Auto Brunch St Ives August 2022

Today I attended the monthly Auto Brunch event at St Ives Showground.   This is easily the best cars and coffee event in Sydney.   There is always a huge variety on display at this event.   This wasn’t the biggest event I can remember, but it probably has the biggest variety.

A great example was a timewarp Chrysler Lancer.   I don’t recall the last time I saw one of these, especially a car from before Chrysler sold out to Mitsubishi.

Auto Brunch St Ives August 2022Both the Mercedes and Citroen Clubs had this event on their club calendar.   Like last time,  I took my DS to the event and there were at least four other D’s on the day.   On top of the D’s, there was also a nice CX, a GS, a couple of 2CVs and some modern Citroens.

While the Mercedes Club had a number of club members on display, there were a few really nice cars on display from non Members.   There was an immaculate 380SL with the 15″ fuchs alloys in red.   I lovely car that does not get a lot of use.

There was also a matching pair of W108 280SE 3.5 models in silver grey.    The first one was ex Papua New Guinea, and had been sold there as a consular car.    It has an interesting specification with a manual transmission, but power windows.

The other car was delivered December 1971 in Australia and is still in the same family since new.   It was in great shape, with a respray about 20 years ago.

Auto Brunch St Ives August 2022

I was also impressed by the number of nice E-Types on display.   There were some really nice cars there and it’s great to see them out being used.

After the event, I even had time to give the DS a quick oil change before I met my family for lunch.

Troubleshooting the Classic Auto Sound Becker tribute radio

I installed the Classic Auto Sound Becker tribute radio in my 250SE a couple of years ago.   The W111 series are supposed to have a slimline radio instead of a DIN size.   Unfortunately, a previous owner cut my dashboard to DIN size.   This meant putting the correct radio for the year was now practically impossible.   Instead of putting a 70s Becker instead, I went with this tribute radio which is based on a Retrosound radio with an actual Becker faceplate.

I’ve been happy with the radio in the car, and would recommend it to anyone who had their dashboard modified like this.    Recently, I’ve been seeing some strange behavior on the radio and it was getting less and less usable.   Classic Auto Sound, the company who sold it to me have been very helpful trying to trace what is going on.

The problems first started when on a long drive, the radio would stop responding to the buttons or knobs.   It would just keep doing what it was already doing.   In that case, it was playing off the USB key.    It would also sometimes not turn off properly when I turned off the ignition switch and removed the key.    At first this happened only on long drives, but in the last couple of months I couldn’t even power the radio on at all.   It would always be just stuck in the clock mode.   It would be like that even with the key off.

Classic Auto Sound suggested it might be the left knob shaft failing.   The suggested removing the radio, and connecting the plug from the right knob into the left side of the radio.    I did that, and all of a sudden I could turn the radio on and off again.    Based on that Classic Auto Sound sent me a knew shaft at no cost to me.   That’s great service considering the radio is a couple of years old now.

radio stopped respondingIt’s pretty easy to swap out one of the shafts – I had it done in about 15 minutes.   I took the car on a short drive, and everything was well.       A couple of days later, I took the car on the MBCNSW July Night Drive.    The meeting point is about an hour and ten minutes away from where I live.   About 45-50 minutes into the drive, I noticed the radio stopped responding to inputs from the knobs.   I was using the bluetooth function, so I could still change tracks from my phone.   Normally you can use the radio knobs to do this.   I was also unable to change the volume.

While we were waiting for the final cars to arrive, I disconnected the battery and reconnected it.    The radio was fine again.   However, on the actual drive, it was a much shorter time before it stopped working again.   The drive was about an hour and 20 minutes and during that time, I had radio through my phone, but I could not just the knobs.    I didn’t bother disconnecting the battery while we got a snack at McDonalds at the end of the drive, I just paused the music with my phone.   The radio stayed on pause the whole time I was in McDonalds (about 20 mins).  It then played the entire way back, again through my phone with the buttons doing nothing.   Once I got back, it took disconnecting the battery to turn it off.

