Shannons Sydney Autumn 2019 Auction preview

The second Shannons auction of 2019 for Sydney is just around the corner.    As usual, I stopped by on my lunch break to view the lots.

There were a few cars that caught my eye:

Gold Medal: Lot 59: 1953 Jaguar XK120 Drophead

This was the standout for me at the Auction.   The XK120 was one of Sir William Lyons best creations and the combination of black paint and red interior really shows it off.   The Drophead is the most desirable model and this car looked in excellent condition.   Guiding range is $120-$150k and I expect the car to do this or more.

Silver Medal: Lot 36: 1961 Mercedes-Benz 220SE Coupe

Regular readers will know how much I admire the W111 Coupe and Cabriolet models.   This 220se is one of the nicest early 220SE’s around.   The car was a common attendee at Mercedes car shows at one time and I got to talk to the long time owner a few times.   He had owned the car since the 70s and the condition was a credit to him.   The paint colour really sets off the lines of the car and it has a rare sunroof.    Guiding price is $60-$70k.   This seems a lot for a 220, but probably not for one in this condition.

Bronze Medal: Lot 33: BMW M635CSI

If I had a BMW in my garage, it would be one of these.   In exactly this spec.   The M6 might get the attention, but it is not 3x the car of the M635CSI.   This car is equipped with a manual transmission, black leather interior, low miles and only a few owners.  Guiding range is $32-$38k

Honorable mentions:

The Fiat 500 and the Mini cooper both looked like great fun cars and in great shape.   I would be happy to own both of them.   I am not normally a ute fan, but the Holden FX ute was in great condition and was a standout.    The Buick is a nice looking car, but it is disappointing the straight 8 was replaced by a V8.   I’m also normally a fan of Rolls Royce Silver clouds, but this one was the long wheelbase with division.   These are rare, but more set up for the owner and driver to be different people.   This particular car was bought for the Premier of Victoria, before it was electoral suicide to be driven around in such a car.

Troubleshooting the E-Type radiator fan

Last September, the electric fan on the E-Type stopped working.   This is a particular problem in the E-Type as there is no mechanical fan.   At the time I assumed the coolant temperature sensor had failed.   It would seem that many people have trouble with these sensors.   I knew the coolcat fan was fine, as it roared into life when I applied 12v directly to the fan.

When I had bypassed the switch, I broke one of the connectors off the Lucas relay that controls the fan.   Therefore, I ordered an upgraded temperature sensor from Coolcat.   I also ordered a new Lucas relay from XKs Unlimited, trying to get the same one I already had.   This was for two reasons.  Firstly, it looked good compared to the normal black square relays, and secondly the mounting tab was already there and in the right place.

While I waited for these parts, I bypassed the temperature sensor and let the fan run all the time.   It was summer in Sydney so it would have run much of the time anyway.   On a drive in November, the fan failed again.   This time it had blown the fuse.    I resolved to fix this properly before I drove the car again.

The way the relay had been wired in baffled me.   It was using the same source for both the main 12v feed and the switching source.   Even though the E-Type radiator fan does not draw very much current, it seemed odd to wire it up this way.   My car has the Coolcat fan, which draws similar current to the stock fan.

I therefore ran a 12v power source with in-line fuse to the relay and used the car’s normal power source just to switch the relay on.   This should prevent the fuse from blowing.    I started with a 10A fuse as the fan is rated at 7, but it blew this so I went to a 15.  It would appear that the starting current is a little higher.

Upgraded Relay

Unfortunately, while the picture on the XKs Unlimited website showed the same red cylindrical relay I had previously, the one that arrived was a regular black square one, except it was made by Lucas.    I was about to drain the coolant on the header tank to replace the switch, when it occured to me to test the one I had first.  I knew my original problem was either switch or relay.   Since I had broken the original relay disconnecting it, it made sense to test the switch with the new relay.   Lo and behold, it worked fine.    I now have a spare sensor, and a working car.

After that, I took the car on an extended drive up to Gosford via the old Pacific Highway and the fan performed as it should.   I made sure I included a spare fuse in he car, but luckily I didn’t need it.

