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Retro Mercedes-Benz - W110, W111, and W112, in both 2- and 4-door bodies, were built on an identical chassis. More
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  •   Kyle Molyneux reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Merc 190C ‘too good for modern traffic’... in 1975

    / #Mercedes-Benz-190C-W110 / #1965-Mercedes-Benz-190C-W110 / #Mercedes-Benz-W110 / #Mercedes-Benz-190C / #1965 / #Mercedes-Benz

    The owner of this handsome #Mercedes-Benz 190C felt that after 10 years of sparing usage and a mere 7295 miles, the careless drivers of mid-1970s Britain presented too much of a risk to its wellbeing, so away it went. It was bought new from Mercedes-Benz main dealer Comberhill Garage in Ashton in Makerfield, Lancashire, on 1 September 1965. The original dealer wallet, salesman’s business card, key fob, first and last tax disc, dealer tax disc holder, radio leaflet, radio blanking plate and last MoT certificate are all still with the car.

    The owner ordered Mercedes-Benz’s fitted carpets, but chose not to use them and for some reason had another set made to protect the rubber matting. It comes to sale with the aforementioned original paperwork plus a toolkit, jack and wheel brace. The spare wheel has never been fitted. It’s being offered by the family of the first and only owner via H&H’s Pavilion Gardens sale in Buxton on November 27, with no reserve. Our price guide says a really nice fintail 190 is worth about £10,000-£12,000 – could this time-capsule car exceed that, despite the work required to return it to the road?

    Kept safe from the rigours of the road for nearly 45 years. This fintail 190 has covered only 7295 miles from new. Interior looks a lot fresher than the exterior after lay-up.
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  •   Shelby Glenn reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Light restoration required

    CAR: #1967-Mercedes-Benz-230 / 1967 / #Mercedes-Benz-230 / #Mercedes-Benz / #1967-Mercedes-Benz-230-Fintail / #Fintail / #W110 / #1967-Mercedes-Benz-230-W110 / #Mercedes-Benz-230-W110 / #Mercedes-Benz-W110 / 1967

    OWNER: Massimo Delbo

    I believe that, no matter how old you are, a day when you learn something is a good one. So I should have been very happy when I discovered something I hadn’t known before about my Fintail. But truth is that, instead, my feelings are a little mixed.

    Since I bought the car as a restoration project in February 2005, and during the following years of work, I’ve been puzzledby the right rear light because the cluster - a single unit - had a reversing-light lens that was a very strange amber colour. It was too dark to be the ‘right’ white that was shining on the left side, and too orange to be the all-red American-spec unit, the good quality of the part and the way it was moulded looked very original, though, so I didn’t think it was a cheap spare part bought by the previous owner some time in the past.

    Looking at the inside of the lens, I could see that the amber colour was not the result of fading by sunlight or heat because the hidden internal corners were all the same shade. Unable to solve the mystery, and not liking the mismatched effect of the two lights, I looked for a new part with a normal white reversing light.

    This process was neither easy nor fast, because I didn’t want a brand new cluster, which would look too shiny compared with the left side’s original one. I had to find a used, but not too-used, part.

    I bought, for almost no money, five old rear lights, but all of them were too tired to look good. In trying to resurrect one of them I also learned that you can’t separate the chromed frame from the lens, because they are thermally attached. So for a good 10 years I’ve lived with the wrong rear light.

    Then, a few days before Christmas, I found the correct piece, in the right condition, from a dismantled Fintail. there was just time to clean the new part, install it and take a picture before tucking the car away for winter. It was lucky that I kept the old one, because I discovered that I’d been wrong and that ‘meddling without knowing’ is the worst thing to do.

    What I’ve discovered is that the rear lights of cars sold in France had to conform to a unique French law. We all know that for a few decades front lights had to be yellow, but very few seem to be aware that for two years only, 1966-1967, the right-hand reversing light had to be of an amber colour. For Mercedes-Benz, this applied to Pagodas, Fintails and S-series saloons and coupes.

    So now I don’t know what to do. the ‘originality is a must’ side of me says to refit the historically correct one. My aesthetic side prefers to keep the wrong one I have just installed, which looks right to 99% of the population. I have always kept the 230 as original as possible, so I can guess what the final decision will be, but I wonder why, after 13 years of research, I couldn’t have found this out two weeks before I bought the light. I would have been less tempted to change it - and I’d have €200 more in my account...