I emailed Classic Auto Sound again and asked if they had any more ideas.   It was suggested that I check if I have the yellow (constant power) and red (switched power) lines correct.   I checked those, and they were.  Voltage was 0nly present on the red wire with the key on, and was always present for the yellow wire, with the battery connected.

Once confirmed, It was suggested that I check the behavior of the switched power, as the radio isn’t supposed to work without it.   In order to be able to do that on a long drive, I’ve rigged up a voltage indicator to the switched power source.    It was less than $10 at Jaycar.    I’ll now be able to watch what happens on a drive when the radio is working fine, and if there is any difference when it is not.

The little voltage meter comes out from behind the dash, so I can see it on top of the transmission tunnel.   Next step is another longer drive in the car to see what is happening.
radio stopped responding

Eastern Suburbs cars and coffee July 2022

I was able to attend the Eastern Suburbs cars and coffee event this morning.   I’ve managed to attend the last couple of these events and there are always a good mix of cars attending.   As it is an eastern suburbs event, the most popular car is always the Porsche 911.

It was interesting to see a 930 Turbo parked next to a regular 911 of the same era.   The flared wheel arches are really obvious on the 930.    While I always enjoy seeing the cars, the 911 is one classic I’ve never really gotten into.    I’ve always preferred the 928.

cars and coffee July 2022
For some reason attendance this month was quite a bit down.    The normal crowed of five or six cars from the Mercedes-Benz club were not there as the club was running a high tea event today.    That number of cars doesn’t explain the vastly reduced numbers as the event was about half as big as normal.   There must have been some other event on today as the weather was quite good.

Despite the reduced numbers, there were a few nice BMWs on display including two different 2002 models in the same colour.   There was also an Alpina 3 series, a 1 series with M3 v8 transplanted, and one of my favorite BMWs, a 635csi.

There were also two nice Austin Healy convertibles, a really original looking Mercedes W111 230S, and a couple of other interesting cars like a Rover SD1, Lancia Fulvia etc.    In addition, there was also a nice Mazda 323 wagon with a rotary.   It’s easy to forget that during that time, Mazda put rotary engines in all sorts of cars.

I took my 450SLC to the event, but forgot to take any photos of my own car.    I was parked next to a nice R129 SL.   With the National Rally and Canberra show, I’ve now done more than 5,000km in the 450SLC this year.

MBCNSW July 2022 Night Drive – Royal National Park

Earlier this morning I returned from the MBCNSW July 2022 Night Drive.    We try to rotate the travel direction around Sydney, so this time we were going South.    The drive was actually a repeat of one we did back in February 2021.    That drive was quite popular, so we figured we would run it again.

The drives in the dead of winter are less popular, so we had a smaller crowd than last time.   One advantage of that is that it’s easier to keep the group together.    We had my W111 250SE Cabriolet, two W124’s (A 230E and a 300E) and a Porsche 911.   The owner of the Porsche is a club member who also has a W123, W140 and W113 amongst other cars.
MBCNSW July 2022 Night Drive

As with last time, the starting point was Loftus oval parking.   I don’t think I would use this as the starting point again.   There are some Petrol stations further along that are far better lit and easier to find.   We’re also less likely to interrupt a drug deal, as we likely did last night.

The route we took was the same as last time, in that we entered the Royal National Park at waterfall, and continued down until we past Bald Hill lookout.   From there we took the winding road up towards the Princes highway, which we continued along until Bulli Pass.   Our plan was to take Bulli pass down to the finish, but it was closed for roadworks, so we had to take the main highway.   Neither Google maps nor Waze had the closure, which is unusual.

