Newsletter Number 100
5th June 2006
Welcome to newsletter number 100! We have reached a milestone and to celebrate we have put together a huge newsletter. We have also decided that with our 10 years on the net birthday approaching, it is time to document the history of M.B Spares and Service, the first instalment is in this newsletter. We also have our usual line up and news of a very special car that we have for sale.
Hope you enjoy it.
Thanks John and Sandra Green.
New Mercedes-Benz museum opens.
On the 20th of May a new era began with the all new Mercedes-Benz museum opening in Stuttgart. You may remember back in Newsletter number 95 I had some pictures of the unfinished product and in previous Newsletters news of the various vehicles that were being prepared for the Museum. If you surf the net you will find countless articles on the new building, but I thought this one from the UK magazine Classic Driver was the best. However if you want the official DaimlerChrysler promotion you need to click here.
The M.B Spares & Service story (part 1)
As I started on Newsletter number 100, I realized that our 10th birthday of being on the web is fast approaching. So it seemed a good time to sit down and document the history of M.B Spares & Service to date. However, to do that I need to go a long way back, back even before I was born.
My Grandfather, Ernest Green, was a Plymouth man, he bought his first Plymouth in 1934 and drove many models over his lifetime. He was an avid reader of car magazines, particularly ‘The Motor’ from the UK. It was from this magazine that he came to read about the Mercedes-Benz 170 diesel. Back then, a diesel car was considered very new technology and he often entertained the idea of driving a Mercedes-Benz 170 diesel. However, this was not to be and he passed away in 1958.
My father then carried on the tradition, buying Plymouths and then as a natural progression became a Valiant man. Same story, he also drove many models, updating regularly. Dad also wanted to own a Mercedes-Benz diesel, only this time history did not repeat itself and in 1978 he purchased a six month old W123 300D in English red. This was to be the first of many for both my father and myself. The next year my father saw an ad for a 170DS in the Melbourne papers and saw a chance to not only live his dreams but his father’s dreams as well. After a few phone calls and an inspection, the car was his. It was only slightly better than a basket case, but back then we both didn't know any better and we thought it was the best thing on earth. It was put at the back of his warehouse in North Melbourne as a retirement project.
A few years later, he noticed an advertisement in the Melbourne papers for a 1954 300b that been advertised week after week. He was suspicious "it must be no good as it is still for sale and if it was any good a Mercedes-Benz club member would have brought it by now". Eventually I convinced him to go and have a look, and after a period of time the deal was done for $4000 and he owned his second classic. This one was in much better condition and with very little work was soon registered and on the road by December 1985. However, we still knew very little about collectable Mercedes-Benzs and the various Mercedes-Benz Clubs around the country.
It was not until 1986 that we attended our first Mercedes-Benz Club Victoria Concourse at Zerbes Reserve, Doncaster East . What an eye opener that was! Not only was it an eye opener from the number of collectible cars, but there was a guy there from the ACT club in a Unimog (Bob Sobey) telling everybody about another Concourse in the ACT the following weekend. Our fate was sealed; we hopped in the 300b and drove to Canberra on the Saturday. We didn't even know where the Concourse was, only that it was ‘somewhere on the lake’. We stayed the night not knowing there was a Pre Concourse dinner and found the cars at The Carillon the next morning. We attended the concourse, won the Distance award for the longest distance travelled to attend and drove all the way back to Melbourne arriving just before midnight on Sunday. We drove 1400kms and attended a Concourse in two days, not bad for a 1954 model car.
So I guess by now you will know where I got the bug from. My father who is still restoring cars in his garage at home, went on to collect a wide range of 50's model Mercedes-Benz sedans and served three terms as President of the Mercedes-Benz club of Victoria of which he is still a very active club member. he also went on to buy a considerably better 170 Diesel which he restored and I now have for sale
I moved to the ACT from Victoria in 1988 when I married Sandra and since then have attended all bar one of the ACT Club Concourse's and have been chief Judge since 1989. I was President of the ACT club from 1988 to 1992 and am still an active club member. The 300b is still in the family and has been in Canberra since 1994 when it came here for a gearbox repair. For some reason it never returned to Melbourne. There are not too many classic cars that have had the same ownership for 23 years..
In 1989 I decided on a career change. Up until then I had been working in the Outdoor recreation industry (my other hobby) but I wanted to get into the automotive industry. I accepted a job working for a company called Allard Auto Paints. They were Panel beater suppliers and the ACT agents for Dulux ICI who at the time had about 70% of the automotive paint market tied up in the ACT area. Right next door was a wrecking yard that I had noticed had an old LHD W114 220D in its yard. It just sat there with nothing being sold off it. At the time I was driving a W114 220 and needed some parts for it so discussions took place and I wound up buying the complete car. This was wreck number one and all parts removed from it were proudly marked 220D/1. Much to my wife Sandra's disgust, the hulk lived in our backyard. Even worse, it was soon joined by a 280SE 3.5 that I bought without an engine from a guy in Marulen (North of Goulburn). It was 280SE 3.5/2, even today I sometimes find some parts on the shelves with this old numbering system on it.
