Author Topic: W116 SWB/LWB and engines  (Read 6069 times)

Denis

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W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« on: 18 December 2005, 10:28 AM »
 Hi friends

What is the difference between a (W116) short and  long wheelbase  in terms or roadholding ?

Comments on personal experience are the only really valid things. No OPINIONS please.

I had both but cant decide :-)

Denis

Paris, superb" Noel" lights on Champs Elysees

Denis

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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #1 on: 20 December 2005, 03:22 AM »
Hi Styria

While you are opening up the issue of handling to various models from Mercedes, I can tell you that my first Benz, a 1968 W114 230 actually felt more stable than the bigger, later cars I have driven.

And my W109 6.3 was impressive despite the mass. Adding full auto-levelling really helped that classic broken axle design !

Seasons greetings


Denis


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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #2 on: 08 January 2006, 01:07 AM »
Back when 116's were new I drove several models all 280's and 450's and some were long and some were short wheelbases - all had Euro Spec Engines. Apart from the V8 throb and the difference in fuel consumption there was very little to notice that was different. There was no perceptible handling or performance difference but the L's were all harder to park.
Most people who had owned both preferred the shorter wheelbase if they had to park in Cities.
Unfortunately the Australian 280 seems to have had a major loss in power due to emission controls after 1976 which was not a problem in the Euro or South African cars.
I have owned a 300 SE 126 car and was always happy that this was a short wheelbase car - I have driven 420SE/SEL and 560SEL and found the 420's gearing was so tall that the 300 felt much nippier. It took the 560 motor to produce the necessary power for the gearing.

Bill Babe
Western Australia
Cars owned in past - 1958 220S Ponton, 1987 300 SE, 1994 E280, 1998 230SLK
Cars owned presently - 1979 450SEL, 2002 ML 270CDI, 2003 E320

Mforcer

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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #3 on: 08 January 2006, 12:03 PM »
Hi Denis,

I think you made our lives difficult when you wrote "No OPINIONS please." That is all we have here ???

I asked a similar question http://forum.w116.org/index.php/topic,4.0.html some time ago and was left without a solid answer for what at the time I suspected was what Bill (welcome Bill!) just wrote - there is no great difference between the models, with the possible exception of the 6.9 but even then the difference is not huge until it is pushed past the limits of the other models.

I sat in the back of a 'L' once and thought it was nice to be able to stretch the legs but never understood why I would want an 'L' when I was always in the front seat. Longer wheelbase cars are meant to have better handling but I guess 100mm does not make a perceptible difference given the other dimensions of the car.

Regards,
Michael
Michael
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Denis

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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #4 on: 08 January 2006, 02:00 PM »
Michael and all

Sorry for "NO opinions", but you see Bill has the right idea, having driven them.

As for the 6.3 massive bottom wishbones that are inclined to fracture or break in that area, they all eventually fracture on the inside. The 6.3 IS a money pit hot rod while the 6.9 is an "engineered" car.

I always thought that longer wheel base cars were for more comfort and not better roadholding...and I am surprised about the idea that there is "no difference" as I bet there is if any that the weight difference between an M110 and an M100 should make the 6.9 understeer more.

Driving a 280SE and a 450SEL 6.9 back to back should give some experience, I just thought that someone here might have done that.

In retrospect, I think that a W123 with bundts and 205 tyres with a 3.5/4.5 engine would have been the ultimate sporty Mercedes saloon of the seventies.

Thanks to all

Denis

Paris, France


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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #5 on: 08 January 2006, 03:52 PM »
Sorry for "NO opinions", but you see Bill has the right idea, having driven them.

As for the 6.3 massive bottom wishbones that are inclined to fracture or break in that area, they all eventually fracture on the inside. The 6.3 IS a money pit hot rod while the 6.9 is an "engineered" car.