For most of the drive, we hardly saw a car on the road which was nice, so we could just cruise along.    I drove with the roof down on the 250SE, which was pleasant on the way down (with gloves, a hat and the heater on full), but got a little bit chilly on the motorway drive home.     I’ve been having some running issues of late with the 250SE, and while I had a little of that on the way to the meeting point, it ran beautifully on the actual drive, and the way back home.

Given the location of the drive, it was a late night getting home, but worth it.   Cruising around at night with the roof down and little traffic on the road is always a good opportunity.

Guest Article: In search of another Benz – Part 1

It’s only been a bit over a year since I sold Oskar, my 1988 300SE at the 2021 Shannons Autumn Auction. It was my father Oskar’s pride and joy, and I was keen to join the MBCV when I inherited the car in 2011. For many years I used the car as a daily driver, then later it was swapped to club plates, with the family enjoying many Club runs. Our kids now have grown up and although they appreciate the Mercedes marque, they’re less likely to participate in Club events, which led to the reluctant decision to part with it.

Oskar the 300SE ready for auction

Oskar the 300SE ready for auction

Moving forward a year, I had an itch to buy another classic. I attempted to justify the purchase, but in all honesty, I couldn’t really, apart from knowing that our cars had contributed to my mental wellbeing during COVID. I also knew Naomi wouldn’t say no, as she has two lovely classics, a Jensen Interceptor and Triumph Stag and can’t resist another exciting addition to the family.

We have always subscribed to the philosophy of owning cars that suit different purposes. Looking at the garage we have enough four door vehicles and no longer need to worry about carting kids around on Club events, so the focus turned to a two door Mercedes. In the last five years I’d seen values escalate for the Mercedes models I grew up with, so I started to think about the more recent Mercedes models, CLK (A/C208, A/C209), SLK (R170/R171). Initially I did look at the CLK, but as I own half a C209 CLK320 with our daughter, I didn’t want another 209 even if it was a convertible. I also thought about the R129 (for less than a minute), but values were way outside my budget.

Eventually I started to look at the SLK R170 as I’ve always been a huge fan of Bruno Sacco and loved the design queues of its elder brother, the SL, with its power domes on the bonnet and optional two-tone interior options. The two-part vario-roof was also a large plus for me (even though it does consume a large amount of boot capacity when down). Within 25 seconds you can enjoy the fresh air of top-down motoring or close it and enjoy the warmness of what could be described as a coupe. Our Stag is much more usable when we have the hard top on too, but we have to use a winch, so just flicking a button is a huge leap forward. The other bonuses are that the SLK will be club plate eligible in 2023 and it’s an approved vehicle for P probationary drivers (excluding the SLK32 AMG).

The SLK range initially consisted of the SLK230 Kompressor released Feb 1997, then followed by the SLK200 in Oct 1997. The series II was released in Jul 2000 with revised safety equipment (electronic stability control) and suspension. The SLK200 Kompressor replaced the SLK200 and the SLK320 was released, while Sep 2001 marked the introduction of the SLK32 AMG. The R170 sold until 2004, with Mercedes releasing Special Editions to mark the end of the line for the R170. It came with exclusive features including pleated seats in fine Nappa leather, special aluminium trim on the dash and console, stepped 5 twin-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels and a special grille finished in the body colour.

The good news I found was there were plenty to choose from in terms of colour and engine combinations, but on the downside, there are plenty of bad ones which appear to be dragging down the values of good ones. Initially I wanted to buy locally, but it quickly became apparent that I couldn’t find one in the condition and colour combination I wanted. The search turned to interstate where I identified a listing for a 1998 SLK230 in silver with the two tone, red & black interior. It’s always fantastic to connect with a lovely seller and in this case, he was more than happy to supply 11 years of receipts, listing all the work done and dollar amount spent. We are delighted to welcome Sally the SLK as the latest member of our family and a lovely way to keep my Mum’s memory alive.

