise, she did well at motorway speed.  I kept to 65 ~ 70 mph, as I do not know the car well enough yet.  However on some overtake manoeuvres, it willingly touched 90 mph, and I could feel that she was not yet out of breath by a long way!

At that speed however, the steering did feel a little light and woolly, and I will need someone to look at the steering components to see if we can remove some of the play in the system.  I must say that I found the seats to be wonderfully supportive and comfortable.  And seeing as though we may well have experienced one of our ten days of summer, the cloth seats were very good on the skin in the hot weather, and I never once got stuck to the seats.  I did however notice two thing about the centre armrest.  I felt that it was positioned too low, and strangely, mine is connected to the passenger seat (i.e. the left hand side seat).

Being laid up for so long, I was a trifle worried about the radiator and cooling system.  Well, as per our British road system, that was put to the test too!  About halfway through my journey, an accident occurred on the motorway, and I drove into the back of a long tailback.  Well, we took an hour to cover just a few miles.  I was not very comfortable with this arrangement, however there was no incident, the heat gauge which ran just a little over half way (175F: stupid temperature scale, as I understand Celsius) then started to steadily climb to just over the 3/4 mark (212F). I am not sure what would have happened if the air-con was howling away?  Was I right to worried about the gauge reading 3/4?  This did prompt me to turn the car off from time to time.  She did however start first time every time, so no hot starting issues there.

Everything was going really well until the last four miles of my journey's end when the car started to misbehave really badly! Suddenly I was suffering from intermittent fuel starvation and miss-firing problems.  This caused the car to stall on several occasions, and I think I was very lucky to get her to the storage facility.  I did get out the car with the engine spluttering, and as I approached the rear of the car, I hear a whirring sound which I thought was the fuel pump.  I can only assume that some of my problems may be a overheated or seizing fuel pump, dirt in the system, I think the tank was only drained when it was recommissioned and not 'cleaned out', or I had run dry?

She was fed 76 litres of fuel and I travelled 230 miles, the needle still indicating 1/4 tank left. Feeling somewhat fed up and exhausted as my day started at 4:40 AM, I left the car at the storage facility, and took the train up to London.  I hope to go and see the car this coming Friday, where I plan to look at her more closely.  I will see if I can fill her up, and see if the fuelling problems resolve themselves.  I would also like to look at the air-con, but don't know where to start.

Hopefully in a few weeks I shall take her up north to the SL Shop where she will get the necessary attention that she needs:
1)  Full service.  Including fixing the rough idling problem.
2)  Brake service - I will renew all discs, pads etc, and also get them to look at the "brake" light that comes on and off, could well be the floats in the brake reservouir.
3)  5 new tyres, she has 14inch Bundt alloys.
4)  Air-con re-commissioned.
5)  Radiator re-cored, new water pump, radiator hoses etc, as well as "mercedes" antifreeze.
6)  Retro fit a rev counter that I have already acquired.
7)  Sorting the cruise control.
8 )  Discuss feasibility of new battery and alternator.
9)  Look into the feasibility of retro fitting rear seat belts.
10)  Look at replacing some of the exhaust, or again feasibility of renewing entire exhaust with a stainless steel type.
11)  Assessing the bodywork.  There is a small rust issue in the engine bay.  Also some minor rust on the sunroof tray, and it had some work done to the sills [the repairers didn't follow the correct black colour for the wheel wells and the lower sills  :(]  Also refitting the headlight wiper arms if I cannot do so myself.  I would have really liked to get more hands on myself, but lack of a workspace and tools is my obstacle at the moment.  Although not a mechanical genius, I am not entirely cack-handed.

Well, I look forward to many pleasurable hours with the 450.  I would value any advice from fellow members, and also would really like to meet any other Londoners who own 116's, or indeed anyone else in the UK.

Regards

Gavin

P.S. Stork, that new 116 badge will look so cool with my classic white paint job!
P.P.S. I shall endeavour to post some pictures on the net, have seen how it is done on the forum, lucky for me "Stork" has a mac too!

