On the first day of Autumn, on the 1st September 2010 I took delivery of the car after her ground-up restoration and respray back to the original dark blue (DB332) color! She is now a roller, back on the streets of Athens. I am very pleased with the result, the car is stunning and a head twister wherever I have driven her so far! 🙂
Nevertheless, rarely a deep surgery like the one she has undergone, after a complete strip-down, with hundreds of new parts fitted etc., goes without “a recovery period”. Hence, I do have taken care of few problems and need to look after on few more before the car is declared 100% ready. The overhauled old Behr air con lost part of its freon gas due to a linkage leak; after curing this problem, the following day the fan fuse was blown but now with the fuse contacts brushed clean seems to be operating nicely, pumping out efficient dosages of cool air in +32ºC hot Athens streets. The fuel tank was filled-up with 50 Liters of Shell V-Power after having it cleaned and had replaced the bottom tank filter plus the fuel level sending unit. A leak was noticed. Upon raising the car a fuel pump hose was replaced cum new clamp. The water temp gauge sending unit was detached from its mercury filled capillary tube during reassembly. No cure for that, the gifted machinists who could fix them back in the old days, all seem to have passed from this futile world. A new gage/sending unit assembly has been ordered and awaited from Niemoeller’s. Ditto for the hand brake tell-light micro switch, its head found broken, hence a new switch is now on order.
The biggest pain concerns the persistent vibration which was noticeable at speeds over 80 kph before the restoration; now appears albeit in a different resonance harmonic, but at speeds over 50 kph. Despite the fact that the propeller shaft was balanced and trued by a specialist, new universal joints fitted, Michael (my chief mechanic) was optimistic that these bad vibes would go away. Not so; a further investigation is required for its cause, or at worst a new prop shaft would need to be fitted. In addition, the auto gear box seems out of tune as gear changes have lost their smoothness, kicking in abruptly 😦
The car will be taken tomorrow to the electrician for some minor adjustments and interventions and right after that to the Auto-Stop/Connolly for finishing off the interior details. A list of interventions was made this afternoon with George Pitsikos and his assistant Thanassis. The biggest grief there involves the fascia wood varnishing. First the ash-tray was left behind and had to be redone separately, resulting in a darker shade from the rest of the woodwork. Next the end piece to the right had unacceptable bubbles and needs to be redone. Door weather seals need adjustments as well as the driver side door lock.
During the course of next week the new consignment of spare parts from Germany ought to arrive, allowing to add some finishing touches and raise even higher the level of perfection.
After Connolly’s the car would go back to Autohouse-Stuttgart for the vibration and auto trans cures, hoping that all issues will be resolved well before the Start of the 39th PHILPA International Classic Car Rally on the 22nd of September…
Another pestering issue concerns the car radio. The dilemma is: to get an original overhauled Becker Europa Stereo, pin stripe design cum iPod connector, or do the extravaganza and source a hard to find (and very expensive) now extinct Becker Mexico Retro Navi 7942 system? I lost out on one such offer on eBay few days ago, so will see what fate has in store for my Princess in the area of music and in cabin entertainment. I think I will opt for originality and buy the albeit low powered Europa as they were made especially for Mercedes-Benz…
Thursday 09/09/10 update
The car has finished the few intervening jobs at the electrician and then was left in the custody of Auto-Stop/Connolly for the detailing of the interior. First, Pavlos of Detail Clean Center did a thorough steam clean of the roof liner. A lot of accumulated dirt and dust came off the roof line pores fabric. Now the original creamy/white color has brightened and looks almost as if new. 🙂
Then Thanassis of Conniolly’s tended to many details as fitting the carpet over floor pieces front & rear, adjusting windows and doors so that they mate better with the new harder weather seals, applying silicone spray to all the rubber parts, fitting few missing seals and grommets (from the new parts bin which had arrived few days ago from Germany) and so on. To boot George Pistsikos had a black soft fabric cum liner garage cover made as a present for me! What a nice gesture 🙂
Having done the chores in the Gerakas area (will revert to the electrician to fit the new temperature gauge and the reconditioned Becker Europa radio, yes I have opted for the original radio set!), I drove the car bright and early (so as to beat the morning traffic) to Piraeus. There AUTOHAUS STUTTGART will tend to resolving the propeller shaft vibration problem. The issue with the gear box was quickly resolved by adjusting the rods which interlink with the throttle and govern the gear changes.
From the new parts bin, all the flexible brake hoses were changed, the silent blocks for the air filter and some clamps for the manifold shield. Also the auto trans cooling flexible hoses that run into the radiator where changed. Finally a new set of chromed twin tail pipes were fitted, adding to a nice finishing touch.
Coming to the propeller drive shaft problem, upon dismantling the shaft, the centering cross was found cracked and the adjacent rubber buffer too tired not to be replaced. Both these parts were ordered from Germany and are awaited early next week.
After fitting the new centering cross and flange parts on the prop shaft, the entire assembly will go back to the machinist for rebalancing. I can only hope that these interventions will bear fruit and the car will find her peaceful ride quality as a true Mercedes deserves.
Monday 20/09/10 update
By now most of the pending issues have been addressed! The main issue resolved concerns the prop shaft. Upon disassembly and re-balancing adjustments and more counter-weights were added. A test drive after re-assembly proved positive! The bad vibes are now a thing of the past… 🙂 At the same time all fluids were re-checked and topped-up. Mechanically the car was now ready.
Next stop was the electrician Panayiotis. The Becker Europa radio “mit iPod Kabel” had arrived few days earlier via UPS. The new water temperature gauge was fitted after having to remove the instrument cluster once again. The radio was fitted along with its separate stereo pre-amplifier unit; a convenient position was selected for attaching the iPod female mini-din connector on the side of the air con housing. The electric antenna was also connected…and Bingo! We now have stylish sounds in the cabin. Only the two new front door speakers were connected as the power output of the 60’s radio is not so high. The manual seeking mode of radio stations is sending me back to teen-age era memories; nevertheless, the frequency drifting is somewhat disturbing, while the only two pre-selector FM band buttons means that one only stores his very top stations! On the other hand the output and sound quality when connected to the iPod is very good indeed. I am also using the FlexTune holder accessory which not only boosts the audio signal but recharges the iPod via the cigarette lighter; to boot the flexible holder allows easy operation and visual of the screen. Is a great device which I have been using both in my GLK300 and my X-Trim 28 RIB boat. It is interesting to note that even with the iPod connected directly (i.e. without the TuneFlex), the audio signal is quite strong and the volume knob on the Europa need not be turned up more! Lots of power left for louder listening of my favorite playlists.
