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Newsletter No.093 Germany Tour part 3, air bags birthday

Newsletter Number 93
1st November 2005


Welcome to the latest newsletter.  In this edition we have part three of the Germany tour, an anniversary for the air bag, and our usual line up of articles for you.

Hope you enjoy it. Thanks John and Sandra Green.

Germany tour part 3...

Our next appointment was in Stuttgart on Monday, so we headed off from Berlin taking the back roads to a small town deep in the heart of the old Eastern Germany called  Leipzig. To really see the German country side you need to get off the Autobahns and onto the back roads. It was a great drive along tree lined roads with small villages many of which looked like they were stuck in a time warp. Our ultimate goal was however the city of Zwickau and the Horch Museum.

The Museum is named after August Horch who was one of Germany's pioneer car manufacturers founding August Horch & Cie. on November 14, 1899 in Cologne.  Before setting up business on his own he worked for Carl Benz in Mannheim for three years as Head of Automobile Production.  Initially  Horch produced 5 hp and 10 hp twin-cylinder cars.  In 1902, he moved to Reichenbach and designed in 1903 a 20 hp four-cylinder car with shaft drive.  A 22 hp version appeared in 1904, after Horch had again moved production, this time to a new factory at Zwickau in Saxony.  Over the next few years an ever increasing range of models with engine capacities from 1588cc to 8440cc were produced.   Horch cars were very successful in sporting events, soon became very popular and production continued to rise.  In 1909, August Horch left the works at Zwickau, and George Paulmann took over the design of Horch cars all of which were exhibited by the Zwickau-factory at the 1921 Berlin Show.  August Horch had left to start another automotive manufacturing company called AUDI.  This was the second company to have been set up by August Horch and commenced operations under the name Audi Automobilwerke GmbH, in Zwickau, on April 25, 1910.

By the mid 1920's the Horch name were producing an amazing range of models including a 3132cc double over head cam straight-eight, which was later increased to 3950cc which produced 80 hp at 3200 rpm.  In the early 1930s they released a side valve 6021cc V12 Horch with a 120hp engine and ZF-Aphon four-speed gearbox.  Most Horch cars belonged to the luxury class and often had exclusive bodywork by Gläser, Neuss, Armbruster and other leading coachbuilders. 1933 saw the introduction of new side valve V8 models of 3004cc, 3227cc, 3517cc and 3823cc. So there is no doubt that Horch was an industry leader in his day.

In 1932, Audiwerke, Horchwerke and Zschopauer Motorenwerke - DKW merged to form Auto Union AG.  A purchase and leasing agreement was concluded at the same time with Wanderer, for the takeover of its Automobile Division. The new company's head offices were in Chemnitz which was to ultimately wind up in Western Germany..

This meant that Horch was responsible for building from 1933 to 1939 the famous rear-engine, Dr Ferdinand Porsche designed, Auto Union Grand Prix racing cars. Horch continued to build high-class, beautiful cars until the war.  Following the second world war Germany was divided and the name Horch became defunct.  In 1946 there was an attempted rebirth of a Horch in East Germany, at Zwickau, but the name Horch belonged to the now West German Auto Union. The East Germans had to drop it and call the new company "Sachsenring" instead who went on to produce the famous (or infamous) Trabant!  The name of Horch is still waiting for a rebirth in Germany (much like the recent Maybach rebirth).

The museum itself is very new and is a very interesting time warp as it contains many cars that us westerns have never seen. Obviously there was an automotive industry in Eastern Germany and I am sure that everybody has heard about the Trabant but there is a lot more to see than just Trabants. There is a wonderful display of pre war models from DKW, Wanderer, Auto Union, Audi and of course Horch. There is also an excellent selection of various Trabant prototypes and other models manufactured by various Russian companies. Also of interest was a video if the "Duraplast" process used to make the Phenolic resin panels (kind of like fibreglass) that was to be used on most Sachsenring models from 1955 onwards. No problems with rust on these panels! There were over 3 million Trabants made which is an interesting fact when compared to the 1.2 million Morris Minors made!

Of particular interest was a rotary engined Trabant developed in the late 60's. It was a single chamber design with a capacity of 497cc producing 63 BHP. The car had a top speed of 91MPH with fuel consumption of between 24-40MPG (depending on driving style).  Like many other rotaries on the era it never saw serious production.

