National Motoring Heritage Day 2021

Today was National Motoring Heritage Day.   National Motoring Heritage Day is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of each May, with 2021 being the 15th year of this event.   The basic premise is multiple car related events all around the country to showcase our rich motoring heritage.      The Mercedes-Benz club combined this with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 107 chassis.

The 107 was released in 1971, first as the R107 SL, and then quickly followed my the C107 SLC.   The SLC carried on until 1981 when it was replaced by the W126 based SEC models.   The R107 continued until 1089 and was finally replaced by the R129.    On the drive today, we had at least 20 107 models in a convey which was an impressive sight.

The event consisted of a drive through the southern highlands and then joining the car show at Berry Showground.   There were over 800 cars in attendance at the Berry event, which was quite impressive.   The theme was Aussie assembled cars, but there was something for everyone there.      I’ve wanted to go to this show for a couple of years but I was never able to make it.

National Motoring Heritage Day

It was an easy choice to bring my 450SLC along on this event given the 107 theme.    The extended drive allowed me to verify that there was no more A/C condensate leaking onto the floor.  I still have a few more things to sort out on the car, but it was good to get it out on extended drive.   I managed to park my car next to a rare 300SL Roadster.   Probably the cylinder head alone is worth a lot more than my whole car.

I had my 4 year old Son with me, so I couldn’t spend too much time at the event without boring him senseless.   Still, I was able to browse the event field and see some of the interesting cars on offer.   There were some interesting Jags, two great looking Bentleys and much more.     I’m always impressed with how strong some of the regional clubs are in terms of the number of interesting cars on display.

450SLC Passengers floor surface rust

Back in March, I discovered how wet the passengers floor was in my 450SLC.   Over the time water was getting on the floor, it had started some surface rust.    It appears that at least some of it was coming from the A/C drains.   I still need to test a hose on the windscreen and cowl drains to make sure water is not getting in from there too.

floor surface rustObviously the most important thing is to fix the source of the water.   I also felt it was important to fix the surface rust on the floor.   It still wasn’t too bad, so I used a wire brush attachment on my drill to grind it down.  This removed all the loose rust and debris so I could treat it with rust guard paint.

floor surface rust

I applied the rust guard paint with a brush.   I didn’t want to use any spray products in the cabin for risk of overspray on carpets or the rest of the interior.   As the floors will not be visible once the sound deadening, carpets and floor mats are in place, it seemed a better way to go.

floor surface rustAs the floor had been body colour before I started grinding it down, I purchased a couple of pots of colour matched paint to do a top coat.   This isn’t strictly necessary.  As given I am doing it with a brush it was going to be obvious it wasn’t factory.  However, I thought it would also protect the paint and overall look like a better job.

top coatFor a home job I am reasonably satisfied.   I probably could have spent a bit more time on prep, but this is an area that will not be seen.   Given the 107s propensity to rust, I am hoping it will offer much more protection to the metal than before.

Now the floor is repainted I will put the seats back in and take the car on a test drive.  This will help me see if I have fixed the condensate leak.  It will be harder to test now the weather has cooled down.   I’ll also wash the car without the carpets in place to see if any water gets in around the windscreen or cowl area.     I may need a new windscreen seal as well.   It has not been done since I owned the car.

MBCNSW April 2021 Night Drive – Eastern Suburbs

A couple of days ago I went on the April 2021 night drive with the MBCNSW.   This month was a drive from Luna Park to Coogee via Vaucluse.   We had run a similar drive in December 2020, but the weather was a bit iffy on the day and quite a few people decided not to chance it.   This time there was no such issue with the weather.   As usual we had a nice turn out of cars on the day from the 70s onwards.

One car that was quite interesting was a W123 300D with a turbo conversion.   These were somewhat common in the 80s, but I had never actually seen on the flesh.   Unfortunately many of them didn’t survive very long as the factory turbodiesel engines were of a different construction internally.   I would guess that people tried to run too much boost.    Its good to see one that is still working on and on the road.

April 2021 Night DriveI took my 87 560SEL on this drive.  I had originally planned to take my 250SE Cabriolet, but the impact with the Kangaroo put and end to those plans.   This route is very convenient for a lot of club members due to the start and end location.   Its very hard to keep a convoy together through all the eastern suburbs traffic lights, stop sights and the like.

This time we had it even worse as there was a lot of construction along our route.   The whole left hand side of the harbour bridge was closed, so we had to go into the CBD and enter the cross city tunnel.   Unfortunately, we lost a lot of cars that way, with a few even heading over ANZAC bridge towards the inner west!   Luckily we had told everyone of the final destination.  While about half the group missed the planned drive, they at least made it to Coogee.     Next month we are going to Bilpin from Windsor, so it will be much easier to keep the group together.

