Auto Brunch St Ives June 2023

This morning I attended the monthly Auto Brunch event at St Ives Showground.    This is easily the best cars and coffee event in Sydney, and even eclipses some of the formal shows.    Even though it was raining on and off all morning, turn out was excellent.    Probably almost as good as last month even with the bad weather.

Ferrari 250GT

I took my 450SLC.   It was a good opportunity to take it for a longer drive after finishing the Becker install.   It was also quite dirty from not being used for two months, so I wasn’t too concerned about it getting dirty.   The more I use the car, the happier I am with the Becker.   It sounds really good, even with the factory amp.   The FM injector works well, and it looks so good in the dash.

As usual there was a great selection of cars.   This month the Alfa Romeo club must have had an official event there, as there were a lot of Alfas on display.    There were also a fair few British sportscars that had to quickly put on what tops they had to keep the rain out.    There were other unusual cars like a Lancia Prisma and an Alpine racing car.

Ferrari 250GT

Seeing for the first time at Auto Brunch was a Lamborghini Countach 5000QV.   It looked great in black and you forget how low to the ground these cars are until you stand next to one.    The pick for me was the 1959 Ferrari 250GT.   This is owned by a MBCNSW member and is immaculate condition.    It sure drew a crowd.   Both of these cars were good reminders that we should use our classics, and bit of light rain is far better than lack of use.    If you can take out a 250GT in the rain, you can take out an R107.

450SLC Becker Mexico Cassette install part 4 – Final installation

I am currently in the process of installing a Becker Mexico Cassette in my 1977 Mercedes 450SLC.   In part one, I covered buying and testing the radio.  In part two, I covered upgrading the speakers, and in part three I covered the wiring.   This part will be all about actually installing everything.

My first task was setting up the control button and microphone for the Tranzit BLU.   The control button makes this a truly hands free system.  It is used to control the functions of the Tranzit BLU such as accepting calls, hanging up, skipping a track and so on.   This should be an any easy to reach, but unobtrusive spot.   I chose the underside of the steering column, just where it comes out near the underdash panels.   The microphone is used for hands free calling and I put it at the top of the drivers side A pillar – where there was an existing microphone from a long removed phone car kit.

To access this area, I had to remove the drivers side under dash panel.  These are very delicate now, so I had to take a lot of car.   I was then able to use electrical tape to bind together the wires for the button and microphone to push them through the back of the dash – firstly to the where the head unit would go, and then to the passengers side where the Tranzit BLU be.   This is a very fiddly job.

Because the car previously had a modern radio, all the speaker wires ended up behind the head unit.   For the Becker, they need to be in the passengers side foot well to join to the amplifier.   Normally, they would go through the fader unit, but I just joined them all up instead.    I wired them up in parallel as this is what the car appeared to do originally, albeit with a strange shared ground arrangement.

As far as I can tell, the original speakers were 5 Ohms.   Mine are 4 Ohms, so while not identical, quite close.  In parallel this should be 2 Ohms vs 2.5 Ohms, which I hope is ok.   The specifications for the Becker amplifier talk about it having 7W per channel with four speakers for 5W per channel with 2.  This also led me to believe parallel is the way to go.   The speaker wires and amplifier connection also needed to be pushed through the narrow spot behind the dash to the passengers side.  Anyone installing a Becker I would encourage you to do your own research here.

The hardest part of all of this pushing wires through narrow gaps was the antenna connection from the Tranzit BLU.   This goes from the passengers side to the head unit.  It has a 90 degree bend in the plug, which makes it very hard to push through small gaps.   Even using a guide wire to pull it through and a lot of tape to smooth it over, it took about 30 minutes of trying before I finally had it through and plugged into the Becker Mexico.

2023-06-03 14-06-17

To install the Becker Mexico, the knobs front face is gently removed.   It is very easy to crack the faceplate.   There are two securing brackets that are normally used, but this part of my dash is quite cracked so I didn’t use them here.   Unlike the earlier cars it sits quite well.   While the face was off, I took the opportunity to clean it.

2023-06-03 14-13-21

Before I properly installed the amplifier, I did another system test.   I found everything was working except for the control button for the Tranzit BLU.   I checked and it was connected properly.   The manual that came with the Tranzit BLU didn’t have any more help.   However, I found another version of the manual online which had an extended troubleshooting section.   This section covered using the dip switches on the unit to put it into ‘learning mode’ so it could ‘learn’ the value of the button.

