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W201, W212, W221, & W222 Moderator
'84 Euro 500SE, '85 Euro 2.3-16, '51 Euro 170S, '97 Jeep Wrangler Sport, '15 G63 AMG
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8,509 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Rather than clogging up the "What did you do..." thread, I figured I'd start a separate thread for what the wife has dubbed the "Super Shark", since these cars remind her of sharks (my favorite animal, so I'm not complaining) and the 500SE is known as "white shark".

A few years ago I was approached by the owner of this car about coming to get it, as he didn't have the time or energy to get him back on the road. I always said I'd stop by to check it out, but life just kept getting in the way. I'd also been under the impression (he's not the most familiar with MB type signs) that is was a 300SE. Owing to the fact that I already had an SE, I wasn't exactly prioritizing getting another short wheelbase car; I wanted an SEC or an SEL if I were to get another 126.

We've kept in touch over the years, always making plans, but nothing ever panned out on my end just because doing IT for three offices, trying to run my own business, projects around the house, and my moonlighting job as a fabricator/engineer basically leaves me with little desire to hop in the truck, grab a trailer, and go look at a car.

Fast forward to early last month, he reaches out to me again saying he'd really like to see it go to a new home, I just need to let him know when it's good for me so he can position the car to make the loading process easier. Well, since we were in the middle of moving shops (the fabricator job), the trailer I would use was in use hauling cars, welders, our two mills, the lathe, and much more, it would be a few weeks before I'd get the trailer.

Last week the trailer was ready for me to grab, but the weather wasn't cooperating, and my primary job was keeping me busy with remote access being in full swing.

Yesterday turned out to be a good day, so I headed to the shop, unloaded the 280ZX off the trailer (it doesn't run, and needs a new home if there are any Datsun fans here as I can put you in touch with the owner), hooked the trailer to my truck and headed just 12 miles up the road.



This truck was a fantastic investment, by the way. After swapping in a 5-speed manual with transfer case to replace the slipping, already-rebuilt-three-times E4OD automatic, all I'm missing now is a front axle and I'll have a solid 4WD truck just the way I want it. It does everything I ask it to, and returns decent mileage for being a behemoth.

So I arrive and immediately notice the elongated rear door and it appears to be 040; this has just become a LOT more interesting! Looking it over, all major bits are there, some things are worn out or damaged, but nothing insurmountable, so we winch it up onto the trailer as I wasn't going to mess with starting it there.





The interior is Saffron/Java according to the data card in EPC, but the front seats are trashed, and I'm not keen on the color anyway. Roll top needs to be fixed, coin tray is warping and peeling, and the shifter surround is an absolute mess:



I'm thinking black, blue, or gray will be candidates for the interior. Perhaps a two-tone of black and gray, but it ultimately depends on what I can find.

This stash of acorns is mine now. Fortunately, thanks to the design of the air box, they could never get into the actual intake, as the cover was installed and clamped shut.



Rear glass is in excellent shape:





153K reported on the odometer, but who knows if it works or how much it was driven after it stopped working. You can tell it's been sun-kissed daily for the last 5 years since it was parked:



10-disc CD changer, and the radiator that has a busted tank on one side that I'll be making some aluminum tanks for the sides that I will weld on. I've since run water through it and it's fairly clean, so it's worth saving:



Rear seats are in better shape, but still have seen better days:



This is probably the worst damage, aside from the upper core support. I've been wanting to dry my bodyworking tools, so here's a good canvas to work with. Worst case scenario I run to the yard and grab two new doors and front fender:



It kissed a deer at some point before it was parked:





And that concludes yesterday's events. I'll make a follow-on post detailing what I managed to accomplish today.
 

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W201, W212, W221, & W222 Moderator
'84 Euro 500SE, '85 Euro 2.3-16, '51 Euro 170S, '97 Jeep Wrangler Sport, '15 G63 AMG
Joined
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8,509 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
I also manage the IT for the shop... so I had to head up that way to deal with an issue with the ISP. On my way, I stopped to grab a fresh battery and traded in the old one as a core. I also brought 5 gallons of fresh premium, since the PO told me he drained the tank as much as he could. The fuel gauge would later confirm this when I hooked up the battery and turned the key to "ON". I also decided to drive his older, little brother:



Yesterday I already turned the motor over by hand, so I knew it spun freely. It also was looking good on oil and the throttle linkages moved freely. Because I didn't want it to fire up right away either way, I pulled the coil wire off the distributor so I could turn the motor over via the key. Spun nice, no weird noises, no hesitation, nothing. Great! Plugged the coil wire back in, gave a small shot of starting fluid, and gave it a turn, to which it responded by firing up for a split second, so I decided to go ahead and add some of the fuel I brought, but not all of it right away. It took starting it a few times for the system to pressurize again, and likely burn off any varnish/old gas perhaps still lingering in there. Given the fact that there was no radiator, I obviously didn't want to run it long, but it smoothed out and it sounds fairly healthy. I realize now I should have turned my to the side... but oh well, I was just happy it was running. Brakes and power steering work great for something that's sat for half a decade.


