2018 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Review

I recently rented a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport for a family holiday.   It is an interesting contrast with the Toyota Fortuner, which I reviewed earlier in the year.   Overall the Pajero Sport is the better car, although not by much.

Pajero Sport

The Pajero Sport is actually the 3rd generation Mitsubishi Challenger.     As far as  I know, the only relationship with the full size Pajero is the name.

Regular readers of this site will know I am not a fan of this type of car.  I think they are mediocre at everything.   I also don’t see the need to buy your car around the 1-2 times per year you might want to tow something or go off-road.   There are better ways to haul four people, there are much nicer cars to drive, much better value cars and better equipped cars.

In comparison with the Fortuner, the ride is very slightly better, and the engine/transmission is far more willing to overtake at freeway speed.    More importantly, the 3rd row seat are a better design.   Instead of folding into the sides and taking up a lot of the load area, they fold flat into the load area floor.     You still have the issue of getting into these seats if you have child seats in the middle row, vs cars with rear facing seats.    Like the Fortuner, the Pajero Sport is fairly fuel efficient for such a large vehicle.    It is not quite as efficient as the Fortuner.

There are two things that are worse than the fortuner.   The first is that you cannot quickly turn on the ignition to get the A/C running while you load children and bags.   You must get in the car and hold the brake pedal down.    Annoying.    Secondly, the rear loading area is really high and difficult for even an average adult to climb up in there.   Strangely the tailgate is low and I struck my head on it a few times.

Overall I would not buy a Pajero Sport.   But I would buy one over a Toyota Fortuner.    It is worth the slight fuel efficiency penalty and sometimes knocking your head on the tailgate.

3.25 / 5.

W126 Differential Ratios

The W126 range was in production from 1979-1991.  I’ve never seen a comprehensive table of W126 differential ratios, so I have attempted to create my own.   Not only did they vary between models and years, but in some cases countries too.

It is possible I have missed a few more country specific ratios.   Please indicate in the comments below if I have.

If this table is being referred to for swaps, the first and second generations diffs are not interchangeable.   Neither is an ASR diff.   LSD was standard on 560s but optional on other cars.    The exception is cars equipped with ASR that have a different differential.

In addition, the 8 cylinder cars used a larger case (1.3l) than the smaller engined cars.

My personal view is that with first gear start, the standard ratio could be made taller.   This would improve acceleration and make the mostly useless first gear usable.   This is certainly the case on my 300SE.   I would have preferred the ratio provided for France, but with first gear start.

It is also interesting to see the 560 used a shorter ratio than the 500 or the 420.   It seems clear Mercedes saw it as more of a hot rod whereas the 500 was the autobahn cruiser with its tall 2.24 diff ratio.   In selecting the W126 differential ratios, I’m also not sure why Mercedes Benz went to the effort of producing 2.82 and 2.88 gear sets when they are so close together.

Mercedes-Benz went on a fuel efficiency drive during 1981 which is why the V8 cars got revised ratios.   The project was called the “Energy Program” and included other changes such as the revised Bore/Stroke of the 380 engine.

First Generation
380SE (1980-1981)
380SE (AUS)
380SEL (AUS)
380SEC (AUS)
300SD (1981-1984)3.07
300SD (1985)2.88
500SE (1980-1981)2.82
380SE (1982-1985)
500SEL (USA)
500SE (1982-1985)2.24
Second Generation
300SE (FR)
300SEL (FR)
560SEL (USA / AUS)
560SEC (USA / AUS)

560SEC Major Checks

My two biggest concerns buying this 560SEC was the potential for rust being a UK car, and the condition of the timing chain.   I was pleasantly surprised when I looked underneath the 560SEC and found that it was not a rusty car.

The other common W126 rust area is under the rear windscreen.    This is also an issue in Australian delivered cars as it’s caused by rain.   Rain gets under the rear window seal causing rust.   The first evidence is that the rear windscreen starts delaminating at the corners.

560SEC Rust

As can be seen from the pictures, the rust has started under the screen.   I have seen much much worse in other W126’s.   This will need attending to before it spreads further and becomes an even bigger problem.

