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.

For Sale: 1954 Traction Avant Light 15

UPDATE: 30/4/19 – This car is now SOLD.

My Traction Avant Light 15 is for sale.  It will go up on carsales in a couple of weeks.   The asking price will be $22,500.  The Light 15 was built in 1954 in Slough.  As an English built Traction it has more luxuries than the cars built in Paris.   It also has 12v Lucas electrics.

More than $20,000 has been spent on the car over the last couple of years including work on the engine/gearbox, front end rebuild, valve adjustment, new fuel pump.

Traction Avant

The best thing about the Traction Avant is how well they hold the road on long winding drives.   Much better than most other cars of the period, even though it is a 30s design.

Light 15

You also get more chrome on the British built Tractions.   The opening windscreen functions as a rudimentary air conditioning, once you get up to speed there is a lot of ventilation in the car.

Light 15

As a 1954 model, it has the big boot.   Not as attractive as the earlier small boot cars, but far more usable.

Light 15

The Light 15 is the small body traction.   It works much better than the big body with the 1911c engine.   My traction also has the correct Michelin tyres.

Light 15

The engine is a 1911cc overhead valve four cylinder.   It has a new fuel pump with a priming lever to aid starting it after it has been sitting for a while.    The valves were also adjusted recently and the gearbox re-sealed.

Light 15

The dashboard has been re-done and looks great.   The front carpet is also new.

Light 15

I’ll be sorry to see the car go – I’ve enjoyed it over the four years its been in my care.

Shannons Sydney Autumn Classic 2019 Preview

The Shannons Sydney Autumn Classic Auction for 2019 happens Monday next week.   I work close to the display centre, so I went down to check out the collection during my lunch break.   As usual, they had a nice range of interesting cars on offer.   Also as usual, there were offerings to suit most budgets.

The lots that I will be keeping an eye on during the auction are:

Lot 34:  Jaguar S-Type 3.8

The S-Type is the somewhat overlooked compact jaguar.   In 3.8 spec, in some ways it is the ideal compact Jaguar for touring, rather than the MK2 which is better for classic racing.   This car was an older restoration and looked very nice.   It was close to the ideal spec for me, being an unmolested 3.8 liter model.   Too many of these cars have suffered from dubious restomods.   The no reserve $15-20,000 guiding price is also attractive for this car.   What lets it down for me is the colour (I can’t stand white cars) and the fact it is automatic.   In my mind, a sports saloon like the S-Type should be Manual+Overdrive.

Lot 66: Rolls Royce 20/25 Open Tourer

The guiding price of $70-$90k seems reasonable for a pre-war Rolls Royce tourer.   I suspect the price is kept low due to the fact that it is a re-body rather than an original tourer body.  From reading the description, the original body was a long sedan.   The auctioneer refers to the car as a great example of a ‘Goshawk’ but I don’t think that is actually true.   My understanding was that the Goshawk was a particular 20hp, and not a general term for the entire small horsepower range.

Lot 67: Bentley 4¼ Litre Open Tourer

This car was the standout for me of the entire auction catalogue.   Owning a Derby Bentley is a bucket list item for me and this one looked like an ideal candidate for a car that is used vs a trailer queen.   As it is not an original tourer body, the price is lower than an original.    I will be very interested in seeing the result, although this car is well outside my price range.   The Guiding price is $120-$150k.

Notable Mentions

There were also some other lots that caught my eye.  First and foremost was the 190SL in red.  Obviously a striking car, and a much better colour than the white which most of them seem to be.   Values of the 190SL are up a lot primarily because they look a lot like the 300SL.   I still contend that the E-Type is the much better car.     There was also a set of nice looking Alfa Romeos, but the price for these is also above what I think they are worth when you compare to other cars you can buy for similar money.

560SEC Timing chain and valve stem seals

The Timing chain replacement is almost finished on the 560SEC.   The new chain is installed, guides fitted and valve stem seals replaced.    I stopped by the workshop to pick something up that I had left in the car and I was able to see it almost done.

