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Newsletter No.070 Design Philosophy, Why won't it start

Please note that some of the links in this Newsletter may no longer be active as we update this site regularly

Newsletter Number 70
16th February 2004

Welcome. This newsletter we have an interesting article from the Daimler Chrysler Media centre about the design philosophy behind their cars.  We also have some info for those of you having trouble starting your car and the usual line up of links and jokes.

Thanks John Green.


Shannons Wheels 2004.

Last newsletter we mentioned the Annual Wheels display run by the Council of ACT Motor Clubs.  We incorrectly stated that the venue was London Circuit in Civic.  The correct venue is in front of Old Parliament House.  The  Shannons WHEELS 2004 is on Sunday 7th March, featuring over 500 vehicles from Fiats to Fire Engines, and Minis to Mercedes. This is also an opportunity to donate to a local charity.

Here is a page with pictures from the 2002 event.  Enquiries to Council of ACT Motor Clubs Inc 0414 247 387


The Design Philosophy


The following is from the Daimler Chrysler Media site and makes for some interesting reading:

The Mercedes-Benz brand is both the oldest and the most famous automobile brand in the world. For the design of Mercedes-Benz vehicles this has always meant a responsibility towards the tradition of the brand, even though the design of a new vehicle is of course future-oriented per se.

Because of these influences an evolutionary development process was created from the very start which makes every Mercedes clearly recognisable as a family member with reference to its predecessors and the other model series in the product range. This forms the basis for a pronounced product identity and value retention. Design parameters are also subject to developments of a technical and social nature, however. Influences such as these can also be easily recognised in the genealogy of every Mercedes.

At the beginning of the eighties a significant and brave step was taken in a very new, modern direction with the revolutionary C 111 project.

With its aerodynamically uncompromising and clean-cut lines the C 111-3 incorporated design topics which were reflected on a lasting basis in the Mercedes vehicles developed and introduced later.

The S-class of 1979, which was undergoing its design process at the same time as the C 111-3, clearly expresses this new departure.

Despite the introduction of numerous design innovations it was clear that there must be no radical break with tradition leading to an irreparable loss of identity. This was therefore not a decision for innovation against tradition, but an understanding of Mercedes design in the context of its history, and its integration with the aim of adapting it to the technological requirements and possibilities of the relevant time.

This was expressed as three statements:

  • A Mercedes must always look like a Mercedes!
  • It should symbolise all the values that a Mercedes has, and which the customer expects of it.
  • The design should incorporate maximum innovation while respecting the tradition of the brand.

The design philosophy formulated at the time, which was based on these requirements, was the subject of a German Designer Congress exhibition in Karlsruhe in 1980. The major message was that the individual models should be seen as part of a form family. However, at the same time all vehicles were to be continuous further developments of their predecessors.

This gave rise to the term Vertical Model Affinity. It describes the formal evolution of a model series over several generations with the aim of preventing a model from immediately appearing dated when its successor is introduced.

At the same time all model series in production were to be characterised by a sensible and recognisable degree of common formal features, referred to as Horizontal Homogeneity.

This Karlsruhe Theory was very efficiently put into practice over the years, and reached its apogee with the introduction of the C-class at the IAA in Frankfurt in 1993.

Meanwhile, however, other well-known manufacturers had adapted and successfully employed the Mercedes design philosophy. When development work began on the design concept for the new E-class, the Mercedes designers recognised that adhering strictly to the Karlsruhe Theory involved certain risks. The formal differences between model series had meanwhile become too small and it was seen that relaxing these strict rules would allow more innovations. This was impressively demonstrated by the new face of the E-class, with its differently sized pairs of elliptical headlights.

The opportunity to lend an appropriate formal expression to technical innovations was utilised in this case.

In 1993 this new face was already positioned with a realistic study in Geneva. The Mercedes-Benz brand has developed further and no longer stands exclusively for vehicles in the absolute luxury class. The product offensive in recent years has brought new concepts for new target groups. New concepts also require new forms of expression, yet it is clear that our customers still want this to be a Mercedes with all the values associated with the brand.

It is therefore important for Mercedes-Benz design to carefully tread the narrow path between tradition and customer-oriented individuality. This is not possible with a defensive design strategy which tries to stay on the safe side and does not allow customers to experience major changes. Likewise an imitation strategy which aims at, adopts and varies certain market segments occupied by competitors does not go far.

A risk-acceptance strategy, however, uses the opportunity for live, new developments. With courage and imagination the role of the trendsetter is adopted. This promises long-term success.



Cars for dismantling

The following cars have arrived to be dismantled:

None! Yes, that's right, we have spent the last few weeks throwing cars out!  This means we have stripped some great cars of parts and packed them away.  For example, we have:

- Very good black interior suit a W116
- Injection pump, head and block side plate from a M189 (300SE) engine
- Set of W108 stone guards
- Good M130 280SE engine (injection pump has gone)
- Various early gearboxes

Mercedes-Benz Club of Victoria

Concours d’Elegance

The Mercedes-Benz Club of Victoria will once again be holding their annual Concours d'Elegance in conjunction with the AOMC British and European Motor Show on Sunday 14th March.  Contact Brian Billing on 0409 501 677 for more information.
You can download the application form here (180k), and the rules are here (150k).  This is certainly one of the major highlights on the Mercedes-Benz calendar for the year and should not be missed by any keen Mercedes-Benz fanatic. If you check out our Newsletter number 59 you can see the report from last years event. This year promises to be just as good. 


Why do? Why does?