560SEC RustSome of the other W126 rust areas include around the boot and spare tyre well, underneath the car, behind the wheels, bottom of front fenders etc.

The other potential issue is the timing chain.   This is something of a design flaw.   As plastic guides age, they become brittle.   Unlike in the M100, the chain tensioner works on oil pressure which means on startup the chain is untensioned.   As the chain stretches, it flops around on startup, breaking one of the now brittle guides.  Part of the guide gets caught in the chain causing pistons to hit valves and the chain to penetrates the cam covers.   Timing chain failure has been the cause of many W116 & M117 equipped cars being scrapped over the years.

M117 GuideAs the guides age they discolour.   As can be seen in the picture this guide has started to discolour although it has not completely gone.    It is obviously in worse shape than when I checked the condition of the guides in my 450SLC.

M117 Timing chain

To check the chain the air cleaner assembly must be removed.   This was a good opportunity to change the filter.   When compared to the new one it was clearly in need of change.

M117 Air Filter

As this is the high compression 560, it has a twin snorkel air cleaner.

560SEC air cleaner

MBCNSW Topless Drive 2018

The Mercedes-Benz club run an annual drive aimed a convertibles.   It is better for everyone that the topless drive is referring to the cars, not the drivers.    I last attended the drive back in 2014.   I had planned to take the 250SE on this drive.   The forecast was for rain, which makes it hard in a convey as putting the top up on the 250SE takes about 10 minutes.    I was keen to see how the new tyres performed on the 560SEC, so decided to take it instead.

The route chosen was one of the better ones for a car club event in a while.   It started at the Glenorie bakery going north up the Old Northern Road.   At Maroota, the convoy turned off onto Wisemans Ferry road.   The best part of the drive was through river road in Lower Portland.   This was a twisty section with no traffic and the 560SEC was the best choice for this type of driving.   After river road, the convoy crossed the river via the Sackville Ferry then proceeded through Wilberforce until the dinner destination.

Most of the cars on this run were moderns, but there were two R107s and a lovely 220SE cabriolet.   The 220SE showed that these cars handle a lot better than most would expect by keeping up with the convoy.   It was great to see this car out and about, as mine is normally the only one when I bring it.

Sackville Ferry

The new wheels and tyres have transformed the 560SEC.   The wheel wobble is gone, there is no more tyre rubbing and the handling and noise are a lot better.   The true test of a tyre is after 10,000km, but so far I am happy with these tyres on the 560SEC.    This is actually the second time in a few weeks the 560SEC has utilized the Sackville Ferry, as it formed part of the route back from Bathurst.

With all the servicing I am doing, the 560SEC is driving better and better.   I’m pretty sure the smoke issue is valve stem seals, so I will have to attend to these in the new year.    As a timely reminder on security for older cars, I heard that one member had his W123 stolen today.   Unfortunately the car is probably already in a container or being broken up for spares.

New alloy wheels for the 560SEC

My 560SEC came with a set of Simmons wheels.  These wheels are not to my taste and were too wide for the car.   The wheels had been mounted with spacers which I do not like.    On Thursday, I secured a great set of 15×7 Mercedes wheels which I fitted to the 450SLC.   This meant that the ASA Type 8 wheels I had on the SLC were available for the 560SEC.   These wheels have come full circle as I originally purchased them for a 560SEC.

The ASA Type 8 wheels are a replica of the 8 hole alloy wheels found on cars such as the W140 and R129.   They are easy to keep clean and look good on the W126.    At least when I purchased them back in 2009, ASA Type 8 wheels could be bought with both low and high offsets.

ASA Type 8

These wheels are a huge improvement over the Simmons wheels.   The 560SEC is an elegant car, but this one had been fitted with some gaudy accessories that I am slowly removing.   After almost 10 years and 50,000km it was time to replace the Yokohama Avid V4S tyres on them.   Given the mileage I now do on these cars, tread wear is not a primary concern.   Tyres only last about 8-10 years even if they still have tread left on them.   Based on the mileage I do, i went with a more budget performance tyre.  It will be interesting to see how well they go.    I purchased a set of Laufenn S FIT EQ.   Apparently this is a subsidiary of Hankook and the tyres seem to get good reviews.   At more than $50 per tyre less than Michelin it seemed worth a try.


