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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone - this is my first time posting and I hope some of you more experienced owners can offer some advice to me. Early last year I bought a 1973 450SE off Bring a Trailer's website. While I've had very good luck on 2 prior purchases, this one made up for it. Rather than being a "survivor", it turned our to be a "barn find". In short, I got taken to the cleaners. I could not in good conscience put the car back up for sale, knowing all that was wrong with it, so I set about making it "right". Fortunately, the body was pin straight and rust free, so the bones were good. I sent it to a specialist and after fixing everything that needed fixing, 10 grand later, she went to the upholstery shop for a new interior which was also shot. I told you I got taken!

I now have the car back and, while I'm sure could drive it across country, I hate the way it drives. It's slow and I get an off idle hiccup pulling away from a stop. This also occurs sometimes when lugging along in traffic. Mileage is also awful, even though I read these cars were never going to win an economy run.

My question is how can I get some enjoyment out of this car? I know it's 47 years old and I've never drive a W116 before so I'm not quite sure how it's really supposed to drive. Do I attempt to upgrade the engine management? I've heard great things about Megasquirt but I don't think they even make a kit for my car. I thought about doing a drivetrain swap, but to what? Unlike BMW's, which seem to allow every imaginable cross platform drivetrain swaps, Mercedes just does not seem to allow that. I thought of a US drivetrain but it almost seems like sacrilege to do that. I've now got a beautiful, mechanically new car, but I really can't stand the way it drives.

Anybody have any suggestions or ideas? I'm pretty much open to anything that can be justified. Hoping from some answers. Thanks.
 

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68 250S, 91 300se, 98 SL500, 450SEL 6.9, 14 CLS550 Past MB's; 300SD, 300E, 300TE, 190E, ML420
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4,387 Posts
What work have you done regarding trigger points, ignition and engine timing?

Sorry to hear of your auction problem. As you found out most W116 need quite a bit of refreshing after 47 years.
 

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1986/1990 W126
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Wow sorry to hear of that trauma. It's been a long time since I've driven one but my W116 experience had me completely sold on the brand. Silky smooth is what it should be. Absolutely no hiccups.
 

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68 250S, 91 300se, 98 SL500, 450SEL 6.9, 14 CLS550 Past MB's; 300SD, 300E, 300TE, 190E, ML420
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4,387 Posts
Even a small change in ignition timing will change an engine from laggard to responsive. There is a great w116 forum that can help you dial in your ride. Once tuned properly you will enjoy the car!
 

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Premium Member
1967 250 SL, 1965 300SE lang
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3,085 Posts
w116.org might be useful to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the tips. This was a one owner car from California that was picked up by an unscrupulous reseller and with the assistance of BAT, they made it seem like a well cared for survivor. I was expecting to put some money into it but I was not expecting a "cover-up". That's neither here nor there right now. I left the car with a mechanic who specializes in vintage Benz's but he seems to have lost his zeal for getting to run like I know it should. I'm "assuming" that he checked and adjusted the various aspects mentioned above and I will ask him. This car only has 60k miles but it's just a dog. Yes, I know it's only 180 HP but it should run better than this. Hope I'm not chasing a unicorn here. I'm going to try the w116 forum and hope I can find a glimmer of hope here. Thanks for everyone's advice. If you think on anything else, Please let me know.
 

