W108...what do I need to know? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-15-2005, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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W108...what do I need to know?


I recently won an online auction for a '68 250s, and will be taking posession of it this weekend. I'm completely new to vintage MB's and am looking for some good general knowledge. I have a few questions now and I'm sure will have plenty as time goes on.

Since I don't have the car yet, I can't provide any pictures. As soon as I get it, I'll take a bunch and post them somewhere for the world to see.

In the meantime, if anybody can help with the following questions I would be very grateful:

1. Assuming the car is in decent overall condition, what mechanical issues should I look out for? What's notoriously a problem for these cars?

2. As there is some (very) minor rust on one of the fenders and some other minor body damage, I may need to find replacement body panels. Is there a good place you folks would recommend for this? I can go to local scrapyards and pull parts, but I have always had better luck with mechanical parts than body parts. If somebody specializes in replacement sheetmetal for old MB's, I will probably need to know about them.

3. What's a good repair manual for this car? I can see that there's several publishers for this type of manual, but is there a general preference for one over another? Is there anything I should avoid?

4. I know I got the smallest engine they put into this car and performance isn't going to be great. I'm not going to be racing it, but am considering replacing the engine with a diesel at some point down the road. Aside from the bonehead issues like making sure the fuel is actually diesel and not gasoline, are there any big obstacles to doing this changeout? It's got to be easier than putting a Chevy 350 in there, right?

5. Are there any fellow W108 owners in the northwest who meet up periodically? I'm in Portland, and would like to find others who are crazy enough to have one of these cars.

I think that's all I know to ask right now. I'm sure I'll have more questions once I'm poking around the car. Thanks for putting up with the newbie questions - hopefully I'll be able to contribute a bit once I get going.

Take care,
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-15-2005, 05:49 PM
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RE: W108...what do I need to know?

Hi there and congratulations on your new old Mercedes-Benz!

I am the owner of a 1972 280SE 4.5 W108 saloon.

1) There is nothing notorious really or any mechnical problems that stick out on W108 - these cars were hand made and it shows all these decades later - the drivetrain is bullet-proof - if the transmission shifts, it's probably fine, if the engine runs and starts well without overheating, it's probably fine. Carburators not as reliable as the fuel injection systems, but a fine carb none the less - make sure you rebuild it if it needs it. I guess there is something and it's the climate control "levers" are delicate and a careless operator of them can and will snap them.

2) About the rust and the body damage. You used the work notorious for number 1. If anything on the vintage MB's, I'd say the rust is the most notorious unfortunate event that these cars go through. Carelessly taken care of vintage Benzs will rust and they'll rust bad depending on where you live. What looks like "minor" can quickly turn your project car into a donor car for another car you've yet to find, if you know what I mean. These cars have so many panels and the inner structure is extremely complex and advanced. Be rust-vigilant. I frequest junkyards, but since my W108 has NO rust on it, I don't go there looking for W108. These cars are becoming VERY rare now-a-days and are rare in the junkers. Anyway, I'd continue looking for parts and body panels in the junkyard, maybe a local parts car you can buy for cheap or even the net. Check your local body panel replacement shop - I can get most panels for most MB's here. eBay is a great place to find many, many W108 parts.

3) Yes, I am holding it right now - Chilton's repair & tune-up guide, Mercedes-Benz 1968-73 "all 220, 230, 250, 280, 300, 350, and 450 models, gasoline and diesel engines"

