2022 ACT German car show

Yesterday was the 2022 ACT German car show.   It was the first since 2019, with the 2020 and 2021 events unfortunately cancelled due to COVID.     The ACT show always punches above its weight in that it attracts not only the large base of cars from the Canberra region, but normally has cars drive in from southern NSW, northern Victoria and often a few from Melbourne too.

As with the 2019 event, I chose to drive down on Saturday so I could show a car and attend the dinner.   This year I chose to bring my 560SEL on the trip.   The running issues on my 250SE are not quite fully sorted out for a long drive, and given the weather all year, I expected decent rain.   I also didn’t have undercover parking this year.

I entered my 560SEL in the silver division, which is basically for road going cars.   Its a great idea and one that I wish the club in NSW would adopt.   It really opens up the event for everyone vs people who have nut and bolt restorations or spend weeks with white gloves on finding that last spec of dust.

They have quite a good system where if you win silver class, you must compete in gold next time (full concours).  And if you win gold you must compete in champions class.   Next time I bring my 250SE, I’ll be in gold, as I won silver in 2019.   Assuming I don’t win in Gold that year I can compete in Silver the year after.    That promotion/relegation system means that everyone gets an opportunity.  Its a great system.     And a huge contrast with NSW that collapsed the categories putting it out of reach except for the super wealthy.

The highlight of the show was the 1938 230 Cabriolet B, owned by John and Sandra Green.    It’s an amazing restoration when you look at the before and after pictures.   pre-war Mercedes-Benz models are very rare in Australia and it was great to see one of this quality on display.

2022 ACT German car showThe ACT event always does well with the roundies too, there was a great display of them parked nearby the 230 Cabriolet.   I also noticed how many nice W114/115 saloons there were on display at the show.   That model seems far better represented in the ACT than in NSW.  I also admired a W109 six cylinder in very nice condition.  I love all the small luxury touches on the W109 you only spot if you look closely.     On the other side there are generally more SLs at the NSW event.  Maybe it’s the weather.

Overall there were about 80 Mercedes-Benz on display with a good selection of the various models.   Probably the only real exception were the ‘presidential’ class of cars such as the 300 Adenauer and the 600.   For various reasons, we only had about 4-5 cars on display from NSW this year.   In other years we have had up to 20, so hopefully next time we will be able to bring a big contingent.

The BMW display was very large this year.   You can see the different focuses of the clubs – the BMW club is far more focused on the new M models vs the classics that were in quite small numbers.   The same went for the Porsche and Audi displays.   The VW display on the other hand is a bit more diverse, with the Beetle and the Kombi favorites.

The 2022 ACT German car show was held at Queanbeyan park.   I thought it was a good location – better than the greyhound track used last year.   There was plenty of room for more cars if they choose this venue again next year.

Road trip to Canberra for the ACT German car show

This weekend I drove to Canberra to attend the ACT German car show.   I will cover the show itself in a separate article.     I chose to drive down Saturday afternoon to properly attend the show.   Canberra is about 320km from where I live in Sydney, and about a 3:30 drive.

If I was just going to view the display, it would be possible to do the whole thing in a day trip.   However, to display a car makes it a very long day and I would likely be very drowsy on the drive home.

When I last attended the show in 2019, I found a very well priced Canberra hotel that had secure, undercover parking.   This was perfect for displaying my 250SE, that I prefer not to park outside overnight.    That hotel has since closed down.

I decided not to take my 250SE this year for a few reasons.   Firstly, we’ve had four ‘once in a century’ weather events in the last year or so on the east coast of Australia.   We are still in a La Nina weather pattern, so I figured a car with a closed roof was preferable.   In addition, my 250SE has been playing up a bit, and my mechanic thinks we may need to send the injection pump off to be rebuilt.

Based on that, I went with my 560SEL.   I’ve never displayed it at a show before, and it’s a great car for long distance cruising.   I took the 450SLC to the Wheels event earlier this year, and the national rally,  plus the front screen seal leaks in torrential rain.   The other option would have been my 560SEC, but the SEL has nicer paint, and the SEC has a few oil leaks that will be repaired in the next couple of weeks.