The first time I tried this, it seemed to work, but pressing the button would disconnect Bluetooth.   I had managed to make it worse.   I was starting to worry I had damaged the button somehow pushing it through various dash gaps.   Trying the process again seemed to fix the issue and I now had a working control button.   The only slight annoyance is that each time I turn on the car or radio, I have to ‘engage’ the Tranzit BLU.   On the 560SEC and 300TE, I don’t.  I’ve emailed iSimple to find out how I change this.

Now it was time to install the guts of the system in the dash behind the glove box.   The original bracket for the amp was still there, and since I had the original amp, it snapped right in.   I used a couple of cable ties to hang the two relays off the bracket as well.   Looking at the photo, I see I forgot to bend back the tabs to hold in the speaker wires.  This needs to be done before I re-install the lower dash panel.

Becker with Tranzit BLU

I put the lower dash panel back on the drivers side, but so far I have left it off the passengers side.   I want to drive the car a bit to make sure I am happy with everything first.   Those panels are so brittle, I am very careful how often I handle them.   I need to do a dry run for the June 2023 night drive, so I’ll probably take the 450SLC.

At least in the small test drive, I am really happy with the result.   Granted sound quality isn’t quite as good going through an FM transmitter, but its good enough and the Becker fits so well into the dash of the car.   So far the only thing I have noticed is that the ‘Stereo’ light on the Becker has stopped working for some reason.   It worked during testing, although at one point it stopped working and them seemed ok again.

Becker with Tranzit BLU

450SLC Becker Mexico Cassette install part 3 – Wiring up the Becker

I am currently in the process of installing a Becker Mexico Cassette in 1977 Mercedes 450SLC.   In the first part, I covered buying and testing the radio.   In the second part, I replaced all the speakers in the car.  In this part I am covering the removal of the old Pioneer CD player and cleaning up the wiring in the car.

The challenge is that in the first 10-20 years these cars were around, they had all sorts of radios, phone kits, alarms and so on.  Most of the time the wiring for these systems is incredibly shoddy.   In many cases the companies offering these services either include them when buying the hardware, or charge a flat rage.  Either way it doesn’t allow for these things to be done properly.   It is a reason why it can be worth seeking out a car with its original radio still in place.

First was to trace all the wires going into the current radio.   The main ones I needed was the wires for each speaker, the switched power, constant power and antenna trigger.   There were some other wires that looked like they were the remains of some of the old phone kits.    The only one I couldn’t test properly is the antenna trigger, as the power antenna is not working properly.

old wiring

The install ultimately has more than just the Becker.   It includes USB charging ports so the ashtray doesn’t have to be hanging open while I drive.   It is also going to include the iSimple Tranzit BLU, the same as I used on the 560SEC and 300TE.

To ensure there was no power drain, I didn’t want the USB ports to be live all the time.   I also wanted to trigger the Tranzit BLU off the Becker, so the phone wouldn’t pair when it couldn’t actually work.    This resulted in using two relays.   The first one triggered off the switched power lead and powered up the Becker and the USB ports.   I didn’t want to power the Tranzit BLU off the Becker, so used another relay for this too.  It probably doesn’t draw much current, but I don’t know exactly.     The diagram below outlines the wiring I came up with for the Becker.

I could have run the USB ports off the switched power line for the radio, but the Becker only draws 2A, and the USB ports are rated at 3A.   I am not sure if this is each, or combined.   Possibly overkill, but using relays never hurt for an application like this.   In reality though, a better place to introduce relays in the car would be for the headlights, but that could be a future project.

To try and simplify things, I used a double terminal block for the ground wires and the constant power.  I grabbed it from the 420SEL parts car, so it should be a high quality unit.   I had a couple of spare relays on hand I could use.

The diagram makes it look like there are a lot of wires, but its fairly simple.   The main concept is that the trigger for the first relay is the ignition key, and the trigger for the second relay is turning on the Becker Mexico.

Before I fully installed all this in the car, I wanted to test it all.   Would be a major hassle if I installed it all, and nothing worked.    The passengers footwell worked quite well for this.    worked out well that I did, as I had to fix a couple of small things with how I wired up the relays.

becker wiring

I also had to wire in the speakers from four to two.   The Becker Amplifier is a 2x7W unit.   When it was new, it went through the factory fader switch.   I’m not going to put that back in, so I just wired all four speakers to work all the time.

