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    RESTRAINED ELEGANCE ‘60s BAGGED MERC W108

    Belgian Mercedes-Benz W108 “S” No one quite does Euro box cruisers like ze Germans… or, as it turns out, the Belgians.

    RETRO RIDE MERCEDES-BENZ 280S WORDS: Midge. PHOTOS: Kev.be.

    Sometimes what you don’t modify is as important as what you do.

    What’s the key to being cool? If I knew that I wouldn’t be sitting at my desk eating pickled onion Monster Munch, I’d be supping champagne on my private yacht selling bottled ‘cool’ by the truckload!
    I guess one thing’s for sure though, some cars are just born that way, there’s no stand-alone reason why, they just are and, when it comes to modifying such elegant automotive icons, the trick is not to ruin all that inherent awesomeness by going nuts. To me, that sums up the attitude behind this jaw-dropping machine from deepest, darkest Belgium. It’s not over-blown, it’s not try-hard, it’s just effortlessly cool and ridiculously laid-back.

    Now, I’m not saying Andy here has been lazy with his mods, quite the opposite in fact, what he has done is actually done to perfection. My point is that unlike most, myself included, he knew exactly when to stop. There’s an old joke on the modifying scene that a project is never finished and, for the most part, that’s true. Modifying by nature is a fluid thing, a living, breathing process that doesn’t cease just because you’ve had your magazine photo shoot. In fact, it only really stops when you move on to another ride… and even then the new owner will probably get stuck right in.

    This retro Benz is different, what you see before you, is probably the first ‘finished’ motor we’ve ever featured. When we asked Andy ‘what’s next?’ he just looked at us blankly and said “nothing – I drive it now.” And that tells you all you need to know. Andy is clearly one of those laid-back European fellas you normally see staring thoughtfully into the distance drinking espresso and puffing on a Gauloise, and that premise just makes him cooler, without even trying, the bastard. Then again, I suppose Belgium is not a nation known for it’s reckless abandon in the first place and that translates directly to this car - there’s nothing that’s not been coolly calculated in every detail.

    So, to sum up, what we have here is the rare and beautiful situation where a motor that was devastatingly cool to start with gets a couple of retrained mods to push it straight into the stratosphere!

    As is often the case, the language barrier has made finding out the ‘why, what and when’ an interesting task. Andy’s English may be better than my Belgian (it’s called Flemish – Sander) but, even so, getting the finer details of the spec has been something of a challenge. Take that slick solid-colour paint job for starters, I asked Andy what it is and he replied “red” which was infinitely helpful. As it turns out it’s an A-Class-spec ‘Mars Red’ but I suppose that doesn’t matter, what’s most important is that Andy oozes enthusiasm for his car, a motor that’s over a decade older than he is. It’s not just because it’s a project he’s lavished time and Euros on either, it’s been a deeply personal venture all round, he even got married in it.

    From what I can make out the W108 chassis Merc was his childhood dream car and, when a local car collector was thinning out his garage giving Andy first dibs on this one, it was an opportunity he just couldn’t resist. Being a low mileage, last-of-the-line 1972 car it was mint too but, with a history of modifying every motor he’s ever owned, it didn’t take long before Andy had it slammed over a set of custom American hoops from Intro wheels on a home made air-ride system. Apart from a properly posh Kenwood audio setup, that’s about it. There really isn’t that much too it.

    Does it help that the quirky-looking Mercedes W108 was one of the coolest ‘60s motors ever to come out of Europe? Does it make a difference that’s it was one of the rare cars built with the longevity to still be on the road today? Sure it does, but it’s arguably more important that Andy has done nothing but enhanced its charm with all the right mods, no more, no less. There’s a kind of art in that sort of simplicity, a laid-back beauty that just can’t be found in a massively complex modern project.

    Does it matter if the spec isn’t as extensive as some? Is this car any less impressive or desirable? Not at all - if you’ve got it, you’ve just got it, and this one’s got it with bells on!

