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MB Spares Newsletter No.135

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Hello and welcome to the September MB Spares Newsletter. Wow was the last one really in June? What has prompted us to get another newsletter published is two exciting upcoming events here in Canberra. The Mercedes-Benz Club of the ACT 38th Annual Concours and "Spin weekend" and event held as part of the ACT's 100th birthday celebrations.

Mercedes-Benz Club of the ACT 38th Concours d 'Elegance and Display Day.

This year the MBCACT Concours is being held at the picturesque location of the Old Parliament House lawns on the 22nd of September. The event is being held as part of the 2013 Shannon's German Auto Display. For the first time the MBCACT is encouraging non members to enter the Concours! The rules and entry forms can be found at the clubs website.

Historically this has always been a great event which attracts entrants from all over Australia. The other German Car Clubs add to the day making a great day out for anyone appreciates German Cars. MB Spares will be displaying a few of our cars including our latest project a W123 500CE. This car is a recreation of a very rare and very expensive AMG model that was offered in the early 80's. (You can read more about this exciting car below) also on display will be our sunning 74000km 300E, if you have been thinking about this car it will be worth your time to come and take a look. We look forward to seeing you there.

Cars for sale.

As usual when we go for a few months with no Newsletter there is quite a bit of turnover in our cars for sale section.

Cars sold include a stunning W203 C230 (rare V6 version), a great W126 300SE and plenty more. We still have the CLK320AMG which surprises me as it is a great looking car. In August I drove this to Benalla (in Victoria) and back in a day to attend a funeral. Very comfortable and great fuel consumption.

We also have a pair of 500SL's a W107 and a W129. You can find details on them all at the links below:

500SL, import, but that's a good thing!!

300E only 74000kms

W107 500SL very rare model in Australia.

R500 wagon. The ultimate Mum truck.

E280CDI, update rocket ship.

E270CDI sedan.

CLK320, factory fitted AMG options.

Look Mum, I'm famous.

Well not quite. But John did manage to get his picture in the paper... You can see the article here.

Spin Weekend.

ACT based readers of the Newsletter will no doubt know that this year the ACT is celebrating its 100th birthday. As part of the celebrations all aspects of life in the ACT the Car lovers have their day on Saturday the 19th of October. It is called Spin Saturday and is part of Spin a month of celebrations of all things "wheeled" that have been a part of the development of the ACT.

Spin Saturday will be held at the TAMS depot which is close by to MB Spares so we will be displaying several of our cars along with many other from the members of the Mercedes-Benz Club of the ACT. The day looks like being a great one that will go way into the night with a band of Petrol heads going by the name of the "The Petrolsexuals", lead by Mark Seymour of Hunters and Collectors. According to the blub we have been given the songs will all feature lyrics, rants and rhythms that are odes to the car.

Mercedes-Benz Club members who would like to display their car should contact Richard Jackson whose phone number is on the front of your magazine. Admission to the general public is free and MB Spares toughly recommends this event to you.


Yes I know we keep plugging the Facebook page. But, I thought I should point out that you don't have to have a Facebook account to check in on our page and see what is being discussed. In the last few months we have had some great pictures and discussions. Here are a few examples:

- Ring Ring

- What caused this?

- What's wrong with this?

- Who made this?

- A safety warning.

- Pictures of Johns travels.

- Embarrassing moments.

The reality is that updating the Facebook page is only a few minutes a few times a week. Compared to publishing a Newsletter it is easy! Don't get me wrong, we certainly plan to continue the newsletters. But, at the same time we need to move with the times.

W123 500CE

No such model I hear you say?? Well yes Mercedes-Benz never offered a V8 version of the W123 chassis, but I think they were thinking about it. If you come along to the MBCACT Concours you can see our recreation of the M117 5.0lt conversion that AMG offered in the early 80s. You won't believe just how many parts you can take from a 500SEL and bolt straight into a w123 chassis. It's not quite as straight forward as it sounds, but compared to over conversions we have done like the 560GEthis one was a breeze. The alignment of parts like the radiator, fan and radiator cowling leads me to think that MB had some thoughts on doing this.

In June 1983 Australian motoring journalist Gavin green wrote the following article on the AMG 500CE. It is a very interesting article with references to what could have been here in Australia. A picture of the car from the article is in the r/h margin of this newsletter.