The trans belched up some ATF out of the lines hanging up front, so I looked for ways to just loop the lines into each other just to save the ATF, but I didn't have any fittings and the hoses were so dry rotted that they just broke apart. Well, I just let it pump out the rest into my drain pan, and it was obvious that without ATF, this thing would not be moving off the trailer under its own power. This wasn't before I removed the front bumper to get a better look at those lines, but determined they were too cruddy and it was just too hot out to do anything else:



With the headlights and bumper out of the way, I could finally examine the core support and determine why the hood won't shut:





It's pushed in about a 1/2" or so and the bottom is a little knackerd too. We'll see what I can do about this, or else I'll just cut one from the yard and weld it in. The hood still lines up perfectly with the driver's side fender, so the hood and fender are straight, and the frame rails appear to be as well:





You can see in one of the previous photos that I got the rear window back up (they all work by the way), but this one will need a new assembly, and you'll see why here:



It looks like someone even attempted to tack weld it, but a 2x4 will hold it up for now and get rid of the unsightly garbage bag.

Well, I got it running (which was one goal) but I still needed to get it off the trailer so it can be used to grab more things from the old shop. No worries, big brother to the rescue:



Since I was pulling uphill, I wasn't worried about the two of them colliding into each other, slow and easy won the race.

Then I used the green F350 to pull it further into the shade and clear the trailer:



This is where he'll sit while I work in the time to do some fixes. I've ordered up new filters all around, as well as a thermostat, and a headgasket/valve stem kit.

Given how smooth it seems to run, I suspect the concern of oil in the cylinders is likely just the valve stem seals, which were known to be problematic in the M103 the day they rolled off the production line. The plan is to fix up the radiator, flush the cooling system, give it some fresh oil, fix the transmission lines, and then drive it for a bit. I will then look for telltale signs of headgasket issues, such as milkshakes (the expansion tank looks clean, other than some dirt from the cap being off, and the cap had no milkshake residue) and overheating.

Though the valve stem replacement will still warrant replacing the headgasket, I may not have to worry about decking the head when I pull it. Out of habit I'll probably check for warpage anyway.

Once the car is on the road again and moving and I can get it home, I will start on the cosmetics, as well as swapping in a 5-speed 717.xxx to make it just like that 5-speed 300SEL that Fonzi has/had. The M103 is totally hamstrung by the 722, and this will be an easier problem to solve than manual swapping any V8 car.
 

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Outstanding Contributor
1989 560SEC, 1989 560SEL, 1995 E420
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4,468 Posts
Wow. Fun looking project. Sounds like you have the space and resources and can find some time so this should be fun to watch.
 

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W201, W212, W221, & W222 Moderator
'84 Euro 500SE, '85 Euro 2.3-16, '51 Euro 170S, '97 Jeep Wrangler Sport, '15 G63 AMG
Joined
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8,509 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks, Mike.

Getting my hands on a set of euro bumpers may prove challenging. I'll be honest, the car immediately looked better with that fat lip removed. I've noticed on the rear bumper for US cars that the chrome strip on the back does not warp around the entire bumper as it does on either generation of euro bumpers. Since the front bumper isn't in the greatest shape, and US bumpers are incredibly common at the yard and usually in excellent shape minus paint, I'm toying with the idea of trimming these down and tucking them. I'm going to assume those impact cylinders that sit behind the bumper are filled with hydraulic fluid just as the 107, 123, and I believe the 116 bumpers are. I can take the bumper off the 500 easy enough to measure and fabricate brackets.

I'm also finding that I look for new/aftermarket reproduction tail lights and turn signals, only Uro remains as a company that offers the latter... It'll be off to the yard and using the Retr0bright process to remove the yellowing from what are hopefully a crack-free set of tail light lenses.

I did notice the absence of an R134a conversion sticker, but I neglected to check the fittings; the system has been bled so there's no refrigerant in there, but I'm assuming it's got some residual R12 in there.
 

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Outstanding Contributor
1989 560SEC, 1989 560SEL, 1995 E420
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4,468 Posts
Josh,

I believe the bumper cylinders are indeed fill with fluid. I think someone here on BW drilled a hole to drain and collapse them but I think the bigger challenge is what to do with the rear edge of the bumper that is now poking into the wheel well after being moved back. Do you have ideas for that? Seems you'd have to section a piece out of the sides of the bumper. If someone could figure that out, I'll bet everyone would be converting.