    MERCEDES-BENZ W108

    Rolling off the line in 1965 for a 7-year run, the W108 Mercs came in 10 different configurations from the early 2.5-litre 250S up to the late 280SEL 4.5. Mercedes conceived the W108 chassis cars to succeed the older W111 ‘Heckflosse’ (fintail) cars famous for their almost Cadillac-style tail fins. Up to 1972 over 364000 W108s were built alongside another 18000 similar (but longer-wheelbase) W109 cars including the legendary 6.3-litre V8 300SEL, which came with self-levelling air suspension as standard. Performance was the big divider but they all looked pretty much identical and it’s this shape that has become a 20th Century luxury automotive icon. You may have seen James Bond driving a black 250SE down the train tracks in Octopussy, or the ultra-rare silver ‘1969 280SE Convertible they crash in Las Vegas in The Hangover… that’s right, they were both W108s. I told you they were cool!

    TECH SPEC: ‘ #1972 / #Mercedes-Benz-280S-W108 / #Mercedes-Benz-280S / #Mercedes-Benz-W108 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-W108 / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-W109

    THE MODS: Custom #Air-ride system, 18-inch Intro #Speed-Star-Wheels , resprayed A-Classe red, Kenwood head unit and speakers

    THANKS: My wife and kids, Geert Melovan, Ruben (great friend), Eric Carrosserie (Paint), and Willy for help with the engine.

    Andy now has a Merc to die for, not to mention a garage!
    True lowrider style, just on this side of the Atlantic.
    Bone stock engine is still going strong!

    DRIVER: ANDY WILLEMS

    How long did it take to complete your car?

    I don’t know… all these hours that I have not counted.

    How would you describe the project?

    I had a dream, I followed my dream, I created my dream, and now I have my dream. You can’t say fairer than that!
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    50 years #Mercedes-Benz S-Class, model series #Mercedes-Benz-W108 , #Mercedes-Benz-W116 , #Mercedes-Benz-W126 , #Mercedes-Benz-W140 . Connoisseurs know what we write: it's all about the automobile Oberhaus. We compare four generations of the S-Class. Which series has the most comfort, which is for everyday use at which the best investment? Me(h)rcedes 50 years #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class .

    Experts know what we are writing - W108, W116, W126, W140: Click here around mobile Oberhaus. Four generations of the S-Class, four luxury. Who is the best sedan from the home team? And what can and should be (yet) afford? it Does not work.

    At the top of automotive heaven shines for over 100 years a particularly bright star: Mercedes-Benz. The skill of the Swabian brand has always represented the S-Class: more Mercedes does not go. In her first drove respectable businessmen later less reputable half Welter and nowadays many trendy hipsters who succumbs to the charm of the old bourgeois art technology. 108, 116, 126, 140 - with these numbers we drove always anticipate. True to the back current Mercedes slogan: the best or nothing. And who is today among the south-classics of the best?

    W108 - the vertical as a design element, the predecessor of the W108 is divided the body of the produced since 1959 "tailfin" - series. However, the unit body no longer met the increased demands of the Mercedes-clientele soon. Therefore, there was the end of 1965 a new upper class that was indeed almost the same size as its predecessor, but not equal to lean worked. Primarily this was due to the lower by six centimetre’s (2 ½ in) roofline and the disappearance of Peilkanten at the stern. The W108/ #Mercedes-Benz-W109 was released, the extended version V108 came six months later and offered the guests Fond ten centimetre’s more legroom. First, the W108 offered only with the reamed to 2.5 and 2.8-liter displacement six-cylinder engine from the 220. That was enough for 130 to 170 hp at the rear wheels of the single-joint swing axle, which is also inherited from its predecessor. Especially the 250S proved initially but as vulnerable: He was too hot and sometimes ate the piston. As a replacement more often or 2.8-liter fuel-efficient diesel engines were installed. Only new piston rings made of molybdenum extended the life expectancy of the small first molar. Those who wanted more power, had to wait #1968 to summer.

    Then the exception model of the series appeared: the 300 SEL 6.3 with the V8 from the 600th Affordable were later the 280 SE 3.5 and 300 SEL 3.5 (200hp DIN / 218hp SAE), which were known internally as W109. Gearbox side there were four courses, which are operated on the steering wheel or via joystick lever, and if desired an automatic. Until the end of 1972 almost 250,000 copies were built. Then it was time for a worthy successor. The term S-Class was the W108 the way after the fact, in the advertisement for the Mercedes W220 series #1998 levels.

