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  • Brett Fraser unlocked the badge Great Reader
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  • Brett Fraser is now friends with Ruben Mellaerts
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  •   Andy Everett reacted to this post about 6 months ago
    Brett Fraser posted a new blog post in Porsche 911 992
    Porsche 911 992 vs… Mazda MX-5?
    •   Cars
    •   Friday, 27 March 2020
    Although I’ve touched upon this subject before, I think it bears reapeating: how great is the MX-5 at punching above its weight? Or perhaps it’s good at punching because of its weight, or lack thereof.
    1. Continue Reading
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  • Brett Fraser is now following Mark Dixon
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  •   Quentin Willson reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Brett Fraser updated the picture of the group Mercedes-Benz C-Class 204-Series
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  •   Sam Skelton reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    A look back at Mercedes that deserved more recognition for their sometimes hidden qualities - this month... Why I love the W112 300SE? This much style didn’t come cheap in the early 1960s, the 300SE the ultimate Fintail and a favourite of one Mercedes Enthusiast contributor.

    Sports cars have never really appealed to me. I can’t deny the prettiness of the Pagoda SLs, but I have always preferred room to stretch out and the space for suitcases or shopping.

    That’s not to say I don’t appreciate performance and handling, though - I like a fast car as much as the next man or woman, and if it goes round bends without a fight so much the better.

    But style is equally important. I admire discretion in a car, yet I’ll admit a weakness for the American excesses of the late 1950s - whitewall tyres, an abundance of chrome, and tail fins that made a car appear capable of space travel.
    Convey these requirements to a late 1950s #Mercedes-Benz engineer and the only result can be the Mercedes-Benz Fintail, and more specifically the #W112 300SE . In taxi cab W110 #190D form, the #Fintail looked elegant, perhaps even (dare I say it) cute, but mix in an extra dose of style, luxury and power, and I don’t believe Mercedes made a better looking car than the 300SE saloon.

    Growing affluence on both sides of the Atlantic meant Mercedes’ timing seemed just right. Launched at the #1959 Frankfurt motor show following over two million miles of prototype testing, the initial cars were the 111-series 220 Mercedes. The car maker’s innovative unitary construction included a passenger safety cell and crumple zones. In #1961 , the range grew with four-cylinder ( #W110 ) base models and a flagship - the #W112 300SE. Faced with the opportunity to sell luxury cars to the burgeoning American market, some manufacturers went entirely too far-witness Jaguar’s gigantic Mk 10-while Mercedes-Benz simply went as far as it dared.

    EXCLUSIVE LUXURY

    Hugely expensive at twice the price of a 220 model, the 300SE saloon stood out with extra chrome along its waist and around the C-pillars. An automatic transmission, servo-assisted steering, air suspension and a #Bosch fuel injected, three-litre alloy engine made for an impressive specification on paper.

    Although whitewall tyres were an optional extra, you’ll rarely find a period image of a 300SE that isn’t wearing a set, while discs on all four wheels with separate circuits for front and rear meant the braking was fail-safe. The air suspension used pressurised rubber bags in conjunction with hydro-pneumatic shock absorbers, allowing the car to self level. Large rubber bump stops ensured the 300SE could still be driven should the system fail.

    The W112 was deliberately kept apart from the lesser Fintails, even to the extent of having dealers put the cars in separate showrooms. It wasn’t until #1962 that 111-series coupes and cabriolets were introduced, yet the these would still outsell the 300SE by 24 to 1.

    Vertical speedo later dropped by Mercedes-Benz.
    With this much legroom who needed a LWB?
    Mechanical injection for two valve #M189 unit.
    Chromework suited the North American buyers.
    I don’t believe Mercedes made a better looking car than the #300SE .
    The perfect grand touring Benz saloon.
    Rear swing axle with air spring set up.

    The four-door saloon kept its fins, which even by 1959 were becoming passe, but the coupe and cabriolet models had theirs shaved, radically altering their appearance to complement clean lines that still look fresh to this day.
    We say ‘fins’, but Mercedes called them ‘peilstege’ - sight lines to aid parking. Mercedes chief designer Karl Wilfert conceded that they were, “In Rufweite der Mode” - within earshot of fashion. Mercedes had clearly attempted to Americanise the car, and Americans seemed touched by the gesture, but not enough to buy Pintails in significant numbers.