    Clockwise from top: Mercedes as saved from the scrapyard; ‘correct’ (amber) and ‘incorrect’ (white) reversing lights; how the 1967-Mercedes-Benz-230-Fintail looks at present - aesthetically right, yet wrong!
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  •   Stephen Bayley reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Time to take W110/111 #Fintail saloons more seriously

    / #Mercedes-Benz-280SE-W111 / #Mercedes-Benz-280SE / #Mercedes-Benz-W111 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-W110 / #Mercedes-Benz-Fintail / #1963 / #1964

    Sixties Mercedes saloons just look better and better. Long eclipsed by the more dashing W108s, the Fintail cars still have wood trim, vertical speedos and mostly white steering wheels. Yet despite their period Stuttgart charm prices have stayed resolutely lat.

    Last January SWVA sold a blue ’1963 220S with 52,000 warranted and four owners for only £6250, followed in August by Anglia dispatching a beautifully restored ’1964 220S in dark red for £15,960. In March 2016 CCA sold a cracking factory black ’1966 230S with red trim for £10,120. These feel very cheap cars now.

    As all Mercs from the Sixties and Seventies continue climbing, the ’1959 to ’1968 110s and 111s have been left in the slipstream of Pagodas and 190SLs.

    But their familiar silhouette and dinky tailins mark them out as the definitive Benz of the period and we should be taking them more seriously.

    However, there are signs of movement in the trade. Cheltenham Motor Works is offering a green ’1963 300SE with 53k and full history just out of long-term storage and needing recommissioning for £50k while Auto Cave in Belgium is selling a mint ’1964 restored ex-Peruvian ambassador 220Sb in metallic grey for £17,350. But the odd cheap one still pops up, like the ’1963 220S with PS Autos in Surrey. A straight example needing underside welding, it’s up at just £5000.

    As the lowest-priced classic Sixties Benz, the Fintail has to be worth a look. Fine examples are currently available at a fraction of what you’d pay to restore one.

    VALUE 2012 £9500
    VALUE NOW £16k
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  •   Stephen Bayley reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    £ One to buy #1965 / #Mercedes-Benz-190 / #Mercedes-Benz-190-W110 / #1965-Mercedes-Benz-190-W110 / #1965-Mercedes-Benz-190 / #Mercedes-Benz-W110 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-Fintail / #Fintail

    Cream and red is an excellent colour combination for a classic #Mercedes – and while this might be a base spec 190, it’s no less charming for it.

    Free from much of the chrome trimming of the more upmarket Fintails, this 190 is if anything better for its simplicity. Finished in Ivory and with red trim echoing the traditional German racing colours, it looks the part – and a pleasant change from the black and grey which seem to dominate on these models. There’s no rust, and the chrome is all in good condition. The original hubcaps are present and match the body – and it’s nice to see that previous owners haven’t succumbed to the temptation of whitewall tyres.

    The interior is relatively sparse as a base spec car, but this doesn’t mean it’s lacking in comforts. None of the plastics on the dash are cracked, which suggests to us that there has been a replacement. The steering wheel however is delightfully patinated – several hairline cracks and the rim is split in a number of places. Yet this doesn’t detract – if anything, a small sign of use endears us to the car and makes it feel more like a used and loved example than a museum piece. The seats were recoloured just prior to our test, and the shade of red was a little sudden for our liking. This will settle with time and use though, and the interior certainly lives up to the rest. From cold it starts well, settling into a smooth idle. There’s little evidence of recent mechanical work, and while there are invoices in the history file we can’t translate from Japanese. It has however been recently serviced and inspected by experienced mechanics, and we had no concerns about how it felt on test. There was no evidence of leaking fluids, and it ran like a new example might.

    The gearbox is a delight. Column mounted changes are far nicer than floor mounted gearboxes of this era, and this car is no exception – it takes car on the way from second into third but barring that the gearbox is one of the nicest we’ve used. The clutch bites fairly high, and it’s easy to make rapid progress. Despite the lack of power steering it’s not a heavy car to drive, and it’s easy to place on the road even as left hand drive. There was a little hesitation early in our test under load at low revs, but this cleared with use and we believe was owing to a period of having been started and moved while cold. It wouldn’t deter us from purchase given how rapidly it cleared. The history file is relatively small, and mostly in Japanese. It is believed that the car was imported from Japan into Britain in 2015, though as we cannot read Japanese we couldn’t understand the limited history file. It’s not known where the car was prior to its time in Japan, though with the help of Mercedes Benz a potential owner may be able to establish its original country of sale.