On the drive, a also got to see the Cocomats on a couple of friends 280CE and 380SEC.   We all purchased our mats together, so it was good to see how well they lined up with the different interior colours.

Preparing the E-Type for the 60th Anniversary celebration

I was obviously very keen to attend the JDCA 60th Anniversary of the E-Type celebration.    My only problem was a few minor electrical issues with my car.   My rear tail lights were not working (but the brake lights did work), and my right headlight intermittently didn’t work on low beam.   For a day trip this wasn’t fatal, but I could have easily found myself driving at night on the way home.

I started to investigate the problem myself.   I noticed that the number plate lights were also not working, and that they shared a fuse with the tail lights.   That fuse was not blown.   When I removed the fuse to inspect it, the holder was very loose.    I figured this could be my problem.   If the fuse was not making good contact with the fuse box – no current would get through.   Additionally, when using a multi-meter on both sides of the fuse box, it seemed to confirm my problem.   The photo below illustrates although it is a little hard to see.  You can see where the fuse should go and one of the prongs is slack.

Fuse Box

Based on that investigation, I ordered a reproduction fuse box from SNG Barratt.   Reproduction parts are a minefield when it comes to quality, but these looked ok.  It was actually a pretty simple operation to replace the fuse box.   It is held in by a single flat-head screw.   I screwed in the new fuse box and then lined up the old one next to it.   From there, I transferred the wires one by one to make sure they all went into the right places.

Fuse BoxI felt pretty confident that this would fix the problem.   My confidence was misplaced.   Before installing the new fuse box, I had loaded it with new fuses of the correct rating.    As soon as I powered up the lights, my new fuse blew.    In case the fuse was defective, I replaced it with the one from the old fuse box.   This resulted in smoke from under the dash!    I also noticed that the tail light on the left hand side was working (dimly) as was the number plate light.   Nothing on the right hand side.

It was pretty obvious I had a short, so at this point with the 60th anniversary coming up and smoke from the dash, I figured it was time for the professionals.   I had a hunch it may have something to do with the left hand tail light, but that was all.  I dropped the car off at All Classic Car Restorations, who do all the work on the E-Type that I don’t attempt.

They were able to trace the short to that right hand tail light.   What they found was perplexing.   The ground wasn’t plugged in at all, and the live was plugged in where the ground should go.  From what I understand the light can work without the dedicated ground line (through the housing), but it is odd it even worked at all.    The new fuel pump was installed in this area a few months back, but I’m not aware of any of the light wiring being disturbed.

Next was to look at the intermittent front right headlight.    This was traced to the wiring in the bonnet which was old and frayed.   As my bonnet was originally from a 3.8, the original 3.8 horns were still in place, but stone guarded and painted silver blue!

560SEC outside temperature display

Last week I fixed the outside temperature LCD on my 300SE.   Today it was time to fix the 560SEC outside temperature display as well.   In my previous post I covered the details of where I purchased the replacement LCD panels.   This same repair should also work on W124 and W201 models of the same vintage.  I understand there are minor variances, and that the LCD changed slightly in later years.    Both types are available.

I found a few things to speed up the process while doing the second car.   Firstly, the instrument cluster does not need to be unplugged.   It is possible to remove the 560SEC outside temperature display unit by just sliding the instrument cluster out of its housing, but not disconnecting any of the cables (other than the temperature one).    You just need a stubby Phillips head to get in behind the cluster and remove the two screws that hold in the temperature display unit.

560SEC outside temperature displayThe photo above shows the 560SEC outside temperature display unit removed from the car and dismantled.   Interestingly the 1987 unit used small Phillips head screws to hold the front of the display on. The 1986 unit had flat head screws.   Other than that, they seemed identical.     The SEC unit was stamped 5/87 which seems correct.   I forgot to look on the 300SE.  As per last time, that small dot in the border of the LCD unit indicates the top.   You can also see the little blocks that conduct the signal to the LCD panel are still on the old display.

The picture is showing the old LCD still in the display unit.   Behind the LCD unit there is a small piece of a paper like material that sits on the inside of the LCD.   I left that with the old LCD screen when doing the 300SE.  As the 300SE’s screen was so bright with the headlights on, I transferred it over on the SEC.   I would recommend transferring this paper.   It makes sure the brightness level is appropriate. I have saved the paper from the 300SE, so I can add it back in next time I have to remove the instrument cluster.