Until I can source the correct relay, I have used a zip tie to attach it to the mounting point.   At that time, i will try and tuck in the new red wire a little better.    The sticker on the radiator header tank shows the temperature.   Great for checking the fan sensor is working!

Lucas Relay

It was good to get behind the wheel of the E-Type after a couple of months.  Even better that it didn’t overheat.    I continue to be very happy with the diff ratio change I did.   Third gear is now a useful gear for twisty roads, like it should be.    In addition, the halogen lights are excellent, better than even cars from the 80s.   The E-Type series one is known for poor lighting, bug once its upgraded to Halogen it’s great!

My Traction is migrating north

My Traction Avant is now sold and is migrating north.   Like many before it, it is crossing the tweed for a new life in Queensland.   My experience selling the car wasn’t too bad.   I advertised the car on and in ‘The Chevrons’.   ‘The Chevrons’ is the magazine of the Citroen Club of NSW.    In the end I had four interested parties and four offers.   One of them was quite silly, but the rest of them were at least in the ballpark.    The winning offer was from carsales.   I didn’t bother advertising on Gumtree, it seems better for cars less than $5,000.

Queensland seems to be quite a hub for Citroen enthusiasts.  My DS came from Queensland, and they had over 60 DS models at the 60 year anniversary day.  In NSW, we only barely cracked double digits.   I’ve also seen pictures of many tractions lined up at various events up there.

The new owner sent a truck to pick up the car, from there it will go to a depot in Minto before it finally makes its way north.

DS Sold

Before I prepared the car for the journey, I made a video overview of the car.   Overall the production quality is terrible.  I have a lot to learn about how to make good videos.   However, since I will no longer have access to the car, I have posted it.   I will probably try and do something better for the other cars in time.   The worst is the angle of the camera is quite wrong and the bottom part of each shot is cut off.

Overall I enjoyed my experience as a Traction Owner.   It is an iconic car and you really have to own a car like this to experience it.  It also helped me see some of the interesting aspects of pre-war cars.   While my traction was not pre-war, it is a pre-war design.

I’m not sure I would ever buy another Traction, not because I don’t like them, but because there are so many other interesting cars to experience.

M272 Crankshaft Position Sensor

Recently the E350 wagon has been playing up.   It started out by occasionally losing power, then progressed to stalling.   At the times this would happen, the check engine light would be illuminated.   After a while the check engine light would be on around half the times the car would be driven.    In order to diagnose this, I plugged in my scanner to the OBD2 port.   There were a few saved codes.   The first one was P0335 Crankshaft Position Sensor A circuit.   There were also a couple of misfire codes, and a code about the tumble flaps in the intake manifold.     My assumption here is that the misfire codes are a symptom of the M272 Crankshaft position sensor.     The flaps code is unrelated and its been there a while.

Crankshaft Position Sensor failures are common in modern Mercedes Benz, and the symptoms pointed to a faulty sensor.    Doing some research, changing the M272 Crankshaft Position Sensor didn’t seem to be a massive job, so I ordered one.

This job isn’t particularly hard, but it is very fiddly.   Many of the write ups on the Internet refer to the M112.   This is similar, but there are some important differences.    On both engines, the first steps are to remove the engine covers and mass airflow sensor.

M272 Crankshaft Position Sensor preparation

This provides the room to somewhat get to the sensor, which is on the right hand rear of the engine.   I found I wasn’t able to see the sensor, but you can feel it.   The biggest challenge was determining what kind of bolt was holding it down.   Most say that it is an inverted Torx E8.   Some others say it is a TX27 Torx and others say a TX30 Torx.    At least in the case of the M272 Crankshaft Position sensor on the E350 wagon in 2007, it was a TX30.   As you can’t actually see the bolt I wasted a good 45 minutes trying different sockets until I was able to get one that worked.    It is easy to get a torx bit wedged between the housing of the sensor and the outside of the bolt and think you have it on properly!

M272 Crankshaft Position Sensor

There is almost no clearance on the right side of the engine, much less than the left side.   I can only imagine this job is much worse on smaller cars like the C class.

I found once the bolt is removed, it is easy to remove the sensor.   Replacement is much easier than removal, and overall I had the job done in about three hours.   It should probably take about 30-45 minutes!