I received an interesting e-mail from Rod Garnett about the question of "Model Years" following the last newsletter. here it is:


I think the model years thing goes deeper than the Yank Dealers.
If you look at the UK they issue the next letter on their number plates in September.  You may have noticed all UK plates end in an alpha character.  if you look at for sale adds they say things like "Q reg" or "T reg".  The letter remains the same for the whole year so everyone knows a "Y reg" is (say) a 1999 model.
I can't imagine the Poms setting year models to suit the Yanks as apart from Jaguar and the sports car manufactures the Poms could hardly shift their cars over there.
If you look at the Germans they start each years model at the end of September.  We recently purchased a new CLK500 and tried very hard to convince the dealer we wanted it built after September so it was a 2004 spec car rather than a 2003.  It was delivered in August!
Hope this puts a different slant on things.  I'm not suggesting you are wrong. I think the reason goes deeper.
Rod Garnett

I am aware of the UK number plate issue and have seen the ads stating that a certain car was  a "?" reg car. Maybe some of our readers from the UK can enlighten us??

Why doesn't my engine start? 

Engines don't start for one of three reasons.

- No compression
- No spark
- No Fuel

Go and have a look at our Newsletter number 32 and read the section on the Otto cycle:

You don't need much in the way of fancy tools to work out which one of the three is at fault with most early engines. To check the spark, just stick a plug on the end of one lead and earth it to the engine somewhere, turn the
engine over and see it there is spark.  This is quiet safe on all systems up until about 1990.  From there on, it is not a wise move as it can kill the ignition module.

To check for compression do a compression test.  If you don't have a compression gauge and suspect major internal carnage, you can simply put you finger over the plug hole and turn the engine by hand. You should be able to
feel the compression building (don't turn it on the starter using this method)

To check for fuel, get a can of carby cleaner (or any other hydrocarbon product) and spray into the carburettor or throttle body while cranking the engine . Pouring raw fuel into the carburettor can cause a hydraulic lock so
this is not such a good idea.

If all these tests don't help, you most likely have an issue with the ignition timing.  Whilst compression and fuel supply tests are generally pass/fail tests, the ignition system can be showing you a nice healthy spark but at the
wrong time.  Testing this is a little harder.  First check the ignition leads are on the distributor cap the right way round. The firing order is always on the rocker cover.  Take the dist cap off and crank the engine to see which
way the rotor spins.  While you have it off, turn the engine to the Top Dead Centre (TDC) position on the crank shaft on the compression stroke of number one pistons.  To check this, take the oil filler cap off and see if the two
cam lobes for number one are pointing up. (pointing down is the exhaust stroke for number one).  There is a notch in the distributor housing that the rotor button should point to.  If it doesn't, you need to work out why not.

There are of course other combinations of these three main factors that can cause an engine to not start. For example, the spark plugs are oil fouled or maybe the engine is flooded.  However most of these other causes can be
diagnosed by looking at the spark plugs.  Have a look at these pages for some tips on diagnosis by looking at the spark plugs:

The second one is the best one.

Joke of the week.

 1. Those who jump off a bridge in Paris... are in Seine.
 2. A backward poet writes... inverse.
 3. A man's home is his castle..., in a manor of speaking.
 4. Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.
 5. Practice safe eating - always use condiments.
 6. Shotgun wedding: A case of wife or death.
 7. A man needs a mistress... just to break the monogamy.
 8. A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
 9. Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.
 10. Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
 11. Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.
 12. Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.
 13. When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.
 14. A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.
 15. The definition of a will?... (It's a dead giveaway.)
 16. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
 17. In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism your count votes.
 18. She was engaged to a boyfriend with a wooden leg but broke it off.
 19. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
 20. If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.
 21. With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
 22. When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.
 23. The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
 24. You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
 25. Local Area Network in Australia:... the LAN down under.
 26. He often broke into song because he couldn't find the key.
 27. Every calendar's days are numbered.
 28. A lot of money is tainted - It taint yours and it taint mine.
 29. A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
 30. He had a photographic memory that was never developed.
 31. A plateau is a high form of flattery.
 32. A midget fortune teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large.
 33. Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
 34. Once you've seen one shopping centre, you've seen a mall.
 35. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.
 36. Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.
 37. Acupuncture is a jab well done.

Links of the week.

Bored?? Try this link for some fun, make sure you try manic mode.

If you are into old Becker radios you should contact Ed Ebel from Becker Auto Sound in the USA.  He has just finished working on a great new brochure showing off Becker's restoration service, and a nice display of the interesting new parts we stock for classic radios.  If  you're interested in receiving a copy or learning more about radio restoration, drop Ed an email with your mailing address, and he'll send one out!  It covers radios made in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

Bored with your mundane 4 cylinder C class? Contact these guys and you can mix it with the best at the local drag strip. You need to let all the pictures load to see the last one. 11.5 second is not bad for a road going car!

Or maybe you are bored with your current project, try this one for size. Nice car with that roof it it ever gets restored.

After my tongue in cheek description of Lucas Electricals  last newsletter, I found this rather interesting page.



Cars for Sale.

The 300E and E280 have been sold. We sold the E280 to a chap who brought his last car in 1968. He has a 250SE that he brought new in Thailand whilst on a diplomatic posting. It was interesting to hear him comment that there were so many things that seemed the same between the two cars that made him feel at home in it, compared to the old 250SE.

We have an excellent 1993 E280 coming next week.  Midnight blue with a cream interior and only 120000kms.  Full history and in perfect condition.

Click here to see all the cars for sale.

The following cars have been sold:

E280 1995 sedan 203000kms

300E 1986 sedan 220000kms


The following cars have recently arrived for sale:

None but the E280 will be here next week.

Also in stock we have:

C180 1997model 103000kms

230E 86 model 179000kms

Collection of three factory Stretch Mercedes-Benz's

So that's it for another newsletter. Hope you liked what you saw.  If you have any ideas or want to contribute any articles, pictures or other material please e-mail me here.  Also, don't forget that you can check out the old newsletters here

Thanks, John Green.