While I was having the tyres fitted I noticed a very familiar car.   Back when I used to commute every day to the eastern suburbs between 1998-2001 I used to see this same car.  Even though I don’t know the owner, I recognized the number plate (starts with MSA).    I remember it because I had a very similar W123 230E at the time.    The fate of my 230E is unknown, so I am very happy to see this one still on the road.

I am going on a Mercedes Club drive this evening.   I was planning to drive the 250SE, but since rain is forecast, I will take the 560 and see how the new tyres perform.

New alloy wheels for the 450SLC

My 450SLC was originally sold with 14″ alloy wheels.   This style of wheel was the standard Mercedes alloy wheel from the late 60s to 1985.   It has a few nicknames such as Bundt Cake, Baroque, Fuchs etc.   On the V8s it is 6.5″ wide but narrower versions (5.5″ & 6″) were available.   The challenge with these wheels is that good tyres for a heavy car like an SLC are now hard to find.   They are also hard to keep clean and I find the 195/70 tyres too litle for a car like the SLC.

When I moved back from the USA, I brought the 16″ wheels I had bough for my 1988 560SEC with me.   They are ASA Type 8 wheels, a replica of a later wheel but with low offset for the earlier cars.   They are 16×7.5″ and the fit nicely on that car replacing the hideous chrome wheels it came with.    At the time I bought them (2009) I also purchased a set of Yokohama Avid V4S tyres.   After almost 30,000km on the 560SEC and over 20,000 on the SLC they are starting to get close to the end of their life.  These tyres were quiet, inexpensive and lasted better than any other tyres I’ve owned.

I put the 16″s on the 450SLC when I returned in 2011.   They worked reasonably well on the car but rubbed a little.    The car handled better with wider tyres than 195.   I still have the 14″ alloy wheels if I ever want to go back to original.

Yesterday I purchased a set of 15×7″ alloy wheels for the W126.  These wheels were the alloy wheel available for the W126 for the second generation 1986-1991.  They were also used on the R107 SLC from 1986-1989.    These same wheels were also produced in high offset form for the W124 and W201 (including a 14″ variant).   There was also a very similar wheel for the R129.   This style of alloy wheel is often known as the ‘manhole cover’.

These wheels have 205/65R15 tyres and should not rub on the 450SLC.   I therefore removed the replica wheels and replaced them with the refinished manhole covers.   Looks great.

450SLC new wheels

In contrast the replica 8 hole alloy wheels don’t look as good on the 107 chassis in my opinion.   They seem to work better on the W126.



ASA type 8The final contrast is the car with the original 14″ wheels.   This photo is from 2003 when I first purchased the 450SLC.   I find this style of wheel works better with the ultra rare 15″ edition of these wheels.

The alloy wheel swap also allowed me to do something about the spare in the 450SLC.  Originally the car would have been sold with 5 alloy wheels.   In the 80s, it was common for dealers to harvest these 5th wheels for adding alloy wheels to other cars they had for sale not originally equipped with them.    It is possible this is how my 300SE got alloy wheels as they were not originally specified.

The spare on the car was a steel wheel complete with a tyre that looked like it is from the 80s.   Certainly it did not seem to have a date code on it.   The 5th 15″ wheel fits into the spare wheel compartment with the cover sticking up 5mm.   In my mind an acceptable compromise for having a good spare and not needing to carry around a spare set of lug bolts.

As I replaced the wheels I saw where they had been rubbing.   I had some old rust protective paid that I used to paint over these areas.  It was quite old and I didn’t have a proper brush but it should hopefully stop rust from developing here.

450SLC wheel rubbing

These new wheels look better and should no longer rub on the car.

Road trip to MB Spares and Service

My 560SEC came with a set of aftermarket wheels from Simmons.   The Simmons wheels are a locally made wheel, and this set are two piece 16″ variants.    They are shod with 245mm tyres so the fronts rub on sweeping corners and the backs on higher speed bumps.    I prefer a more stock look so the plan is to remove and sell the Simmons wheels.