AMG has been modifying Mercedes Benzes for 16 years, but it took the AMG 500SEC, with its 35kW power boost and extrovert body modifications to bring the company fame. Gavin Green tested a wilder AMG product - a red 280CE with a 206kW 5.0 litre V8

THROUGHOUT Europe a new spoiler-clad ground-hugging supercar is turning the heads of even the most blase of enthusiasts. Park one next to a Rolls-Royce and so effectively will the new car pull the crowds that the Spirit of Ecstasy is likely to get lonely. Park one next to a Ferrari and the prancing horse is likely to jump with jealousy. Even the long time champion car of European poseurs, the Lamborghini Countach, has cause to feel threatened. Surprisingly the new head turner comes, mostly, from that doyen of styling conservatism, Mercedes-Benz. But the three-pointed star on the grille does not tell the whole story. For, like a three-piece suited businessman who has just spent the morning shopping in Chelsea, these new Mercedes-Benzes have had their standard formal clothes stripped off and replaced with a brand new outfit. The cars are lowered, fitted with front and rear spoilers, side skirts, wide alloy wheels wearing huge tyres, and have had their chrome colour-keyed. The metamorphosis can be effected on any Mercedes-Benz, but it is particularly striking on the S class coupes.

The company behind the transformations is AMG, the German tuning firm which has been making Benzes go faster and look bolder for the last 16 years. But in the last four years business has really boomed. Now - despite the recession - things are growing at the rate of 30 percent a year. Export markets, in particular, are expanding at a phenomenal rate. "As cars become more and more similar in appearance, so people are more interested in getting modifications done, which make their cars look different and become more individual," says AMG's chief, former racing driver and Mercedes development engineer, Hans-Werner Aufrecht.

Happily the next export market in line for the AMG expansion is Australia. Although some local firms have been privately importing AMG bits and fitting them to Mercedes-Benzes Down Under, there has never been an officially sanctioned AMG concessionaire - until now. The new distributor is an English firm, Stratton, which is based near Manchester. Its director, Mike Hinde, is due in Australia this month to talk to dealers interested in selling the AMG goodies.

Traditionally a strong country for both Mercedes-Benz sales and for car customising, Australia should be one of the world's biggest markets for the three-pointed star transformation, predicts Hinde. But, at an English price of just under $10,000 for the suspension lowering (by three cm) and the appearance metamorphosis (including the chrome colour keying), the transformation on the S class coupe is not cheap. For an extra $5000 in the UK, you can have the engine modifications as well, which boost power for the five litre 500SEC by 35 kW and helps it rocket to more than 240 km/h. For the 380SEC. power can be boosted by 25 kW at a price of $3000. Australian prices, needless to say, are probably going to be significantly higher.

Appropriately, AMG is based near Stuttgart, not far from the Mercedes head office, in a town called Affalterbach. Even more appropriately the address is number 1, Daimlerstrasse. "The address is just a coincidence," says Herr Aufrecht, a short man who finds it hard to sit still, hates being photographed, loves drinking local Swabian wine and eating Swabian food, and is also very friendly. He also loves Mercedes-Benzes, which he unequivocally considers to be the best make of car in the world. "We don't make Mercedes cars any better," insists Aufrecht. "We just make them less of a compromise. We make them a better sports car."

AMG modifies about 1500 cars a year, and works only on Mercedes models. The most unusual assignment, says Aufrecht, was to transform a classic 1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, worth at least $50,000 in Germany in its standard form. "The owner wanted us to gut it and fit AMG modified 5.0 litre V8 parts from the 500SEC. He wanted the engine, gearbox, suspension, brakes, rear axle - the works." It took six months and cost $220,000.

When 1 arrived in Affalterbach on a wintry February day with the weather trying to make up its mind whether it was snowing or raining, there was the usual impressive display of Mercedes hardware parked in the AMG forecourt - all awaiting collection by their wealthy owners. The gathering of super Mercedes-Benzes included a 500SEC with $25,000 worth of interior modifications - including a video player (the screen was built into the facia centre console ahead of the gear knob; the player was built into the back seat) and full leather interior, a superb sound system more likely to be found in a disco than a car, and carpet which wouldn't look out of place in the lounge at Buckingham Palace. Naturally all the exterior and engine modifications had been carried out as well. It was the most expensive 500SEC AMG had modified. Completed, it cost double the price of a standard 500SEC. It was about to be air freighted to its owner in the Middle East.