    A four-speed automatic transmission was standard on the 300SE, but #Mercedes would fit a four-speed manual gearbox if the customer insisted; in March 1963 the manual gearbox officially became an option, and a long- wheelbase version of the range topping Fintail debuted.

    A 1964 Autocar roadtest described the 300SEas “neither beautiful nor dainty,” but it had a “massive and solid appearance.” Testers drove it the length of the Ml motorway at 100mph (most UK motorways were less busy then, with no speed limit) and concluded after 1,465 miles of testing that “the comfort and size are well up to the Mercedes image.”

    The 300SE is hardly flawless. The saloon drew criticism over its Americanised speedometer design and those tailfins, which so rapidly dated its appearance. A prodigious thirst meant Mercedes was forced to fit a larger fuel tank to models made after #1963 , the increase from 65 to 82 litres offering just 50 miles more range. The air suspension suffers from water leaking past the seals - especially if the car isn’t used regularly - and, with all that shiny chromework, they are prone to rust.

    NO COMPROMISE

    The 300SE was - and still is - complicated, and expensive to buy, maintain or repair. The 5,202 examples built were bought by rich enthusiasts who refused to settle for a lesser Mercedes which, in many ways, were just as good. They wanted luxury and obvious prestige, regardless of the cost.

    But fashions had already began to change, and when the six- cylinder Pintail’s replacement arrived in 1965, it was clear Stuttgart had played the W108’s design very safe. Mercedes claimed the W112’s indirect successor - the range topping W100 600 - was designed to be the best car in the world. That’s how good it had to be to follow the 300SE.

    The Fintail saloons certainly would not be the last vehicles Mercedes-Benz built for the American market, but they were the last to be styled for it.

    Mercedes-Benz 300SE W112 Fintail
    Engine M189 2.996CC 6-cyl
    POWER [email protected]
    TORQUE 184lb ft @ 4.000rpm
    TRANSMISSION 4-speed auto, RWD
    WEIGHT 1.565kg
    0-62MPH 10.7sec
    Top speed 115mph
    FUEL CONSUMPTION 20.6mpg
    YEARS PRODUCED 1961-1965

    Figures for a #1964 on car - 300SEs built before then had 158bhp/185lb ft torque, fuel consumption determined at X of top speed (110km/h. 68mph) plus 10 per cent.
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  •   Sam Skelton reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    CLASSIC CHOICE

    Established in 2012. RPR has bestowed a W111 280SE 3.5 coupe with a big V8 from a W220 S-Class.

    Classic made modern – RPR W111 Coupe – the world is not enough. A powerful and comfortable car in its day, this W111 280SE 3.5 Coupe boasts new found acceleration and refinement thanks to a modern V8 and air suspension from a W220 S-class. The W111 coupe is one of the most highly regarded and desirable Mercedes-Benz car of all time. Carsten Ohlinger of Restoration, Prestige Cars and Racing.

    The late 1950s to early 70S were a golden age of car design. This era - before the most onerous safety and emissions laws put their stranglehold on the industry and began to compromise creative styling - gave birth to some of the most beautiful cars ever designed. In sports car terms this meant #Alfa-Romeo , #Aston-Martin , #Ferrari , #Fiat , #Lamborghini and of course, Mercedes-Benz. And during this period this last marque also produced some of the most elegant saloons and coupes in car history.

    The W111 coupe, particularly the V8 powered #280SE 3.5 and its cabriolet sister, are two of the most highly regarded and desirable Mercedes models of all time, and their steadily increasing values bear testimony to this fact. The W111 range in general is also significant for being the first #Mercedes line up to feature the passive safety cell developed by Daimler-Benz safety supremo, Bela Barenyi.

    However, like all cars of this era, these three-pointed stars require more servicing and fettling than modern machinery, and were never designed to run reliably and stay cool in the kind of stop-start traffic conditions we face today. Features that we take for granted like air conditioning were options back then, and were not particularly efficient by modern standards. Air suspension was also in its infancy at the time, and the early technology was expensive and not as reliable as Mercedes-Benz would have liked.

    While this cocktail of innovation was a serious draw for wealthy buyers, it was also a ticking time bomb for subsequent, less well heeled owners, and a veritable nightmare for those enthusiasts wishing to restore and drive these cars several decades down the road. As always though, where there is a will, there is a way. Over the years, a few canny specialists have come up with solutions to mitigate the impact of some of these sophisticated features going wrong. Common upgrades involve replacing the distributor points with electronic ignition and improving other electronic and electrical components, usually in a way that preserves the original look.