My ideal would be to get a copy of the 15″ Fuchs wheels for the 450SLC and then use the 16″ wheels that are currently on the SLC on the new SEC.    These wheels were bought originally for the 1988 560SEC I used to own.    They rub slightly on the SLC when on full lock.    The fuchs wheels are prohibitively expensive so not a real option at this point.

As it happens, MB Spares had a 420SEL in for wrecking that had hit a Kangaroo.    The wheels had good tyres on them and had been refinished in the near recent past.   This included the spare that has an unused tyre.

These wheels look really good and I am very happy with them.   They also came with the original lug bolts that are NLA from Mercedes.   These have an extension that allow them to be flush with the wheel face.   These wheels are the same as would have been fitted new on the 560SEC, other than the 560 has slightly wider tyres.   They are also the same wheels that were optional on my 300SE, although that car was not originally ordered with alloys.

Even though the wheels are standard for the 560, my plan is to fit them to the 450SLC, as they will fit better and fit the 450SLC wheels to the 560.   The 16″ wheels have 225mm tyres and work better on the W126.

The W126 has a very big boot. It is actually possible to fit all five wheels in the boot if the spare tyre is removed.    This was a slight risk driving down to Canberra with no spare tyre, but at least on the way back I had 5 spares!

While I was at MB Spares I saw two lovely cars parked out front.   Firstly a 450SLC in a very similar colour to my SEC.   It is in very nice condition indeed.

That car is fitted with the ‘Centra’ after-market wheels that are now desirable and hard to find.    It also had a very nice interior.    The other was a W112 300SE Coupe.   The car was a cream colour with an immaculate interior complete with Safari Seats.     I’ve not seen this colour before in the flesh – it’s much darker than the normal Ivory colour that was popular at the time.

The 560SEC performed well on the road trip to Canberra.   It has plenty of power on the open road and is a comfortable cruising car.   The only negatives were the wheel wobble that will hopefully be cured when I remove the Simmons wheels, and the lack of A/C.   The fuel consumption with the 450SLC is also interesting.   The SLC can get to Canberra and 1/4 of the way back before it needs refueling.   The SEC can get down to Canberra and 3/4 of the way back before it needs refueling.   Both cars have 90L fuel tanks.   On the freeway portion, I got 12.5l/100km for the 560SEC, not bad for a 30 year old car with a 5.5l v8.

2018 Rolls Royce Display Day

The Rolls Royce Owners Club run an annual display/picnic day at Historic Linnwood House.   I’ve been a couple of times before and it is always a nice informal day.   In some ways it is like a mini all British day.   The highlight is obviously the Rolls Royce and Bentley cars.   They also invite guest marques from other British brands like Rovers, Wolseley and so on.   They also sometimes feature American luxury cars.

This year the numbers of Rolls Royces and Bentleys was down considerably.   From what I understand this wasn’t the actual concours day, and i’m not sure if this is a change from previous years.   The other marques somewhat made up for it, but I was curious as to why.   The day was still well worth attending and the cars that did attend were exemplary.   My pick of the day was the silver Bentley Continental.

This years event was the first showing of a Rover 3 litre coupe that has been under restoration for a year or so.   The car is a similar spec to the one I used to own, but much better in nearly every way.   The owner has chosen a classy two tone paint job that complements the blue leather interior.   It is a sort of blue/grey colour for the roof and it looks very good.    As can be seen in the pictures the car still needs quite a bit of re-assembly but the car illustrates what lovely cars these Rover P5s are when in nice condition.

There was also an interesting pair of Armstrong Sidseleys.   The two cars were very similar in colour, but one was a ute and one was a convertible.   They each had a different colour highlight line to provide a bit of contrast.

There were also a few random Mercedes-Benzes from spectators.   I saw a few people from the MBCNSW who were in attendance.   I dove there in my 450SLC, but parked outside.  Next year if I go, I will probably drive in and park with the other ring-ins!