There was also a collection of Mercedes W201s - the new small Merc - which had undergone the metamorphosis. J AMG is starting to fit 121 kW < 2.3 litre fuel injected engines g to the sweet handling 5 machines. "Shortly we'll start fitting 5.0 litre V8s as well. When we do that it will be the quickest thing we make." Aufrecht is so impressed with the potential of the W201 series Mercedes that he thinks it will be the most popular car for the transformation. He's expecting to modify between 1000 and 2000 W201s in some way in a year - be it by simply adding spoilers or fitting the 5.0 litre motor.

But until these beasts hit the road, the best machine for the sporty driver that the tuning doyen makes is, according to Aufrecht, the W123 coupe body (the 230CE and 280CE) fitted with the big 5.0 litre motor. And that was what 1 went to Germany to collect. The object was to bring one from Affalterbach to England where British concessionaire Stratton could use it for display and promotional purposes. But it wasn't just any old 5.0 litre W123 coupe that I picked up.

"This car," said Aufrecht before I hopped into the leather encased cockpit, "is the best production based road car for the enthusiast we've built." Read the specification of this special one-off machine and it's not hard to work out why. Take a280CE. Strip out the mechanicals and then fit one of the AMG modified 206 kW 5.0 litre V8 motors, 500SEC series automatic four speed transmissions and rear axle assembly. ABS brakes and rear end self levellers. Then add Bilstein gas shock absorbers, specially uprated and shortened coil springs (which help reduce the ride height by five cm over standard), eight inch wide alloy five spoke AMG alloy wheels and vast Pirelli P7 225/50VR16 tyres. "It's faster accelerating than the AMG modified 500SEC because it's lighter," says Aufrecht. "It handles better because of the shorter wheelbase." Final weight is 1520 kg, 70 kg more than the 280CE but 90 kg less than the standard 500SEC.

But the transformation wasn't restricted to the mechanicals. In looks AMG has taken the wolf in sheep's clothing 280CE and turned it into a ferocious tiger-gone punk. For a start there is the usual AMG fitment of chin AMG 280CE is gaudy in red, but interior is more tasteful after$9000 worth of modifications, including British Connolly leather upholstery spoiler (although this is a brand new one piece moulding which incorporates the front bumper), and side skirting. The wheel arches have been cut back at the front to accommodate the monstrous rubber and lowered body. But then, as was specially requested by the Arab customer who ordered the car, the beast got the sort of paint job of which even Aufrecht does not approve. A bright candy apple red. It is so loud and garish that it makes you wonder whether Henry Ford's colour choice policy did have some merits after all. Even the hallowed three pointed star has been tainted. In its bright red colour it looks more like a dissected toffee apple than the ultimate symbol of motoring excellence.

Inside, things are less gaudy - although with $9000 worth of modifications, the cost is totally in keeping with the rest of the car. The cream coloured Connolly leather upholstery, with its tasteful dark brown piping, would look entirely appropriate inside any upmarket British luxury car. It is the first time AMG has used Connolly hides. Now, says Herr Aufrecht, 80-90 per cent of all interior modifications will use the British treated skins. An excellent Pioneer KP909G stereo cassette player, together with speakers worth $2000, helps look after the tapes whether it be Mozart or Men At Work. Also inside, the usual Mercedes seats have been discarded and replaced with Recaros which, with their myriad of adjustment, can accommodate anyone from the emaciated to the corpulent. Total cost of the car in Germany is $80,000. Herr Aufrecht refers to the beast as an AMG500CE.

When you step behind the wheel you look over a normal Mercedes facia with only one alteration: a speedo calibrated to300km/h. The large Mercedes steering wheel has also been discarded in the transformation: instead there** a smaller AMG sports steering wheel, which feels much nicer even if it does block the view to the top of the instruments. Fire up the motor and listen to the throaty, uneven idle of the AMG 5.0 litre unit and you soon get the idea that this V8 has a good deal more grunt than its tamer Unterturkheim forefather. (It gets its 35 kW boost over the standard motor from different valves, modified combustion chambers and camshafts which give more valve overlap. The bottom end of the motor is untouched.) Adjust the firm but comfortable Recaro, and the typically excellent Mercedes wing and rear view mirrors, select Drive, and you're away. Fast.