Testing the Becker, it sounded pretty good with music playing via my phone.   There was a small amount of background noise that was more apparent at low volume.  I don’t think it would be audible with the engine running or with the wind noise while driving.

Becker Wiring

450SLC Becker Mexico Cassette install part 2 – Upgrading the speakers

I am currently upgrading the radio in my 1977 Mercedes 450SLC.    It currently has a Pioneer MP3/CD Player I had installed not long after I purchased the car in 2003.   The Pioneer came out of my old 300E and was installed in early 2002.   As well as the Pioneer CD player, the car also had Pioneer speakers.   These pre-dated my ownership of the car.   Looking them up online, they appeared to be late 90s vintage, and were sold as drop in speakers for Chrysler models.   They had connectors I had not seen before, which must be the Chrysler connectors.

Old Pioneers

In part 1, I covered procuring and testing the radio.   In this section I will cover the speakers.  Upgrading speakers on a Mercedes of this vintage is not easy.   The mounting points are really tight and the speakers sizes are very small.  The 107 is most similar to the W116.      The right hand drive W116 never got the dash upgrade that the rest of the cars did, so 107 speakers were pretty much identical throughout the production run.

The front of my car was unmodified – the Pioneer speakers fitting under the factory grilles.  In the rear, it appeared that the holes in the rear parcel shelf had been enlarged.   The factory grilles were long gone and pioneer speakers were using their own grilles.  I took measurements of the holes in the parcel shelf and the depth I had to work with.   Neither was much.     Since the rear factory grilles were gone, I needed to find a set of speakers that fitted into the allowable space and didn’t have horrible garish grilles.

There was also a third problem.  Many cheaper speakers do not publish detailed measurements of the speaker.   Firstly I had to rule out speakers that do not publish detailed dimensions, then find speakers that looked like they would fit, then find speakers with grilles I could live with.   It wasn’t an easy task.   I also wanted to use the same family of speaker front and back.

In the end I found a couple of pairs of focal speakers with simple grilles that looked like they would probably work.   They were from one of Focal’s more entry level families.   This was the RCX-100 for the fronts and the RCX-130 for the rears.


When the speakers arrived I started on the fronts.   The drivers side is by far the most difficult, so I started there.   There is far less clearance for the speaker magnet here.   Unfortunately my new Focal speaker almost fit, but the magnet fouled on some of the internal dash structure.  I’ve seen people use a Dremel to trim this back before, but I wasn’t really keen on doing that.   Before I made a final decision, I wanted to check the rears.

On the surface, the rears were a good fit.   The issue I had was that when I started testing the speakers, they must have been just touching something as they kept shorting out.   I was using the old Pioneer to do this testing as I didn’t want to damage the Becker amplifier.   My next test was to buy some spacer rings and see if I could make the speakers sit up a bit.   I couldn’t really make this work, as the sizes were not exactly what I was looking for.   I wanted this whole thing to be as unobtrusive as possible.     Based on this I gave up on these speakers and did some more research.  It was a shame as the grilles looked quite good.


On the W116 forum there was a thread about some speakers that fitted perfectly under the factory grilles.   These were the Visaton FX10 and FX13.   They didn’t come with grilles, which doesn’t matter for the fronts, but does for the rear.   Unlike most speakers, these are sold as individual units, not pairs. The photo below compares the Visaton with the Focals.   Since the Visaton speakers are supposed to fit under the factory grilles, I wondered if the rear parcel shelf had not been enlarged as much as I thought.   Based on that, I was able to obtain a set of factory grilles for the rear of the car from a club member.


When the Visaton speakers arrived, I started with the rears.   They are slightly smaller than the Focals so I was confident they would fit.   They did, and there was no problem with shorting out.   The issue was the grilles.   The parcel shelf had been enlarged a fair bit, so while the factory grilles covered the actual speaker, the mounting ears were far larger.  I’m not sure how I would have secured them even if I shaved off the ears and let the speakers just sit in place.   Doing a bit more research, it looks like people were cutting the ears of the speakers.    At least for now, I have re-used the pioneer grilles.   They just fitted, and looked fairly unobtrusive.   I’ll look for a better solution in the future.