While at it, I decided to buy a new black case battery to go better with the mid sixties look of the engine bay. I also fitted a race car type master switch so that when the car rests in the garage, disconnecting the electrics will be easier or even in the event of a short circuit this precious classic will be better protected. The final touch was changing the headlight and auxiliary Hella spot light lamps with higher intensity “white light” emitting lamps. A small improvement gained for night driving.
Hence the car today was declared ready for the much anticipated “39th PHILPA Rally” commencing on Wednesday 22nd September. Just In Time indeed. More on that experience in a forthcoming post.
So at this point, a tedious and costly ground-up restoration to a “A3 condition” according to FIVA (Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens) classification, has been completed. I guess from this time onwards, the car will offer to me, family and friends many moments of pleasure and enjoyment. I will be also keen to be monitoring the “W111.023” market scene in months ahead, so as to reassure myself that from an investment point of view I am doing OK. Ciao for now and thanks to all interested readers of these posts 🙂
It took some thinking and few discussions with motor-head friends before finally deciding that this quality car, taking into consideration of her interesting “blue-blooded” first ownership history, rightly deserves to be in an “as original as possible” condition. Hence the decision was taken at this time instead of postponing for later, to undertake a thorough, full bare metal re-spray, to strip off the under-seal, repair any rust areas and repaint, then re-underseal with a complete Waxoyl hard wax treatment, ensuring that the car has no rust at all and is fully protected against it going forward. Obviously choosing the factory color of Dark Blue code 332 G, according to what is stamped on the car’s nomenclature metal plate, goes without question.
Once again my “cars network” came through, as George Pitsikos of Auto-Stop/Connolly who will be doing the leather job and saloon interior reconditioning later on, has recommended a friendly body-shop, fit for executing the demanding job, nearer to my home north of Athens. Thus I opted for this alternative rather than the body-shop with outsourcing the paint-shop option of AUTOHOUSE STUTTGART in far away Piraeus. The firm chosen is called A & B FOR CARS, the initials originating from the last names of the two proprietors, Gregory Apostolou and Costas Bitaliotis.
After bringing in “Princess Michaela” for their inspection and appraisal, a lot of details were discussed as well as the tasks to be undertaken were laid down, while at the same time a budget outline was set. A & B FOR CARS only use quality paints and varnishes made by SIKKENS, necessary ingredients for a good result. What next became apparent was that the engine/drive-train had to be removed so that the engine bay could be repainted properly.
Hence the Coupé had to be taken back to Piraeus to be entrusted once again in the capable hands of AUTOHAUS STUTTGART, where my friend Michael Gouliaras and his team of mechanics would remove the engine, transmission and drive shaft. The latter would be taken to a specialist for precision balancing as some vibrating while cruising at speeds above 80 kph has been noticed. The engine removal task was done within a day or so hence the 250 SE/C was loaded on a car transport truck and duly delivered back to A & B FOR CARS in Gerakas.
Quickly enough Gregory and his team commenced stripping-down the car of all its chrome fittings, removing seats and carpeting, cataloging everything carefully, labeling and marking parts and bolts canisters, photographing were required and so on. Whatever rust spots or damaged chassis and body areas have now come to light; appropriate treatment and body-shop repairs would be the next task.
As anticipated, this Mercedes is a very clean example, despite its 43 years of age, having domiciled for all her life in the dry, salt-free roads of mostly sunny Greece. We are now in the process of listing all the required parts, most of which I will source from Germany through Andreas Reinacher and his DBDepot firm. A critical task involves the removal of the front windshield as some weather-sealing glue has erroneously been used in past days, making removal of the large curved glass a bit tricky. Here are some pictures at this stage of stripping and repairing:
Monday 21/06/10 update
Visiting A & B FOR CARS today, I took few more pictures of progress made. The old paint is being removed patiently. The rot spot on the rear RH wheel arch has been repaired. Ditto for the small rust hole in the accelerator area floor pan. The more extensive rust in the passenger side floor pan will be treated in the next days. The electrician will tend to removing all ancillary equipment and obstructing wiring in the engine bay. Tomorrow I will meet with him for looking after many details, among them to address the question: “replace or repair the wiring loom”?
At the same time we will scrutinize the parts list which will be required to source either from Germany or Greece or both.
It seems that daily progress is being made at a good clip as Gregory wishes to finish the 250 SE/C project sooner than anticipated 🙂
Thursday 24/06/10 update
The meeting with the electrician Panayiotis went well. He is undertaking to clear-up the engine bay from a plethora of wires, relays, connectors, hoses, horns etc, plus to remove the woodwork from the dashboard, along with the instruments, radio, clock, glove compartment and so on. He opined that the wiring loom is in good condition and that only some ending wires and/or connectors would require replacement. Such will be wounded with special fabric “old style” tape. Nevertheless, if I manage to source a new wiring loom, it would be wise to replace the 43 years old serpent. 😉
Now the wood work parts will be cataloged along with the leather seats and side panels before being delivered to George Pitsikos at Auto-Stop/Connolly for re-varnishing and Connollising respectively. Ditto for the carpeting pieces to be used as patterns for cutting new blue colored pieces.
In the mean time, the body work is progressing. Now all sides of the car body have been scraped and sanded down, filler and surfacer coats being applied. All rust spots have been treated except the passenger side floor board. The front and rear windshields have not as yet been removed.
Tuesday 29/06/10 update
Since last Thursday further progress has been made in the areas of body work repairs and preparations. Now the engine bay is completely empty of any part and the metal areas have been scraped of old paints, glues or greases. The front suspension assembly has been removed. Whatever minor flaws in the metal have been treated.
In the main body, both front and rear windshields have been removed. The entire body shell has been sanded, filled and a primary surface coat applied. The edge railings are in good condition and do not require any treatment. Inside the cabin area the floor boards have been scraped clean of all the insulation tar mats and whatever rust areas have been treated. The seams require to be grinded smooth before primer paint is applied.