Before I started the car for the first time, I cleared the codes.   After a brief test drive, the code has not re-appeared.   On first start, the car ran rough for a few seconds and then settled down to a smooth idle.   If I was doing this again, I would know to use a T30 (most sites say the other ones), so I could probably do it in about half the time or less.    It is probably a job that would not be that expensive to take to a mechanic, but my wife uses this car every day, so it was easier for me to do the repair in the evening.

I will see in the next couple of days if this has truly fixed the problem.

Rover P5 Coupe restoration

Yesterday I visited a friend’s workshop where he is restoring three Rover P5 Coupes.   He is a real P5 enthusiast having owned a number of the models over the years.   There are three cars under restoration, supported by two parts cars.

The first car under restoration is a 1964 MKIIA model.    It was originally delivered 26/6/1964.  Unusually for a car delivered in Australia, it is equipped with a manual transmission and overdrive.   Most cars sold here came with the Borg Warner DG automatic gearbox.   The current owner purchased the car in 1971.

The ‘export’ P5 MKII Coupe is relatively rare, with only 67 RHD models being produced at the factory, this car being #23.   Overall, including home market (1956) and LHD export (312) there were 2335 manual cars in total.

I don’t know the full details of the difference between home market and export cars, but one obvious difference is the engine compression.   The original engine for this car was an 8:1 compression model vs the 8:75 compression for the home market cars.

Rover P5 MKIIA Coupe

The car was originally white, but is now painted Admiralty Blue on the lower half and Slate Grey for the roof.   It is equipped with a webasto sunroof and will have a grey leather interior with dark blue carpets.

I really like the colour combination of this car.   In the image above, the fuel tank for the car can also be seen.    Eagle eyed viewers will see that while the car is a MKII, it has P5B side trim.   This is because the owner prefers it.   The intention of this car was to build his vision of the ideal Rover P5.  Another change is the colour matched hubcaps.   Originally the Rover P5 was to have painted hubcaps like a Mercedes-Benz, but that was cancelled at the last minute.

P5 HubcapsAs part of the restoration, the engine has been swapped for one from the same year.   This presumably came from the P5 MKIIA Saloon that provided parts for the restoration (77600154A).

While there were running changes throughout P5 MKII production, the biggest changes came with the introduction of the MKIIC cars.

MKIIC cars included engine improvements (larger crankshaft mains, oil drain at the rear of the head and more), speedometer/tachometer with a larger font, two speed wipers, a better fuse box, improvements to suspension, exhaust, fuel tank and many more.    This car has the improved gauge faces as part of the restoration:

P5 Coupe Instruments

In addition, the tachometer has been rebuilt by a qualified electrical engineer to be far more accurate than original.    The main work to be done on the car now is the assembly.

1964 Rover P5 Coupe interior

Accompanying the MKIIA is a 1965 MKIIC.  The C suffix model have all the improvements listed above.    This car started out life with a Borg Warner DG gearbox but has been converted to manual/overdrive.

The MKIIC car is Admiralty blue on the body and the roof and is not equipped with a webasto sunroof.   It has a cream leather interior and has air conditioning.   To fit the massive York compressor, part of the inner wing needed to be cut out!

MKIIC Restoration

As with the MKIIA, this car also has v8 side trim.

MKIIC Coupe Restoration

Of the three cars, this car is the furthest along with the final assembly.

The final car is the MKIII model.   As with the car above, it started its life as an automatic.   In this case, being a MKIII a Borg Warner 35.  It now has a manual/overdrive transmission.

Where the MKIIA is the owners idea of the ideal Rover P5 in a more traditional way, the MKIII has been built in a more brash style.   It is sporting the Rostyle wheels from a V8 and a custom Cream/Almond colour combination.   It is a very striking car.    This car also has a Webasto sunroof.    It has been in the current owner’s care since the 80s.


The MKIII will have a tan leather interior.   The interior is the biggest difference between the MKII cars, with something more like the P5B.   The front seats are more like armchairs and there is a rear heater control.

I really enjoyed going to look at the Rover P5 Coupe restoration.  It is amazing to see the marked differences between three cars of consecutive years.

My favorite is the earlier car, then the MKIII, then the all blue car.   But all of them are lovely and I am looking forward to dropping by in a couple more months to see the progress of the restorations.