    Mercedes-Benz W116 - earlier was more tinsel As early as the autumn of #1966 , shortly after the publication of the W108, the development work began on its successor. A first case: In development and design computers were used. In August 1972, the production of the W116 was on, but the official presentation in Paris took place at the motor show in September. On display were the first models 280S and SE and the 350SE. The engines were known, but new was the design of the W116. In the flat front, the broadband headlights touched the radiator grille. The car is 5.5 centimeters wide and as much longer, but lower by 1.5 centimeters. Total citations of predecessor are recognizable, but the W116 is an optically completely new automobile. Concession to the traditionalists were the twin chrome bumpers. Priorities of the developers at the time were the driving behavior and safety. For the former, there was a new front axle from the experimental C111 Wankel car and a modern rack and pinion steering.

    The diagonal swing axle rear came principle the Roadster R107, which was developed in parallel. Due to the accident prevention are abundant PVC in the interior and oversized roof pillars, sills and reinforced doors. Ever seemed the complex structure with its deformable ends and the stable cell solely dedicated to one purpose: the accident protection. Headrests and seat belts were initially although only at an additional cost, although the W116 in two disciplines is far classified over the then average. Expensive it was for customers from spring 1973, when the #Mercedes-Benz-450SEL (V116) with 225hp (DIN) and standard three-speed automatic was published. The top model in the series was handed in from the autumn of 1975 the 6.9 was, the legendary 286hp. Top 230 km/h made it the fastest production saloon of its time for the W116 in W126 - was elegant as a gentleman with a hat The W126 series from December 1979, of course, at the Sindelfingen plant, produces. But because the development already began eight years earlier, the Swabians could adequately respond to the oil crisis of 1973. The new S-Class was indeed more economical, but not a piggy bank. A lot of money has been invested in the design of lightweight, economical engines and low air resistance.

    With success: Depending on the model and features of the new up to 280 kg was easier. The mostly just updated drives were relieved, because they, in the case of the eight-cylinder engine for this series were even new designs made of light alloy and. Plenty of work in the wind tunnel brought an improvement in the cw value of 0.41 to 0.36 compared to its predecessor - the 1979 was a top value for a four-door sedan of this size. The chassis has been slightly revised, adopted in principle by the ancestors W116.

    From June 1980 it again gave a long-wheelbase version, the SEL, and called the end of 1991 a chic coupé, SEC. The top version was the 560SEL with initially 272 hp (with Kat 242, at the end of 300 hp), which was published in autumn 1985. At the same time a facelift took place. Now it was in the base models 280S, a five-speed gearbox and series except the 560 SEL models for all the catalyst operation were prepared. Optical lost the plastic side strips their flutes and the known from the options list Baroque Alus evaded alloy wheels Gullydeckel-style. About 810,000 sedans in the W126 series were produced, the last drove in early 1992 from the home team in the world. Mercedes-Benz W140 - Big-Benz not only for bosses We do not want here to intone prejudice canon. No, we want to praise: For more comfortable you can eigentac Lich not traveling with a car. The interior is as big as a zeppelin hangar - only much more convenient. The lush seats one likes to call club chairs. Nonsense!

    Club chairs are not electrically heated verstellwie or even massaging the back of the pilot. And they are seldom so pleasant kommod as the armchairs of the Big-Benz. The many electrical helpers culminate in a click of a button from the inside adjustable interior mirror, which is not really needed, because the rear-view mirrors anyway remembers the stored seat position of the chauffeur and automatically brings in position. And there's more on the miracle-Benz marvel: tempo-dependent parameter steering, electronic five-speed automatic, engines with four-valve technology and adjustable camshaft, ESP, voice control system, Parktronic and, and, and. 1981 began the development of the W140.


    Ten years later the Swabians then showed their masterpiece at the Geneva show. 1992 was followed by the 140V and a fairly massive geratenes Coupé. That same year also saw the first facelift. Thus, the Board responded to the early criticism of clientele. From the summer of 1993 it was then on 500 S on the trunk lid and the spring on the Schwaben presented finally the 140s-Mopf. After slimming optical thickness looked pleasing. But his end was already decided. Although happened to him in 1996 a small facelift ( #ASR , Sidebags, rain sensor series, Xenon headlights surcharge), but two years later ended after about 432,000 copies, the era of the first controversial Big-Benz.