In the rear end and trunk area, the fuel tank has been removed where a small rust spot around the filler hose curb has been noticed.
I think that we have reached the nadir in stripping-down parts from the body. There are no more parts to remove! This is a thorough respray job. 😉
The task is now to source all the parts required. Every rubber seal in the engine bay needs replacement, along with a smorgasbord of other parts (alas! many more than anticipated). While preparing for this critical task, I did search more on the net and found the Manheim, Germany based M-B oldtimer parts specialist Heinrich E. Niemöller, who offers a thorough parts supply along with pdf schematics which really help the restorer to understand which parts may be needed. 🙂
In the next day’s we did allocate computer time with Gregory and Manos aiming to identify parts and place purchase order$…
This task is now complete and after few clarification exchanges with Mr. Waldemar Eder of Niemoeller Company, we now have a confirmed purchase order for about 300 part items! Unfortunately the wiring harness requires a more than 4 weeks custom built process, so it seems that will stick to the old serpent after repairing it where required. Nevertheless, all connectors and battery cables are coming in new.
George Pitsikos of Auto-Stop/Connolly was also located and we did scrutinize the wood-work and leather job tasks which will be done in the next few days.
Synchronizing the various tasks (body work, respray, fitting new parts, electrician’s job, reassembling, leathers and wood-work, engine re-fitting etc) so that the car will be ready and sorted for participating in the PHILPA 39th International Rally in September 2010 (a FIVA event) is a worrisome task.
Wednesday 07/07/10 update
This morning I first visited George Pitsikos at Auto-Stop/Connolly who in the mean time had given the wooden pieces to his varnisher, had obtained a price quotation and was expecting to receive the first trial piece in order to check the coloration effect. In addition he had checked availability and obtained a quotation from his Connolly leather supplier in the UK in case we wished to replace all leathers outright with new but 60’s period stock.
That scenario was rejected not only because the price was quite high but also considering my wish to maintain originality of the car as much as possible. Hence his quotation for refurbishing the existing leathers was accepted. He will clean all the pieces and repaint and/or repair any scratches or blemishes. He will also repair seat springs, foamings and side door panels. He reassures me that the final result of his craft will be highly appreciated and admired. On this jolly promise I left the premises in joyous spirits only to ride my BMW 650 Funduro bike few blocks away to A & B FOR CARS.
The progress made on the body work preparations before commencing the respray was satisfactory. A lot of detailing has been done, as for example the front fender bolts have been undone and applied paint remover, then buffed to a shiny clean condition, ready to accept the new dark blue paint. The entire engine bay was treated to a similar detail and as Greg mentioned “Whoever opens the engine hood will admire the work done!’. Oh! music to my ears 🙂
Likewise the detailing inside the cabin and the floor board intervention areas is done in a nice way. Paint will be applied in the next day. The entire body shell has been treated to a black mat undercoat, assisting the observation of minor flaws on the metal surfaces which can then be treated by a successive filler and sanding down process.
Left: Hub caps treatment before applying carefully the new dark blue color.
Right: The vinyl material on the rear wind-shield shelf has been discolored and faded by the strong sun rays of the Mediterranean. The original blue section (covered all these years by the rear seat back) will be used for matching the leather treating color!
It seems that the time to start thinking about the color has arrived! The original car color code DB 332 has been entered into the “Mixit-Pro” computer software and out came the exact recipe for the “DunkelBlau” non-metallic mixture using Sikkens quality paints. The Mixit Pro on-line formula retrieval software enables perfect color matching while providing faster formula updates than any conventional system. Furthermore it supports painters with a variety of reporting functions, including consumption analysis, material cost per job and access to recalculated mixes. According to Greg and Costa (the paint guru of A + B), three coats of paint will be applied with successive fine grade sand-downs; these will be topped-off with two additional coats of varnish (again with a sand-down in between) which will protect the color for many years to come, add depth when viewing and endure many waxings or minor scratches to boot!
I must confess: I am anxious to see the final result of the team’s labors 🙂
Monday 12/07/10 update
What a nice Monday morning surprise! My Princess has regained her original factory dark blue color! A “Dunkel Blau” jingle whizzes stubbornly through my head. The A + B FOR CARS team has worked well in the last days, having applied the base colors plus the varnish coatings.
Now the process of cleaning and rubbing down with various grades of cutting pastes (such as 3M’s Fast Cut Plus #50417) and polishing agents in multiple applications will bring out the luster and depth of the color. In these pictures because of the green awning reflections, the true tone of the dark blue color is not rendered quite well.
Never mind though, as many other photographs will be coming forth documenting the re-assembly task which will commence as soon as we get hold of the spare parts on order from Niemoeller Co., Germany. Last update on that front is that all items are expected to be gathered and packed by the end of the current week, i.e. Friday 16/7/10.
The leather revamping and the re-varnishing of the wood-work tasks are going forward and I do hope that eventually the synchronization of the various jobs will work out without major hiccups. The process is not much different from the metal surface respray. That is the leather surface is cleaned with special detergents, then sanded down, cuts, wrinkles or other blemishes are filled in with putty, then color is applied. Repeated sanding and polishing together with pigment coats are applied before the leather is brought back to a revived condition. The Master of Ceremonies at Auto-Stop/Connolly is Mr. Thanassi who carries many decades of leather industry trade secrets and hard to find (these days) craftsmanship.
Monday 26/07/10 update
By checking on the UPS site I had tracked the parcel with all the parts from Germany which was delivered to A & B on Friday 23/7 late afternoon. Since we are vacationing in Kea island I decided to return to Athens on Monday morning in order to take delivery of the many parts and sort them into three distinct boxes marked “Body Shop”, “Electrician” and “Mechanic”. I arrived in Gerakas by noon with much anticipation and excitement. This would be the zenith of a very time consuming and expensive process invested in selecting, ordering, deciphering item codes, negotiating and so forth before all these car parts became a reality.
The car was in the courtyard, with the front suspension re-fitted. In the days past, the floor boards and trunk space received the special width tar impregnated shielding mats, cut and fitted carefully by Manos. I noticed that the first part out of the parts box was already installed: the firewall insulation material code D 68 493. Soon after my arrival the car was push wheeled into the shop and I set up “office” next to her using a castered tool chest as table top. Niemoeller’s invoice pack was 25 pages long, mostly with German descriptions while the days temperature was in the 35’s Celsius, making me sweat a lot. It took me six straight hours to go through the pile of parts and to sort them into the different boxes. All along I was trying to scribble when known, the schematic reference number of the parts, so that Manos and Panayiotis the electrician would be assisted during the reassembly tasks, cross-referencing them with the Niemoeller picture “Catalog D”, a hefty parts dossier, a hard copy of which I had ordered previously.