560SEC outside temperature displayThe picture above shows the repaired 560SEC outside temperature display, along with the two dead units.   It also shows the piece of paper that should go in the 300SE unit.     To make sure I did the repair properly, I did a quick test before pushing the instrument cluster back into the dash.   I was rewarded with a perfectly working outside temperature.

560SEC outside temperature displayThe way these units are so easy to fix also means it is an easy job to have your car in Celsius or Fahrenheit.   A used display with a cloudy LCD would be quick cheap, and then it could be fixed and put into the car.   I would have converted to Celsius when I lived in the USA.  I could never really get my head around imperial measurements.

Finally, I tested with the lights on and the illumination was a little dimmer than on the 300SE, thanks to that paper.  As it was all working perfectly, I pushed the cluster back in place.    Last step was to replace the drivers side speaker, and the job was done.

Headlights on

60th Anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type

In March 1961, the Jaguar E-Type was unveiled to the world at the Geneva Auto Show.   Few other automotive launches have captivated the public as much as the E-Type did.   Enzo Ferrari even dubbed it the most beautiful car ever made.     The E-Type would stay in production until 1975 across three different series and three major body styles.   Sixty years later, the E-Type still turns heads and is a much in demand classic car.

The Jaguar Drivers club ran an event today to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type.  The goal was to get at least 60 E-Types for a photo shoot at Mt Panorama.   In the end we got really close with 58 cars on display.   At least one car didn’t make it up to Bathurst, sadly heading back to Sydney on a tow truck with a bad clutch.

It was a beautiful day for a drive up to Bathurst.   A lovely Autumn Sydney day.   We met up at the M4 services and then drove up in a loose convoy to Bathurst.   There was a photographer along the route somewhere, so there will possibly be some good photos of the convoy coming.      The meeting point was a vineyard on the Mt Panorama circuit.    It really was a lovely venue and the cars were all lined up in one of the fields.   There was a separate place to park for the other cars.

60th Anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type

As part of the event they had a drone doing photography, a club member interviewing people about their cars and some proper photos taken of the field.

Most of the club were staying up in Bathurst, but I did it as a day trip.    I managed to drive up and back on a single tank of fuel.   My car ran well, although the brake fluid light came on a few times on the way home.  I am not sure why as I checked and there was plenty of fluid in the reservoir.

All in all, it was a great way to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type.

W126 Outside temperature LCD screen repair

For the first time since I have owned the car, my 300SE has a working outside temperature display.   Not only is it a useful feature of the car, but these small fixes can make the difference between the car seeming nice or a bit of a jalopy.

The W126 Outside temperature LCD repair is really easy.   It should be on the radar of any W126 (or W124) owner who has a failing outside temperature display.   It only took 30 minutes and is very easy.   Even better, the LCD illumination works when the headlights are on, when I thought it was broken.    I guess the old LCD was so cloudy the light couldn’t get through.

W126 Outside temperature LCDThis is my second attempt to fix the W126 Outside temperature LCD.   The first time, I bought the wrong LCD panel and them mounted it upside down.    After seeing the preliminary results, I was confident enough to order two more displays in Celsius to fix the 300SE and 560SEC.   Last time I wasn’t sure which way up the LCD went.   On closer inspection, there is a small dot in the centre on one of the long sides.   I was able to reverse how it had it previously.    Considering the ease replacement and the impact it has on the car, the new LCD panel is very good value.

W126 Outside temperature LCD

The photo above shows the two new W126 outside temperature LCD panels and the broken old one.   As with my prior attempt, the little back contact blocks need to be re-used in the temperature display unit.   As long as you’re careful, it is very easy to mount the new LCD panel.     It was a nice day when I fitted the panel today, but I can remember the display on my old 560SEC in Michican reading -20F.

Now the fix is done for my 300SE, next is to remove the instrument cluster and also repair the 560SEC display.

Update – 27/4/21:  I have now completed the job on the 560SEC too.   See that article for more details, especially how to ensure the display is not too bright.

Impact with a Kangaroo

Earlier this week I took my 250SE on an extended drive.   I had wanted to try a route going north via the Putty road, across towards Mudgee and the back.     The roads were really good but ultimately this is really a two day drive and would be more enjoyable with some more stops.    You could make a really nice weekend road trip out of this route.

Along the way I also witnessed a procession of pre-war Rolls-Royce cars on the Putty road.    It is great to see these cars being driven and used on the road.     It is really nice to get out on the open road in such a great cruising car.    I hadn’t actually planned to take the 250SE on that drive, but the day was so nice it was perfect for it.   Sunny and low 20s.