560SEC Timing Chain

The photo shows the new chain in place with all new guides.   They are a much better colour than the old ones!   My timing for this repair was good as one of the existing guides was broken.   This car is now my third 560SEC, and the third one where I have sent it in to have the chain done.   In all three cases, one of the guides was broken.    This makes the engine a ticking time bomb as if the guide gets caught up in the chain on startup, it can jump a tooth and valves/pistons collide.


At the same time the valve stem seals were replaced.   The old seals were really hard and i’m feeling confident that I will no longer get the puff of smoke on takeoff.  For both of these repairs the parts are not the major cost of the job.  I had supplied the parts as I wanted to use genuine or OEM parts where possible.   I have heard the genuine guides and valve stem seals are much better than the aftermarket options and will last a lot longer.   Unfortunately the genuine tensioner is really expensive so I went with a Febi unit in this case.

As the timing chain stretches, it affects the timing of the engine.  The combination of chain stretch and wear in the upper and lower sprockets.  As the upper sprockets need to be removed, it makes sense to replace them.   The lower sprocket would only be replaced when the engine is torn down.   I was pleased to see that the engine lines up perfectly, making me think that the lower sprocket is not worn.   The three photos below show the timing marks on the two camshafts and the crankshaft.

Timing marks

Timing Marks

timing marks


I pick up the car early next week.   The timing chain will give me a lot more peace of mind driving the car.    I will also be able to drive the car without giving the driver behind me a foul smelling surprise.    I’m looking forward to driving the car again.

The M117.968 560 Engine

The 560 is the ultimate M117 engine.   This family of engines was introduced in 1969 with the 3.5l M116 and was followed in 1972 with the 4.5 M117.   The M117 is a longer stroke version of the M116.   Both engines share a SOHC design, 2 valves per cylinder and always had fuel injection.

These engines evolved over time with the final iteration coming between 1985 and 1991.  The 560 was the largest M117 engine offered, although to be pedantic it is actually 5.5 litres.

M116M117Fuel InjectionOtherApplications
1969-1975: 3.51972-1975: 4.5D-Jet EFIIron BlockW108, W109, W111, W116, W107
1976-1980: 3.51976:1980: 4.5K-Jet (CIS) MFIIron BlockW116, W107
1980-1985: 3.81978-1985: 5.0K-Jet (CIS) MFIAlloy BlockW126, W107
1985-1991: 4.21985-1991: 5.0, 5.5KE-Jet (CIS-E) E-MFIAlloy Block, Bigger Valves, EZL IgnitionW126, W107, W463

The story goes that Mercedes-Benz were concerned that the introduction of the BMW E32 7 series with its 220KW V12 placed the W126 at a competitive disadvantage.    The W140 was apparently delayed to respond with a V12 and the 560 was a short term competitive response.  The 560 is a longer stroke version of the 500.   At the same time larger valves were also specified.  The 560 offers more power than the 500, although the 500 has the reputation of being the smoother engine.

To meet the E32’s specs a high output version of the 560 engine was offered with 220kW.  This engine had a raised 10:1 compression ratio, different cams, ignition timing and an improved exhaust system.  It was coupled with a 2.65:1 rear end, allowing it to outperform the E32.   The 2.65 contrasts with the 2.24 ratio used on the 500, and the 2.47 used on the 420.   At first, the high output version was an option, code 822.   It was offered from 10/1985-9/1987 and known as the ECE version.   My 1987 560SEC is the code 822/ECE version.

The ECE version was a start, but more and more markets in Europe required a catalytic converter.   Mercedes offered two versions for this case.   The KAT version had 180kW and had the Catalyst fitted as standard.  The RUF version was set up to allow the catalyst to be retrofitted later and had 200KW.   Both of these versions ran the standard 9:1 compression.