I think I made a good choice as it was torrential rain pretty much the whole way down.   There was even some light hail at one point.   I also discovered after 2.5 years of owning the 560SEL, the AM function does not work on the Becker 868.   I was going to tune into the AFL grand final.  In the end I found an FM station broadcasting it.

This time, I left the Canberra hotel selection a bit late.  By the time I actually booked, reasonable options were few and far between.    In the end I found a Ramada Encore in Belconnen for a decent price.   It was about 25 mins away from the show, but the price was right.   Surprisingly options in Queanbeyan were more expensive than Canberra.

The parking was pretty terrible.   Two small parking lots with narrow spaces and SUVs/Utes wall to wall.   I arrived at 5:30PM and it was already mostly full.   The room was clean and functional, and had the best water pressure of a hotel shower I’ve used in ages.


As well as the show, I was attending a pre-concours dinner.   This was quite a good event and I was able to catch up with a few friends I had not seen in a while due to all the COVID lockdowns.

Of course, all this driving in the rain meant the car was filthy and in no state to be put on display.   Luckily a friend from Sydney had also driven down and found a 24 hour car wash in Fyshwick (an industrial area of Canberra).    We met there at 10:30PM to give the cars a quick wash.

UntitledWe went with the touchless laser wash, which wasn’t cheap but did a decent job of the cars.   Then a quick wipe down with rags to remove any excess water.     It’s good to know of this place for future shows.

Arriving back at my Canberra hotel saw the parking completely full.   In the end I parked in a Chemist warehouse across the road.   I didn’t think they would tow me away parking there from 11:30PM Saturday to 7:30AM Sunday.    There was even an undercover section, but I figured I wouldn’t chance them closing the gates and locking me in.

Assuming I go again next year, I think I will try and find a hotel with better parking and book earlier.   Most hotels in Canberra don’t seem to offer undercover parking.   There is one that other club members park at right downtown, but that is very expensive.   I may even look at other parking options and then look at hotels nearby.

The show itself was excellent, with a really good mix of cars and all the major models represented.   It was a beautiful day for the show – started a bit cold but then turned into a lovely sunny day.


The drive back was fairly uneventful, just lots of traffic.   NSW had a last minute public holiday on Thursday to celebrate the life of Queen Elizabeth II.   A lot of people took the Friday off and turned it into a long weekend.

I wonder if the business council lobbied the government for a Thursday holiday for this very reason.   Otherwise Thursday as a choice made little sense.  It also allowed business to encourage workers to use up annual leave balances which are still high after travel restrictions.

Of course the NSW Government wanted to get into the act too, and declared that the ‘long weekend’ was also a double demerit point period.   I generally avoid driving during these periods, as not only are they are blatant cash grab that does nothing to improve road safety.  You can loose more than half your points for 11km/h over the speed limit, while nothing is done about seriously dangerous driving like tailgating.

It was a good weekend, and I am keen to do the show again.   Before I take the 560SEL for a road trip again, I need to sort out the vibration at 110km/h.  It feels like I have lost a wheel weight or something like that.

For next time, I would also get more organized about my Canberra hotel.

W126 Becker Radio install – part 3

I am currently in the process of installing a period correct Becker Radio in my 560SEC.   In part 2, I had the system up and running.   The final task was to tidy up the installation and re-install all the trim.

The first step was to properly organize and tidy up the wiring.  I wanted a neat install, and to hide all the wires out of the way.   The Alpine amplifier I am using is small enough I could tuck it in with some other control modules in the passengers foot well.

Becker radio installI mounted the amp with the back face up so I could adjust the dip switches if required.   I didn’t have a great way of mounting it without drilling, so I used some stick on Velcro.     Before I re-installed the under dash panels, I had two further tests to perform.   The first was to check the hands free calling feature.   Last time I was testing the system, it was after 11PM, so it wasn’t really appropriate to start calling people.   I’m glad I did, as the previous microphone from the Alpine head unit did not work with the Tranzit BLU.

The Tranzit BLU comes with its own microphone, but I had planned to use the Alpine mic as it was already installed.   That meant I needed to remove the radio to feed the cable for the microphone to the drivers side of the car.   In doing that, I discovered a problem.   I had cable tied the RCA cable to keep it away, so when I tried to pull out the radio there was no slack in the cable.