Rover parts car – my old P5

My old Rover P5 Coupe is being stripped for parts.   This is not a bad thing as it is ensuring that three more Rover P5 Coupe restorations can be completed and three cars put back on the road.    I purchased the car from the Flynn collection auction for only $230.  Nevertheless, the car managed to drive from Canberra back to Sydney.   The drive train was ok, but the sills were like swiss cheese and the floors were not great either.   The interior was both badly sun and water damaged too

The new owner is a friend of mine who is restoring the three Rover P5 cars.   A Rover parts car will really help along these restorations.   Prior to this car he also parted out a P5 Saloon.

He is of the firm view that the P5 3 liter is the far superior car to the v8 powered P5B.   The main reasons he quotes for this are:

  • The cars were far better built by the Rover Company as compared to British Leyland.
  • The Borg Warner 35 gearbox was not adequate for the weight of the vehicle.
  • The front suspension was not updated for the much lighter Aluminium v8 giving a choppy ride.

He is a fan of the Rover v8 in the 3500S P6 model, but less so in the P5.

I’ve stopped by the workshop a couple of times since selling the car to see the progress of the P5 restoration.   As the restorations progress, my old car is further stripped for valuable parts.   I stopped by today and helped remove two of the window regulators.

The first photo below shows the car in late 2017, just after I sold it.

Last Drive in the Rover P5I went back in September 2018 and the stripping process had started with some of the front of the car removed, as well as work done on the interior to remove pieces such as the instrument cluster, door cards etc.

Rover Parts Car

Rover Parts Car

Today a lot more progress had been made, with the entire interior gutted, one of the window regulator removed, back wheels and many more.

Rover Parts Car

Next step will be to remove the DG gearbox.     It will not be required for the restorations as they are all Manual/Overdrive, so will be put up for sale.   The DG is an interesting unit.  It’s a big strong gearbox, of American design.  It is a two speed box, with a locking torque converter to give three effective ratios.   A locking torque converter was quite advanced for the time, with many other manufacturers not introducing this until the 90s or 2000s.

I expect in a couple of months all usable bits will be harvested and the shell will be sold for scrap metal.  The should coincide with the return to the road for at least one of the P5 coupes.

The 450SLC hits 300,000km

This evening I took my 450SLC for a drive up the old Pacific Highway.   I wanted to check the impact of re-connecting the vacuum advance on the distributor.   I had discovered the line was broken when doing some maintenance.  With the advance enabled, mid throttle response seems a lot better.  I do get a little pinging when cruising on the motorway, so I am going to try 98 instead of 95.

During the drive, the SLC reached a big milestone:


That’s right, the SLC has finally reached 300,000km.   I purchased the car in 2003 with 262,000km showing.    As there was a 6 month period when I was driving the car more that the odometer didn’t work, I can probably assume I have driven this car 40,000km over 16 years.   This equates to a rather low 2,500km per year.   Overall, the car has been driven on average 7,150km per year.

If I assume that the car has used roughly the same amount of fuel all its life, then it has consumed 63,600 liters.   Enough to fill 2-3 petrol tankers.   To buy all that fuel at today’s prices would cost over $100,000.

To get to 300,000km its had more than 40 oil changes and has driven the equivalent of 7.5 times around the earth or 80% of the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

The car has likely been driven for around 7,500 hours in its life, equating to 312 days of driving.   This is only 2% of its life.    The other 98% it has been parked.     I already have the 250,000km badge for the car, the next one is not due until 500,000km.   if the car is still driven 2500km per year, it will only take 80 years!

USA Junkyard Visits

I am currently in the USA and had a few hours to spare in Cincinnati Ohio before I headed out to the airport.   When I lived in the USA, I used to go to the self service junkyards to grab bits and pieces.    These junkyards are larger in the USA and they have standard price lists for parts, no matter what car you remove it from.    Most of the cars I own are too old to turn up in self service junkyards, but the two W126’s just fall into the range where they sometimes come up.

I ended up going to two Junkyards, one in Cincinnati near my hotel, and the other in Northern Kentucky, near the airport.   The Kentucky junkyard was by far the best, with 2xW126, a W126, 3×124, 2xW140 and some new C and E Class models.