Sally on her way to a new home

Sally on her way to a new home

Author:  Nick Gruzevskis is a member of the Mercedes-Benz Club (Victoria) and the owner of 1979 450SE, 2005 CLK320 and now an SLK230

Stuck W116 ignition barrel – part 1

I was quite keen to start using the 280SE more now I have sorted out the steering, exhaust and drivers seat.    I don’t have a modern car, so I rotate the various historic registered cars I own to keep them inside their 60 day logbook.   The 280SE obviously has a lot of entries available.  I was also looking forward to driving it more now the main issues were sorted out.   I brought the car home on Saturday night after finishing the seat.  That meant I would have it available to use over the next couple of days.

Sunday was a very nice day,  so after a week of rain,  it seemed like a nice idea to take my kids to a playground in the 280SE.  After getting their booster seats in the car, we planned to set off, only to find that I could not turn the key.    After trying for 15 to 20 minutes, we gave up and went in my wife’s modern car.   We couldn’t take the 560SEL which was also at home, because it was blocked in by the 280SE.

I had encountered a sticky ignition key once or twice before when using the car.   It didn’t seem too bad that I had to change it right away.  I had it on my list of things to do at some point.   In retrospect, that was a bit silly as the previous owner may have been experiencing problems for ages.    Once the key gets sticky, you really want to change out the barrel – I did this to both my 300SE and 280CE and avoided all the problems I was about to have with a stuck w116 ignition barrel on the 280SE.

Stuck W116 ignition barrel

On the way back from the playground I stopped and bought some graphite powder, and picked up a few tools.   In the afternoon, I tried for about two hours using all the tips in the various Kent Bergsma videos – like this one.   I used both keys I have for the car, I used pliers, I used the graphite powder, I used the base of my electric toothbrush, all to no avail.   I should note, that I only used the base and not my actual toothbrush. The video suggests the vibration from something like a back massager can help free the lock.   Turning the key is vital, as the barrel or even steering lock can’t be removed without the ability to turn the key.

As I needed to duck out and do an errand Monday lunchtime, I needed access to a working car.   Thus, later that evening, I went to my workshop and grabbed my vehicle positioning jacks, plus the floor jack so I could move the car.   I would need to first push the car sideways, drive the 560SEL out of the way and then push the car back into the corner.

Before I put a jack on each wheel, I thought I would try one more thing.  I used my floor jack to raise the front of the car, so both wheels were off the ground.  I figured that would ease some of the pressure on the steering lock.  Once I did that, I was able to feel like it almost releasing.  After about 30 minutes of trying, it eventually moved, and I heard the radio spring to life.   What a great sound!

Stuck W116 ignition barrel

With the key in position 1, I was able to insert a tiny allen key into the hole.    This should unlock the collar, that then screws off.   As my 280SE is a 79 model, it has the 3rd design of ignition lock.  It appears very similar to the W123.   Due to the design of the W116 dashboard, I was unable to grip the collar properly.   I tried for a while, but I was just scratching it.   As I was able to get the key in, I could start the car and move it out of the way under its own power.   Instead of turning it off properly though, I left the key in position 1 and disconnected the battery.

The car is no longer blocking anything, so I have more time to sort this out.   I was able to cheap version of a special took to unscrew the barrel from AliExpress.   For $16 including shipping, it was worth a try.   It should be here by the 7th of August.

2022-07-24 22.21.34

I have a spare ignition barrel on hand.  It has a W123 part number and is very similar to the picture in the workshop manual.   It came in my 1986 300SE.  At the time, the ignition barrels coded to the original key for your car were still available.   I wanted to have a single key for both the doors and ignition on the 300SE, so I swapped it out.   There was nothing wrong the barrel.    Even if on inspection its the wrong one, once I get the old barrel out I can safely move it around without fear of getting the key stuck again.

So far, despite the wasted time, I feel I have been quite lucky.   A stuck W116 ignition barrel can cause people to have to start drilling things out.    So far, I have not had to do anything that drastic.