Chilton part no. 5907
ISBN 0-8019-5907-1

4) The 250S puts out a respectable 130 bhp to the back wheels, will reach about 182 km/hr and reaches 100 km/hr in about 13 seconds. This is acceptable to use in modern traffic. These cars are not about the speed - it's about the gorgeous looks and the lines - the slower the better, actually, so everyone can see what a gorgeous car you have. A diesel conversion is not the easiest task to do and if not done properly/professioanlly, it could have terrible results. The engine in your car is a legendary Mercedes SOHC Inline-6 and is renowned for it's build quality and it's durability. I wouldn't change it at all - this car is a collector's item now and any changes not stock and how it was released from the factory will reduce it's value. I'd invest in keeping the stock engine running like a top. If it's your dream to do a conversion, though, go ahead, no one can stop you [:)] About it being easier than putting a Chevy V8 in there - NO. I'd say harder. Mercedes engines are extremely complex and intricate - even the 4 cylinders - take a bolt out and 10 more follow - these cars were not designed for the DIYer in mind and there's a lot of tight fits in there, sometimes demanding you to break something. I was once told by a transmission specialist that Mercedes of this era are so intricate and precise that in the time it took him to rebuild a vintage 3-speed auotmatic from a Benz, he could have done 5 domestic truck transmissions. Do not underestimate these cars because they are older - if anything, it stands for when Mercedes was actually engineered without costs in mind and that should make you a little wary. A DIYer can certainally work on these cars, but it's not a snap like a domestic muscle car. Plus the old Benz engine would outlive the domestic V8 for sure!

5) I am in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada - a little TOO far north for you, perhaps? Haha. Check out your loacl chapter of Benz and you will find someone to talk to your car about and meet up with.

Any questions, please ask!

Take care and welcome,


P.s. Go here: http://www.geocities.com/mbz109/

1990 560SEL - W126
-929 nautical blue metallic & 262 navy blue leather
-58,000 KM (36,200 Miles)
-Euro spec Japanese import (KAT edition)
-Complete service history since new
-5,546cc SOHC 16v V8
-10.0:1 compression
-285 hp@5200 rpm, 324 lb/ft@3750 rpm
-2.65 limited slip diff
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-15-2005, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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RE: W108...what do I need to know?

Hi W108, and thanks for the great info. I'm still kind of wrapping my head around the fact that I bought this. I'm a big fan of German cars, having spent a good chunk of my upbringing there so it seemed like a good fit for me. To be honest, I was actually looking for a mid 80's BMW 6-series when I saw this one and bid on it.

I'm glad to know about the rust issues now...it's one more thing I should take a good look at. I have a friend who recommended a good Mercedes mechanic and I'm going to bring it in to get a good inspection. I know the carbs have been rebuilt recently, so that's a one less thing to worry about. As for the rest, I just don't know yet.

I'm hoping this turns out to be a good project car and not yard art [;)]

So thanks for all the advice/info. I will definitely post pictures once I get it home. Then I can start playing!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-16-2005, 02:18 AM
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RE: W108...what do I need to know?