Something had to give, and that was to pull the line out module off the back of the radio.   It has a screw holding it on, but only one.   That mean it levered outwards and bent one of the pins.   Luckily I was able to remove the module, bend the pin back, and re-install it.   It also meant I had to cut off all my cable ties, add more slack and then re-cable tie that section of the install.

My second test was to try the high pass filter for the rear speakers.  In the end I set it at 60Hz.   With that done, I was able to start putting things back.

The plastic retaining screws for the cover for these control boxes were long lost on my car.   Luckily, the parts car had one of them which I used.   One of the connectors for the Tranzit BLU was loose, so I sniped it off and replaced it.

Becker radio installThe two side panels were quite easy to re-install.   The one against the console just slots into place.    The panel against the side of the car slides in from the rear.   It is then further secured by the screws for the bonnet release.

The hardest panel to re-install was the passengers side under dash panel.   Getting that back into place was a real pain.   I set it up so the USB ports were just poking out between that panel and the console.   That leaves them accessible for my phone in its windscreen mounted phone holder.

On the drivers side, the under dash panel was easier to use.   I noticed when putting it on the ‘scoop air’ vacuum pod was damaged and needs replacement.   These are now NLA, but diaphragms are available from aftermarket sources.   That will be a job for another day.   let the control button just poke out on the opposite side to the USB ports.   I also had the microphone coming out on the other side of the steering wheel.

Becker radio installOnce I had the radio installed, I took the car on a test drive to see how it all worked.   Overall I am really happy with my Becker radio install.   Now I have the Becker installed, its obvious how out of place the modern Alpine head unit looked.   The Tranzit BLU is a nice way of bringing a period radio into the 21st century.   I prefer it to modifying the radio to support Bluetooth.   I plan to keep this car for the long term – and who knows how long Bluetooth will be the primary technology used for this type of streaming.    The sound is very good through the amplifier and I was able to adjust the bass/treble controls on the Becker 1402 to my liking.

Through my testing, I have found two issues I will need to address.   Firstly, the USB ports are now no longer working.  I suspect re-installing the under dash panel pulled out a connector.   This is a pain because it was the hardest one to get in.   Secondly, the Tranzit BLU is not powering on when the ignition key is in the accessory position.   It only works in start and run (i.e. position 2 and 3).    I neglected to do testing in the accessory position which was a bit of a miss.   The problem is likely that I have a pin in the wrong spot connecting into the X30 power block.   I have to take the dash panel out anyway to fix the USB ports, so I will look at this at the same time.

In a totally objective view, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on my Becker radio install to have less functionality than before.    I don’t see it that way though.   The Becker works really well in the dash of the W126 and with my improvements, I have a system I really like.

I’m going to use this system for a while before I move onto my next Becker radio install and upgrade – on my 450SLC.

W126 Becker Radio install – part 2

In part 1 of this series, I had begun installing a Becker Mexico 1402 in my 560SEC.   I had planned out my install and done the core wiring for the Becker itself.   Today, my goal was to complete the wiring of the ancillary components and test the system.

I decided to use two X30 harneses for the install.  I had four available plugs on the X30 power block, so it kept it neater if I used two.   The main purpose of the first one was to connect my USB ports.   I also used one of the ground wires for the Tranzit BLU.   For this application I only needed pin 5 and pin 1.   I removed the wire for pin 3.   The USB ports will be available when the car is in the accessory position, starting or running.   I thought about making them live all the time, but I am not sure of any minor current draw from the USB port module.   As this car is not used daily, I don’t want any current draw.   No more driving around with the ashtray hanging open.

USB port harnessThe nice thing about this setup, is that I can simply unplug the module if I ever need to.   The ground wire for the Tranzit BLU will have a plug for the same purpose.    The second X30 harness will power the relay which controls turning on the amplifier, and powering the Tranzit BLU.   I don’t want the Tranzit BLU running with the radio switched off, as my phone will pair with it and it will be useless.   The relay will be triggered by the wire from the Becker that normally controls the electric antenna, but the relay will now fire all these things.   The amplifier has a trigger wire for a second amp or antenna, so I will use that one for my power antenna.