Departing the Museum at 4.30pm we decided to make a run for Stuttgart some 400odd kilometres away.  And at 8.15pm we arrived and that included a decent stop for dinner! You have got to love those German Autobahns (you do the maths).  Sunday was spent looking around Stuttgart and getting our bearings for the next day which was a visit to the Mercedes-Benz classic Centre in Fellbach (an outer suburb of Stuttgart). But all that will have to wait for the next newsletter.

Joke of the month.

Year 1981
1. Prince Charles got married
2. Liverpool crowned Champions of Europe
3. Australia lost the Ashes
4. Pope Died
Year 2005
1. Prince Charles got married (again !!!)
2. Liverpool crowned Champions of Europe
3. Australia lost the Ashes
4. Pope Died

In future, if Charles decides to remarry, please warn the pope, bet on
Liverpool & don't bother watching the cricket.

Air bags 25th birthday.

Yes, passenger safety air bags are 25 year old!  Here is a recent press release from Daimler Chrysler:

It is now 25 years since the first production car to be fitted with an airbag, an S-Class Saloon, rolled off the production line at Mercedes Benz in Sindelfingen – the culmination of over 13 years of development work and the beginning of a new era in vehicle safety. According to accident research, the airbag has saved over 14,200 human lives in the USA to date; in Germany, meanwhile, the airbag has prevented over 2,500 fatal injuries to car occupants since 1990. Mercedes-Benz offered the airbag long before any other car manufacturer and has so far equipped more than twelve million vehicles with this safety innovation. It has been fitted as standard in all passenger cars displaying the Mercedes star since October 1992. In recent years, Mercedes engineers have continued to develop airbag technology, for example by introducing side airbags and systems that adapt in line with the severity of the accident. Airbags are also set to become an integral part of the PRE-SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection system, equipped with new, anticipatory sensors which will enable them to deploy in advance of a possible accident so as to reduce the forces exerted on the car occupants both before and during any impact. For the same reasons, the airbags of the future will also take into account individual parameters such as the body size, sex and age of the occupants.

The airbag is very much a part of Mercedes history. Like the crumple zone, safety steering system, seat belt tensioner, anti-lock braking system and other Mercedes inventions, it is a testament to the pioneering role played by the Stuttgart-based manufacturer in the field of passenger car safety.

The development of the airbag began in 1967 and required pioneering achievements in numerous fields. Although the idea for an air cushion of this kind had been around since the early fifties, engineers had been unable to come up with a solution to transform the vision into reality. However, the Mercedes team had made great progress with a discriminating sensor system and a gas generator capable of deploying the airbag in just 30 milliseconds. They also developed the tear-resistant airbag fabric, improved the airbag's inflation characteristics and finally made it possible to house the entire system in the impact-absorbing boss of a steering wheel.

After more than 250 vehicle crash tests, 2,500 sled tests and over seven million kilometres of trials in test cars, the airbag was finally ready for production in December 1980 when it celebrated its world premiere together with another innovation, the seat belt tensioner, in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. As early as 1991, some 28 percent of all Mercedes passenger cars were equipped with a driver's airbag. And it has been fitted as standard in all cars displaying the Mercedes star since October 1992.

Text/Photos: DaimlerChrysler


More smoke...

Back in newsletter 69 we discussed the issues of letting the smoke out of your electrical system.  This issue seems to be a particular problem with English vehicles with Lucas brand electrics. Well, here is the text from a recent auction on ebay, it was sent to me by Grant from South Africa.  If you have recently experienced a smoke issue you should have bid on this auction:

Have you inadvertently let the smoke out of the wires on your classic British car? This, then, is the solution to your problem!

Here is presented for your perusal one Lucas Replacement Wiring Harness Smoke kit, P/N 530433, along with the very rare Churchill Tool 18G548BS adapter tube and metering valve. These kits were supplied surreptitiously to Lucas factory technicians as a trouble-shooting and repair aid for the rectification of chronic electrical problems on a plethora of British cars. The smoke is metered, through the fuse box, into the circuit which has released it's original smoke until the leak is located and repaired. The affected circuit is then rectified and the replacement smoke re-introduced. An advantage over the cheap repro smoke kits currently available is the exceptionally rare Churchill metering valve and fuse box adapter. It enables the intrepid and highly skilled British Car Technician to meter the precise amount of genuine Lucas smoke required by the circuit.