Left hand side front three quarter view

Left hand side rear three quarter view

View of driver's seat

Rear seat right hand side

« Last Edit: 28 May 2011, 01:37 AM by gavin116 »

carl888

  • Vintage
  • ***
  • Posts: 715
  • Location: Melbourne
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #1 on: 10 April 2011, 05:27 PM »
Congratulations Gavin, that is a very nice car, I think the interior works well and I like the colour combination (As i have a white one myself :)


WGB

  • W116 Addict
  • ****
  • Posts: 3,280
  • And on the eighth day he made the 116
  • Location: Perth - Western Australia
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #2 on: 10 April 2011, 06:08 PM »
Hi Gavin - welcome to our worls.

I will have a look thorugh your pictures when I get a faster internet connection.

A few observations.

1) The wheel wells were originally in body colour it is only the sills that were painted black.

2) The cruise control is usually the ampflier whose capacitators age and they can be re-built easily enough. It lives in teh dash area behind the instruments.

3) I din't know they made a 450- without a tach - instructions on fitting one should be readily available on thsi site.

4) Get the cooling system checked and the radiator cleaned ( Here we get the tanks removed and the core rodded clean) - incorrect timing and mixture can also cause these motors to run hot. Water pumps only need to be replaced if they leak.

Bill

KenM

  • Vintage
  • ***
  • Posts: 596
  • Yeah magnets
  • Location: Brisbane, Aus
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #3 on: 11 April 2011, 05:02 AM »
Nice one Gavin, the black interior goes really well with the white, very nice combo. Strange about the armrest being attached to the passenger seat, the car wasn't originally LHD was it?

Good luck with it, looks like a good buy.
Mexican girl: 'We could go for a walk outside and you can kiss me on the verandah'
Chevy Chase: 'On the lips will be fine'

3 amigos

gavin116

  • Classic
  • **
  • Posts: 407
  • 1979 450SE
  • Location: London, UK
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #4 on: 11 April 2011, 02:32 PM »
Hi Bill

Yes, it does seem odd that a 450 would have the clock only and not a rev counter.  Anyhow, that shall soon be changed.  The new clocks arrived today, I shall look at them tomorrow.  In the meanwhile, look at all that lovely Zebrano on the the dash.  I didn't realise that the wheel wells were body colour, they always look dark so I just assumed that they were painted black.  Thanks for the other advice, I shall follow up on this before I part with any money (re: the radiator)

The dashboard

The speedo and clock

And Ken

I am not sure why the armrest is attached to the passenger seat.  But I did look at the "Vin" number again, and the 7th number is definitely a number "2" which signifies a RHD vehicle.  I can only assume that a gremlin must have crept into the production line, how un-teutonic!.  I cannot wait to go and see the car this Friday.  I hope that I can get her running well again to do the trip up north in a few weeks time.

The "vin plate"

Regards

Gavin
« Last Edit: 28 May 2011, 01:38 AM by gavin116 »

jbrasile

  • W116 Addict
  • ****
  • Posts: 1,217
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #5 on: 11 April 2011, 02:57 PM »
Congratulations Gavin!

Love the plaid seats! Tach was an option even on the 450SEL, I have actually seen a couple here in Brazil for sale with no tach. It is pretty straight forward to install.

The only 116 where a rev counter was std was the 6.9

Tks,

Joe

WGB

  • W116 Addict
  • ****
  • Posts: 3,280
  • And on the eighth day he made the 116
  • Location: Perth - Western Australia
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #6 on: 11 April 2011, 06:55 PM »
All German production cars had the armrest on teh Left hand seat whether LHD or RHD.

South African Production cars were the only ones with the armrest on a RHD driver's seat. This continued through the 126 range as well.

What you call the VIN plate is actually the build plate and has the build number as found on the original Data Card as well as the codes for the extras fitted - many of which would have actually been standard for the particular market it was destined for.

737G is paint code 737 - G is for Glasurit brand paint.

The actual VIN should be stamped on the firewall upper central and will be different from the build number on the plate.

If it is a 1979 model give us the VIN number and I can probably guess the month it was built.

Bill


KenM

  • Vintage
  • ***
  • Posts: 596
  • Yeah magnets
  • Location: Brisbane, Aus
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #7 on: 12 April 2011, 02:42 AM »
Yep definitely a UK delivered car Gavin.