I originally cut this harness shorter as the length required is only from the X30 power block to the footwell.   I forgot that the wires from the X30 exit forwards, so I had to join it back together again.   In any case, I now have the X30 wiring in place and two spots remaining.

x30 wiring for radio and tranzit BLUI mounted the relay in the passengers foot well using an existing screw.  It was probably for the previous Cobra alarm.   Next step was some basic tidying up of the wiring so I could see what I was working with.   That meant using some cable ties of the various wiring groups like front speakers, rear speakers, relay triggers etc.

To test the system, I needed core power to the amplifier.   There was still a wire from the battery to this area of the car from the old Cobra car alarm.  I was able to repurpose it with a new 15A inline fuse.   Once done, it was a fairly simple matter of plugging the various connections together for a test of the system. Before that test, I had to configure the amplifier.   There are some dip switches on the back where I set the input for two channel.   I also turned on the high pass filters – for the test I used the 60Hz option for the fronts and the 80Hz option for the rears.

Testing Becker radio with Tranzit BLUPowering it on, it all seemed to work properly first time.   Normally when I do projects like this, there are issues I need to address.    Before I paired my phone, I was able to listen to the radio as normal.   Once I paired my phone I was able to play music through the system.   It sounds pretty good!  I adjusted the gain levels slightly on the amp while testing a wide variety of songs.   I also wanted to make sure the left/right speakers were installed properly.   Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is useful for this.   The small button used to control the Tranzit BLU also worked correctly.   When in music playing mode, pressing it advances to the next track.   By now it was 11:30PM, so I didn’t test the handsfree calling function.

Since the music from my phone is going through the FM signal, its not perfect.   It is very good though, thanks to injecting the FM signals right into the antenna cable.    The Alpine amplifier means the Becker is easily able to power four modern speakers.

The USB ports were also working correctly and powered my phone without issue.

Next steps from here is to mount the amplifier properly and tidy up the wiring.   I may also play with the high pass filter a bit more.   80Hz might be a bit ambitious for the 6.5″ rear speakers in a W126.   Then all the trim needs to be re-installed.

Machines & Macchiatos September 2022

Today I attended the September 2022 Machines and Macchiatos event.   This is my second time to this event, I managed to attend the December 2021 event last year.  Since my last time at the event, they have a new location at Northern Beaches Christian School in Terrey Hills.    I was supposed to be at the All French Day today, but it was cancelled due to wet fields so went to Machines & Macchiatos instead.

The new location is great.  There is plenty of room and all the cars park on tarmac.   I took my 280SE and it was the only W116 on display.   Mercedes were fairly light this month with three W126s and a couple of modern cars.

Machines & Macchiatos is a bit different from the other two cars and coffee events I attend in that it aims to raise money for charity.   They do a good job.   Its not as big as the St Ives event but it has more variety than the eastern suburbs meet.

Ferrari F40

The highlight of the whole show for me was the Ferrari F40.   It’s such an iconic car.  I remember when it was still current and saving up the $50 for the 1:18 scale model when I was in school.   Back then $50 was a lot and it took months before I was able to buy the Ferrari F40.   I still have it.    This car and the 300SL Gullwing were always my two favorites.

There were also a few nice French cars on display, probably because of the cancelled All French Day.

After the event I went for lunch in Cabramatta with the family and the 280SE rolled over 222,222km.   Of course, since there is a big gap in the service history the actual mileage is probably higher.   I don’t think its a high mileage car, but it is probably higher than indicated.


W126 Becker Radio install – part 1

My 1987 UK Market 560SEC was originally sold with Becker Mexico Cassette player (option 251).   I’ve been planning for a while to re-install a period Becker radio, with a few of my own upgrades.

My first task was to research the radios and purchase a suitable unit.  I ended up purchasing two radios,  Becker 1402 and Becker 1480.   As the skills and parts to repair these radios are getting harder to find, I wanted a primary radio and a backup unit.   I am installing the 1402 and will get the 1480 repaired and keep it as the backup.   I have tested the 1402 and it works well.   To connect the radios, I also had to purchase the correct Becker plugs.  The wiring harness had been cut for my car.   These were not cheap.  I was lucky enough to be able to grab a backup set from a USA junkyard.