Thanks for the reminder about retr0bright. Need to reread that website. Would be very interested in your experience if you do it.
 

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W201, W212, W221, & W222 Moderator
'84 Euro 500SE, '85 Euro 2.3-16, '51 Euro 170S, '97 Jeep Wrangler Sport, '15 G63 AMG
Joined
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8,509 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
The best solution I can think of when it comes to what begins to poke into the wheel well would be to simply cut it. If done correctly, no one should be able to tell the difference unless they got right up on it. The key is make sure the cut matches the factory radius of the wheel well. I imagine creating a cardboard template that matches the original edge, then moving it in the required amount of space, drawing a line with your template, and then slowly begin the cut. The idea of trimming a bumper after either a tuck, or to fit larger wheels isn't unheard of, so there is definitely a precedent in doing so in other automotive communities.

I will post up what I can come up with, as it makes sense to document the process.

My plan is to do the same process with the retr0bright stuff. I actually stumbled upon it again when I discovered Faiz Jan's thread on it dated a year or so ago. I've used a similar process to restore old IBM Model M keyboards to the pre-yellowed state, and those keyboards are still looking new according to the last updates I've seen from those who now own them.
 

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Outstanding Contributor
1989 560SEC, 1989 560SEL, 1995 E420
Joined
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4,468 Posts
The best solution I can think of when it comes to what begins to poke into the wheel well would be to simply cut it. If done correctly, no one should be able to tell the difference unless they got right up on it. The key is make sure the cut matches the factory radius of the wheel well. I imagine creating a cardboard template that matches the original edge, then moving it in the required amount of space, drawing a line with your template, and then slowly begin the cut. The idea of trimming a bumper after either a tuck, or to fit larger wheels isn't unheard of, so there is definitely a precedent in doing so in other automotive communities.

I will post up what I can come up with, as it makes sense to document the process.

My plan is to do the same process with the retr0bright stuff. I actually stumbled upon it again when I discovered Faiz Jan's thread on it dated a year or so ago. I've used a similar process to restore old IBM Model M keyboards to the pre-yellowed state, and those keyboards are still looking new according to the last updates I've seen from those who now own them.
Wow, could it really be so simple on the bumper? That's brilliant.

And that's promising news with the retr0bright. Looking forward to everything.
 

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W201, W212, W221, & W222 Moderator
'84 Euro 500SE, '85 Euro 2.3-16, '51 Euro 170S, '97 Jeep Wrangler Sport, '15 G63 AMG
Joined
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8,509 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
It could be, or maybe it won't be. Really won't know til I try. However, it's not just the edges sticking into the wheel well that will need trimming; it's very likely that trimming will need to occur around the whole rear of the bumper. Fortunately, the valances will hide most of the cut, as will the hood when it's down, in fact, you'll only really notice it when the hood is open and you look downward.

In most cases I think people are too afraid to cut on things, so they choose to leave it alone or spend a premium on euro bumpers. As someone who has successfully installed an LS1 into an '85 RX-7, which involved some serious cutting and manipulation, I'm not afraid of much anymore.

I will see if I either still have the necessary chemicals on hand, or if I need to order up some things. I don't have a strong UV light anymore, so I'll have to get another unless I opt to use the heat method. The biggest challenge will be to see how the lenses will hold up after the process. Unlike keyboards, automotive lenses spend their time outdoors as opposed to in a office or someone's collection. Faiz mentions he used a ceramic coating, which may do the trick; the difference is that he did the manual method of wet sanding the oxidation away as opposed to a chemical alternative like retr0bright.

It's a shame I can't have the car here at the house, or I'd already be knee deep in that bumper tuck project...
 

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Registered
1986 420 SEL
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55 Posts
I was looking at the bumpers the other day and trying to figure out how/if you could just tuck them back further. The shiny trim might be an issue because of the way it terminates at the sides at it approaches the wheel well. I had a '80 RX-7 and cannot imagine squeezing a V-8 in one without serious cutting.
 

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W201, W212, W221, & W222 Moderator
'84 Euro 500SE, '85 Euro 2.3-16, '51 Euro 170S, '97 Jeep Wrangler Sport, '15 G63 AMG
Joined
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8,509 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Yeah, it was a bit of work, but the owner was happy with the end result!

I haven't done any measuring between the two, but it seems to me as though chrome trim wraps around the same distance as with the euro front bumpers, and they just added on some extra plastic.

I think I'll have some time to get to it this weekend to do a test, provided the weather holds out.
 
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