Bluntly, the AMG 500CE accelerates like no automatic car I have driven. Held in Drive, but with the right pedal mushing the thick carpet, you'll see 100 km/h from rest in only 6.5 sec - faster, for instance, than an Aston Martin V8 or that other doyen of slushmatic acceleration, the jaguar XJS. To 100, the AMG 500CE is a mighty 1.5 sec quicker than the standard Mercedes 500SEC and about 0.5 sec quicker than the modified AMG S-class coupe.

Swing the car out onto the autobahn, squeeze the accelerator and, in perfect symphony with the rising growls of the big V8, you'll see the speedometer needle swing quickly around the clock. Held in Drive and with the accelerator hard down, you'll hear the four speed auto select top at 185 km/h. Progress does not start to falter until an indicated 240. Given a straight enough piece of road you'll be able to beat that by an indicated 10 km/h. However, allowing for the speedo error, theAMG500CEis nonetheless a real 240 km/h road car - or 150 mph in the old language. And it must be said that at 240 km/h motoring is neither dangerous nor dramatic. Unfortunately however the German autobahn held one nasty shock in store. In a temporary 80 km/h speed zone (due to roadworks in the slow lane), the punctilious Teutonic policeman did not smile kindly when the 500CE thundered through at 160. A $300 on the spot seemed to cheer him up but didn't do me much good. When I told him, in my best schoolboy German, that I didn't own the car and wasn't rich it made not a jot of difference. Either you pay the fine or stay in jail until you can get the money, he said. Thus relieved of my cash for fuel and the ferry ticket to England, I kept more of an eye on the economy gauge than the speedo. And fortunately the ferry people accepted cheques.

Nonetheless, well before the officious policeman flagged me down, I had discovered that there is more wind noise with this special W123 coupe at speed than there would have been on an S class coupe, with or without the AMG mods. The old unaerodynamic body accounts for that. The car is also affected more by cross winds, and tends to wander in its lane. Floor the throttle at 100, and drop the automatic back into third, and you'll see 160 in only 8.7 sec - half a second faster than an Aston Martin V8, and a stunning 5.0 sec faster than a normal Mercedes 500SEC.
Happily the super W123 coupe is also excellent in tight going. Like the 500SEC with AMG suspension mods, the car displays considerably less body roll than the excellent handling standard Mercedes. The firmer springs, more precise Bilstein dampers and huge low profile Pirelli tyres make the machine more taut and responsive. The steering too (even though the box is standard W123 fitment) is just a touch sharper. The end result is that you can hustle down tight country lanes with more precision, more speed and more security. The ride is less supple than on a standard Merc but it is never uncomfortable. You will feel the nastier bumps and hear them, but you are unlikely to curse them.

AMG claims to improve the fuel consumption of the 5.0 litre V8 with its mods, but my figures disagreed. The best I got for the 500CE was 6.8 km/1 (19mpg on a fairly leisurely trip from London down to Thomas Hardy country in Dorset), while the worst was 5.4 km/l (15 mpg) at high speed on the autobahn. A standard 5.0 litre V8 would surely have done better.

When AMG is officially represented in Australia this year, you too could have one of the special SOOCEs built. For, as Herr Aufrecht says. "We can do whatever modifications anyone wants to their car". All you'll need is a lot of money. However rest assured that if you do get your 280CE so transformed, or if you get your 380SEC kitted out with the AMG goodies, you will undoubtedly have the best pose machine in either Double Bay or Toorak. The only danger may come from a Lamborghini Countach. But then if you order the candy apple red paint, the chances are, even the bull from Sant'Agata will be upstaged.

Cars for dismantling.

This month we will be dismantling our first W140 series. Taken off the road not from accident damage, but from being un economical to repair. A sign of the times... Here is a list of what has arrived this month:

- S320 W140 1996 update version
- 230E W124 1987
-280CE W123 1984 bad front hit, good doors and trim, very good engine
- 280E W123 1977, no redeeming features
- C200 W202 1998, bad hit l/h side
- 280S W126 1984, import rare carb engine
- 230E W124 1987, South African assembly car.

Interesting Mercedes-Benz links.

- OZBENZ joins Facebook. Yes even OZBENZ now has a Facebook Group.72 members after 2 months and growing quickly.

- What were they thinking?

So that's it for this Newsletter, be good, drive safely and look after your Benz.

John & Sandra Green.