    CONCLUSION

    While it’s not the cheapest Fintail on the planet, it’s certainly one of the nicest, and it drives just as well as it looks. In years to come, cars like this will appreciate – we’ll wish we’d bought them while they were affordable. This car has clearly been cherished – and while we can’t trace its history prior to its time in Japan the condition speaks for itself. Don’t worry about the lack of cylinders either – it’s more than pokey enough and will definitely put a smile on your face.

    Above: Seats have been recoloured recently.

    BUY THIS CAR FROM: Spurr Cars, Old Wheel Farm, Rowell Lane, Loxley, Sheffield S6 6SD 0114 2315000 www.americancarsuk.com

    "Having been recently serviced, it ran like a new example."
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  •   Sam Skelton reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    It’s not about the money – classic choice #Mercedes-Benz #280SE 3.5 Coupe W111. Values of Mercedes’ W111 coupe and cabriolet models may be rising, but that was not the main reason one collector craved the keys to his own two-door fixed head. Words Mattzollo. Images Felix Steck.

    For the majority of car collectors, the overriding incentive behind every purchase they make is that they just really want the car.

    Even in today’s classic car loving world, it takes a brave person indeed to make a purchase based solely on a car’s potential to increase in value. If the market for something supposedly as safe as houses - that is, houses - can wobble, then what chance the market for a product that is pure indulgence and, so it often seems, more demanding to look after than a house itself?
    Which is why, if you are going to buy a classic car, you need to be doing it for at least one other very good reason besides the financial one. And the most obvious reason we can think of is an absolute adoration for your new capital investment. There might be some very rich people out there doing it just for the money, and the prestige, but for the majority of car collectors and investors, the overriding incentive behind each and every purchase they make is that they just really want the car.

    This sums up the relationship between this stunning #W111 and its owner, Marcus Diamand. Regular readers may recall that Marcus owns a selection of Mercedes, all absolutely first rate examples of their breed. And while there is one eye being kept on what their values are doing, first and foremost these cars have each found a place in his collection because they are loved very dearly. Marcus wouldn’t be upset if they never made him a penny, and that goes for this W111, too.

    THE ONE TO OWN

    Marcus makes no secret of the fact that the model’s significance as a financial investment had not passed him by. But to say the purchase was a cold, calculated act based purely on investment value and financial gain would be nonsense. He bought this car because owning a two-door W111 had been a dream of his for a number of years. So with that said, we hope we can tell the rest of this story without giving the impression that it is just about market movements and investment yields.

    But, by golly, hasn’t the W111 proven to be of great financial reward for a lucky few. Values have risen dramatically, and nowhere more so than in the model’s home country, Germany. “Of all classics on the market, values of W111 s are rising the quickest,” reckons Marcus. “Here, a year ago, if a convertible was over €200,000 (£160,000) it would have been overly expensive, and the maximum for coupes was €100,000 (£80,000). But recently a convertible sold for €400,000 (£315,000) and another for €340,000 (£265,000), and coupes can go for €180,000 (£140,000).”

    Despite increasing values, Marcus spent five years trying to find the right one. He tells us why it took so long. “I really was actively looking at and test driving W111s for that many years. At first I was thinking a 3.5 convertible, but prices got so out of hand I started looking at the smaller engined ones.

    The trouble is, the 3.5 model is the only one that has a bit of shove; the others are really only for very relaxed Sunday drives, whereas the 3.5 is ready for any situation.”

    With the V8 a must, sights were set on a coupe, and eventually he came across one for sale at one of Munich’s most prominent classic dealers, Auto Toy Store, which usually boasts a big selection of W111 s for sale. This coupe example was used by the proprietor (before a convertible turned up, ironically) and came with the desirable quality of being fully restored to a very high standard.

    BACKGROUND CHECKS

    Even so, knowing of the problems that can come with buying a W111, Marcus still went to the dealer with three master technicians with various backgrounds. “I basically walked in with an army!” he exclaims. All three said the car had been perfectly restored, as expected, but there was a catch, and it didn’t need an army of experts to spot it...

    It had not been a totally straight-laced, purist approved restoration. In this case, that meant an interior with very modern touches: diamond quilted seats, double stitching on the dashboard and everywhere else, Alcantara headlining and a custom centre console complete with a TV monitor and garish V8 badging. Oh, and the range topping coupe also had a two-tone paint job, with the standard silver bodywork complemented by a brown roof.

    Apart from that, however, it really was an excellent example, mechanically and structurally in perfect order. All it needed was someone who recognised its potential. That man was Marcus, and the previous owner’s €30,000 (£24,000) worth of interior alterations were ripped out in one morning, not long after the cabriolet was taken away, ready for transformation back to data card specified silver roof and Brazil Brown leather originality.

