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1979 450SL Interior and dashboard refresh

11449 Views 104 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  miko1aj
Hi everyone,

Spinning up a new thread to document the journey of refreshing the interior. As some of you may know Eleanor is getting ready for a respray so I thought it's a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. The scope of works as I see it right now includes:
  • replacing bottom and back pads in the seats,
  • fresh parchment vinyl on the rear quarterpanels and soft top deck,
  • fitting new safety belts but re-using original buckles and inserts,
  • redying the lower portion of the dashboard, central consolet, handbrake cover,
  • lacquering the wood trim.
  • other bits and pieces as they come up.
Right now I'm still ripping out the guts - I'll be adding notes and pics as I progress the journey. The great news is that there's no rot issues, which is always a good thing but especially so with a 40-year old R107 chassis :D
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Looking forwards to sitting back with my feet up. FYI the pad on the passenger side bulkhead does not look original. May be worth having a look behind it.
Eagle eye Jim! Well spotted.

All is good behind it, what you see is butyl soundproofing membrane applied to the original foam, which we discussed in the other thread. I removed both passenger and drivers side a few years ago when removing the rot in the corner of the floor pans.
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be REALLY careful with the soft top panel cover. There are a whole series of pins and tabs. Also it has the absolute craziest design for holding a thin metal crosspiece in position. It feeds into plastic at each end- very brittle. When I had the car painted they obviously shattered the plastic when removing the trim. I only tried to remove it to take some wrinkles out of the corners-- That was a giant PITA and I never did get the wrinkles out. When You put on new vinyl don't try and glue it all at once. Do it in stages. When you get it apart you will see why. I have some pics somewhere.:)....
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Some pics as promised.Note the metal tabs on the crosspiece need to be straightened to remove it. Also glue needs un-sticking. Also, You will probably find the "foam "backing of the vinyl has disintegrated-( see the yellow stuff remaining) so you will need new padding. The padding on the large black plastic side bits s/be ok- just be gentle when taking off the vinyl. It should only be glued underneath. Good luck, it's a bloody fiddly job.


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Excellent Aussie - thanks a million for the pics, very useful & I'll print them out for reference though won't be doing this job until probably Jan as the car needs the respray first. I'm still considering outsourcing it, I found a local shop and looking at their website they may be able to deliver. I haven't chatted to them yet, but will do the gut test soon :D

In the meantime dash is out, and veneer is with my friendly carpenter for re-lacquering. Also happy to report that the data spec sheet was underneath the gearbox cover, numbers check out so happy days :D The wood isn't horrible but there's a lot of fine scratches that make it look dull.

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The lacquer looks good so not much to do other than sand and lacquer. Tell the wood guy not to use more than 400 grit. If you use paper too fine the lacquer tends to leave small bare patches. You may find that a couple of coats will give you a better finish as the hills and valleys in the lacquer sand off. This really only applies to the flat piece around the gear lever. The others look pretty good to me. Also use a UV resistant lacquer although I guess strong sun isn't really an issue for you. However UV resistant lacquer won't go yellow or fade.:)
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Yes, all he's going to do is sand it and give a few misty coats of piano lacquer, buff it slightly rather than high gloss. I know him for years and so I trust him, he never let me down, and if he does he'll be doing it again until he gets it right - he's getting a good bottle of whiskey in return :D
In the meantime I took apart the climate control panel and cleaned all the individual components and buttons. The white piece that you see is actually paper / cardboard so made a replica using new & shiny paper. Amazing how pragmatic MB engineering was back then, with fiber optics & regular paper used in the same part albeit for different purposes. :D
The black plastic trim was slightly cracked around the two top nuts / bolts so glued it together & covered with black vinyl tape to prevent further erosion. Lastly, the rubber trim that sits around the gear box shifter was worn and tired in the corners so I got a new one - p/n 123 267 01 97, it's less than $4 from MB!


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Hi Mikolaj, note that Aussimerc's soft top cover is different to yours, it changed in ~1981, the older ones are simpler and don't have the plastic insert..
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Thanks Jim - I didn't spot that, I thought they changed in 1985, but this sounds like good news!!!
Changed for the 1983 model year.
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I've taken delivery of a set of vinyl / leather paints from Germany - cleaner, prep, parchment for R107 and alpaca dark for A209, as well as top coat. I plan to prep the cars on Saturday, and if all goes well dye the lot on Monday. A leaflet came with the package, and I was surprised to see that the R107 which I admired in the gallery @ was primarily painted in situ - so I decided to take the lazy option and not remove the dashboard either, it shouldn't be too complicated to protect the steering wheel and the top of the dashboard; all other bits have been removed.

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BTW those little right/left arrows are still available if any of yours are beaten up. I got a couple about 2 years ago.
Cheers Aussie, I actually replaced them already last year as mine were all scratched and faded - the ones in the pics above are new-ish.
Alright, a tiny update and a question:
- fixed a few small tears in the driver's mirror seal - first two pics show original state, next 3 with support from underneath with 3m metal tape & E6000 in the cracks, and last 2 drowned in silicone grease :D I might get lucky without having to replace it.
- does anyone know how to remove the two plastic trims above the windscreen where the visors are mounted? I removed all visible screws, I assume there's another one or two hidden by the rear view mirror?



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Cracking on, I did a "test drive" with the velico paint and handbrake cover which, next to the central tunnel / console over the gear box was by far the most worn / tired / damaged looking piece of trim in the car - and the primary reason why I decided to redye the dashboard. As you can see it's heavily discoloured, vinyl is cracked on the edges and has the overall "meeeeeh" look to it.



The challenge is that fresh parchment / pergament vinyl has a distinct "dirt" pattern visible in the close-up pic.


The obvious problem with the dye is that, if applied heavily, those darker veins will no longer show. So what I opted to do is mist the trim with very faint spray, as opposed to spraying it fully in heavy coats - which would have been advisable if I was changing the color, or if the trim was dark eg. navy / red / black etc. The paint takes time to cure, but here's the recipe I used:

1. Cleaned all the obvious dirt.
2. Sanded with wet 1200 paper.
3. Degreased the part with the velico cleaner.
4. Applied a thin layer of primer and allowed to dry.
5. Applied the paint evenly in several super light coats - allowing a few mins between each run.
6. Lastly, to seal the varnish I apply a thin layer of the velico topcoat and allowed it to dry.
7. Voila! :)

Finished product below - not perfect as that would require recovering with new vinyl, but overall quite good especially given the "before" condition. I hope the results will improve as I move on to other elements which are in better condition to begin with, that will be interesting!


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Yes. Two screws hidden by rear view mirror base. Yank it off.
Thanks Rowdie, so the main step to remove the mirror is to literally pull it downwards? Any tricks or it's that simple? You can tell I haven't done it yet ?
Yep. There are two spring loaded pins that hold it a sharp pull works.
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