On the fronts, they were a good fit.  I think they are about as large a speaker as you could mount without resorting to using a dremel on the car.   The passengers side was really easy.   Getting the factory grille back on again took a matter of minutes.   The drivers grille is much more of a pain, I still don’t have that one on again.


Based on all this, the new speakers sound better then the old Pioneers.  I suspect the larger Focals would have sounded better, but they didn’t fit without modification.   Now I have four working speakers I have tested, I can remove the old Pioneer for the final time.  The Visaton speakers are certainly a big upgrade to the old Pioneers.

450SLC Becker Mexico Cassette install part 1 – Preparing the radio

Over the last 12 months or so, I have been focused on getting period correct Becker radios installed in my Classic Mercedes cars.    I had never experienced these radios until I purchased my one owner 560SEL back in 2020.   It was owning this car that made me realize how well they work in the car.   I’ve started to view them as part of the overall experience of owning these cars rather than just a way of getting sound.

Last year I started to source the right radios for the cars I owned.   I originally planned to start with my 450SLC, but its taken me a bit longer to sort out the radio for the car.    Based on that, I started on my 560SEC and then moved to my 300TE.    I’ve been pretty happy with these installs, so now it was time to look at the 450SLC again.

The car was originally sold with a Becker Mexico Cassette.  I still have the original manual pack in the car.   The original radio was an ‘M’ series radio.     The separate amplifier was still there, but the Becker was long gone.    I’ve been trying to work out the Becker serial numbers, and while there is some conflicting information out there, I understand that means the radio was built late 1975 to early 1976.   This seems plausible for my car given it was complianced 5/77 and delivered 7/77.   The radios were installed in Australia, not Germany, so they would have been purchased in batches and installed in cars when needed.

Mexico Cassette

It took me a while, but in the end I found a couple of appropriate radios.   Even better they were both ‘M’ series radios, so they should be almost identical to the one originally fitted to the car.   I built a test rig and was pleasantly surprised.   Both radios worked.   I was able to tune FM stations successfully.   I don’t own any cassettes so I could not test this.   However, the ‘wunderbar’ autotune feature did not.   This is a mechanical automatic tuning function and a differentiator from a high end Becker radio like the Mexico and a more mid level radio like the Europa.

Luckily a friend in the MBCNSW came to the rescue and was able to help me get the radios repaired.   My focus was to make sure AM/FM and the ‘wunderbar’ were all working properly.   I don’t own cassettes anymore so I wasn’t really concerned with the Cassette function.

When the radios came back, I was really happy with their operation.   The ‘wunderbar’ is such a great feature.

Next step was to test how I was going to get music and calls from my phone into the radio.   My default choice was the iSimple Tranzit BLU HF FM injector.   I’ve used this successfully on my 560SEC and 300TE.   As well as the FM injector option, it also has the possibility of an AUX in connection.

Mexico Cassette

The Becker radios without cassette, such as the period Europa II or Grand Prix have an AUX in port.   This is supposed to be used by the external tape deck.   Obviously a Mexico Cassette doesn’t need an external tape deck.   There is another port on the back of the Mexico which I understand is used for the German traffic adaptor.   This is mono only, as the Traffic input would not require stereo.   I purchased a mono input adaptor (normally used for the earlier mono Europa and Grand Prix), and while I could get audio through it, I wasn’t very happy with the sound.  I think I’ll use the FM injector as before.

aux port

Finally there was the the question of output.   The Becker radio outputs 2x7W at 4Ohms.   My working assumption was that with four modern speakers, it would be better to use a modern amplifier.   This is trivial with the Mexico Cassette, as it already uses a separate amplifier.  There are ready made adaptors on the market that accept the Becker amplifier plug and turn it into RCA outputs.   I tried one and it worked really well with a powered computer speaker on the Bench.    I have another one of the small Alpine amplifiers I used for the 560SEC install I can use here if needed.

Mexico Cassette

Before installing any of this in the car, I have been doing extensive testing on the bench.  Much easier than once the radio is in the car.  During most of this testing I held the assumption I would use the external amplifier.  After hearing a Europa II Stereo without the amplifier in a friend’s W108, I’m not so sure.

In any case, the Becker Mexico Cassette is ready to install.   Now to speakers.