560SEC Improvements Part 2

Today I continued working on the 560SEC.   I gave the car a quick wash to get a better sense of the condition of the paint.   Overall it is pretty good for its age, with the usual minor chips and scrapes here and there.   The worst is a small amount of damage on the passengers side in front of the door (behind the plastic lower trim).   I still think this can be a good car with some improvements.

My plan was to remove the after market chrome wheel arch trims.  I have removed them from both the 450SLC and my 300SE.   On this car they have been attached with both screws and glue.  I don’t think I will easily be able to remove them and not have marks on the paint, so I will leave them in place for now.

Next was to inspect the fuses.  This is something I like to do with a new car to ensure the fuses are all correct and in good condition.   The ceramic fuses used in Mercedes of this era become brittle with age.  I’ve also found that sometimes previous owners substitute the wrong fuses.   On this car all the fuses were correct, but a number were quite old and brittle.   Three of them came apart as I removed them.   Therefore I replaced all the fuses with new ones.

560SEC Fuses

The Mercedes fuse box has places to hold spare fuses.  It is also worth making sure the spare fuses are in good condition as well.

Next was to flush the power steering system.   To do this job properly you need an assistant.  Without an assistant you will get power steering fluid everywhere and the pump will suck air for a few seconds.   I didn’t have an assistant today, so when I do this job on the 300SE, I will make sure I do!   I was pleased to see that the car had the proper Mercedes power steering fluid and not ATF.   This fluid is similar colour to engine oil.    I’m glad I ddi the flush as the fluid that came out was very dirty.     I also changed the filter as a matter of course.

560SEC power steering flush

From there I turned my attention to cleaning the inside.  The seats had responded well to a clean and feed, but there were still dirty areas in the interior.   The worst was the headlining.   The sunroof panel was extremely dirty and there was also an oily residue above the drivers head.   I can only assume a previous owner used a lot of product in their hair.     The first picture shows the headlining before cleaning.

560SEC headlining

The spot on the right is above the drivers head.   I used an Auto-Glym interior shampoo.   It made a big difference and the microfiber towels I was using for the cleaning were filthy from the amount of dirt it was able to remove.   I also used it on some other dirty areas as well as the small carpet in the centre console.   The second picture is after cleaning and while it is not perfect, it is certainly a lot better.  560SEC headlining

I also checked the condition of the air filter, it is not bad but does need changing.   This has been added to the shopping list.

Originally I was planning to check if there was any residual charge in the AC.   However, I discovered that the system has never been converted to R134A.   This is surprising as it has been in Australia since 2005.   Since A/C systems must be evacuated before import, it is possible it has not worked since then.   That does not bode well for fixing it cheaply.

Also further investigation points to the occasional puffs of smoke as either Valve Stem Seals or Valve Guides.   The Valve Stem seals can be done with the heads in place, but guides require the heads to be removed.

Auto Brunch St Ives November 2018

There has been a cars and coffee event not far from me since 2015.   I’ve not had a chance to visit until last weekend.    It is called Auto Brunch and is run by the North Shore Sporting Car Club.    It’s held on the first Sunday of the month at the St Ives show ground.    I was quite impressed with the event and will probably attend again if I can.

There were at least 100 cars in attendance.  Unlike the trend of overzealous security and restrictions of when you can come and leave, it is very informal.   The biggest surprise was the vintage Ferrari that was probably worth as much as the rest of the cars combined.

There was a nice mix of cars from the 50s to today.   Also variety from old British classics to modern Japanese performance cars.   Oddly there there was a BMW X5 in the mix.    I took my 450SLC and there were a few other Mercedes in attendance – a R129 SL, and a nice W114.   Sadly I overheard that the W114 is to be bagged in the near future.   It is now so rare to see a nice unmolested car.     I also saw one of the nicest and most original E28 BMWs i’ve seen in a long time.   I’m in the minority that I much prefer to the E28 to the E30.

There is another cars and coffee event in Sydney I would like to attend called Machines and Macchiatos.   I will be interested to go to that one and compare it to the Auto Brunch event.