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300 CE 24V Sportline
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The story so far:

The 300 CE-24 Sportline has just been fitted with a Bilstein B12 suspension kit (reference SE5 8172). This kit corresponds to the highest weight rating, as defined in the Mercedes ‘points’ system. In fact, there was some slight doubt as to whether mine qualified (points at the front) for this kit or the next one down, weight-wise. With my usual ‘belt and braces’ approach, I decided that I’d rather be at the ‘lower end of heavy duty’ rather than at the ‘higher end of lighter duty’, if that makes sense.

The kit was installed at my local garage (Mr PEYTOUR Jean-Claude, Dordogne, France), together with a new pair of Fulda tyres up front, meaning that I now have 4 new Fulda Carat Progresso tyres.

I made a 1000+ kilometre journey to and from the north of France and was immediately very impressed by the improvement the B12 kit had made.

The car is at 320K Kms (200K miles) and the springs and dampers were the originals. Things were a bit ‘floaty’ and there was a distinct feeling of vagueness as speed rose beyond about 120 Kph/75 mph. Basically, I had little confidence in the car’s ability to hold a straight line.

After fitting the B12 kit, things were dramatically better. However, I was still aware of the same symptom, albeit much reduced and much more controllable. I felt that the improvement in overall damping due to the new suspension was making the instability much easier to control. However, I was still convinced that the basic problem still existed.

The local garage had reported all aspects of the suspension and steering as ‘no fault found’.

For some time. I had been in forum and email contact with Oliver Stoner at Prestige Car Service in Portsmouth, England and he had commented on the issue. He offered to examine the car and this was arranged. I arrived on an overnight ferry from France at 07:30 and went straight to Oliver’s home, from where he took me to the railway station for my onward journey.

During the week, Oliver kept in email contact and reported that he had found a VERY (his capitals) worn rear wheel bearing. This was replaced and he then arranged for an alignment check and adjustment. This was completed on the Wednesday.

On the Wednesday evening, Oliver met me at the railway station in a later car than mine (not sure which sort) and he was extolling the virtues of the B12 kit both on my old W124 coupe and on this later saloon. We returned to his workshop where I was reunited with the 124 for a brief motorway trip along the coast.

I was immediately aware of an improvement in stability. For the first time with this car, I confidently threaded the car in and out of rush-hour traffic. Lane changes and 140 Kph/90 Mph dashes during squally showers were handled safely. Roadside trees and shrubs testified to the strength of the wind and this proved to be ideal testing conditions for the new setup. The tests were passed with flying colours.

Two days later I was on the ferry for France and the 600 Kms journey home.

For whatever reason, I arrived on French soil feeling tired. However, once I got the old 124 up to 140 Kph on the motorway, adrenalin took over. For the first time in the 10 years I’ve had this car, I began to press on with confidence. On two-lane motorways, I found myself aiming the car between lorry and crash barrier at high speed. Empty French roads with new, unspoilt surfaces were bringing out the worst in me! 130 kph, 140, 160+. Woops, a radar warning sign, hit the brakes. Down, down, down. Past the ‘130 Rappel’ sign and the camera! Then, back on the juice again – oh dear, oh dear. This could become habit-forming.

I wonder if we could find an AMG36 engine and gearbox?

What about some bigger brakes? Then I’d need those AMG 17 inch rims!!

Stop, stop. Let’s act our age. Think of the environment. Er, oh well!

Anyway, the verdict is “Great, brilliant, 100% satisfied!”

I’m particularly impressed with the fact that the vehicle didn’t drop much – we estimate 10mm lower and the front and the same at the back. I know that many seek a lower and more aggressive look, but I need a practical, everyday car and this is it!

If I were to be hyper-critical, I might point out a slightly ‘jiggly’ behaviour over poor French rural roads. But, what the hell, I was aiming at improvements on long, high speed journeys.

I am surprised that few people on any of the MB forums I visit seem to install these kits. Perhaps we’ll start a trend. Time will tell.

Finally, my thanks to the Peytours here in France and to Oliver Stoner in the UK for their efforts in making this project a success.

Good luck to all.

RayH
 

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2004 E500 Wagon, 2004 E55 AMG
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Congratulations on getting your car back on the road! I drive a different car almost every week but nothing compares to the W124 V8 experience. I'm installing the 500E sway bars after the H&R springs and Bilstein Sports.
 
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