MBCNSW May 2023 Night Drive – Mulgoa Road

The May night drive was a little bit different.   It turned out to be the farewell drive for one of our night drive regulars who is moving to Queensland.   Based on that, we had a good turn out of people along for the drive.    We also had a few others come along just to the starting point.   That is quite a good option for those who don’t want an especially late night, as it gets their car out for a bit of a run, but an earlier bed time.

We met in Windsor near the Harry’s Cafe de Wheels.   Despite its reputation for being a late night eatery, it was closed.   The competition was open though.   We managed to fill up this fast food parking lot with classic Mercedes.  We even attracted a fair number of onlookers.   At least at the starting point, we had:

  • W111 – My 250SE Cabriolet
  • W108 – 280SE & 3 x 280SE 3.5
  • W116 – 450SE
  • W126 – 380SEL limo and 380SEC
  • W124 – 300E x 2, 300E 2.6 & 230E
  • Modern – A35 AMG

It was quiet an impressive line up.  We’ve never had so many of the old cars before.  At the assembly point somebody could smell fuel from the W108 280SE.    When you have a group of car enthusiast and a bonnet is open, it it like bees to a pot of honey.    So it was when the 280SE bonnet was open to check for a fuel leak.

Mulgoa RoadOnce it was time to go, a couple of the cars (A 280SE 3.5 and the 280SE W108) peeled off and the rest of the group started the drive.   Our ultimate destination was the Chubby Buns Burger truck in Campbelltown.    From Windsor, we started down the Northern Road, went through Penrith and then took the back roads through Mulgoa road, Silverdale road, then into Campbelltown via Cobbitty.

The first 20 minutes of the drive was a bit nothing, so I next time I would find a starting point close to the M4 where Mulgoa road branches off.   From there the drive was a lot of fun – hardly any traffic and good roads.   A bit bumpy like a lot of semi-rural Sydney roads.

For this drive, I was near the back, and I was able to witness the amazing sight of a full size limo keep up with a pretty decent pace on windy back roads.  It would have been hilarious to see how any passengers got on in the back – especially if they had to ensure they didn’t spill the Champagne.

I took my 250SE, and while it was great to get it out, some of the issues where it will hesitate and stutter like its not getting enough fuel then be fine again have come back.   My mechanic thinks we may have to send the fuel injection pump off to be refurbished.   Last time I took it on a long drive it was a lot better, but it appears that was an isolated incident.

When we got to Chubby Buns we pretty much filled up the entire adjacent (closed) service station with classics.    Due to the limo, the lady working there asked us if we had come from a wedding!

Overall it was a really enjoyable drive, and a good send off too.

National Motoring Heritage Day 2023

National Motoring Heritage Day occurs every year on the last Sunday of May.   The goal is to try and encourage as many classic, vintage and veteran cars out as possible and display them at various shows and events.   One of the biggest is held in Berry, where they anticipate around 600 cars each year.   The Mercedes club normally attend this event and this year had capacity reserved for up to 30 cars.

The 2022 event was cancelled due to weather, and I last attended the 2021 event which was excellent.    That year the club combined it with the 50 years of the R/C107.   I took my 450SLC and it was displayed alongside a number of 107s, although I managed to park next to a R198 300SL Roadster.   This years event was a bit down in numbers compared to last time.   This was probably weather related.  While the day was quite nice, it had on and off throughout the week.  It was also very cold and windy first thing in the morning.    Regardless it was still a good event and well worth the drive down.

A few of us attempted to go down in convoy.   This didn’t work out as well as we had hoped, as parking lot for the meeting place was closed when we arrived.   It did finally open, but with all that we left pretty late – and in the end we split into a group of 3 and a group of 2.  The second group was waiting on a final car, which I don’t think ever made it.   The gusty winds were evident along the way.  I could really feel them pushing against the car at various points on the way down.   Normally the W126 is not phased at all by such things. I certainly saw smaller cars, and top heavy vehicles like SUVs being pushed around the road.

While we were waiting in the parking lot, I was able to finally able to answer a question I had for  years.    Did the original Becker 868 CD Player from 1987 work in my 560SEL?   I had thrown away all my CDs a few years before I bought the car.   Another club member who is interested in these Becker radios had a couple of CDs.   We tried them, and while it rejected the first one (which was a little scratched), it played the second one and sounded great!   Later, I tried it driving quite slowly on a normal suburban road.  It skipped badly.   I can see why so many of these were thrown out, and replaced with either a Becker 1402 Cassette or a modern radio.