Secondly, I wanted to keep the modern speakers I have in the car and not rely on the factory fader.  I researched and purchased the factory line out module so I could use RCA plugs to connect a small amplifier.   This also worked well on my test bench.

Thirdly, I wanted a solution to play music through my phone and have hands free calling.   I’m using the  iSimple Tranzit BLU HF which essentially piggybacks off the antenna cable and provides an FM signal directly to the radio.   That also worked well on the test bench.

Finally, I wanted to add some USB ports for my phone so I could drive around without the ashtray hanging open all the time.   I found some simple 12v to USB adaptors for this purpose.

In addition, I wanted to connect up to the car in the least intrusive way possible.   I researched the X30 power block as the way to do this, and experimented with my parts car.

With all this done I had finally planned my W126 Becker radio install and I was ready to start.

W126 Becker Radio install

The first task was to remove the current Alpine radio.  This was easiest with the ashtray removed.   While the installer had cut the original wiring harnesses, they had used bullet connectors to splice in the Alpine.   This made removing it far easier.   The W126 electrical troubleshooting manual is really helpful here, as it outlines the colours of the original wires so they can be cross checked.   For the main Becker wiring harness, I also used bullet connectors since one half was already there.    This was the ground, switched power, constant power and illumination.

I had a few problems with the illumination.   At first when I plugged the Becker radio in as a test, the screen was garbled.  I used my power probe to check that I had the right wires, and I did.  Turns out the connector as a bit loose and a new bullet connector solved that problem.

I had already removed the left under dash panel, carpet, and the cover for the various control modules to check for the X30 power block.   I also found it easiest to remove the side panel from the console as well.   Once this was removed, I noticed the rats nest of old wiring for the long defunct Cobra car alarm.    The alarm is a Cobra 5801.  There wasn’t a great deal about this alarm on the internet, but I understand they were a high end alarm in the mid 90s.

I carefully removed as much of the Cobra wiring as I could.   I am pretty sure the Cobra would have been equipped with an immobilizer, so I didn’t want to render the car immobile.   In the end I removed most of the under dash wiring and a small control box.   I didn’t touch the other wiring around the window switches, which I assume was Cobra related.   There is still a big green bundle of wires next to the console that I ended up leaving alone.   As I cut/disconnected each group of wires I test started the car in case I had to plug something back in!

W126 Becker Radio install

I decided I was going to locate the amplifier in the passengers footwell.  There is room down there next to one of the control modules that is populated in later cars.   I think there may be an airbag module there or something like that.    It’s right next to the X30 power block, there is a line from the battery previously used by the Cobra, and its close enough to the speaker wires.

The Tranzit BLU unit will live behind the radio and the ashtray.  I originally wanted to put it down the the amp, but antenna cables don’t reach that far.   In any case, it is very small – about the size of a pack of cards.  It fits quite well there.

Generally the speaker wires were fairly straightforward, but one of them was reversed.   Speaker wires normally have a solid colour for positive and a black stripe for negative.  In this case, the solid colour wire coming out of the radio was going into the striped speaker wire.  I presume it was wired in reverse at the speaker, but I don’t want to check.   The rear speaker covers in the W126 are very brittle at this age and there is a decent change I’ll break it if I attempt to remove it.    I don’t think its a mistake, as the male/female pairs of the bullet connectors are reversed to prevent incorrect wiring.   In any case, I now have the speaker wires plugged into the harness for the amplifier.   I also pulled through some RCA cables to connect the Becker to the amp.

As well as the power cables, and the RCA connection, the becker has a provision to trigger the automatic antenna.    I also want to use this to trigger the amplifier to turn on, as well as the Tranzit BLU.    It would have been simpler to just wire the amplifier and Tranzit BLU to switched power.   However, I don’t want my phone pairing with the Tranzit BLU when the radio is turned off.   It also seems more efficient to do it this way.    I’m a bit wary of plugging three devices into this trigger, so I am going to use a relay.   I don’t want to overly stress the Becker radio.   I’ll place the relay near the amplifier,  so I have lengthened the antenna trigger wire and the wire from the Becker’s antenna trigger port.