Hi,i've had a bunch of these great cars too!,see my former 3.5 in the gallery.[8D]
If you have rust it will be in following areas,
in the front chassis rail behind the bumper,
in both front fenders at the rear on the bottom,
In the plenum box in front of the windsheild,
in the rockers ,especially at the front and at the rear by the jacking point.
In the bottoms of the doors,and the front floors if it has aircon,because the hose perishes and the condensation runs in the carpet...[xx(]
in the rear boxes behind the rear wheels where it collects water because the drain vent is blocked and/or the tail light gaskets are perished.
If it has a sun roof,the roof will rust and the front "a" pillars will rot ,this also caused by the rubber hoses perishing and leting rain water run into the pillar and eventually the rockers rusting them out.
If the trunk floor has gone,walk away..this is last place these cars will rust and if it is bad here,the car is too far gone .
Now...Mechanical things,the front cross member sits on two rubber cones called bushes,they need to changed every twenty years.They locate the suspension and when they fail they make the car noisy to ride in and the steering goes all vague.
while that is being looked at,change the engine mounts because they were designed to be collapsible in the event of an accident and always should be checked.
The next thing that always needs to be done is the rear suspension torque arm bushes,two each side,they are in the front of the two long arms connecting the diff to the floor inn front and on the diff at the rear.
You can check all these items really easy by lifting the car in front under the cross member(in center) ,place a jack stand under the inner chassis rails behind the wheel arch,NOT the rockers.slowly let the crossmember jack down.Watch how far the engine and crossmember drop.if the bushes have gione you will see it as they come down,if they look bad They are bad.
the rear arms are easy,the torque arms should look nice and square,not laying over to the outside of the car.
they are sort of easy to replace,just takes alot of care and patience,because the springs sit on them[:(]
Still with me?
If the car has been driven regularly,you have a good purchase,but if it has been a garage queen,do the following;
Change all the oils,engine,including the oil cooler in the front if it has one,theres a special drain for that,the Auto trans,including the torque convertor,which also has it's own drain.
The diff,which will only need 90#.
Next ,buy a grease gun.the front end has grease points every where.the king pins need to be done every 5000 miles if you don't drive much.there are some in the drive shaft and the diff.MOST important you look for them and even replace zerk fittings that won't take grease.
Lastly and most important,in the center of the bottom of the gas tank is a bung,remove that and you will see a filter,get it cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner(i bought a dentists one off ebay!).THEN CHECK THE HOSOS RUNNING TO THE FUEL PUMP.IF THEY ARE GRUNGY,CHANGE THEM.
If not you will find the inside of the hoses comming away and blocking your filter,which is the next job.replace the fuel filter.
got this far?,fill the tank,put 250-500 mls of transmission fluid in the tank.It will clean out your MFI pump and those injectors i,or if you have carbies,it will clean up the inside of the fuel pump and acelerator pumps,plus clean out all the deposits from the last thirty years.
This is normal stuff that would normally have been done at the local Mercedes dealer,but over the years owners change and the cars never seem to ever go back for proper service.[:(][8D]
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-16-2005, 02:21 AM
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RE: W108...what do I need to know?

I forgot to add in that little bit i posted before,in Portland you have an Exellent Mercedes Benz dealer who understands 108/109's .To contact them leave a message on the M-100 notice board for Dan Smith.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-16-2005, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
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RE: W108...what do I need to know?

Hey Mercmad, thanks for the great info. Between you and W108 I think I have a good handle on getting this thing figured out.

According to the seller, the carbs have just been rebuilt, all fluids changed, new master cylinder and front rotors/calipers, transmission service and the heater controls replaced. Of course, I'll check all of them myself to make sure.

I really appreciate the rust info as well. It's a northwest car, so there's probably not as much as there could be (no salt on roads here) but I do want to take it seriously. A good rust inspection is going to be one of the key factors in deciding whether to keep it or sell it right away. Outside panels are one thing, but structural rust is not something I want to deal with.

One thing it sounds like I'm going to need is a lot of rubber bits. Are these things (motor mounts, suspension bushes, hoses, gaskets, etc) easy to get? Right now, I have no idea what state those things are in, but if I keep this car I know I'm going to need to change some of them before too long.

And thanks for the lead on a mechanic. I expect I'll be making friends with one soon. [:)]

Now I'm starting to get excited about this. I've been planning on getting a project car and this looks like a really good one for me. Hopefully it will turn out well.....

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-17-2005, 01:58 AM
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RE: W108...what do I need to know?

Hi glad to be of help.All rubber is available ,but as a rule I have found that even here in HOT Australia ,rubbers are OK ,just the usual things like front and rear screens and drivers door rubber need changing.And some times, the trunk.[8D]
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-02-2005, 12:47 AM
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RE: W108...what do I need to know?

Congrats on the car! I'm in the market for a w108 myself. I'm in the Portland area as well, Though I'm a Unimog owner at the monment I WILL have a nice 2.8 car soon.
Good luck on the new ride.
Dave in Portland

This message was written on a porn filled computer by a mean spirited, evil-bastard bikersnob. It contains no viable or usefull information and was, in fact created entirely to confuse and misslead you.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-02-2005, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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RE: W108...what do I need to know?

Hey PDXDave,

Since the last post, I have decided to sell this car. I had some other unplanned expenses that I need to pay for, and the W108 is just something I don't need right now. If you're interested in looking at it, let me know . I live up by Mt Hood, but am in Portland every day for work. I can meet you somewhere if you want to look at it.

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