It was good timing, as I hadn’t originally planned to bring the 560SEL.   I brought it because it looked cold and windy, and since I was bringing two of my kids (6 & 8), the extra room in the back is useful when they get bored of the cars and want to go and read books or look at the iPad.   They enjoyed the day too – while the highlight may have been the McDonalds soft serve cone on the way home, they also liked the BMW Isetta bubble car, the 1923 car that was 100 years old, the replica patent motorwagon and the 380SEL limo.    My 8 year old daughter also remarked that a better name for the Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstacy would be “The human bird”.

Another highlight for me was seeing the progress on a car very similar to mine.    A club member purchased a 1988 560SEL a year or two back in pretty rough cosmetic condition.   At the time it didn’t look far off being parted out.   It just shows all cars need sometimes is the right owner, as the transformation has been remarkable.   He’s done much of the work himself, including respraying the car, changing the interior, refurbishing the sunroof.   I was following the restoration quite closely on the old club Facebook page for the W126.   For some reason that got removed, so I was quite keen to see any further updates at it had been a few months.

National Motoring Heritage Day

There were a few other very nice cars in the MBCNSW display.   One other that caught my eye was a dark green metallic 280SE 3.5 W108.   I’m told it is a very original car that has been in the same family since new.   It was sporting tombstone headlights.     It seems to be generally accepted that all of the W108 V8s delivered in Australia came with the stacked headlights.   But I’m not so sure.   This car had tombstones.   I also understand, that the early W111 and W109 3.5 V8s came with tombstones in Australia, but that they were changed to be standard with stacked headlights some time later.   I had always assumed that was when the W108 3.5 was launched.   But maybe it was some time after?   This is tricky to work out, as the headlight types don’t seem to be recorded on the data card.  Same for the wood type on W109 and W111s – also not recorded on the data card.   I prefer the tombstones, but I am definitely in the minority there.

Overall, it was a good day.   It was the first longer freeway drive in the 560SEL since I had the front wheels rebalanced to try and fix the vibration at freeway speed.   Its certainly a lot better but there is still some minor vibration at 110km/h.

Auto Brunch St Ives May 2023

About a week and a half ago, I attended the May 2023 Auto Brunch event in St Ives.   This is my favorite Sydney cars and coffee event, and I hadn’t had a chance to attend this year.  Last time was November last year.   Even though it was threatening rain, it was still a great turn out.   This event always has a few nice surprises in terms of what shows up.

I took my Citroen DS.   The area I normally like to park in is being filled in with stone blocks so cars cannot park there anymore.   This is a shame, as it makes parking at this event even more difficult than it normally is.   This was compounded by attendees who were not really thinking and parking parallel to the roads rather than perpendicular.

At this event there is always something that I have never seen before.   This month it was the 1974 Ford Landau.   I understand this was made in quite small numbers.    There were also very rare cars like two Dino 246GTs, and a Lancia Delta Integrale.    It’s amazing what some people have in their garages in this part of Sydney.

May 2023 Auto Brunch

As the rain started to blow in, the event only lasted for an hour or so before people started to leave.   It was certainly enough to have a good look at all the cars.    Some of my favorites were the couple of Volvo P1800s, the Jaguar XJ12 and the BMW 635CSi.  I also really liked the Delta Integrale.    There were also other nice cars I never got to photograph.

Of all the cars I own, the DS is the one I seem to take most to these events.  It’s quite different to most other cars, so provides an interesting contrast.   It is also a good opportunity to get the DS out for a drive.

W124 Gullideckel wheels

I recently bought an additional set of W124 Gullideckel wheels for my 300TE.   The wheels on my car look quite good, but the price was reasonable and its good to have a spare set.   I have lots of spare W126 wheels, but they use a different offset.

I like how the factory wheels look on the wagon, so I have no plans to swap them out for a period option.    The period AMG wheels look great on the C124 though.     I hadn’t thought much of those wheels until this week when I decided to get a new set of tyres for the 300TE.