The main car I grabbed parts from was a 1991 420SEL:

1991 420SEL Junkyard

The 420SEL had been well picked over, but there were still a few good parts for me.   As everything I removed needed to fit in my suitcase, I was looking for smaller pieces.  For example, the interior door handles for the W126 are the same front and rear.   The front handles develop play in the mechanism over time, causing them to ‘sag’.   They can be replaced by the handles from the rear door which are much less frequently used.   This is the case for the Sedan, and I am assuming for the coupe as well.

The other thing this car was able to show was the position of the vacuum actuators for the climate control flaps.   The rubber perishes over time and they need to be replaced.   As the dash had been removed their position was revealed.

W126 Interior

I also managed to grab 16 of the long style lug bolts for the W126 off this car.   They had some surface rust, but will hopefully clean up ok.     I also took some of the trim clips that attach the lower front cladding, which are broken on my 560SEC.   Obviously too big for me, but a couple of the alloy wheels on this car were ok and would have come up well after a repaint.     Surprisingly the little caps on top of the front shock bolts were still present on this car.   They are nearly always missing on the w126.

Next to this W126 was a late 70’s W123 300CD coupe.   being a 70’s car it had the normally aspirated 617 diesel engine.   This was a USA only model because of the CAFE fuel consumption requirements put in place during the Carter administration.  Later models were equipped with turbo diesel motor.   The W123 shows the serious rust that snow belt cars can develop.

W123 300CD The 300CD was a Fred Flinstone car, amazing to think a car as rusty as this was still driving around until recently.

Fred Flinstone

I didn’t take anything from the 300CD, mostly because I don’t own any W123’s or Diesels.   Nearby the W123 was another USA only model, a 300SD.    At first, the car looked better than most in the junkyard, but underneath it was quite rusty.   It did seem that previous owners had spent money on this car, the master cylinder and front calipers looked quite new for example.


Kent Bergsma would have been very happy with the condition of the throttle linkages in this car, with almost no slop to speak of.    There was a lot of good parts on this car for somebody with a nicer 300SD.    The car even had a service history up to 140k miles, with 180k showing on the odometer.   The 300SD is not a bad first generation W126.   The fuel consumption is great and the power is not much lower than the detuned 280SE we got in Australia.  I still prefer to the second generation cars though.    There are a lot of improvements that make them much better cars overall.

300SD Service History

I took the 300SD owners manual – novelty for a model we never got in Australia.    Later the 300SD was replaced by the 300SDL in the second series.   There was a 300SDL in another junkyard I visited.   The SDL has a six cyliner turbo disel, with considerably more power and refinement than the old 617.   This motor doesn’t have quite the reputation for longevity as the 617 though.    The SDL had the electric rear blind and reclining rear seat as options. Unfortunately somebody had destroyed them trying to remove parts.   I forgot to take photos of this car, but I was able grab a few more pieces from here too.

In the end, I finished up with a nice little stash of parts to take back to Australia.   The 560SEC has a big crack in is rear view mirror.   The first mirror I got was from a W124, which is close, but then l found a better one from that 300SD pictured above.


I also grabbed more of the lug bolts I needed and have attempted to use coca-cola to clean them!

Lug Bolts


Having been to a few junkyards, the most common Mercedes to see is the W203 C-Class, followed by the W210 E-Class.   I suspect the days of W126’s turning up in these junkyards will be over in a few years.   The self service junkyard does allow the parts to be harvested cheaply, but it does cause many parts to be destroyed either by ham fisted attempts to remove them, or by the weather.

Update four days later, after 4 nights soaking in Coca Cola, the lug bolts are slightly cleaner.


Clean Lug Bolts

2018 Chevy Malibu Review

My latest rental car was the 2018 Chevy Malibu.    It is probably the best rental car I’ve had for a couple of years, but that is not really saying much.   The Malibu is the latest in a line of cheap ‘full size’ cars that used to be the mainstay of the big 3.    With buyer preferences moving to SUVs and raised hatchbacks, cars like the Malibu are a dying breed.    The Malibu shares a platform with a few other FWD GM cars such as the Buick Regal, Opel Insigna and Holden Commodore.     Both Hertz and I refer to the Malibu as a full size car, but from GM’s point of view it is an intermediate and The Impala is actually the full size model.   Still, this ‘intermediate’ is basically the same size as a W126 Mercedes.