I always thought that longer wheel base cars were for more comfort and not better roadholding...and I am surprised about the idea that there is "no difference" as I bet there is if any that the weight difference between an M110 and an M100 should make the 6.9 understeer more.

Driving a 280SE and a 450SEL 6.9 back to back should give some experience, I just thought that someone here might have done that.

I think the problem these days is that not many people have the different models available to test drive and when they do there is often one of the cars not in as good condition as the other, making impossible a fair comparison. I wasn't even born yet when the 6.9 was released so a test drive was certainly out of the question  ;D

From a performance aspect, I need to research on the benefits of longer cars but I think it has to do with the straight line stability at speeds but I also don't think MB intended this as a goal. Long wheel bases compromise with more difficulty turning, like a bus, but this is taking things to extreme.

Quote
In retrospect, I think that a W123 with bundts and 205 tyres with a 3.5/4.5 engine would have been the ultimate sporty Mercedes saloon of the seventies.

I agree with this, or even better as an AMG. I would be curious to know how a W123 280E AMG would perform compared to any W116 considering a relatively high output engine, lighter body (and engine with 2.8 vs 3.5/4.5/6.9) and sports suspension and rims/tyres.

Cheers,
Michael
Michael
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2006 B200

WGB

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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #6 on: 08 January 2006, 05:48 PM »
Hi All,

I was alive in the era of the 70's Benzes and always lusted after a 123 280 E but it was never meant to be. I drove several examples when they were new but never drove a 350 or a 6.9.
The most exhilarating was a 280E 123 but the 116's were as quick but always felt more stately. At this stage I lived in New Zealand and all the motors were non-emissioned Euro spec.
I was a country Doctor and many of my patients were High Country Cattle farmers and they all liked big Benzes. I was able to drive most of them and as they changed their cars every year I tried a reasonable spread. I also had to drive a number of them home when they had more to drink than I.
In 1985 I migrated to Australia and was very disappointed in the emission strangled 280 motor that was normal fare here. I have driven UK and South Africa Imports which drive like the 280 I remember.

The E class have until recently always been the fastest and Nippier real world Benz's which real paypackets can afford to look after.
Today it must be the condition of the cars that affect the driving experience.
My 450SEL drove like a dray and steered like a barge until I spent a week and about $1000 on suspension, brake and FI parts. Now it drives just the same as I remember they drove 30 years ago.

Bill Babe



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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #7 on: 08 January 2006, 06:40 PM »
I migrated to Australia and was very disappointed in the emission strangled 280 motor that was normal fare here.

Were the Oz-delivered 116s strangled like those sad US versions?

My 280SE is a UK import, so perhaps that's why it seems much livelier than other 116 280SEs that I've driven.

WGB

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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #8 on: 08 January 2006, 06:49 PM »
My understanding was that the Euro 280 had about 185 HP, The USA version got down to 110. Australia bought in Emission controls in 1976 or thereabouts and I think the 280 motor went down to about 125 HP.

Earlier ones presumably had the full 185HP motor.

They certainly don't drive with any real go once you get a strangled engine. This includes the 126 280SE which had a new lease of life when it became the 300SE ( I owned a 300 SE for 5 years at the time and it had some usable performance).

Bill

Captain Spalding

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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #9 on: 09 January 2006, 11:33 AM »
Driving a 280SE and a 450SEL 6.9 back to back should give some experience, I just thought that someone here might have done that.

Regarding the cars you mentioned above, I've got one of each. Commenting on handling, even with personal experience, is very subjective. Tossing them both around some curves, it's easy to get the impression that the 280 handles better. The steering is lighter, the engine is revving faster, there's more body lean and altogether more road feel. All that gets the adrenaline going. On Mulholland Drive, at least, the 280 is more "fun" to drive. Because the limits of the 6.9 are so much higher, I can't even get it breathing hard on Mulholland. But if you define handling as "road holding," the 6.9 wins. The 280 will almost always slide before the 6.9 does.