Since I had to return to the island and the family left behind, pressed to catch the 8 o’clock ferry from the Port of Lavrion, I took with me the 25 pages of invoicing for further checking and cross-referencing of parts versus schematic drawings. At this stage of the renovation project, my agony is rising as I wonder how this car will be re-assembled, looking after the complex jig-saw puzzle properly and just in time (during August in Greece almost everyone is escaping the city for summer vacations!), for participating with the 250 SE Coupé in the PHILPA 39th International Classic Car Rally, an event already applied and paid for…
On the other front, George and his team at Auto-Stop/ Connolly have progressed well; the leather seats and all the other interior furnishings have been by now refurbished; at the same time new floor carpeting pieces have been cut out using period style material, utilizing the old pieces as patterns. Likewise the woodwork has already been re-varnished and repaired where needed. George reports as being quite happy with the result as far as the coloring and the varnish coats are concerned.
Wednesday 04/08/10 update
The progress made since the last report is somewhat disappointing. 😦 The main reason being the delays from the part of the electrician to start his job. He did come in on Monday 2nd August with his assistant. They started by sorting and cutting out all the additional wirings other than the original wiring loom. For the lines removed new ones will be installed. The next task was to re-route the lines into the engine bay, inspect them and re-tape with black fabric masking. The fuse box and the relays bracket were repositioned on the fire-wall. New bolts and nuts are used were required for attaching parts like the coil and some relays. In the process we established that some wiring related rubber seals were missing and a new supplementary parts list is being prepared for Niemoeller. Nevertheless, these can be retro-fitted so that the finishing of the project will not be unnecessarily delayed.
In the mean time now both the rear and front windshields have been re-installed using new weather seals together with their chrome surrounds. Ditto for the radiator grille with fresh rubber seal.
The left hand side chrome strips have been positioned as well as the door handle. The roof line weather strip has been replaced. In the rear both tail lights have been bolted as well as the boot (trunk) lid weather seal, lock and handle with fresh rubber seals.
Several main engine parts as the servo drum, the air filter and plate have been cleaned and repainted mat black. The same for the wheel rims, tires removed and rims repainted black.
Costas has done an excellent job in repainting the side panels mounted under the doors. A beautiful factory crackle dark blue finish is produced giving that special touch.
Auto Stop-Connolly has delivered all the reconditioned leather seats and side panels, the new carpeting and the re-varnished wood items. On the latter the end result is not up to expectations as the shade seems darker than the original and some of the varnish is not perfect. George is looking into ways to rectify them…
Gregory is pushing to have the car finished by Friday the 13th August as his body shop will close for summer vacations until the 22nd. Michael at AUTOHAUS STUTTGART has been advised today that the car may be transferred to his workshop on the 13th for refitting the engine and trans by end August or early September at the latest.
I keep my fingers crossed that all will go well without major hiccups and anxiety sessions.
Thursday 12/08/10 update
Today is a big day! A+B FOR CARS are delivering the finished car! 🙂 My excitement was high in anticipation to check the results. I took the late night ferry from Kea island on Wednesday so that I would spend half a day near “Princess Michaela” to scrutinize the finishing details before the car is loaded on a car transport truck tomorrow to be delivered to Piraeus so that the folks at AUTOHAUS STUTTGART will undertake the task of refitting the engine and auto gearbox, the propeller shaft, connect all the linkages, fit the new engine related spare parts, align the front end, bleed the brakes and so on.
What can I say! I arrived while the car was being washed. What is noticeable immediately is how striking all the chrome parts are viz. the dark blue color. The side strips, the wheel arch ornamentation, the bumpers, the imposing front radiator grille, the windshield surrounds, the insignia on the trunk lid, all look great and underlined, I guess just as the designer of this lovely car, Paul Bracq must have intended. Now much more accented viz-a-viz the silver metallic color before I undertook the restoration.
Needless to say, a number of details need to be taken care before the car can be declared “ready and finished”, at least according to my high standards, but also as befits the effort and the expense already invested in this Mercedes-Benz. A one page list was written down as well as another page for the supplementary parts which will be required to be ordered from Germany. The electrician has finished all the re-wiring jobs and refitting the numerous ancillary equipment such as relays, coil, horns, lights, instruments etc. and has tested that all circuits and switches operate correctly. Amen, another difficult and anxiety ridden task completed.
The interior looks good although Auto-Stop/Connolly have not finished entirely their work. Once the gar gets back her engine, she will be driven at their premises for a final coat of pigment and several saddle-soap layers. One mishap being that the ash-tray was forgotten to be re-varnished. This will be taken care of as well as few other interior and cosmetic details. One remaining task is to detail clean the roof line and the glass-ware from weather strip glues etc. These task will be taken care of by Pavlos, proprietor of the ‘Detail Clean Center’, conveniently located right next to the Auto-Stop/Connolly premises. The new carpeting looks good as far as the quality of the material selected is concerned but also the color tone and the fit are nicely done.
All in all and even after writing two big checks for the body shop and the electrician bills, I feel happy and satisfied with the result! I am now relaxed that the car will indeed be ready for the 39th International Rally starting on 20th September. To boot, I will be soon in a position to send some pictures to HRH Michel de Grèce, showing His car pretty much in a similar condition, close to that when He had first bought this car back in 1967…
Tuesday 17/08/10 update
Today’s report finds the car in Piraeus at the AUTOHAUS-STUTTGART workshop, a Mercedes-Benz passenger cars specialist, headed by one of the most experienced, factory trained mechanics in Greece, Michael Gouliaras. The main task is to refit the engine-gearbox assembly and while at it to look after all mechanical details. Among them to replace the end muffler which was found partially rusted. I asked Michael to remove the aluminum valve cover and give it to an appropriate workshop in order to buffer and polish it. It would be a nice touch upon opening the engine hood to face a polished valve cover. Yiannis, his right hand assistant was also instructed to fit the new heat shield plate in between the exhaust and intake manifolds, ensuring a correct temperatured fuel mixture injected into the cylinders for improved combustion.