Bill I dunno about the armrest thing, my Aus delivered 450 has the armrest attached to the drivers seat. My UK car has it attached to the passenger side, (also RHD), there must have been some logic to it somewhere.
Mexican girl: 'We could go for a walk outside and you can kiss me on the verandah'
Chevy Chase: 'On the lips will be fine'

3 amigos

jbrasile

  • W116 Addict
  • ****
  • Posts: 1,217
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #8 on: 12 April 2011, 05:05 AM »
My 74 280S LHD had the arm rest attached to the passenger seat.

Both 450SEL's  the 78 and the 80 LHD have it on the driver's seat, I think they changed this around 76 together with the other mods such as K-Jet, etc...

Joe

WGB

  • W116 Addict
  • ****
  • Posts: 3,280
  • And on the eighth day he made the 116
  • Location: Perth - Western Australia
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #9 on: 12 April 2011, 06:36 AM »
Interesting info.

Both my RHD 450SEL and 6.9 have it attached to the passenger seat.

I owned a 1987 126 300SE and it was attached to the passenger seat.

I have only seen one 126 280SE with it attached to the driver's seat and that was a South African Car - I was told at the time all RHD SA cars were the same.

When I re-upholstered my 6.9 I thought of swapping sides - didn't look particularly difficult to acheive but decided to leave it in it's original position.

Bill

TJ 450

  • W116 Addict
  • ****
  • Posts: 4,123
  • Location: Rockingham, Western Australia
    • Tim's Insulators Downunder
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #10 on: 12 April 2011, 08:43 AM »
If I remember correctly, Carl Jones' car has the arm rest on the driver's seat.

Tim
1976 450SEL 6.9 1432
1969 300SEL 6.3 1394
2003 ML500

gavin116

  • Classic
  • **
  • Posts: 407
  • 1979 450SE
  • Location: London, UK
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #11 on: 12 April 2011, 12:42 PM »
Hi Bill

I have the Vin number, it is 116 032 22 094711.  Looking at the service book, I see the delivery date was 12 Sep 1979.  Nevertheless, I would be very interested to know when my car was actually produced.  I also have the original data card.

Regards

Gavin

Data Card

Vin Number
« Last Edit: 12 August 2011, 10:05 AM by gavin116 »

adamb

  • Vintage
  • ***
  • Posts: 564
  • 1977 450SEL6.9
  • Location: London, UK
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #12 on: 13 April 2011, 06:25 AM »
Hi Gavin,

Welcome to the list and congratulations on your purchase. I am a fellow Londoner - living in Wapping presently. My 6.9 is the the same 737 colour code as yours but not for long, see my other posts. I have not seen many 116s around London or the UK for that matter. By comparison 107 convertibles are positively common.

Having owned a fair few 116s over the years I can confirm that German built RHD cars all have an armrest on the passenger seat. Nowadays I think it's a nice quirk. Let me know how you get on with fixing that cruise control as mine needs work too - it doesn't work full stop.

No idea how much you paid but the cost of putting the car right will cost more most likely. However, the delight of owning and driving a 116 in good condition will be worth it.

Adam

gavin116

  • Classic
  • **
  • Posts: 407
  • 1979 450SE
  • Location: London, UK
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #13 on: 13 April 2011, 11:32 PM »
Hello Adam

Nice to hear from you.  I was following your posts, and recall that you are having your paint work done.  The last pictures I saw, the car was without its chromework. How is the job coming along?  Do you have any during pictures from the paintshop.  I seem to remember that you are going for a custom black metallic if my memory serves me correct.

Anyhow, at some stage I must come over to see you and the 116, seeing as I live very close by in Hammersmith.  Do you still have your parts car, and if so what colour combo is it?  What does the centre consol look like?  Also looking for rear seat belts, an a few bits and bobs

You are right about our cars being bottomless pits when it comes to money...

Looking forward to meeting you some time soon, hopefully when I get my fuel starvation and miss-firing problems sorted.

Gavin

Can't wait to see Stork's bonnet (hood) badge in the flesh.

calvin streeting

  • Classic
  • **
  • Posts: 393
  • Location: Maidstone,Kent, England
Re: My first W116 here at last
« Reply #14 on: 14 April 2011, 12:08 AM »
well done.. I live in kent, but work in eltham (south east london). maybe we should all meet up :)