I normally rent smaller cars, but Hertz were out of them.  I was first offered a Minivan, then an Escalade, but declined both.   Many will think me nuts for declining the Escalade, but I had not desire to pilot that leviathan around Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky.

2018 Chevy Malibu

The best thing about the 2018 Chevy Malibu I rented was the colour.   It was a lovely deep red – so much better than the shades of monochrome most new cars are sporting.   The Malibu has a fastback style but is actually a regular sedan.   It’s not bad looking, but a bit boring at the same time.    The styling does have some unfortunately drawbacks however – the visibility is quite poor.   The rear window is so raked that when it rains it is pretty much impossible to see out, and the A pillars also obscure traffic when pulling out into traffic.     I also had to put the seat into its lowest setting so I could see out of the front and even then visibility was not great.

The driving experience isn’t too bad, but is let down by the 1.5 liter turbo four cylinder.    The car has no torque to speak of down low and when pushed the powerplant is rather coarse in its operation.    Keeping the car in boost meant the performance was quite reasonable, but at the expense of poor fuel mileage.   This really is a car crying out for a V6!    The suspension and steering are not too bad, and it has a proper transmission rather than a horrible CVT.    The engine is also equipped with a start/stop feature but there is no button on the dash to disable it.  I found this rather annoying.    I even looked through all the menus available from the steering wheel buttons.

The interior suffers from acres of cheap plastics.  The seats are reasonably comfortable and at least the car I drove came equipped with XM radio.    On the dash are the usual idiot lights, but buried in the menu you can find readouts for temperature, oil pressure and the like.    I was the only person riding in the car, but it did appear I could have easily carried another three adults, or even four at a pinch.   The boot is quite big, but the opening is quite small owing to the design of the rear end of the car.       I also found the positioning of the USB port for charging cumbersome, as it was tucked up under the center console.

Overall the 2018 Chevy Malibu is a much better option than many of the SUVs on the market today in the same price range.    Its not a car anyone is going to fall in love with, but it does the job well enough.    It really does need a V6 to be a car that anyone would want to own vs rent for a couple of days.     The Buick and the Holden based on the same platform both have a V6 option and I suspect they are much better.

Rating: 3/5

The 560SEC has stopped smoking

My 560SEC had a problem where it would emit a puff of smoke after idling.   This was rather embarrassing taking off from the lights.   It did give me the advantage of keeping people back who got too close.  My assumption was that it was cause by old valve stem seals.   As the seals get old, they get hard and allow a small amount of oil to seep through into the combustion chamber when the car is at idle.

When the car is idling, the throttle is mostly closed resulting in high vacuum.   The high vacuum causes oil in the heads to pool around the valve stems.   When the car accelerates, the oil gets sucked down past the old, hard valve stem seal, creating a cloud of smoke behind the car.

I had the valve stem seals replaced at the same time as the timing chain and guides.    Driving the car a couple of times since has shown there is no longer any smoke at takeoff (or at any time).  I took the car for a night drive to really be sure – it is very easy to see the smoke in the headlights of the car behind.

Valve Stem Seals

At the same time, the distributor cap and rotor was replaced.   The cap was extremely pitted – I’m surprised it ran as well as it did.    With the new chain, replaced seals and distributor cap and rotor the car runs really well.

The next thing was to look at the paint.   The paint was flat and felt rough to the touch.   This hasn’t changed after a couple of washes.    A couple of hours with a clay bar has made a huge difference.   I’ve used clay bars on a few cars, some that looked a lot worse.   But none of them had the level of containments that I got off the paint from this 560SEC.   After a couple of hours with bar, it was a brown colour and the paint was quite smooth.

Clay Bar

It is very hard to see from the photo, but the paint is much shinier than before.   I will probably get a fresh clay bar to finish the job and then use it on one of the other cars that is not so bad.

The 560SEC is responding well to some maintenance and general care.   I’ve still got a fair few things to do to the car, but none that will prevent me from using it.