1985 380SE - A failed and ill informed attempt at lowering - Mercedes-Benz Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old Today, 01:19 AM Thread Starter
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1985 380SE - A failed and ill informed attempt at lowering

Hello all,

This is my very first post on the forum. I've been a lurker here for several months and I would like to share my recent adventures with modding my car for the first time

A bit of a backstory and introduction;
I purchased the car (1985 380SE) when I was in high school 6-7 years ago I am the 5th owner of the car, and being my first car it has gone though some neglect. The car was sitting for a bit before I purchased it and the paintwork needed much TLC and as expected it had issues with the fuel system, rough running and idling problems but they have been all done up and is mechanically sound. I live in Asia and its hot and humid all year round and the roads aren't always the best.
I have saved up quite a bit of cash recently to invest in the car mostly for cosmetic reasons and suspension upgrades.

The car came with a set of rims from a W202 (2024010902 7Jx15H2ET37) looks like it sags or sits lower in the rear. (-3 degrees of camber on stock springs)

So far I got the car:

1) Repainted to the same colour as when I purchased it black and;
2) A few dents and kinks ironed out. (This is my first car so a few learning experience and lessons throughout the years)
3) Replaced the rear subframe and differential mount to address the negative camber and "sag"
4) I managed to source a set of British Pentas rims 8Jx16 ET11 and fitted with 225/50/R16
5) Replaced the shocks with Bilstein B4s
4) Lowered using H&R Sport Spring

Now the first problem is:-

It's a slight fitment issue up at the front, the front wheel pokes out slightly and does not sit flush but the rear wheels look tucked inside the wheel well.
Perhaps I haven't been vigilant enough in my research but was there any modification to the car that I should have done beforehand to get that flush fit? I read the front axle is a tiny bit wider than the rear axle but I was under the impression most Pentas are "plug and play" on a Gen I W126. It's not the end of the world though but it looks a wee bit too aggressive up front.

Then the second problem (again more so on my part):-

I felt there was too much fender gap on the front wheels and in my excitement, I hastily purchased a set of H&R Sport Spring without checking on the part number.

The springs I purchased are 29537-1
and upon some light digging they are supposedly for the W126 260/280SE

The springs I was meant to get are 29559-1. (Non-SLS)
The ride height is definitely lower than the advertised 1.5".

It is a little too low, I've driven it for 1km and I've rubbed the front bumper (Slight turn while going up a slope) and rolling the fenders would have been the next logical step. The front looks great perhaps it could do with an extra nub up front to the 3nubs for extra clearance (although I doubt it will make a big difference but it'll still be too low for me) BUT my concern are rear tyres that are sitting almost slightly inside the rear fenders by 1". (3nubs at the moment but I'll be increasing it to 4nubs)

I'm just wondering IF the wrong springs could play a part - I've checked the curb weight on both vehicles and they are practically identical.

I am on the fence, although the car looks great but it is impractical to drive at the moment. For now I am a bit put off and have asked the workshop to put the stock springs back.


Any tips/advice for the car and in life for newbies like me will be greatly appreciated. I have attached a before/after (alignment not done on the after photos).

Its a pleasure to meet you all and an honour to be part of the forum.

Regards,
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old Today, 02:30 AM
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Welcome. Looks fantastic doesn't it.

Unfortunately et11 all round does produce this effect. Staggered sets avoid the problem. Et11 on the rear is good, but higher on the front usually works better.

Springs, there's no one size fits all solution, only trial and error. Or luck, haha. I just recently raised my SE up and I think I got about an inch going up a nub size on the front. Check through the search archives I would, loads of info as you probably know.
Even getting what are meant to be correct springs, doesn't always get the result you were expecting.

What a shame it has to go up. I feel you though, I had mine that low and drove it for a bit, but wow was that painful so it had to go up.

You might want to consider a sump guard, there's a member on here that makes them. The sumps on these can hit on bumps when lowered. Sudden loss of oil etc.

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'90 420SEC


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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old Today, 02:31 AM
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Ps search the site using a search engine rather than the inbuilt function. Way quicker.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old Today, 02:57 AM
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Try the lowering springs with 4nub pads all around . That wheel offset is how it looks with et11. You can get spacers for the rear to push them out if desired
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old Today, 05:25 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ianrandom View Post
Welcome. Looks fantastic doesn't it.

Unfortunately et11 all round does produce this effect. Staggered sets avoid the problem. Et11 on the rear is good, but higher on the front usually works better.

Springs, there's no one size fits all solution, only trial and error. Or luck, haha. I just recently raised my SE up and I think I got about an inch going up a nub size on the front. Check through the search archives I would, loads of info as you probably know.
Even getting what are meant to be correct springs, doesn't always get the result you were expecting.

What a shame it has to go up. I feel you though, I had mine that low and drove it for a bit, but wow was that painful so it had to go up.

You might want to consider a sump guard, there's a member on here that makes them. The sumps on these can hit on bumps when lowered. Sudden loss of oil etc.

Cheers, they do indeed! I've always dreamed of owning one of them when I was younger and now I daily drive one it. Although its not top of the line material but she's just a joy to cruise around.

Thanks for the heads up with the sump guard that'll defo be on the priority list when I decide to experiment with ride height again. It's costing way too much since I don't have the experience/space/tools to work on my own car.

Have a good day
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old Today, 08:38 AM
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Why not top of the line? Looks awesome from here.

Fair enough, definitely wouldn't recommend spring swapping unless a person was very comfortable with cars in that way. Its incredibly easy but there is some risk. It'll soon add up, swapping pads etc, but hopefully it'll be worth it in the end.

From memory you can't get 4 nub pads all round, isn't it 4 max on the front and 3 on the rear. Or is the other way round.

What a shame, it looks so good like it is. My mate got H&R and his car sat too high after. That was a gen1 500SEL with non SLS. I'll see if he knows the part number he used. (He wanted it more slammed and it wasn't much of a drop really.)

'86 420SE
'90 420SEC


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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old Today, 08:45 AM
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Postage probably rules this out but:

https://www.benzworld.org/forums/w12...-pan-skid.html

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old Today, 10:16 AM
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Welcome aboard mnewn,

As you say, H&R part number for the NON self-levelling suspension is 29559

I expect the self-leveling rear springs will be weaker than the conventional design offerings. In my opinion, any workaround such as thicker spring pad won't do the trick over the long term. You have probably noticed your car has settled some since you first had the job done.

I don't mean to rain on your enthusiasm one bit... just offering a long term look.

The car looks great! I always liked the Pentas, thought I'd get a set someday... then got carried away with the Aeros instead..

M


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old Today, 11:01 AM
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The spring pads change in 5mm increments which translates to 9mm at the wheel per the factory manual.

Looks like fender rolling is in your future, probably even with raising the car. What about a narrower front tire? And maybe stiffer shocks?

Too bad there is all this to deal with because the height looks great right now.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old Today, 12:43 PM
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regarding the front bumper rub. Maybe its just the pic, but your passenger side (on your RHD vehicle) bumper seems to not be perfectly flush with the fender. Bumper end seems to extend just a bit further back into the wheel arch area? When I installed my euro bumpers, I had a similiar rub issue that was very slight, but happened on large dips in the road at highway speeds. I was able to remove my front bumper, install a washer or two onto the bolts that hold the drivers side of the bumper onto the car. This pushed the bumper out just enough to get a perfectly flush fit. Rub issue gone.
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