Mercedes still faced a challenge against the E32.   Many European markets required the RUF or KAT version.   Therefore, from 9/87 the RUF and KAT versions were revised.   Compression was raised to 10:1 and other changes introduced, such as knock sensors to retard the timing when necessary.    This made the ECE version redundant, as the RUF version now also had 220KW.  The RUF version could still be retrofitted with a catalyst.    The KAT version now had 205KW, a useful improvement.  While not the subject of this article, the compression ratio changes were also applied to the 420 and 500 engines, providing a useful power boost.  The 10:1 engines either have HV or E10.0 after their engine numbers.

The 560 engine also offered an opportunity to provide more performance in markets with strict emissions laws.   The larger motor still allowed good performance even when de-tuned for idle emissions.    This was particularly important in the all important US market.    The 1984-85 500SEL in US spec only managed 137kW.   The move to the 560 allowed power to be raised to 178-180kW depending on market.   My 1988 and 1989 560SECs were both this version.   One particularly restrictive element of this 560SEC is the exhaust system.   There is a crossover pipe that joins the output of both banks of cylinders into a single catalyst.     The primary destination of this 560 was the USA, but it also formed the basis of the Australian and Japanese versions, with minor changes.  This version of the 560 was equipped with a 2.47:1 rear end instead of the 2.65 used in other 560s.

Unlike the other 560 engines, the emissions version never had the compression ratio revisions.   It was the same story with the 420.  The rest of world 420 had the compression rise but the emissions version did not.

It was this emissions engine that was the only 560 available in the R107.   The 560SL was only offered in Australia, USA and Japan.   It was slightly lower in power than the W126 version as the exhaust was more restricted.     This is why it has less powerful than the contemporary 500SL.   The big advantage of the emissions engine is that it can run lower octane (91) petrol.

VersionDates AvailablePowerTorqueCompressionOther Attributes
ECE10/85-9/8722045510:1Code 822, No knock sensors, revised cam, timing
9/87-10/9122045510:1Knock sensors
KAT (US, AUS, J)Entire Series178-1803899:1

The differences between the engine types are extensive:


The high output versions had ‘tri-y’ exhaust headers.   Essentially the tri-y setup consisted of four piece manifolds that joined under the car into a dual exhaust system next to the transmission.   The mid output versions had ‘euro log’ exhaust headers which was a single manifold for each side, each with a pipe under the car to the exhaust system. When catalysts were fitted, there were two.   The final option was the restrictive system where a crossover pipe behind the engine linked the two manifolds together to enter the single catalytic converter.    The KAT/RUF cars have an oxygen sensor.

The engine photo clearly shows the exhaust manifold from the ‘tri-y’ setup.

The photo below shows the setup used in high emissions countries.  The crossover pipe and single catalyst can clearly be seen.


All models used EZL based ignition, but the map was different.   The mid and high output models had a switch to allow the engine to be de-tuned for poor fuel.    The emissions controlled models were not switchable.    The high output motors have a more advanced ignition, and the later (post 9/87) cars have knock sensors.   As the early ECE versions do not, they require 98 octane fuel.

The ECE (Code 822) versions carried the following sticker on the radiator support:


High output engines hav different camshafts with ECE, RUF and KAT camshafts all having different part numbers.

The ECE Camshafts have code 16/17 (Left/Right).   RUF are 24/25 and USA is 26/27.    The ECE and RUF cams have the same profile.


  • The strict emissions version has an air pump.
  • The high output motors also have a different fuel distributor.
  • All 10:1 compression engines have high compression pistons.
  • The high output models have a separate oil cooler and pump.   This is located at the front left of the car.  The image below shows the extra oil cooler marked as B.
  • High output models have a different (black) transmission modulator
  • Transmissions were the same on all models.   Starting with the 722.323 and then later the 722.350.   The .350 transmission was improved over the 323.

Unlike other Mercedes engines, all versions of the 560 are good.   Even the emissions versions have plenty of power and are a delight to drive.   The M117 has an almost bullet proof bottom end, but an Achilles heel in some plastic parts in the engine.  If these parts fail, it is not economically viable to fix the engine.