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1967 250 SL, 1965 300SE lang
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Immoderately Caffeinated/ Vintage Moderator
T5
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Those 450's should really hammer and even a tired one like the one I had would point its star to the sky under a heavy foot. Any good mechanic should be able to give it proper attention regardless whether they call themselves a Benz specialist or not. Ask around.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Is this your car: No Reserve: 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SE
If so, it looks to have beautiful paint and interior. I'm sorry you got screwed by the seller.
Yup, that's my car. Appearances can be deceiving though, especially if you intentions are not honorable. I have a bunch of cars and have bought and sold many over the years. This is the first time I was outright taken. And BAT would assume no responsibility for anything, even though they prepare all the images and write the copy. That beautiful paint was worn with many dull areas. I wanted to keep the patina so it cost me $1000 to have the entire car wet sanded and polished. The beautiful interior was totally shot. It looks like someone took the seats out, filled in all the cracks with some sort of "spackle" and then shot upholstery finish over them. VERY convincing if you shoot in the right light from the right angle. Seats were totally shot and had to be completely reupholstered with new leather and re-stuffed. Everything on the car mechanically was totally worn out, mostly from sitting for 10 years and that cost me about 10 grand. So, the end result is I have far more into this car than I could ever get for it and it's pretty much all new inside and underneath. But it runs like a dog. It's slow and hiccups a bit pulling away from a stop. I wasn't expecting an AMG or a 300SEL 6.3, but it should have more gumption than this. And my mechanic doesn't seem to feel he can do any more, which I find hard to imagine. Like I said in my original posting, I am just desperate for some workable suggestions or solutions. I would even ship the car somewhere if somebody truly knew what to do.

Thanks for "listening". It's been a long time since I've vented about this. I really feel defrauded and terrible let down by BAT. I thought it was an enthusiasts website. Obviously I was naive.
 

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MB Dreamer, where are you located? (I'm in Socal). Like you, I have an older MB (W114) and have been contemplating a more modern engine in my car to improve driveability. I'm not looking for crazy power or anything, just something I can get in, crank the key and go down the road without too much fuss. I've spoken to a few people locally who may be of help, so if you're local, maybe we can trade tips and ideas and see where that leads. Nice MB you have there, now imagine if it drove like a MB from the 90s or early 2000s!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi John - sorry I'm not local but with the internet, I probably don't have to be. I'm in south Florida. I'm very frustrated right now because my mechanic is probably tired of me and my car, when he thinks it drives "OK". After all the money I've put into this, I'd really like more than OK. I could have bought a Kia if that's what I wanted. While I'm not sure this car can be made to run like I'd like (hopefully it can), upgrading to later Mercedes drivetrain is all but impossible at most any cost. So, then the choice would be going to a modern drivetrain like the LS1/LS3 from GM. They are bulletproof, last forever and there are complete stand alone harnesses made for them so you can put them literally in anything. But, my son says I will go to MB Hell if I do this and be expelled from any forums :). I'm going to work on trying to resolve my issues with the stock drivetrain for a while longer, and then consider my options if that doesn't work out. Please do keep me in the loop as to what you might do as it might inspire me to act more quickly. Thanks, Larry
 

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1973 w114 280, m110 engine
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459 Posts
Hi John - sorry I'm not local but with the internet, I probably don't have to be. I'm in south Florida. I'm very frustrated right now because my mechanic is probably tired of me and my car, when he thinks it drives "OK". After all the money I've put into this, I'd really like more than OK. I could have bought a Kia if that's what I wanted. While I'm not sure this car can be made to run like I'd like (hopefully it can), upgrading to later Mercedes drivetrain is all but impossible at most any cost. So, then the choice would be going to a modern drivetrain like the LS1/LS3 from GM. They are bulletproof, last forever and there are complete stand alone harnesses made for them so you can put them literally in anything. But, my son says I will go to MB Hell if I do this and be expelled from any forums :). I'm going to work on trying to resolve my issues with the stock drivetrain for a while longer, and then consider my options if that doesn't work out. Please do keep me in the loop as to what you might do as it might inspire me to act more quickly. Thanks, Larry
I think Pierre Heady is in South Florida. Great guy!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I know this guy. See him on YouTube. He’s not that far from me at all. Calling him tomorrow. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Had a long talk with Pierre today. His knowledge is encyclopedic and I am very encouraged. He can't get me in for 3 months but in the interim I am sending him many pictures and invoice copies so he knows what I had done prior. Everything I mentioned to him about issues with the car, he knew what was causing them. I'm impressed!
 
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