W116 Seat repair

Now I had the 280SE at the point where I could drive it more, I wanted to attend to the drivers seat.   Like most of these cars, years of driving had caused at least some of the springs to break, causing it to feel collapsed and lopsided.    The first Mercedes I ever owned, my 1985 230E already had this issue on purchase.  It was only 13 years old at the time.    This 280SE is over 40 years old, so it’s not surprising.

This is a common thing on these old Mercedes, so I assumed I had a couple of broken springs in the seat.   So I could complete the job in one go, I went and bought some supplies.   To reinforce the springs, I bought a 3/16″ threaded rod.    It’s thin enough I thought my brake pipe bender would allow me to bend to shape.    I also bought a couple of pieces of hardware to attach at each end, and then some thin wire to wind around the piece so it stayed on the spring.   I also bought a square of high density foam to pack into the seat springs.

W116 seat removed

Getting the W116 seat out is quite easy.   Five 10mm bolts.   You need to use the both the height adjusting and for/aft tracks to expose the bolts.   I did the front first, then back.     It helps to lower the headrest and raise the recline angle to get the seat out of the car.   The 5th bolt attaches a track to the transmission tunnel.

Once the seat was out, I laid it out on a clean piece of cardboard.    Looking underneath, it was quickly apparent I had two broken springs.   It was also great to see what great condition the rest of the seat was in.   The mechanism and horsehair paid were in great shape.  There is a small rip and some minor discolouring on the drivers seat, but its in otherwise nice condition too.

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I also found $3.47 worth of change underneath the car, including a 2c coin.   Those coins have been out of circulation since 1994!   Looking at the years of the coins, they ranged from 1976-1997.   That corresponds to my suspicion that the car was not used a great deal for the last 20 years.   I have no history for this period, but there are a number of clues.

Fixing the springs does not require the W116 seat to be disassembled.   I was able to do it all from the bottom.   First I gently put the broken springs back int the right spot.   I then cut and bent my piece of threaded rod.  The threaded rod is probably way overkill for this job, but it will certainly have the strength I need.  The grooves will also help the wire grip.

W116 seat spring

With the rod in the right shape, I used the fasteners to gently attach it to the spring.     I didn’t want to use too much pressure yet, in case it popped out of shape.    I then wound the wire around the old spring and rod, until it was nice and snug.   After that, I tightened up the fasteners and added a couple of cable ties for good measure.    The repair seemed quite strong.

W116 seat repair

I then cut some of my foam into strips.   Some longer thin sections for the sides and front, and then some smaller sections to re-enforce the main springs.

While the seat was out, I also replaced the broken fire extinguisher bracket with a better one I had one hand, and clean the seat as best I could.   Overall it came up pretty well.    I also lubricated the tracks as I could without taking them apart.

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Getting the W116 seat back in was surprisingly the hardest part of the whole enterprise.   I had originally planned to have it back in quickly then do an oil change on the car.   In the end it two two hours and I had to postpone the oil change.

W116 seat

I had a couple of challenges.   I first tried to put the seat in using the front bolts first, but I couldn’t make all the bolts line up.    The height adjustable lever was already almost broken, and during the course of putting the seat in/out it finally broke.   I’ll have to try the Kent Bergsma bolt on solution.

After a few tries, I found it was easiest to get the back bolts in first, and then try and manhandle the seat around until I could get the fronts in.     I’m glad I did a strong seat repair, as pushing the seat up and down on the height track puts a fair amount of pressure on the springs.

With the seat back in, I’m pretty happy with this repair.   The seat is no longer sagging to one side and the car is much nicer to drive.   One more item ticked off the list.

280SE W116 exhaust system

The final things preventing me from turning the 280SE from a garage queen to a rolling restoration was getting the exhaust sorted out.   It really was a mess.   The rear muffler had been changed about 20 years ago (I have the receipt), but the rest was original.   It really showed.   Not only that, but the 280SE W116 exhaust for right hand drive cars is a poor design.   It was shared with the early W123 M110 cars, and later corrected for the W126.  At that point the W126 design was applied to the W123 too.