W126 Becker Radio installThe USB ports will be wired directly to the X30 power block.   I’ll use pin 5 for the positive (hot on accessory, start and run) and the ground.    I’ll also use this as the power source for the relay.

My next step is to finish installing the amplifier and the Tranzit BLU.   I’ll then be able to test it, and check the amplifier settings before I tidy up the wiring.   The final step of my W126 Becker radio install will be to wire in the USB ports.

Locating the W126 X30 power block on RHD cars

I’m currently planning to re-install the Becker Radio in my 1987 560SEC.  At the same time I will be installing a small amplifier, a bluetooth FM Injector and a couple of unobtrusive USB charging ports.

The second generation W126 wiring harness provides a factory way of adding additional accessories.   This is the X30 power block.   Up to 8 accessories can be connected using factory plugs and their own wiring harnesses.   The number already connected will depend on options installed on the car.

Other than the direct power for the amplifier, I plan on using the X30 power block for the rest of the accessories.     The x30 power block provides five pins, each with a specific purpose.

  1. Hot at all times:   Power from fuse 15 (8 Amp)
  2. Hot in run or start:  Power from fuse 8 (16 Amp)
  3. Ground
  4. Illumination.   This is for accessories that have a small bulb activated with the headlights
  5. Hot in accessory, run or start:  Power from fuse 19 (16 Amp)

This provides pretty much all the options required when installing a standard accessory.   Obviously something that draws decent amperage will need a direct connection from the battery.   These fuses are shared with other features.

For the amplifier, I’ll probably just use the ground.   I’ll take constant power directly from the battery as it requires up to 15 amps.    For the USB ports, I’ll want to use pin 5 and pin 3.    For the FM injector, I’ll trigger it from the radio, but use pin 5 for its actual power source.    I shouldn’t need pin four, unless I can’t locate the standard illumination wire for the Becker radio.

The electrical manuals I have for the W126 are for the USA versions.   The core manuals do a fairly good job of covering other models too, but the electrical manual is quite US specific.   According to that manual, the X30 power block is available in the diesels, 420SEL and both 560 models between 1986-1987.   For 1988 it was only installed in cars that had heated seats.    In those years many standard accessories were now hard wired in.

This explains why the 1988 560SEL I grabbed two X30 harnesses from only had the two.  One for the front heated seats and one for the rear.  Earlier cars would have had more.

Since the 300SE/SEL models were not offered in the USA until 1988, I am not sure if the 86-87 models were standard with the X30 power block.  In any case my 560SEC is an 1987 and has heated seats, so the X30 power block should be installed.    I guess it was cost cutting that removed it for later years.

My other complication was that I didn’t know where the X30 power block was located on right hand drive cars.  On left hand drive cars, its under the dead pedal in the drivers footwell.   This location is specifically referenced in the manual.

Luckily I had my 420SEL parts car to use as a guinea pig to search for the X30 power block.   As a 1987 model it should have one.   The first place I looked was under the dead pedal.   I figured if it was in the same place for RHD and LHD cars the manual would have said it was on the left hand side of the left hand footwell.    It wasn’t.

Next place I looked was where the dead pedal would be if my car was LHD.  I had to remove the under dash panel, the bonnet release catch and the trim piece under it.   It was worthwhile using the 420SEL as a test, as I broke the plastic retaining clip trying to remove it on the 420SEL.   That gave me an opportunity to examine it further to ensure my removal didn’t break it on the 560.

X30 power block

Sure enough, the X30 power block was in pretty much the same spot on LHD and RHD cars.   Its an ideal location as it’s right next to the conduit going to the rear of the car.    Not only was it there on my 420SEL, but three accessories were present.   The cover was also still there and not broken.   Great to have as a spare.   The photo above shows the X30 power block with the trim removed on my 420SEL.  It’s the tall rectangular thing in the centre of the photo.    The photo below shows the cover off and how the accessories connect.

X30 power block

That gave me the confidence to locate the X30 power block on my 560SEC where even more accessories were plugged in.    I also found a rats nest of old wires for the previously removed car alarm.   I plan to clean this up as part of this installation.