    With roof repainted and interior re-trimmed by Marcus’ favoured classic #Mercedes specialist, Fritz Wallner of Mercedes Oldtimer-Technik, it was on to the finishing touches. A head unit had to be found, Marcus insisting on an original Becker Europa, and he also insisted on adding air conditioning to the centre console as, in his opinion, the interior just doesn’t cut it without them. Having seen these in place, we would be very much inclined to agree.

    There were two versions of air con available for the W111, an American made Cool Master unit and a German made Behr version. For Marcus, the only option was the latter, and after much time and effort (and presumably considerable expense), a Behr unit had been sourced and fitted. The set up works beautifully - silent yet very effective. “I hate noises,” laughs Marcus. “I only want to hear the engine! The unit has been rebuilt and refined to be as efficient as possible, and also you notice that you don’t feel it sap power from the engine, like you usually do in old cars.” With another €30,000 sunk into the cabin, Marcus finally had the car he wanted.

    INVESTING IN THE PAST

    A sum spent very wisely, you would have to say. I do not think I have ever sat in a cabin as pleasant as this one. It has the chic elegance that you would expect in a 1960s luxury car, yet is cosseting in a way more typical of modern car cabins. It is beautifully trimmed and tastefully tailored, while being impeccably well built and having an air of high quality and integrity.
    It is thus ever so easy to simply sit back and enjoy a sedate drive, taking in your immediate surroundings and barely thinking about the act of driving - further than looking out for road hazards, we hasten to add. And because of the kind of car it is, that kind of driving certainly comes naturally. However, this is not to say you cannot get thoroughly involved in the act of driving. Because while you can merely sit back and sail along, to pilot this car as smoothly and seamlessly as it deserves actually requires a certain amount of effort and attention. That, of course, is similar to any classic, calling for patience and skill that a modern car, whose electrical systems seamlessly tidy away driver flaws, does not.

    The gearbox likes to hold a lower gear than sometimes seems desirable, engineered as it is to provide some sporting intent, so you have to master the art of gently but purposefully stroking the accelerator pedal to coax it into a higher gear. And because the suspension is soft and squidgy by modern car standards at least, to keep the car tracking smoothly and serenely requires very delicate handling of the steering wheel, and brake and accelerator pedals.

    Normally in a classic car, you will still have the odd shudder or thunk through the suspension, or lurch and thud through the drivetrain, but there is none of that here, the Mechatronik supplied suspension kit providing faultless chassis manners and the drivetrain a silky smooth transfer of power. Drive it correctly and it delivers in spades. The #M116 delivers on the refinement front, with none of the tappety jingles produced by most contemporary units, the W111’s smaller straight-six included. Inside, a subdued thrum can be heard, while a deep burble teases on the outside. And it’s brisk, as Marcus alluded to. A 39bhp/34lb ft advantage over the 2.8 straight-six provides a noticeable leap in performance, despite the V8’s 60kg extra weight.

    As a sign of how highly Marcus regards this car, and indeed the inherent rightness of the #W111 from the factory, other than adding the air conditioning unit, he has not seen fit to tinker with the car at all. And this from a man who has had all his cars updated and tweaked ever so slightly, to look better or work more sweetly. Admittedly that might just possibly have something to do with such changes affecting the value of the car, but mainly it is simply because he loves it just the way it is.

    JUST TECH FACTS

    ENGINE M116 3.499CC V8
    MAX POWER 197bhp @ 5.800rpm
    TORQUE 211lb ft @ 4.000rpm
    TRANSMISSION 4-speed auto. RWD
    WEIGHT 1,570kg
    0-62MPH 9.4sec
    TOP SPEED 127mph
    FUEL CONSUMPTION 21.7mpg
    YEARS PROOUCED 1969-1971

    OVERVIEW

    With glamorous looks and a V8 engine bursting with classic performance, the 3.5-litre W111 is highly collectible.
    Figures for a #1970 car as pictured: fuel consumption determined at 3/4 of top speed (not more than 110km/h, 68mph) plus 10 per cent.

    It really was an excellent example, but needed someone who recognised its potential.
    Only the grunt of the 3.5 would do for this Benz collector.
    Three and a half litres of understated Mercedes brawn.
    Recirculating ball power steering for this flagship coupe.
    The 3.5 M116 was used in the #R107 SL among others.
    This W111 coupe uses 205/70 tyres on stock 14-inch rims.
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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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