Other cars followed, some were cut up for parts and some repaired and sold. One of my more adventurous projects was to buy a 300SEL 6.3 that ran on 7 cylinders. I also rescued a W121 190 Roundie from the tip, it was on a tow truck being towed to the scrap metal yard when I intercepted it! I planned to restore it but only wound up getting 1/2 the job done before I sold it. The car was eventually finished and now lives in Junee NSW. I had better luck with a W180 220S that I restored and sold to an Army Chaplin at RMC Duntroon. Soon after that he was transferred to Townsville where the car still lives today. The car projects were a part time thing with work being done on weekends and on my rostered days off. I sold parts from classified ads in the Canberra Times and Unique Cars and via my contacts in the ACT and Victorian Mercedes-Benz clubs.
I sold the W115 220 to buy a W114 1969 230 that belonged to an ACT Club member. It was a one owner car with 120000miles on the clock in Light Ivory, this was to be my first restoration and my first Concours award winning car. It went on to win over 10 trophies including Class wins in Sydney and the ACT as well as Best interior.
Realizing that it was becoming a bit more than a hobby, I registered the business name of Merc Spares and started a separate account for the business. I also built a new house that admittedly had some features designed to help me with my well out of control hobby. It had a three car garage and drive though access to the back yard as well as a space to store parts out of view of the public and my wife.
In 1993 I was approached by Volker Oldenburg to buy his business called Burnside Motors. It was based in Fyshwick at 18 Lyell St in a small warehouse. Volker was a Mercedes-Benz trained technician who had immigrated to Australia in the early 1970's and started his own business. He wanted to move down to the coast and set up his business there. The deal was that he took everything but left me with the phone number and goodwill. The timing could not have been better as I was starting to get letters from the local council asking why I was running a wrecking yard from my house and anyway my hobby was getting in the way of my real job!
So on the 1st of January 1994 M.B Spares & Service became a full time business. However, we were not called that back then our trading name was ‘Mercedes Spares and Service’ and our website URL was www.mercedesspares.com.au but that's another story that I will continue in the next newsletter.
However before I continue with the rest of the Newsletter I would like to put in a plug for all of the Mercedes-Benz clubs both in Australia and on a world wide basis. As you can see from the story above we were very much feeling our way in the dark when we started down the road of classic Mercedes-Benz ownership and without the support of the various clubs that my father and I have belonged to we both would not have had the experiences that we have had. Take the recent super successful ACT rally for example. So if you are into Mercedes-Benz's of any type I would suggest that you join a club. A list of Australia clubs and there contact details can be found here.
Jokes of the month.
- Two dumb blondes were in a parking lot trying to unlock the door of their Mercedes with a coat hanger. They tried and tried to get the door open, but they couldn't.
The girl with the coat hanger stopped for a moment to catch her breath, and her friend said anxiously, "Hurry up! It's starting to rain and the top is down."
- Bob is driving along a highway driving his brand new Mercedes and spots his neighbour Jerry stuck on the side with car problems with his old, beat up Ford. Bob decides to help Jerry out by giving him a boost, thinking “I was in the same situation only a little while ago”. So, he stops and attaches Jerry’s car and tells him “If I’m going too fast, just honk”. So they move off, and everything is great.
All of a sudden, Marty, Bob’s evil neighbour, zooms by in his brand new BMW. Bob hates Marty and decides to race him to show him that he isn’t giving up anymore. So, he speeds up and races off after Marty, forgetting that poor Bob is tethered behind.
A police car is driving in the opposite direction and the two officers notice the three cars racing by. One policeman says to the other: “D’you see that? A brand new BMW, going at 200 km/h. A brand new Mercedes, going at 200 km/h. A old, beat up Ford, going 200 km/h and signalling for room!”
Cars for dismantling.
Cars in this month for dismantling include the following:
W108 280SE 3.5 sedan 1970 model, been sitting under a tree for a long time! We brought it as we needed a diff center for another 3.5! It does however have a very nice 450SE 3 speed auto in it (yes you can change them around) and a set of Americana headlamps.
W114 280E sedan 1974 model. Very rusty heap lived near the coast up Newcastle way since new, lot of nice trim bits and a good d-jet injection system but that is about all.
If you are interested in parts from any of these cars please contact our Spare parts department toll free on 1300 787 300 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fox collection workshop.
Last newsletter at the end of the report on the Victorian Mercedes-Benz club Concours I mentioned that we visited the workshop for the Fox collection. It is located in a warehouse at Essendon Airport and is the service base for the impressive Fox collection that is mainly housed at the Automoves Museum in the Melbourne Docklands precinct. I have written before about this collection in Newsletter number 59 where I showed a picture of their 300SL roadster buck. Well this time they were using the buck when I visited. Brian Tanti, the Museum curator, was working on a complete new body for a 300SL roadster that they were restoring. He explained the processes involved, especially how he had taken time to establish how the original panels were made right down to where all the seams were so that he could recreate them as authentically as possible. What remains of the original body was lying in a corner and it is sad to say the least. In the back ground is a 1:1 scale drawing of the body with all dimensions, According to Brian the job will take up to 4000 hours to complete.