I feel compelled to add, and with no disrespect intended to Denis, in the grand scheme of things, they all handle poorly, IMHO.

[Edit:] A thousand apologies. Call it a Monday-morning-moment. I was comparing a W109 280SE to a 6.9. It didn't occur to me that Denis was referring to a 116 280SE until hours later. Duh.  :-[
« Last Edit: 09 January 2006, 04:04 PM by Captain Spalding »
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Denis

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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #10 on: 10 January 2006, 09:56 PM »
Dear captain Spalding

109s ? non-non-non, this is a W116 site ! besides a 280SE of the older generation would be a 108 with tha infamous low-pivot swing axle going back to the days of the 500K.

In any case, I suspect that your comments almost apply. The W116 280SE has smaller tyres which tends to ensure some sliding...

As for poor handling, I would not call it "poor". It is predictable which is already a sign of decent handling. But these cars are simply too heavy to handle "very well". I must say that they dont come anywhere near an E30 from that "other" RWD german manufacturer ! and I do mean an E30, not the later cars.

Denis

Paris, France


hokman

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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #11 on: 23 January 2006, 02:54 AM »
Now I get it.  The 280se feels more fun partly because it had the shorter wheelbase, which often means more nimble and responsive if less stable.  The 450sel has the long wheelbase, better ride and more stability if that means less fun and nimbleness.

Denis, sorry to be a bit off topic.  Being in France, you should have driven some really fantasic handling cars.  Although most are Front drive, have you driven a 505 GTi or turbo(for the sake of FR), or a BX 19 GTi 16v.  How do they compare to these benzes, and where does a volvo 240 turbo place in this contest?
« Last Edit: 23 January 2006, 03:01 AM by hokman »

Denis

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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #12 on: 24 January 2006, 05:22 AM »
Hi hokman

Yes, I have driven a 505 GTi and it was a good car.

But the problem with french cars is overall quality and value : the Peugeot 604 failed lamentably as a challenger to the Mercedes 250 back in 1980 due to niggly, constant quality problems.

Citroens are notorious for reliability problems : the 1989 Citroen XM was a superb car on paper, its computerised hydro-pneumatic suspension with self-leveling was far ahead of anything else at the time but in production it had : problems, problems, and more problems...

French administrators have no feel for really good sports cars of any kind : Matra (ironically a genuine race car manufacturer) never made a powerful Murena (Lotus competitor), Renault dumped the Alpine in 1995 (which had finally had become a Porsche 911 competitor) and today, nobody offers a "noble" engine in France : more than six cylinders.

Also, I cannot accept the absolute ugliness of most french cars. Renault is the worst.

But Renault may change as its leader (the Brazilian Carlos Ghosn) wants world class cars with more "engine", "style", "sports"...

In conclusion, France had no serious competitors to a W116, a W123, a W126, a W107, or similar vehicules of the 70-80s. And frankly, was there a practical saloon of the 80s that could beat a good BMW 3-series (E30) on a windy road ? maybe a W201 with 16V engine but then that competed with an M3.

France made GREAT cars long ago : Bugatti, Salmson, Talbot and more recently Facel-Vega :

http://www.autoretropassion.com/fv3/fv3-his.htm


Regards


Denis

Paris, France




John Hubertz

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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #13 on: 07 February 2006, 08:42 PM »
"Were the Oz-delivered 116s strangled like those sad US versions?" (quote from ozbenzhead, first page)


"Sad US Versions??"  ARRRRRGH  (resists impulse to reach into the badge discussion and grab a modified baseball bat).....

(deep calming breath)

Ahemm...

I have a book on the topic, and know that Mercedes Benz went to incredible lengths to match their own rigorous performance standards with their emissions laden US specification cars.  Evidence the 107, which they refused to import with the 2.8 and literally designed a new powertrain installation for the USA market. 