I had a voucher for a local tyre shop expiring in August, and Michelin were doing a cash back offer.    Since the tyre on the car were 7-8 years old, it was time for a new set.     I went with Michelin XM2s.    Before I went and had them fitted, I checked those other wheels I purchased to see which was the nicest set to fit with the new tyres.    While both sets were pretty good, the ones on the car were slightly better.  At the same time, I noticed something – the wheels were actually different.

The W124 Gullideckel wheels are also known as 15 hole wheels.   And the main difference between the two sets was the raised sections between the holes had a different profile.   The set on the car was more pronounced.   The other set, which apparently came off a Series 3 E280 were less raised. The holes were also a different shape, my wheels having a squarer hole and the later ones being rounder.   While I was aware the wheels came in different widths,  I had (naively) assumed that all the 15×6.5 Gullideckels for the W124 were the same.     I had hoped to be able to mix and match them – e.g. if I scraped one of the wheels on the car.    They are different enough that I would need to treat them as two separate sets.

W124 Gullideckel wheels

While I was having the new Michelin’s fitted, I asked the tyre centre to put the best of the old tyres on the spare.   As with Mercedes of this era, the spare is a proper alloy, but it was fitted with an ancient Michelin MXV.    I couldn’t find a date code on it, so it was probably from the 1990s – perhaps even original to the car, although it looked like it had some use on it.     With the spare out, this gave me the opportunity to properly compare the two wheels:

  • Left – 300TE Wheels:  124 401 0802.   15×6.5 ET48
  • Right – ‘E280’ Wheels:  124 400 1802.   15×6.5 ET49

Looking at the EPC, the wheels on my car seem to be correct.      However, I don’t think the wheels off the E280 were original to that car.   The part number seems to indicate they are a pre-89 wheel.    This makes sense, as most of the 3rd generation W124s had the later 8 hole wheels.    The first picture below shows the wheels on my car, and the second photo shows the second set I purchased.

W124 Gullideckel wheel
W124 Gullideckel wheel

From what I can piece together, the factory changed from forged to cast wheels in 1989.    The set that were apparently from an E280 (pictured above) is actually an earlier forged set.    The forged wheels are stronger and lighter.  This would appear to be an early example of Mercedes cost cutting and turning away from their earlier philosophy of “The best or nothing”.  Had I known this, perhaps I would have gone with the forged set with my new tyres?  Perhaps I should look out for one more of these wheels so I have a complete set of five.

Before I put the spare wheel away, I took the time to clean out the very muddy spare wheel well.    Should prevent rust forming if moisture gets in there.

Spare wheel well

Longroof Long Lunch

Today I attended a MBCNSW event dubbed the Longroof Long Lunch.    I wasn’t actually planning to attend a car club event today, but due to the torrential rain forecast for this weekend, I ended up with a free morning at the last minute.   Despite the weather forecast, all the torrential rain fell overnight, leaving both days quite nice.

The premise of the event was to celebrate the Mercedes-Benz wagons.   Obviously any club member could join, but the focus was for wagon owners.   I think its great the club is starting to embrace these sort of niche events.  There used to be a reluctance that I could never understand.  In a large club its impossible to create events for everyone, so having a range of different events that may be of interest so some, but not others is definitely the way to go.    This event appealed to wagon owners, so hopefully we’ll start to see more and more events that target different interests, even ones that I have no interest in.

Longroof Long Lunch

The event was held at a Surf lifesaving club in Palm Beach, the most northerly of the Sydney beaches.   It is a nice spot and a good place for a day out.   The forecast of bad weather was probably a good thing, as parking was easy – this is not always the case.    We were able to access the club because a couple of our members were also surf club members.   It was a nice spot to relax and we had a delicious lunch.

Longroof Long Lunch

Proving their popularity, the S124 wagons were the mainstay of the event.    On the day we had:

  • 3x 300TE – all 1990 model series 2
  • 4x E220
  • 1x E280

There was also a modern C class wagon.    Sadly, we didn’t have any S123 wagons, or even a series 1 S124.    We did beat our record of seven wagons at the recent tech day.    Given most of these wagons were used extensively from day one, they were all fairly high mileage and all cars in regular usage.   Unlike with a coupe or SL, it was rare for a wagon to be purchased as a weekender.

Considering I was a last minute attendee, I’m glad to have made the Longroof Long Lunch.

Longroof Long Lunch