There are two exhaust manifolds, one for the front three cylinders and one for the rear three cylinders.   Instead of going into separate downpipes like they do on the left hand drive models, there is a Y piece bolted directly to the manifolds.   There are two problems with this Y piece.   As the straight six head is quite long, it expands and contracts over time.   This eventually causes the Y piece to crack where the two arms come together.

The second is that it robs the cars of power.   In 1981, when the W123 changed from the W116 style exhaust to the W123 style exhaust it went from 112kW to 118kW.  More importantly, torque rose from 206Nm to 223Nm.   For this style exhaust the exhaust manifold ends are angled rearwards a little and there are dual pipes running under the car. W116 280SE exhaust

The Y piece can be seen in the diagram above as item 15.   When I got the car, I knew it was blowing from the Y piece.  I saw one for sale with a reinforced Y, so I bought it to put on the car.   Later, I realized the cracked Y piece was only the tip of the iceberg and the whole exhaust system was like swiss cheese.    To make the S class day, I used putty and exhaust patch kits to try and temporarily fix the issue.   I also drove there with all the windows open in case it was still leaking.    That is not a long term solution.

280SE W116 exhaust
patch

At this point it seemed silly to keep the Y piece.  It would make more sense to put the exhaust in that Mercedes-Benz should have from the outset.   Ideally I would have used later style manifolds too, but the W116 manifolds are fine if the pipes are bent around the steering box.    I took the car to the same exhaust place (Hi Tech mufflers in Darlinghurst) that did the systems on my 560SEL, 560SEC and 450SLC.   They do a great job and while they are not cheap, you’re getting a quality product they stand behind.

280SE W116 exhaust

The layout of the system is how the 280SE W116 exhaust should have been done by the factory.   It is basically the same as how they did the left hand drive cars.   Only difference is that its done in stainless steel, which will last a lifetime.    I didn’t end up using the spare Y piece I purchased, so I’ll be selling it to somebody who wants to keep their car stock.

The car drives and sounds much better.   It does seem a bit more powerful and willing to rev too.    Next job is to fix the sagging drivers seat.

W116 280SE drag link and tie rod ends

My next job on the 280SE project was replacing the drag link and tie rod ends.   Of the six ball joins in the steering, two were really bad, and the others were all quite old.    In addition, I planned to replace the idler arm while I was there.   The rubber was old and cracking so it was definitely due for it.   I already had the worn steering coupling replaced, so this should renew the steering feel as much as possible.

For this job, I went with Lemforder parts.   They are a lot cheaper than genuine and I have had very good experience with them.   It’s not worth saving a couple of dollars and going with the budget brands like Uro.    Unless the actual tie rod is damaged, there is no point buying the entire assembly.   The ends are much cheaper and the centre section will only be a problem if its bent because it’s hit something.

W116 280SE drag link

I started with the drag link.   I had assumed I would also need to replace the steering shock, but surprisingly it was in good shape.    The drivers side joint on the drag link was the worst on the car.   These parts used to come with a castellated nut and split pin at each end, but the modern replacements use a nylock nut instead.   On this car, only one of the joints was the modern type, the rest were all the older style.    I’m not sure when the change happened on the W116 280SE drag link, but I don’t think this car got much use in recent years.

You see people on youtube using a hammer to break the ball joints free, either directly or with a pickle fork.   I’m sure that can work, but the simplest way is to use the ball joint separator tool.  I bought a cheap one years ago when working on my old 280CE.  It makes getting these joints off very simple.   The only gotcha is that when they go, they go all of a sudden and violently.   I used a long handled ratchet so I could stand as far away as possible.