    Driveshaft from W220 S-Class needed to be shortened.
    Rear S-Class air suspension and Koni dampers all round.
    Front axle given Firestone’s air ride suspension system.
    The conversion makes it suitable for everyday use in modern traffic conditions and improves its all round performance.
    Front and rear air suspension transforms ride.
    The 302bhp, 24-valve V8 motor fires up at the first turn of the key.

    However, the drawbacks of these cars from an engineering point of view arc the sheer weight of the 3.5-litre, iron block V8, a four-speed automatic transmission that is, by modern standards, slow witted and clunky when not properly adjusted, and optional air suspension that can be troublesome and is rather expensive to fix when it does go wrong.
    Carsten Ohlinger started RPR (which stands for Restoration, Prestige Cars and Racing) in #2012 , setting up shop in Tamm near Ludwigsburg in Germany. RPR specialises in the restoration, service, sales and motorsport preparation of #Mercedes and #Porsche cars, and Carsten is very clear about his objectives. “Although ‘Restoration’ is the first word in our name, I decided to handle these jobs sparingly, and only for good friends,” he explained. “As much as I love restoring old Mercedes, the number of hours you invest in a car makes it a marginal business even when you charge the not insignificant amounts of money that the top players do.

    “I am a mechanic by trade, and it is the technical part of the job and racing that interests me most,” he continued. “I am always thinking of ways to improve cars, and I have evolved my own ideas for curing the issues that often let down owners of classic Mercedes-Benz vehicles.”

    The #W111 coupe I have come to drive today is a prime example of the kind of transformation RPR is able to perform for an enlightened client who wishes to treat his classic as far more than just a hobby car for high days and holidays. The conversion makes it suitable for everyday use in modern traffic conditions and improves its all round performance.
    Putting the coupe on the lift in RPR’s workshop is most revealing, and it is immediately obvious that the car never left the factory with these underpinnings. The front subframe has been modified to take the smaller, lighter and much more powerful, five-litre #M113 #V8 and its matching gearbox. The air suspension units up front are aftermarket units, with airbags made by Firestone, working in conjunction with bespoke Koni dampers. The electronic control calibration is done by RPR.

    Even more noticeable is the all new rear axle, which is from a #W220 -series S-Class, replete with its Airmatic air suspension units. Needless to say, new attachment points had to be created for the W111 and welded to the body shell, along with the requisite stiffening plates, but the finished result has the same clean and polished look as a factory solution. As the S-Class’s driveshaft is longer than the W111’s, it had to be shortened to fit.

    AIR SUSPENSION

    A substantial amount of planning, measuring and modifying of the sheet metalwork had to be done to get the new components to fit exactly where they should, but the end result looks factory standard. With the car back on terra firma, the only external giveaways are the 8.5Jxl 7 #AMG wheels wrapped in modern 215/45ZR17 rubber, and the 40mm lower ride height. Other than that, the car looks as it did when it left the factory in #1972 .

    Five-speed auto also from a W220S-Class.
    Tan leather for this pillarless classic coupe.
    An increase of 105bhpfora total of 302bhp.

    An original, 197bhp 280SE 3.5 motor cranks over a few times before it bursts into life with a stutter from its 1960s injection, and settles down into the slow, consistent idle of a Mercedes engine from this era. In contrast, the electronically controlled, 302bhp, 24-valve V8 fires up with the first turn of the key, with the signature sound just as you would hear in a modern #Mercedes-Benz with this engine, and it instantly steadies to a rock solid idle while emitting a barely discernible purr.

    On the fly, the V8 growl is subdued most of the time, thanks to the ‘waft-ability ’ factor engendered by the car’s relatively low kerb weight compared to the S500, which donated its engine. With 50 per cent more power on tap than the original V8, this car has gone from sedate to rapid in one fell swoop.

    Snappy throttle response with good low end torque, and a responsive gearbox allow you to move quickly on minimal revs. The original V8 feels stolid and leaden by comparison and that is not just because it has only two-thirds the power of its modern counterpart. Older Mercedes engines simply did not rev as freely or as high as they do now, so it is no surprise that the modern drivetrain changes the character of the W111 quite considerably, turning it into far more of a driver’s car than its designers ever intended it to be.