Upon inspecting the car underneath, I immediately noticed that the new auto trans oil pan was fitted along with its new gasket and sealing compound. Anticipate that this new part will seal properly the gear box as the old pan was slightly warped and could not contain a minor ATF leak. At the same time I asked Yiannis to make a list of the parts which may be required during the engine re-fitting job, so as to ensure that the car restoration is indeed finished in a professional way. Detailing, detailing, detailing, makes all the difference.
With the car raised I was able to inspect for the first time the wax-tar under-sealing job which was expertly done by A + B FOR CARS the previous week. In the engine bay matters looked good. The engine was in position and most hoses already connected. The water temperature sensor was reported damaged (probably during the removal/refitting of the wiring harness), so most likely I will need to source a new replacement from Germany.
Upon leaving the premises I was left with the impression that the car will be within few more days able to be started and put back on the road. The machinist shop who will undertake to precision balance the main drive shaft (hoping to cure a vibration noticed at speeds over 80 kph) is closed for summer holidays this period, hence this important task will be done early next week when he reopens.
The next and final two steps of the restoration cum back to the original “Dunkel Blau” color respray would be some detailing for the leather interior, cleaning of the skyline and fitting the additional car parts (mostly rubber seals which were omitted from the first parts order). An important part still missing is the replacement Becker Mexico radio. More on that saga in a forthcoming report.
At this point the repainting project has been completed. Now the car is a Roller! Click here for more details!
First shown at Frankfurt Motor Show in 1965, the new S-Class Mercedes-Benz range was outwardly distinguishable from preceding models by a sleeker body-shell with lower roof and waistlines with increased glass area. All models featured similar all-independent suspension, as well as four-wheel disc brakes and power-assisted steering. However, although the saloon used this New Generation’ body-shell, the Coupé and Cabriolet kept the timelessly elegant coachwork that had debuted back in 1960 on the 220SEb. The latter had moved Mercedes-Benz’s styling into the modern era; longer than their predecessors, these elegant cars featured a wider radiator shell, wrap-around windscreen, enlarged rear window and vertically positioned twin headlamps, all of which were carried over to the 250SE Coupé and Cabriolet. As befitted top-of-the-range luxury models, the duo came equipped with automatic transmission, air conditioning, electric windows and stereo radio as standard. The 250SE employed a fuel-injected version of Mercedes-Benz’s new M129, with overhead-camshaft, seven-bearing straight six engine, displacing 2,496cc and developing 150bhp at 5,600rpm. There was a choice of four-speed manual or automatic transmissions, while the rear suspension featured Mercedes-Benz’s hydro-pneumatic compensating spring. Thus equipped, the 250SE was good for 190 km/h, with 100 km/h reachable in 12 seconds, a substantial improvement on the superseded 220SE’s figures. When the 280SE 3.5 ceased production in 1971, its passing marked the end of this long-established body style. Today all examples of these classic Coupés and Cabriolets are highly sought after.
When Paul Bracq introduced his latest design for the 111 sedans it had all of the trappings of a legendary car. However, his translation of these designs into the 220/250/280 Coupés and Cabriolets made for some of the most desirable, best looking Benzes of the 60’s and early 70’s. These cars have a presence nothing on the road can match; they’re staid and athletic, serious yet not imposing. The more I look at the car the more l like it. Perhaps even a little more than its Cabriolet brethren. The shape, especially the C pillars and rear window, are more interesting in their execution than the soft top. I would also prefer this design with the sunroof, not just to get a breeze, but it simply looks better with an open roof, combined with all that open pillar-less glass, it’s striking. From any angle or perspective.
This particular example which is wonderfully correct, original and unmolested, has an interesting history as her first owner was Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark, (to His friends “Michel de Grèce”) cousin and close friend of King Constantine who owned two similar 250 SE’s but Cabriolets. The car belonged to the Royal Palace fleet and carried the Kingdom of Greece’s crest as a license plate on the front and rear! HRH kept the car until 1970 (when he and the King’s family fled the country from the Greek Military Junta era), when a very wealthy Greek shipowner, a young member at the time, of the Gratsos family, took ownership of the Coupé and kept her mostly chauffeur driven and meticulously maintained until 1999 when the car was acquired by its third successive owner, a well known Athens car dealer and ex race driver who kept the SE for ten years, allegedly having only added about 5,000 KM on the odometer. Aside from her intriguing ownership history, this is a quite nice example in that it has three of the most sought after features of the time: 1) The electric windows, 2) Air conditioning and 3) That wonderful automatic 4 speed transmission.
The 4 speed auto is a real treat, it’s precise and smooth, with a quick responding kick-down, whilst the gear changes are mated perfectly to the free revving mechanically fuel injected in-line six; it’s great both in traffic, and on the highway with plenty of pulling power. Everywhere I would go in this car, people would ask me questions, she’s simply something people rarely encounter these days. I’m planning to be driving the 250 SE Coupé quite often, and I expect her to be doing everything quite well. She doesn’t run hot; even in 38 C degree Athens summertime with the Behr pumping, water temp remains stable at 85 C. In traffic she’s happy idling, on the highway she’s equally happy cruising at 120 km/h. With all the windows down, it’s close to an open touring experience, with them closed, the Coupé really reminds me more of a 90’s model car, albeit with more wood, chrome, and style. Needless to say, it was a “love at first sight” affair with this 43 year old German beauty; I bought this car on the second day of viewing (18th Feb. 2010), upon inspecting the also excellent undercarriage; the spouse justification being “a retirement gift for myself after having sold my IT business in the Fall of 2009” 🙂
The metallic paint is glossy with good shine, and the metallic silver color is quite good, nevertheless, I could not find the exact color code in my research. I am not sure how long ago the car was repainted, however it is holding up rather well, is highly reflective, and is nicely presented. I have established that the original color was dark blue (from the metal tag it must be DB-332). I would have to consider if it would be advisable when the time comes for a new repaint to reapply the original blue color. All chrome has a high shine with no serious pitting, while some pieces are not as reflective as the grill and bumpers, but nothing is ‘dull’ on the car as you can see from the pictures. There are not any small impressions in the 280SE model replacement bumpers (featuring the practical rubber protective surrounds), both front and back aside from very few superficial scratches on the rubbers.