W116 280SE drag linkOnce I had done the drag link, next was the idler arm.   I don’t think it really matters what order you actually do these.   You could probably even take everything off first then put it all back on.   However, my hoist blocks all the other cars parked behind it, so I wanted to do each job discretely so I could take the car down and move it.

The hardest part is getting the old bushings out.   The bolt, nut and washer come out easily.   I found the easiest was to use an old flathead screwdriver to push out the top bushing first.  I needed to use a hammer to get it to move.   This broke in half for me, so I had to remove both bits.   Once the bushing is started and there is room between the two halves, the old bolt is also useful here.

With the top one out, I found the old bolt upside down, the easiest way to get the bottom one out.    The old idler arm was worse than it looked to start with.   I also used the old bolt to get the new bushings in.   That way I wasn’t putting pressure on the threads of the new bolt to pull in the new bushings.

idler arm

Once that was done, I started on the drivers tie rods.   The drivers side was worst, so I figured I might as well start there.    Again, using the ball joint separator tool, the old tie rod was out easily.   On this side, the ends were also easy to remove, I was able to unscrew them by hand once I had loosened the locking nut.   One of the ends is reverse threaded, so when doing an alignment the length can be adjusted without removing the tie rod.    I was going to get the car aligned after this, so I roughly measured the length of the overall tie rod and from the centre section to each end.    You can also count the turns if you’re confident the threads are the same length on the new and old parts.

W116 280SE drag link

I wasn’t too concerned with getting it exactly right as I planned to have the car aligned anyway.  The passengers one was a bit harder – the ends were so stiff I could not turn them by hand.   In the end I put the ball joint end back onto the car and used a vice grip to hold the centre piece.  This allows me to twist it enough to swap both ends.

At this point I had the car back together and the steering good enough to drive safely to a tyre place for an alignment.   I’m glad I did as the caster and camber were off.   They were able to get the car aligned for me and it drives much better.       Next is exhaust repairs.

Nardi steering wheel for my 450SLC

I generally like to keep my cars stock.   The exception to that is period accessories that are totally reversible.    Things that the first owner may have wanted to do to the car to improve it or customize it.    The most obvious of those are wheels, but there are plenty of other things that can be done, like changing the steering wheel.

I’ve thought about getting a Nardi steering wheel for my 450SLC for years.    There were two main things holding me back.   The first was they are quite expensive.    Second, their smaller diameter means they obscure the speedometer.   In the world we live in where 5km/h over the speed limit seems to get a harsher punishment than actual crimes, seeing the speedometer is a must.

I then chanced upon a company who make an offset adaptor for a Nardi steering wheel.   This raises the wheel by 13mm, making the instruments more legible.  It also has the added benefit of giving you more room for your knees.   Not only that, it’s made in Melbourne, Australia.     Secondly, I also found that pricing varies widely, and I was able to get one from the USA for about $500USD including the boss kit.   Since I purchased the wheel earlier in the year, they have gone up by about $50, so I am glad I did.    I went with the classic 390mm wheel with satin spokes.

Next year, in March 2023 it will be 20 years since I bought this car.   Over the last few months I have been doing some upgrades I’ve always wanted as part of the ’20 year anniversary’.   That includes the Penta wheels and will include the Becker radio too.

For the 107 models, the steering column changed in 1978.   Many websites reference 1976, but that is not correct.   Therefore, a different boss kit is needed depending on the year of the car.   My car is a 1977 model, so it needed the earlier boss kit.   I outlined the difference back in 2014 when I was first starting to think about doing this.   To make sure I got the right kit, I actually put my car down as a 76 and wrote in the notes I needed the earlier kit with the 15mm shaft.

The plan was to have the wheel on before the National Rally, but the wheel I wanted was backordered, so it took a few months to arrive.   It’s rained pretty much constantly since, so while the wheel arrived a few weeks after I returned, I only just got the car out and installed it.