    A BEAUTY AND A BEAST

    While the bespoke stainless steel exhaust sounds civilised, it does not hide the V8’s character under full throttle. So when you find yourself approaching a tunnel it is hard to resist dropping a gear or two along with the side windows of this elegant pillarless coupe, and making the most of the resident V8’s throaty singing voice. Given his penchant for transplanting the biggest possible motors in the Mercedes catalogue into unsuspecting models lower down in the range, Mercedes’ legendary development chief Erich Waxenberger may have approved of this car.

    The rest of the time, the RPR W111 coupe is a smoother, more effortless and better behaved version of itself. There is no
    question that the new powerplant is far more refined and less gritty, and the modern five-speed gearbox is seamless compared to the original and delivers quieter cruising and far better fuel economy too. The more modern air suspension, and adjustable hydraulic dampers controlling bounce and rebound, provide the coupe with better body control and a silkier ride than the original suspension system. With electronic calibration controlling the ride quality, it is a fairly straightforward matter to fine tune the ride quality to individual owner requirements.

    While Mercedes-Benz purists will no doubt throw up their hands in horror at this extensive conversion, one must remember that the objective is to produce a car with the characterful look of the original, but the sheer usability, dependability and performance of a far younger Mercedes-Benz. Apart from its characteristically vague recirculating ball steering, the RPR Will coupe feels thoroughly modern, yet retains a compelling classic twist. I absolutely loved this car, both in terms of its looks, and how it drove. For my money, this W111 coupe epitomises the best of both worlds.

    This 3.5 coupe proudly wears the #RPR logo.
    Mercedes-Benz #M113 V8 had 339lb ft torque in the 220 S500.
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  •   Julian Balme reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    #Lotus-Elan
    Name Jim and Carole Jackson
    Occupation Retired
    Ages 65 and 64
    First classic #MG TF
    Dream classic #Frazer-Nash #Le-Mans Replica

    Favourite driving song I wanna be a rock star Nickelback
    Best drive Hanoi to Saigon on 2014 International Jeep Rally

    “No Sarah, we can’t afford to buy you a horse and, no, I don’t believe that all the other girls in your class have one. You can have a horse when I get a #Lotus Elan.” She was about 10 then, now 32 and, luckily, she has forgotten, so shhh! We bought our #1967 S3 S/E in #2004 .

    Why an Elan? Funnily enough, on the #2013 London to Lisbon rally, a bloke with an MGB asked that very question. I fixed him with a steely glare and asked him why he’d bought that shirt. The real answer, setting aside the rationale that it’s the best car for the money by a huge factor, is just human nature. We all have an affection for a marque from our past: maybe a car we’ve owned, or an uncle’s, maybe a neighbour’s, even Emma Peel’s! In my case, after the inevitable Mini as a first car then a #1954 MG TF that was 14 years old, I moved upmarket, or so I thought, with a second-hand #MGB .

    It just seemed lacking in character after the TF so, once I’d studied various classic tomes and, after six months’ frantically saving, I spent even more money on an older car, an S1 Elan. It was in dubious condition and, despite the high regard that early Elans are now held in, it was a bit past its best. But it was still explosive. I could suddenly see what all the fuss was about.

    Two years later, I traded up to an S3 – in an unusual 1960s colour – then a used Sprint in my favourite monotone Lagoon Blue. In #1973 , just before purchase tax was abolished, I bought my first new car, another Sprint in the same lovely colour, in kit form. We didn’t build it in time to go to the pub on Sunday lunchtime, not that Sunday – nor the next – but I was hooked, and still am. And if you aren’t you should be. Gordon Murray, Jay Leno, me... we all have that in common (but nothing else). Then marriage, kids, the need for furniture, food and so on meant that I was Elanless for 30 years. Still horseless, we’re just loving our Elan and are lucky in that we have plenty of good friends nearby who also own old cars so we often go off together on rallies, tours or just outings where one of us has organised an interesting tulip route or whatever. Then there’s Goodwood or the Silverstone Classic. Buying the Elan was one of the best things that we’ve ever done: it’s an interest that you can share with, or escape from, your wife (not me, of course) and you go to places that you wouldn’t otherwise have done.

    We’ve made firm friends with likeminded people from ordinary blokes to Lords and Ladies. I was gratified a couple of years ago as I looked around an eclectic, and somewhat expensive, entry on an event and realised that there wasn’t another car that I’d rather own.