    Comparison
    It has always been so: people rarely buy just one car. You acquire an image. Because they should be seen by neighbors, colleagues and friends as they want it. Like no other car was and is an S-class prosperity, prestige, charisma. But of course for innovation and technology leadership. Who pays three times a normal car, expect top performance. And rightly so. And was not disappointed at #Mercedes : Whether 108, 116, 126 or 140: Each car is in his time - and beyond - the automobile standard meter on which had work off the competition.

    So it is not about simple A-to-B-driving, but a way of life. The is still impressively fulfilled also at the present time. Even a W108 is good for your daily commute to the office. But only in the summer. Not that he would not move forward in the winter - but he is too good for salt attacks on the stylish sheet. His appearance is impressive, the space herrschaftlich. Huge luggage compartment, the interior is reminiscent of a saloon compartment of the Southern Railway Company in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And almost as much space is also offered. If in the middle tray, the optional seat cushion is inserted, fit the front and rear pure three passengers.

    The driver can see through clearly drawn round instruments for long hood, a chrome star stands proudly at the end of the driving wind. Turn the key, immediately whispers of straight-six meek as a novice behind monastery walls. Loosen the long lever right laid down in the dry Bakelitvolant, brake, do gently Gas ... already floating the W108 from there. Of course, not to hunt through a quick slalom course, but as good as comfortable straight drove no end of the sixties.

    That should remain so until the appearance of the successor. But the W116 expands the comfort zone. Mass is to be replaced in the car set-up by nothing. And heavy is the first time in the house Daimler-Benz also so-called S-class. This is the baroque Chromzierrat as the double bumpers, but also the security owed. The in-house safety Pope, Béla Barényi had expended all his art. For passive safety include controlled deformable body ends, stable passenger cell, thick umschäumte fittings. For active safety ensure, among other things four disc brakes and at the end of his career, for the first time in Großserienbau, antilock brakes ABS. The W116 is like carved out of the proverbial Vollen. And so it goes also. Not that he would be cumbersome (perhaps as little 280 S). No, it's this rich road, the secure feeling of inmates to make almost all the bumps downright dull. From the engine compartment is a deep rumble is heard in most fierce sprint at the V8ern. Otherwise one hears little. From today's perspective a 116er is perhaps the most lavish and least timeless cars of this comparison. Completely indisputable, however: the classic Bruno Sacco-elegance of W126.

    Also it was a bit controversial. For bumpers made of recyclable plastic did not want to give up traditional values all customers. The S-Class of 80 is a child of the oil crisis. Streamlined, light-footed, efficient. That the Steering basically worked so imprecise as its predecessor, did not fall to continue. But the mixture of lightness and solidity made of the success. The W126 is from the rider quasi the most of W108 and W116. A real development so. Agile, better comfort, solid processed. At the same time of these understated elegance, as they can emit only old money really. This works even today. Featuring a landscaped W126 in muted blue Hanseaten you can still casually go to the Alster pre Atlantic Hotel.

    However, the grand entrance is who pulls up with a V140. He would be the ideal company car for scandal-priest Tebartz-van Elst. The picture also therefore fits so well because of the large car like a moving bishopric. This S-Class can really no question unanswered.

    Anyone starting out, boss. And cares little about what others think. On the route you realize: For a two-ton ship of the W140 is handy. Only when braking turns out moving masses which the pilot. His true role in the car history, the 140 not yet found. By "too fat" it is certainly adequately described in any way. Which is the best S-Class?

    It is impossible to make a fair choice here. All are technologically feasible for their time. All are popular as design icons of their era classics. Okay, maybe the W140 takes it a little more time. But he deserved it. Therefore, we would still have a good back up and put away him for now. When the W126 choice would be clear: once Please 500SE. We love the harmonious proportions of the "short". In a little more budget, we would choose a SEC with the sophisticated seat-belt, but that's another story. When W116, the ultimate decision may lead to properly bang only to over-Benz: a dramatic 450 SEL 6.9.

    Pragmatically, of course, a 350 or 450SE in terms of performance is more than enough. Only the W108 we took a meager 250S. Because he so beautifully plain and in the accountant equipment is a real value for bargains.
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