I will admit that despite their best efforts, performance losses did occur, but these cars are nobody's weak sister.  They have incredible reliability, due in no small part to lower compression and much milder distributor advance curves.  In an era when the fastest American car one year was a COSWORTH VEGA the Mercedes was a Prince among Paupers.

What is difficult to know without having lived through it is that from 1974 - 1984, many American cars and lots of foreign imports barely could start and run.  I was an engineer for Ford, and trailer-hitching, intermittent stalling and predetonation to the point of piston failure was considered irreversible, unrepairable and normal for many vehicles sold here in the 1970s and 1980s.  New cars ran terribly, and cars with 100,000 miles simply did not run at all.  Evidence my beloved 1984 Mercury Colony Park wagon, which simply was undriveable on cruise control due to engine surge.  Mercedes performance in that context is simply amazing.

(another breath)

Now, my salvo:

Frankly, I'm not at all impressed with the appearance of the European specification cars.  I prefer the large bumpers visually and do not mind the extra mass, as if I wanted a lightweight car I would buy another Toyota Celica GT.  Take those sissy European Jaguar bumpers and throw them into the Atlantic they shoud never have crossed!  They do look appropriate in Europe, but do not look proper parked in front of my very American tri-level three blocks from one of fourteen McDonalds restaurants and one of four Wal-Marts in this rather small town.  Where I live, a 116 is considered relatively small and nimble, and has an amazingly tight turning radius - and I've never parked anything but SELs.  Try to parallel park a new Cadillac Escalade or a dual-rear-wheel Ford crew cab truck and you will recognize how diminutive a 116 is.

A proper 116 in my (forgive please) opinion... is the American specification later model K-Jet 4.5s and 6.9s.  Tanklike construction, stubborn anti-revisionist mechanical fuel injection, Teutonic indifference even to government regulation.  Virtually a medium-duty commercial truck tucked neatly under a sedan.  A vault.  Orson Welles with wheels.

Aaaaack!  "Rosebud!"



« Last Edit: 07 February 2006, 09:14 PM by John Hubertz »
John Hubertz
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Re: W116 SWB/LWB and engines
« Reply #14 on: 17 February 2006, 03:45 AM »
I would concur that I think the road manners of W116 as we percieve them now is more related the the condition of the individual car than the particular flavour of W116.

Here in South Africa I have driven my 280SE as daily and business transport from 1998 to early 2006 when I took delivery of a nice W140 500SEL as a replacement.  I have at times in my W116 travelled 4000km on business in one month.  MOst of this has been on unpredictable back roads at night which have less than perfect road surface. 

I have always found the W116 gave me huge confidence to attack these road conditions at 140km/h and the chassis is able to laugh at the road surface corrugations and undulations. 

In all this mileage the worst that happened was one one occasion I "drove over" a truck tire that I had't seen lying in the road in the dark and rain.  I must have been doing about 110km/h.  The impact was so hard and loud and such a surprise that I nearly soiled my pants.  But the W116 held a straight line and I braked safely and got out to inspect the damage.  There was some denting in of the floor pan on the drivers side, and subsequent investigation showed that the lower front wishbone was slightly bent.  (and you know how tough that is). 

Point of this is, the W116 will never handle like a modern "hot hatch" or a tuned compact BMW, but it wasn't meant to.  It was intended to provide elegant, very fast, very safe transport under even difficult conditions.  I have had the PRIVILEDGE of enjoying a W116 in its element for 8 years.  I couldn't ask for more.

BTW : tyres make a big difference to the handling of the W116.  I have found the Bridgestone Turanza GR50 in 205/70HR14 to be without equal.  Nothing even comes close in terms of giving your W116 crisp and confident handling.  I have tried other tires (some hightly regarded) and found that in comparison most are dismal.  Low absolute grip, indifferent directionality.

CHeers, Ryan in South Africa

'76 6.9 Euro, '78 6.9 AMG, '80 280SE, '74 350SE, '82 500SEL euro full hydro, '83 500SEL euro full hydro , '81 500SL