W111 Engine Swap - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 08:57 AM Thread Starter
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W111 Engine Swap

Hello All,

I have a 220 SE 1965 W111 Cabrio.
Its complete but the engine is somewhat shot, and rust has taken its toll in the under-panels.

Im not interested in a full restoration but more into a resto-mod setup. Im going to stiffen and reinforce the chassis and swap to a modern MB engine.

My question to the experts:

I would like to swap a Modern MB V8 engine and transmission in my car, what do you recommend ?
Do I need to flash the ECU ( Vats ?? etc ) ?
Do I need a custom stand alone wiring harness ? ( can I use the OEM ? )
Which donor do you recommend ? ( I was looking at a 2000 s500)


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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 03:23 PM
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There's nothing that's a straight drop-in, and to my knowledge, Mercedes doesn't offer aftermarket engine harnesses or ECUs for such a swap. You'll need the one that came with the donor car...

I had looked at putting a '73 4.5 into my W111, years ago, and had to look at moving the brake booster up a few inches. You may find the same sort of clearance issues with your mod. There's an active thread here about a guy doing something similar - he's had to do a lot of rework and fabrication to support.

Not to say, of course, that I don't support the project - I love hearing about a classic car with a modern powertrain
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 08:34 PM
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Date registered: Oct 2006
Vehicle: 1965 220SE sedan (finnie) with 450SE conversion, 1964 220SE coupe project, 1966 300SE coupe
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Hi mate,
I had the same thoughts a few months back (had a great loead on a low mileage 2001 S55 AMG) but I did not get far when looking into the electronics side of things. I found info on the Chrysler Crossfire website, a V12 install on Peachparts and got some help from a guy in Germany but my basic findings were that you needed to use all the MB computers and sensors and get a specialist (1 company in the USA) to re-code the immobiliser system to work. Unless you had the whole donor car and there was a procedure you could follow to disarm the immobilisier before dismembering it. Once in the new car, you needed a computer program called Star-DAS that MB make to be able to tell the brains the diff ratio and things like that. Being in Australia, and not near the USA or Germany, it just seemed too risky to me. The few logs I found of people who had done things showed they spent about a year frigging around with electronics to try to make it work. Actually, I just remembered there was an article on a '54 Buick custom called "G54" by Troy Trepanier, and he said they had an electronics guy working for 6 months trying to get the wiring sorted. So maybe you can track that guy down? Then see if he wants a holiday to Australia! The sensors controlling the car also want info from the speedo, hence the factory gauge cluster in the Buick.

So I am going the low-tech way and using the M117 motor and trans from a 1984 500SEC that has very little wiring required. Hooking it up to the rear end from a W109 6.3. A friend has some pics of a guy in the USA who is putting a 560 into his. An early car with K-Jet is easier than KE-Jet from a wiring perspective, but both are worlds apart from the 2000's with CANBUS and fibre optics.

Although I am no expert, I don't think you will need any more bracing than what the factory had - the sills and floor pans were very thick!
Let me know how your investigations go, and PM me if you want links to the various web sites that I trawled through.
Cheers, Drew
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-09-2013, 04:57 AM
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You might consider an American engine too. I have intentions toward a Chevy small block getting installed in my 109. Another option is a Ford 5.0. Both companies have engine management computers and wiring for standalone swaps like this. If you go to a manual tranny (another kettle of fish in modding the engine bay and firewall), wiring will be even that much easier. If you get into Hotrod Magazine, or any of their competitors, you'll see adverts by the boatload for standalone engine management suites, oil pan modification outfits (the Chevy's will require a mod to fit the Mercedes crossmember. The Ford's is much easier), front end replacement, replacement brake systems, etc etc etc. I like the option of an American engine swap because at some later point, I can add a supercharger or turbo, and there's tons of support, parts, knowledge, etc. As Drew mentioned, Mercedes is much more highly specialized, and the knowledge base is thinner.

Regarding speedo and such, an option is to to "retro modern." There's an outfit that will take your speedo cluster and replace the internals with electronic bits. They can use the same face plate(s) or make everything one big LCD screen, with "analog" gages, or digital. Look for Dakota Digital on the internet - they do all kinds of custom work.

If you use what you already have, but drop in a different rear end, change tire sizes, etc, any speedo shop can regear your speedo internals to account for the changes.

If you decide to go American and want to replace the fewest parts on the W111, you might weld the American driveshaft to the Mercedes one and leave the rear end in. My dad swapped a Ford 289 (Mustang engine) into his 6 cylindered 108 and left the rear end alone. There's been no issue, even decades later, with the power and torque upgrade. I don't know how stout the 111's rear end is, but I know that the 108's and 111's are directly interchangeable.

Note though, that any mod you do to your car can change its value, especially if you put an American engine into the thing. I'm by no means a purist, and would actually look for such a swap having already been done...

Regarding rust, as long as the car hasn't dissolved under its own weight, everything is replaceable, using either a donor 111, or metal from your local hardware store. If you can cut and can weld, such a repair isn't within the realm of "experts."

Good luck!
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-09-2013, 09:50 AM
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You can easily swap in a 250SE M129 or a 280SE M130. Only the exhaust headpipes are different.

Near Manassas Va. '65 220S, 2006 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, '99 Volvo V70, '72 350SL 4 speed

Not part of the in-crowd since 1952. It's BRAKES not breaks. You break a bone, use brakes to stop your car. /rant

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