There are two blemishes on the surface paint that can be repaired by a specialist (one on the bonnet and one on the LH side just behind the driver’s door), few rust spots, but the fender mounted side mirror is loose and retained by tape. I’ve seen no other blemishes on the kick panels, doors, or anywhere else on the surface of the car. The inside of the trunk is very well presented, with no rust present although the original rubber mat is completely disintegrated and needs replacing. The tail lamps are not cracked and the twin chromed exhaust tail pipes look shiny and good.
The interior shows very well. In fact, the rear seat appears to have hardly ever been used. Seats are blue leather, with no rips, tears, or heavy wear, all inner stuffing is in good shape. I had the Connolly-Auto Stop people look into the leathers and a treatment session is being arranged. The material used appears to be an original pattern but as expected the driver seat is worn more than the rest. All of the dashboard wood is in relatively good and in presentable condition, there is some cracking and chipping but it is all there, including all pieces along the headliner. All of it would require to be refinished to a Valspar standard, a job to be undertaken by a Connolly associate. There are no cracks in the dash. There is no splitting of seams on the seats. All stuffing and springs are in good shape, and all seat controls work great and the metal hinge plating is shiny. The headliner is completely intact and original; it looks good with no sagging but a thorough professional cleaning would be in order. Both the rear & transmission tunnel floor mats and carpet are original while the front ones are newer replacements, but are not faded nor are they excessively worn. I have already undertaken cleaning them with a special carpet vacuum machine. The window/door rubber seals are in need of replacement and while at it, the window felts will also be replaced. The Pioneer cassette radio as you’ll see in the pictures is incorrect, product of the 80’s-90’s, but it works well. A Becker replacement is in order here. The clock is working occasionally and would require repair. The Kangol non-rewinding seat-belts are there, but the driver’s latch needs refurbishing. Also, there’s an original factory fitted BEHR air conditioning unit which works well producing cool air upon trial. Pumping-up with old spec’s Freon is an issue though, as “Refrigerant 12” is banned from the market and hard to find.
This 250SE Coupé is in terrific original shape, hence I would classify her as “Condition 2 Fine”, i.e. well-restored, or a combination of superior restoration and excellent original. Also, an extremely well-maintained original car, showing very minimal wear. The previous owners have obviously cared for her, and there are several new parts present to attest to this. One can immediately see upon opening the hood a new fuel system solenoid and lines, plus I was told by the last owner that he had new brake pads fitted and a new electric fuel pump.
Both of these make sense, as the car idles well and tracks true even under heavy braking. The emergency brake is working well, as are all lights, interior and exterior, the air is sufficiently cold, and all gages work including the odometer. The mileage indicated is 108,843 KM which may or may not be true. The only faults I’ve found are a dead spot lamp switch, the add-on FIAMM air horns do not blow although the air pump is churning and the RH rear window lever was detached but not missing. These have been easily repaired though, prior to taking delivery of the car. All windows (electric front, cranked rear) roll down OK. There is and auxiliary BOSCH electric radiator fan which is triggered automatically by the thermostat but also has a manual override with a period red light indicator glowing when activated. Upfront there are twin Hella halogen spot lights. Tires are a set of matched Goodyear Eagle GT+4’s, which appear to be in good shape but hardened by age, while the spare is an unused Michelin XWX. A new set of Made in Germany Semperit tires are now on order. The aircon compressor is a YORK unit, made by Borg-Warner, USA and I wonder if this was an original item or a replacement fitted to work with the Behr cabin unit. A cylinder compression test indicated (psi): #1 150, #2 152, #3 165, #4 155, #5 160 and # 6 162, verifying a healthy engine condition. Needless to say, the car prior to transfer of title, passed the MOT test with flying colors!
Sports Car Market pegs the 1966-68 250SE Coupés value between €20,000 and €35,000 with a 100% change in value from last year! There were only 6,213 units made in 1966-68 combined for the worldwide market, of these, 4,108 being Coupés and 2,105 Convertibles. As a new owner I believe that I will not ‘lose’ money on the car provided the car is well maintained. For less than the price of a new Kia, I can buy a legendary Mercedes design, with a number of rare features and unique “Royal” history, a really appealing automobile that’s sure to appreciate.
One of the first actions I took after delivery was to access the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center and order in CD form the STAR Classic Service Manual Library for the W111, plus the EPC Compact plus Spare Parts list. I also obtained the original 250SE Coupé Owners Manual, the Maintenance Booklet as well as some other accessories. Thus I started digging-into the secrets of these magnificent cars. The other main priority after taking possession of the car was to seek and find appropriate repair establishments for the following categories:
Mercedes-Benz specialist for mechanical issues
Body work specialist
Leather & interior specialist
Spare parts suppliers in Germany and in Greece
Air condition service center
The first category was the most urgent one and for which I had no previous knowledge. Hence I asked a PHILPA (Antique Car Club of Greece) member and friend Dimitris Rizos, who owns a W113 230 SL Pagode along with few other M-B beasts (a.k.a. Unimog’s), to make a recommendation. Thankfully he did so quite successfully, referring me to the AUTOHAUS STUTTGART, an old “Pointed Star” establishment in the area of Piraeus. The main proprietor, Mr. Michael Gouliaras (now in his early 7o’s) has attended a three year course at the Mercedes-Benz School of Engineers during his youth and has worked in Germany, Switzerland and Greece all these years. His team members (all of them coming from the early 1930’s established M.K. FOSTIROPOULOS-VIAMAX S.A. exclusive M-B Distributor and coach builder until the mid-nineties, when Mercedes-Benz Hellas was established as a factory subsidiary). They are trained by him and all of them love their jobs and the old cars, while showing a lot of respect for their clients.
Amazingly, Gouliaras knew well Prince Michael’s car, having worked on her along with King Constantine’s Cabriolets and the other Merc’s of the Greek Royal Palace fleet being brought to FOSTIROPOULOS for service. He also snapped “Hey! her original color was Dark Blue!” (which is correct as depicted on the car’s metal tag, with code # 332 G). From that moment on, I knew that I was in good hands.