Installing a Nardi steering wheel on a 107 model is not difficult, but there are no instructions to speak of.   Therefore, everything was trial and error.   Getting the existing wheel off is very easy, the rubber pad on the front just peels off and exposes a nut, which I think required a 22mm socket.   It’s easier to have an assistant to break it loose, but I was able to do it with an extendable ratchet.

It wasn’t immediately obvious how the horn worked, but comparing the two wheels, I think I worked it out.   There are these two tabs that stick out of the steering column housing that touch concentric metal rings in the base of the factory steering wheel.   These then connect to wires that go to the horn button.   The Nardi wheel uses the same approach.    When I say I think I’ve worked it out, I mean it seems like it’s installed correctly, but the horn is still not working yet.

From there, I slid the boss kit on to the steering column and used the same nut and washer to tighten it up.   I did this with the wheels oriented straight ahead to ensure the Nardi steering wheel was on straight.  The Boss kit didn’t seem like it had an orientation, but there was a little circle above one of the screw holes, so I used that as ‘top’.

Nardi steering wheel boss kitNormally, this would be when the wheel is attached to the boss.   However, I had the offset adaptor.  The offset adaptor consists of two pieces.   The bottom piece bolts to the boss, and moves the screw holes up for the wheel.   The second part is a spacer that the wheel mounts to.   It comes with its own slightly longer bolts for the wheel attachment.   It also leaves room so the whole wheel and boss assembly can be removed in future.

Nardi steering wheel offset adapterOriginally, I mounted the wheel directly to the adaptor.   However, it was obvious that something was wrong.   I could not get the horn button to stay in place.   It was so loose it just fell out when driving!  The little springs to hold it in place could not grip anything.     Turns out, I was missing a piece.

There is a retainer ring that is supposed to go on the end of the boss to allow the horn button to grip.   I’m not sure if it was supposed to come with the wheel or boss, or if I was supposed to know to order it.   Either way I didn’t have one.   Luckily, it wasn’t expensive and I was able to order one express post from Tasmania.   For future reference, that place has quite reasonable prices on wheels too.

Getting that piece was only the start.   From reading forums, it seemed like it went on the boss before the wheel, but I wasn’t sure which way.   and I wasn’t sure if that was event correct.   In the end I tried it face down on the boss (didn’t fit), face down on the wheel (didn’t fit) until it worked face up on the boss. It looks like it sticks up too much, but with the trim ring, it actually doesn’t.

NARDI RETAINER RING HORN BUTTON

Next is the trim ring, that has little cutouts to go over the bolt heads.   The horn button plugs into the wiring.   In addition, the horn button has some wire in the shape of a triangle that acts as a spring by the way it sticks out of the housing.   It’s obvious when you see it.  I found it easier to put the top of the triangle in first, then use the small allen key to push the bottom corners in to fit the horn button.

Nardi steering wheelI’m really happy with how it looks, and even happier with how it drives.   The Nardi steering wheel feels really nice to grip and drive with.   The slightly smaller diameter makes the car easier to drive and feel sporty.   Its odd, but the steering feels sharper and sportier.    The Nardi steering wheel fits the character of the C107 as a grand tourer.

I am using the standard Nardi horn push.  I spent a lot of time looking for a nice Mercedes Horn button, but gave up defeated.   They are all horrible.   The two main versions are a black button with a small blue Mercedes star in the middle.   Its tiny and the wrong colour.   There is another version, which is very expensive, but at least the right colour (silver with black background).   However, the shape of the Mercedes star is all wrong and it looks like a toddler drew it.   For over $400 I would want it to be an exact copy.

I’ve now driven the car twice since I fitted the wheel.  I won’t be going back to stock any time soon.   The original wheel will be put away in a safe place, but I can’t see myself mounting it again.

While the wheel didn’t come with any instructions, or that retainer ring, it did come with an attractive cover.  This isn’t the sort of car I’ll be parking out in the sun, but its quite nice regardless.

Nardi steering wheel