Unfortunately, I ran into another problem – literally.   As the route took longer than I expected, I ended up on some back roads at dusk.  I slowed down because wildlife is very active at this time.     That didn’t stop me impacting a Kangaroo in the 250SE, the car I would have least wanted to damage.

The W111 cars are pretty tough so despite the impact, the damage is fixable.   The drivers side headlight is pretty much destroyed, but spare headlights are easy to come by as they are shared with the sedans.   The bodywork around the headlight is damaged, but is fixable.    There is slight damage to the grille, and perhaps the bumper, although I am not sure at this stage.

For overseas readers, Kangaroos are a real menace on the roads here in Australia.   Their population numbers can swing rapidly in the flood/drought cycle.   They are also unpredictable – they can jump towards cars, and jump into their path.   As they jump rather than walk or run, it can be hard to gauge what direction they are going to turn.   The wheels I have my my 450SLC came off a car wrecked due to Kangaroo impact.

KangarooI have lodged my insurance claim, contacted my preferred repairer, and started checking on parts.   In the off chance they still sell them, I contacted the Classic Centre to see if grille shells are still available.  Mine is dented and has three small tears.    Not surprisingly, they are no longer available, so mine will need to be repaired.    The idea that Mercedes-Benz sell all the parts for their older models is a myth.   They are still better than most, but fewer and fewer parts are available as the cars age.     The grille shell is not shared with the sedan, so is extremely rare used.

I’m obviously pretty upset about the damage to my 250SE.   However, I would rather occasionally damage the cars through use than have them sit as garage queens.    The joy of owning these cars is the experiences you have with them, not possessing them.

The Mercedes-Benz club is having a Paul Bracq day in late May.   I was planning on taking this car.   I hope I can have it repaired by then.

Before I hit the Kangaroo, I was able to snap a nice sunset photo of the car.


Cocomats for the 250SE Cabriolet

I’ve owned my 250SE almost ten years and always had a mind to replace the cheap rubber mats with Cocomats.    Today I fitted the Cocomats I bought as part of a group buy with a few friends.    I also purchased a set for my 560SEC and went into a bit more about the purchase there.


For the 250SE, I went with #53 Black/Grey.  This was an easy choice for the 250SE as it works well with the black interior and silver exterior.     Like the 560SEC, I went with the four piece set.    I have a centre cushion on my 250SE, so there is no console, but if there was a console there, I would have considered a console mat too.

There was a fair amount of adjustment required to the template for the 250SE.    This isn’t really that surprising given how few W111 Cabriolets were made in right hand drive, particularly the 250SE model with only 26.

UntitledAs you can see I had to be careful to go around the washer button and also the steering column.    The process of adjusting the templates is great.   It is time consuming, but it results in a set of cocomats that fit well.   Given I will probably be using these mats for a long time, it was certainly worth it.

At least if anyone else with a RHD W111 cabriolet wants a set, there is a good starting point with my template.     I don’t think my car was sold new with the Cocomats as it was picked up from the factory, but it was a common period accessory on these cars and I am really happy with them on my car.     I would recommend them for any classic Mercedes.

Cocomats for the 560SEC

A couple of months ago some of friends of suggested a group order for Cocomats. This coincided with a 15% off sale and shared shipping.   Cocomats are a floor mat made from coconut fibre and were a period accessory during the 1950s and 60s.    They were quite popular with Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and other manufacturers.    I have wanted to replace the generic rubber mats in the 250SE for a long time.    As well as the 250SE mats, I also purchased a set for the 560SEC.

I thought long and hard about which car would be best for the second set.   In the end I chose the 560SEC.   It still had the original dealer fitted mats.   Over thirty years later, the drivers mat in particular had gone all lumpy and discolored.

The cocomats are a huge change for the better.   They look great, fit really well and seem very high quality.   They are also really heavy so they don’t move around when you drive.


I went with #04 Blue/Natural. The Blue goes well with the Nautical Blue exterior and the Natural goes well with the cream interior.    I also considered the Natural and the Natural/White.   I am really glad I went with the Blue/Natural though.

cocomatsFor the 560SEC, I went with the four piece set.   I also considered the boot mat, but it is quite expensive for something that you don’t really see.   You can also get a small piece to go into the centre console.   It can look quite good but my console carpet is still in nice shape.


One of the things you really notice is what a good fit the mats are.   This is because they come from templates that are specific to the car.   Additionally, because the company don’t sell all that many RHD sets, they sent us the templates in paper form to check and make adjustments.

It take a couple of hours to get the templates right, but it is worth it once you see the result.   I found the best way was to use a sharpie to mark where I would cut paper from the template, and tape bits of paper on to extend.