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V8 conversion 460 280GE Auto SWB

5442 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Hipine
Hi all
Have been reading these threads since buying a new (1984, so 21 years new) 280GE Right Hand Drive 3 door 460 with the 4 speed auto transmission.
It's rock solid, genuine 45,000 miles and cleaner underneath than the 230GES i had ten years ago!
I bought it to tow a braked 800kg trailer plus what ever is on the trailer, usually a jeep cherokee or similar, so I'm scraping the max towing capacity for a SWB G.
Anyway, the head gasket has failed, giving me the ideal opportunity to stuff a larger engine in. Fuel cost is not a worry as I only do 40 mile round trips with the G-Wagen.
I was looking at putting in a nice simple ford or chevrolet small block V8, then I considered a range rover V8 which are very easy to find, but am turning to the idea of using a V8 from a mid eighties 500 SEL or SEC which are terribly cheap here in the UK. It looks like the engine should mate easily with the gearbox, and I can't see a problem fabricating engine mounts and brackets if i have to move anything around, but I can see problems with the engine fouling the RHDbrake master cylinder, and maybe problems with exhaust manifolds / headers. Has anyone done a conversion or does anyone have advice on the 500 engine? Thanks in advance!
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Well, I've just bought as a job lot a 230GES manual and another 280GE SWB auto to tow with, and it's first job is to bring home a complete 1986 500SEC to give the dead G a new heart. If anyone thinks of any tips or potential pitfalls, please post ! [:)]
What are you going to do with the engine out of the 230 GES?
I have no idea what to do with them really - just picked up a couple of SWB G wagens "because they were there"! The 230 has a very comprehensive service history, but I really bought it for its wheels and tyres, and will then sell it on. You are more than welcome to cast your eye over any of the cars or parts over a cup of tea, if you need a G or an engine or whatever
I have just aquired a 230 BGS G that was used by the British Army in Berlin. "BRIXMIS" it has a super little engine but its a carbureto model on a 4spd box, I want to upgrade it a bit.


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Two ways for more power

I had the same need for more power. I've got a '84 280GE (automatic transmission) and routinely use it to tow and launch/retrieve my boats during the summer every weekend (I hardly use the G for anything else, in fact) -- it's the best thing on steep, slippery boat ramps.

Anyway, I did need more power because I trailer my boats back and forth every time we use them (rather than keep them in a slip); and when we vacation, we travel even farther, towing our larger boat (about 4,500 lbs incl. the trailer) a few hundred miles, sometimes much more than that, over long highway grades across New England (White and Green) Mts., or north or west across the appalachians (Adirondacks, etc.), depending where we're going.

Anyway, more power was clearly needed for those long grades. One option was installing a MB V-8 from a 560 sedan; a shop near us did that conversion routinely. I preferred to keep the project simpler, and I had a long-block custom-built (using some of my engine's parts like the flywheel and oil pan) to European sedan (280SEL) specifications, including high-compression pistons, more aggressive cam, etc. This called essentially no modifications of the engine compartment -- it looks like it's stock!

While I'm sure the V-8 alternative would have given me more torque, I'm very happy with my choice. As a reflection of my increased power, it has diminished my 0-60 times from about 17 seconds to just under 13 seconds, and from that (and using a borrowed G-Meter) I estimate I've got about 195 hp (although some on this list have estimated less than that -- not worth quibbling, though). And having enjoyed this extra power over about 3 summers of boat towing, I'm happy with this approach.

Only two downsides:
It requires more cooling -- I just had a custom, larger core radiator installed by a GWagen specialty shop near me -- we'll wait to see how much it helps this coming summer.
And it clearly needs premium fuel. It gets by with 93 most of the year, but in the hot summer when I'm pulling my boats, it really benefits from Sunoco Ultra (rated 94) -- although I don't mind, because I've always fed all my cars premium grade anyway. Alternatively, I could have detuned it with the distributor, but that would diminish the benefits of the higher compression engine, so with premium I can enjoy the full potential.
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So you got the rad done, eh?

How many rows in that core? What brand was the core?And do you mind my asaking what they charged?


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