Not knowing for how long the car was inactive in the hands of the previous owner, I wanted to empty all her fluids and pour in fresh stuff, along with replacing the relevant filters. That meant replacing the engine oil, brake, coolant, power steering, differential and auto gear box fluids plus executing a thorough grease job covering about 22 check points. The air filter and the fuel injection filters were also cleaned. The auto choke solenoid was looked after while a special injection cleaning formula was poured into the fuel system. The spark plugs and the distributor points were changed and the timing calibrated. The front brake disk pads were almost nearing their end of life so these were replaced and the brake system was bled. What a change in the braking power all that care did!
The other main concern was around the hydro-pneumatic rear axle self leveling BOGE compression leg device. The rear end was sitting low and needed rectification. Mike told me that this was a well known problem for the W111 series and the BOGE units were replaced by the factory back then, by installing the earlier, simple coiled steel spring. So far so good, but where could we source such a spring, when in fact it came in three different grades? Michael’s “old boy network” was put into action, and within minutes he had sourced locally the appropriate spring, in brand new condition together with its fixing bracket for 100,00 €! WOW :-). By next morning the car was sitting perfectly level having gained the correct increased ground clearance, while the camber of the rear wheels were measured OK by an old rig which Mike had in his tool chest. Next a new set of appropriate Bilstein shock absorbers were fitted in the front and rear axles.
The AUTOHAUS STUTTGART incorporates a body shop service and an electrician. Mr. Panayiotis looked underneath the car, checking for rust spots; alas he did locate some in the passenger side floor board, hidden by the underside tar covering, plus minor ones in the spare wheel well in the trunk. These will be addressed in the coming weeks. A foam sealing was applied in order to provide a temporary protection from possible car operation in the wet. He also fixed the inoperable drivers side door lock. The electrician replaced the emergency flash switch cum relay and now the turning signals and flashers operate perfectly. He did adjust the head, fog and spot lights. He also replaced another relay for the FIAMM air horns which now blow nicely! We all agreed that the Pioneer radio-cassette unit is due for replacement by an appropriate Becker Europa or such model.
I left the shop with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction: for a job well done, for making new friends and from knowing that the AUTOHAUS STUTTGART will be indeed the appropriate house of care for my precious Princess Michaela!
While the Coupé remained in the Piraeus shop for three days, my tire supplier had called to advise that the new set of four Semperit Comfort-Life 205/70 R 14’s – which had already been ordered from Germany the previous week – had indeed arrived. What a joy! Now that I had in my hands a well sorted car in the areas of brakes, steering, suspension, engine tune-up and so forth, a new set of radials would further increase the comfort of the ride as well as that all important factor of road safety. The more than 10-year old Good Year’s had lost their softness and the treads were well worn. Onwards then from Piraeus to the other side of Athens, in the North East region of Gerakas. Costas greeted me smilingly. Alas, his Kärcher hot water high-pressure cleaner was broken, as I wanted to have the steel wheels well cleaned before wearing on the new tires. Oh well! A small job left behind for another time. He did inspect all four wheels for rust, signs of damage or untrue turning. All were in great shape. The new tires and air valves were quickly installed and the wheels carefully balanced. These high-tech balancing Corghi machines (all Made in Italy), never cease to amaze me!
All along these day’s, intensive Internet searches pointed me to the DB Depot in Dettenheim, Germany as a reliable specialist for spare parts. A similar search for two local suppliers verified that their prices were much more expensive, most items not in stock (probably they would buy them from DB Depot or similar source). Exchanging several e-mails with proprietor Andreas Reinacher, helped me source the much needed rubber parts for the doors and windows, plus a number of other cosmetic parts. Andreas offered his valuable advice about the many items I inquired, he only failed to provide me the fuel tank sending unit and the windshield wiper rubber foot pump which was leaking. “The search is on” for these vital OEM items. An order has been placed with DB Depot which I eagerly await in order to proceed with my appointment at Auto-Stop/Connolly where my good friend George Pitsikos is going to take care of revamping the leathers, the wood and the carpets, and changing all the weather seals in between.
After that job, (more news and progress report as they develop), the car will go back to AUTOHAUS STUTTGART for the body work repairs and paint touch-ups. I do consider as appropriate to repaint the car in her initial dark blue color, but I tend to leave this task for the Fall or even for next year, since the current Silver Metallic paint is quite good and presentable.
Mike’s partner Stefanos has already referred me to another M-B specialist from their extended “old boy network”, for taking care of the air conditioning system. The task involved is to upgrade all system valves, hoses, filter etc. with closer tolerance fittings and thoroughly clean the refrigerant gas from the old (now forbidden) Freon R-12 to the new, R-134a US/EU approved and environmentally friendly refrigerant agent. Such replacements are required in order to prevent the smaller molecular structure gas of R-134, i.e. with higher density, from escaping the system and polluting the environment. Since summer is just around the corner and temperatures in Greece are quite high, having the old Behr unit pumping out plenty of cool air in the cabin is deemed important and will certainly add to the comfort and enjoyment of the car.
The last issue would be to replace the radio. I fancy the Becker Mexico 7948 modern replica unit, but aside from its high price, there are some pro’s and con’s to consider about that…
P.S.: My Uncle Costas 250SE Cabriolet
Fate has it that my beloved Uncle Costas Iliades, an ENT M.D. with practice in New Jersey, who was also a high ranking officer in both the USN and the Hellenic Navy, was himself a Mercedes-Benz aficionado! Having owned first a 190SL in the late fifties, which eventually he donated to his son Christopher upon entering College, then he bought for himself a brand new signal red 250SE Cabriolet (W111). The car was driven aside from the Doctor, by his wife Sophia and daughter Connie. I thank Connie for providing me with this period family picture of the car.