    We’ve done a little over 60,000 miles in the 10 years that we’ve had the Lotus – from Ireland to the Czech Republic, and Sweden to Italy, on various tours. We’ve taken part in 18 competitive rallies where the car has been a huge success, unlike the crew – which hasn’t.

    Our most notable result was the team prize on the Three Castles a few years ago. We formed a team with a rally-prepped DB5 and a DB4 GT (the people you meet, eh?) on condition that I could name the team ‘Two Astons and a Fast Car.’

    The S/E has been no less or more reliable than any other vehicle from the ’60s. Last year, on the London to Lisbon, plus a week in Portugal, we did 4100 miles door to door with no issues whatsoever.

    Hang on, what’s this on eBay: a 1973 Lotus Elan Sprint in monotone Lagoon Blue? The registration? CRA 536L? It’s our bloomin’ car. Well, it is now… again. It had been off the road for 34 years and has covered just 51,000 miles. In the ’90s, the chassis was replaced, the running gear rebuilt and the bodywork restored by Mick Miller. Now the overhaul has been completed and the car recommissioned by Neil and Ken Myers. It’s just stunning, almost too good to use, but that would be silly.

    We’re keeping the S3 for longer events or rallies – we’re just back from the Classic Europe (with classiccarjourneys. co. uk) – and cherishing the Sprint for special occasions. The trouble is, every journey in an Elan is special.
    Spectacular Alpine backdrop near Interlaken, Switzerland en route to Lauterbrunnen on the Classic Europe tour.
    #Elan excels at Knockhill on Scottish Malts Much-used S3 at start of Silvretta Classic.

    On way to team prize, Three Castles 2011.
    The Jacksons with newly reacquired Sprint.

    ‘We’ve done 60,000 miles in the 10 years we’ve had it – from Ireland to the Czech Republic, Sweden to Italy’.
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  •   Shelby Glenn reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    1972 #Fiat-130-Coupe Grey color
    Year of manufacture #1972
    Recorded mileage 93,857km
    Asking price £21,995
    Vendor Avantgarde Cars.Tamworth, Staffs; tel: 07968 694448; avantgardecars. co. uk

    WHEN IT WAS NEW
    Price £5609
    Max power 165bhp
    Max torque 184lb ft
    0-62mph 10.7 secs
    Top speed 123mph
    Mpg 18.8

    This well-known Coupe has been a regular on the British concours scene since arriving from Italy in #1997 . The Fiat was supplied new by Carlo Savoini 6 Co of Borgomanero, and has obviously been extremely well maintained, with thorough Dinitrol protection.

    It's almost mint, with no corrosion in the structure, and benefits from a recent repaint. The inner-wing joints and spot-welds are extremely well delineated, and there's no rot in the A-pillars or any signs of welding underneath. The alloy wheels are unmarked and shod with a decent set of Pirelli P4000s, with an older Michelin XWX on the spare.

    The exhaust looks newish and the brake linkage is clean. All you can fault it on is the rear bumper - the chrome is pickling and needs redoing.

    Inside, the velour, carpets and headlining are all unmarked, although the seat covering is slightly loose on the driver's side. The dashboard and its top. in particular, are excellent. There's a modern CD player, but the original radio has been kept, and rear seatbelts have been fitted.

    The engine is near-concours, too, in factory finishes, with slightly obsessive detailing; even the copper air-conditioning pipes have been polished. Its coolant is blue and halfway up the expansion bottle, with clean oil just over the top mark on the dipstick. And there were no leaks on the floor where the car had been standing. The 3.2 V6 starts easily - don't confuse the choke and hand throttle!

    - and reads up to 4bar oil pressure when warm, which is 80-85°C. The 130 drives well, with smooth brakes and snappy automatic transmission shifts. There's no play in the power-assisted steering, plus it rides and handles tautly. The charge meter wasn't working, though.

    The Fiat will be sold with a fresh MoT, original service booklet and guarantee card, plus an English handbook.

    SUMMARY #Fiat 130

    EXTERIOR
    • Perfectly straight and repainted; poor rear bumper chrome
    INTERIOR
    • Generally unworn and clean; driver's seat is a little baggy
    MECHANICALS
    • Does everything that it should while making a great noise

    VALUE ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆
    For Mafia look, and slightly unusual.
    Against These used to be cheap.

    SHOULD I BUY IT?
    If you've always lusted after a #Fiat-130-Coupe , then this must be one of the best available in the UK
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