Unlike the cheap, far-eastern replacement DIY smoke offered by the "usual suppliers", this kit includes a filter to ensure that all the smoke is of consistent size, It has been our experience in our shop that the reproduction Taiwanese smoke is often "lumpy", which will cause excessive resistance in our finely-engineered British harnesses and components. This is often the cause of failure in the repro electrical parts currently available, causing much consternation and misplaced cursing of the big three suppliers.

These kits have long been the secret weapon of the "Ultimate Authorities" in the trade, and this may be the last one available. Be forewarned, though, that it is not applicable to any British vehicle built after the discontinuing of bullet connectors, so you Range Rover types are still on your own...

This Genuine Factory Authorised kit contains enough smoke to recharge the entire window circuit on a 420 Jaguar, and my dear friend and advisor George Wolf of British Auto Specialty assures me that he can replace ALL the smoke in a W&F Barrett All-Weather Invalid Car(147 CC) with enough left over to test a whole box of Wind-Tone horns for escaped smoke. How much more of an endorsement do you need?

More, you say? Well, I once let the smoke out of the overdrive wiring on my friend Roger Hankey's TR3B, and was able to drive over 200 miles home from The Roadster Factory Summer Party by carefully introducing smoke into the failed circuit WITHOUT even properly repairing the leak. Another friend, Richard Stephenson, was able to repair the cooling fan circuit of his Series 1 E-type by merely replacing a fuse and injecting a small quantity of smoke back into the wires. So there!

So, if you're troubled by lost smoke, bid early and bid often! Thanks for looking!

Cars for dismantling.

Recent arrivals for dismantling include the following:

 - MB140D, yes another MB series van, this time a diesel.

- 230 W114, quite a nice car actually, 4 speed manual with 6 cylinder engine, not even very rusty, has some good parts.

- W116 350SEL/450SEL/6.9, now this is a confusing car. It was a 350SEL, they somebody put a 450 in it and a 6.9 badge on the back! The 450SE engine has been run out of oil and is toast, however the rest of the car is excelent. It has one of the best tan leather interiors I have seen for some time. So if your 450SEL is looking a little tried inside we have a deal for you.

If you are interested in any parts from these cars  please feel free to e-mail Murray Mules our Spares Manager or you can ring him on our toll free number 1300 787 300

Links of the month.

- Paul Bucki  from the Mercedes Benz Club in Victoria. sent me this e-mail: I am in the process of looking for a 450 SEL 6.9 and followed this link and came across what someone described as the "Real" McLaren SLR Build process. I think you, and fellow newsletter readers, might find it interesting, and a bit of a laugh.

- Ever honked your horn at an old lady? Click here to see why this is not a very smart idea.

- Here is a site from somebody who just loves his W123 diesel!

Cars for Sale.

Still plenty of action on the cars sales front.  Recent sales include my old 450SLC that has gone to a collector, the 190E and a beaut low mileage 380SEL that never even made it onto the website. New cars into stock include a one owner 1993 E280 sedan with only 95000kms on the clock (pictures will follow in a few days) and a great little A160 with the rare automatic option..

Two weeks back I drove the 1998 E280 to Sydney to go to the Motor show and was truly surprised at the economy. The round trip of 690kms was done at an average of 8lts per 100kms or 35mpg including some city driving.  This is very impressive given how spritely the M112 V6 engine is. So based on the 80lt tank capacity this car could be driven from Canberra to Melbourne and back to Albury on one tank! Not bad at all.

As a result of selling Sandra's ML270 we have traded a 1999 ML320 which, whilst it has done nearly 220000kms, is a great car showing wear that makes it look more like 120000kms. If you have been thinking of an ML but could not afford one this is very affordable at $22990.00

If what you are dreaming of owning is not here then please feel free to contact me on 0419 295 458 and I will see what we can do to find you what you want.

You can check out all our cars for sale here:

New cars into stock:

A160 Avantgarde 1998 model

E280 1993 model only 95000kms

Cars we have sold:

450SLC Coupe 1978 model only 139000kms

190E Sedan 1987 model, only 110000kms

380SEL 1984 model only 154000kms

Also in stock we have:

300E 2.6 1991 model

250 Long Wheel Base sedan 1982 model

ML320 Luxury 1999 model

E280 Elegance W210 1998 model

C200 Elegance W202 1996 model

190E 2.6 Sedan 1990 model

300TE wagon 1990 model

E230 Elegance W210 1996 model only 96000kms

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.