Technical Specifications of the 250SE
6 cylinder overhead camshaft
Bore and stroke:
80 x 78.8 mm
22 mkg @ 4200 rpm
Bosch two plunger injection pump
Engine speed at 100km/h:
Gear ratios Automatic:
I. 3.98:1II. 2.52:1
IV. 1.00:1Rear axle ratio:3.92Chassis:unit frame and bodySuspension:independent front, with coil springs, singlejoint swing axle rearBrakes and area:disk, servo assist, two circuit hydraulic,273/279mmWheelbase:2750mmTrack front/rear:1482/1485mmLength:4900mmWidth:1810mmHeight:1440mmGround clearance:152mmTires: 7.35 H 14 or 185 H 14Turning circle:12.1 – 11.9 metersSteering type and ratio:recirculating ball, 22.7:1Weight:1490 kg Maximum speed:188 kphAcceleration:12 sec 0-100km/hrFuel consumption:Automatic:17 L/100 km, Super (13.7 mpg)Fuel tank capacity:82 L (21.7 gal)
Datacard for Chassis W111.021.12.088627
I am indebted to Mr. Gerd Langer, of Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz Cars, Brand Communications of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Organization, who kindly provided me with the official “Datacard” of my car along with a number of additional documents, period brochures and so on. Among other details, now I know that my car was built on 25th June 1967! 🙂
Anyone can also double click below to see the spec’s and options that HRH “Michel de Grèce” had ordered for this car (marked with an X on the left), as for example, Code 256 “Differential mit begrenztem Sperrwert”, Code 3o6 “Klimaanlage” etc. : W 111_112 Coupé_Cabriolet 1967
What can I say about German efficiency, meticulous record keeping and customer care?
Finally, read the “official” version by M-B about the story of these cars:
At the opening ceremony of the Daimler-Benz Museum in Untertürkheim, which was housed in a representative new building in order to celebrate the “75th anniversary of motor traffic”, on the 24 February 1961, a new passenger car model, the 220 SEb Coupé was unveiled. This elegant and representative model became the successor of the 128 series coupe, which after October 1960 had been produced no longer.
From a technical and stylistic point of view, the new model was derived from the 220 SEb sedan, which was presented in August 1959, and was also assigned to model series 111. In contrast to its successor, the coupé was planned as a fully-fledged four-seated model. It was based on the chassis of the sedan the wheelbase of which remained unchanged accordingly. Although the tailfins, which had made such a sensation at the presentation of the 220 b – 220 SEb models, were now apparent in rudimentary form only, coupé and sedan still had many stylistic features in common. This makes the fact that not a single construction element of the four-door model could be used for the coupe even more surprising. Engine and chassis had been taken over from the sedan without significant modifications. The only important difference was a technical specialty: The 220 SEb Coupé was the first Mercedes-Benz passenger car model to be fitted with disk brakes at the front wheels.
In August 1961, a convertible version of the 220 SEb was presented, which was an exact replica of the coupé, except for the absent roof and required body stiffening. Half a year later, the 300 SE Coupé and 300 SE Cabriolet, which had been constructed from pre-existing building blocks, had their debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The bodies of the corresponding 220 SEb versions had been touched up with additional decorative elements and were combined with the technology of the Type 300 SE. Thus, these new exclusive models, which were, like the underlying sedan model assigned to model series 112, featured a whole set of technical details.
Basic equipment consisted of a 3.0-liter light-alloy engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, power-brake unit, air suspension and dual circuit brakes with disk brakes at the front and rear wheels. There was additional chrome decoration in the shape of a chrome trim extending from headlights to taillights along the longitudinal bead as well as conspicuous decorative trims at the front and rear wheel arches. From March 1963, the 300 SE Coupé and Convertible were, like the sedan, available with optional 4-speed manual gearbox; in this case the list price was reduced by DM 1,400.
In January 1964 engine power was increased to 170 hp so that driving performance was improved. This was made possible by converting the injection pump into a six-plunger unit. In 1962 the test department also constructed an individual special design of the 300 SE Coupé. The rear roof edge was removed together with the rear window and replaced by a retractable hood. This resulted in a landaulet, which for several years became the personal car of Professor Nallinger, head of the development department. Nothing more is known about the whereabouts and subsequent fate of this interesting car.
When the “fintail”-sedans of models 220 Sb, 220 SEb and 300 SE were replaced by a completely reconstructed generation of models, the coupé and convertible versions remained in the sales programme. As these exclusive models, which had been produced for some years then, were by no means outdated beside the sedans of the new generation, expensive stylistic revision or the development of new small-scale serial production of model versions were unnecessary.
The two 2.2-liter models received the 150 hp 2.5-liter engine of the 250 SE and also its model designation. Furthermore, like the 3.0-liter models, they were fitted with the 14-inch wheels and bigger disk brakes of the 108 series sedans. New, too, was the hydropneumatic compensating spring at the rear axle, which had been incorporated into the 2.5-liter models instead of the coil spring that had hitherto been used, guaranteeing that the level of the body remained constant irrespective of loads.
January 1968 witnessed the debut of the 280 SE model, which had a newly developed 2.8-liter engine with 160 hp and became the successor of the 250 SE. This change of generation did not only affect the sedan, but also the two-door versions. Apart from the new engine, only some details had been changed in the coupé and the convertible; like the sedan, both received flatter one-piece decorative wheel covers with integrated boss cap. At the same time as the 2.5-liter models, production of the Type 300 SE Coupé and convertible was stopped.
There was no immediate successor, but this was not really necessary either, as engine power was only 10 hp lower than in the 2.8-liter versions and the same driving performance was achieved because of their lower weight. In September 1969 the more powerful 280 SE 3.5 Coupé and Cabriolet models were presented. The completely new 3.5-liter V8-engine with 200 hp was very quiet and smooth and made sports car performance possible. These new models, and also the 280 versions with the 2.8-liter 6-cylinder engine had minor external modifications. The radiator grill was lower and wider and the bonnet was accordingly lower at the front. The bumpers were also modified, now being fitted with rubber strips like on the sedans. There were no external differences between the 8-cylinder versions and the new 6-cylinder versions.
In May 1971 the production of the 2.8-liter coupés and cabriolets ended and two months later the production of the 8-cylinder versions also ceased, thus bringing the ten-year era of the 111 and 112 series coupés and cabriolets to an end. A total of 28,918 coupés and 7,013 cabriolets of this range were built in Sindelfingen. The most exclusive version was the 300 SE cabriolet with 708 units produced, followed by the 250 SE cabriolet (954 units), the 280 SE 3.5 cabriolet (1,232 units) and the 280 SE cabriolet (1,390 units). The 220 SEb coupé achieved the highest production volume with 14,173 units.
The 350 SLC, which became available from February 1972, was the successor of the coupé models. This car was not based on a sedan, however, but on the SL model, which had been launched in April 1971. No replacement was planned for the cabriolets; fresh air Mercedes drivers had to be content with the two-seater SL.