Brian is definitely a master craftsman and was featured in the recent "Lost trades exhibition" that toured Australia. Part of the display was a Porsche 550 Spyder that Brain restored for the Fox collection. This model was made famous by James Dean who was killed in one. James Dean's car was Chassis 55 and the car in the Fox collection was the very car built after Dean's car so it was chassis 56. This is a simpler body compared to the 300SL and it took Brian over two years to do the sheet metal.
The back ground of this shot is amongst other cars, a 450SLC, with only 17000kms on the clock and is by far the best one I have ever seen. There were other cars around the workshop including beautiful 170S cabriolet A and a Type 220 cabriolet A.
My father (see above) was also with me and enquired about the possibility of a tour for the Mercedes-Benz club and whilst not making any promises Brain did indicate that he could not see why such an event could not be organised. So stay tuned.
Links of the month.
- Do you own a W113 Pagoda SL? Not happy with the performance? Well maybe you should consider doing what this guy did.....
- Have you heard about Mercedes-Benz world?? The new Museum is not the only investment that DaimlerChrylser is making in ensuring the history of Mercedes-Benz lives on. Check out this post of the OZVETS mailing list and then click on the link in the post. (and then come back and read the rest of the newsletter)
The following article was sent to me by Grant Viljoen from South Africa. It is good to see that some people really drive their classic cars.
Saturday 4 February saw the relaunch of the legendry Springbok Series, which took place at Zwartkops Raceway outside Pretoria, and proved to be a very exciting and memorable event for historic racing enthusiasts. It also marked the debut of my 1966 230S racing Mercedes, raced by my brother, Marck Viljoen, and me.
The car was bought in July last year with the intention to go racing. It is probably not the best choice for a racing car, but I wanted to race something a bit different, and being a Mercedes enthusiast, there was simply no other alternative. Shortly after we bought the car, we put it on the track in standard form to see how it would perform. It handled well and proved to be very competent, although painfully slow - at best, it managed to get around the 2.4km circuit in 1minute 56 seconds. Some decisions were made and we went about stripping the interior and removing the bumpers. The front and rear bumpers weighed 51kg alone, so we lost some serious weight. A roll cage was fitted, as well as a FIA compliant racing seat and seatbelts. The suspension was lowered by installing shorter and stiffer springs all round and wider 14" low profile tyres were fitted onto aluminium 'Baroque' style Mercedes wheel rims, but the engine remains untouched. So far, we have managed a best time of 1min 33 seconds, shaving 23 seconds off our initial time, which is a lot of time around this circuit.
Race day was very exciting and the car attracted a lot of attention. Reactions were mixed - from cynical laughter at wanting to race a barge, to encouraging enthusiasm from many people. I raced in the Pre '66 Legends series and managed an overall third in class finish. Marck raced in the Pre '77 Historic Cars series and put in a very good performance in the late afternoon rain, outpacing many quicker cars. It turned out to be a HUGE amount of fun for both of us.
And on top of this all, the car was seen briefly on SABC2 and 3 news the next night, on Car Torque, as well as on the M Net feature about the Springbok Series.
We have now undertaken to doing further work on the front suspension, as well as developing the cylinder head to achieve a higher compression ratio, as well as better carburation.
The next race will take place at Zwartkops on 22 April.
Cars for Sale.
Things have once again warmed up in the car sales department. Cars sold include the 190E, 300E 2.6, E300 Diesel and beautiful S430. The big news is however a new car that we have for sale. One of the worlds most desirable and collectable Mercedes-Benz's is the 280SE 3.5 cabriolet and there were only ever 7 examples officially imported into Australia. Well we have one of them for sale. It is a 1970 model that has travelled a documented 87000miles and has recently had $80000.00 spent on restoration. You can check out some pictures and other details of it here or e-mail me for further pictures.
Other cars also into stock include a super neat W124 300D that we traded on the E300 Diesel, a 300CE coupe and a nice 1986 model 190E. The 300D is a real credit to its previous owner as it looks like a car that has half the mileage that the odometer indicates.
Just as an interesting point, we don't just sell Mercedes-Benz's. Just last week we sold a nice BMW 318i that we brought down from Sydney for a client. We have access to all manner of models and can help you find what ever you are looking for. Just as an example at the moment we have this Toyota Prado Grande for sale. So 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:
300D, 1989 model
190E, 1986 model
280SE 3.5 cabriolet
300CE coupe 1988 model
220SEb Cabriolet, 1964 classic
S430 1999 model, one owner
E300 Diesel, Elegance spec 1999 model
190E, 1990 model
300E 2.6 1991 model
Also in stock we have:
230E W123 1985 model
280CE coupe 1979 model
300SE sedan 1989 update version, only 90000kms
170S, classic sedan
170SD, classic Diesel sedan
CLK500 coupe, 2002 model
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.