X30 power blockThe X30 power block provides an easy way to install additional accessories on your W126 should it be present.  I understand it is also present on some W124s as well.  It means no alterations to the factory wiring harness are required.

2022 JDCA Cars and Coffee

Today I was supposed to be attending the All British Day at the Kings School.    Unfortunately the event was cancelled after the weeks of torrential rain here in Sydney.   The grounds keepers judged that the fields would be too wet for the cars and spectators.

In lieu of this event, the JDCA organized a replacement event at short notice.    The last All British Day was in 2019, so most club members were keen for an event.   Instead of the full car show, a JDCA cars and coffee type event would replace it.   I think this was a great idea.

To facilitate the event, the club booked all the parking lots of a restaurant in Bicentennial Park.    This provided a great location for almost 100 Jaguars to be on display in a very centrally located park.   It was a real credit to the organizers how quickly they were able to find such a good venue with little notice and put on such a good event.

The Club had the venue from 6:00AM to 11:30AM.   I arrived at about 7:30AM and I would estimate a bit more than half the eventual cars were in place.    The cars were organized by register, customary in the Jaguar club and I think a good idea.

JDCA Cars and Coffee
In the E-Type register we had 15 cars on display and a good mix of the various models of E-Type.    There were also good showings from the compacts (e.g. MK2, S-Type etc), The XJS, XKs, XJs and the moderns.

In particular I was admiring a fully restored Series 1 XJ in dark blue.   It was in superb condition and really shows off the lines of the original William Lyons design.   At some point I would like to own a Series 1 XJ12 or Daimler Double Six to go with my E-Type.

In any case the JDCA cars and coffee event was a big success.  I think it would be worthwhile running it each year in addition to the All British Day.

Becker 374 Operation Instructions

The Becker 374 Mexico Cassette Vollstereo Reverse was the standard radio installed in the S-Class from 1979-1981 models in Australia.  It was seen on the last of the W116s and I believe the early W126 too.   This radio replaced the 485, the last of the pinstripe models in the W116s.   It was the last of the older style radios with knobs to be found on the S-Class before the digital display radios were introduced.

The most significant difference between the Becker 374 and the similar looking Europa was the auto reverse function.    The Europa was found in W123 models of the same era.   My 1979 280SE is equipped with the Becker 374 Mexico.  Later versions of the Europa would get the auto reverse function, although I’m not exactly sure when.

Becker 374 Mexico Buttons

Becker 374

  1. On/Off Switch, Volume control
  2. Tone control
  3. Waveband push-buttons
  4. Waveband display
  5. Manual selector knob
  6. Automatic push-button
  7. Sensitivity switch
  8. Stereo indicator lamp
  9. Cassette slot
  10. Track change-over
  11. Track indicator
  12. Fast forward
  13. Fast reverse
  14. Cassette ejection

Becker 374 Mexico Radio Instructions

Switch on/off

Turn the left knob (1) to the right.   The scale will illuminate.


To increase the volume, turn knob (1) further to the right.


The tone can be varied infinitely by the stub lever (2) on the left knob.   Lever up – high tone, lever down – deep tone.

Waveband setting

The desired waveband is set by pressing one of the waveband push-buttons (3).  The waveband display (4) illuminates simultaneously – M for medium wave and U for ultra-high frequency.

Station choice

Stations in the set waveband can be chosen by turning the manual selector knob (5).

Automatic station selector

Press the automatic button (8) briefly.   The pointer will traverse the scale from left to right, and will stop at a transmitting station.   At the end of the scale the pointer will jump back to search the scale again.

Sensitivity switcher (7)

The stub lever (7) on the right knob is used to determine the number of stations which are automatically tuned:

I = Pointer stops at many stations even those received only weakly
II = Pointer stops only at stations from which medium-strong signals are received.
III = Pointer stops only at stations giving strong signals.

Stereo Indicator lamp (8)

The stereo indicator lamp (8) illuminates when a chosen station is transmitting stereo signals.    Note! Perfect stereo reception is possible only in areas with sufficiently powerful transmitters.   The unit is thus fitted with a continuous mono/stereo change-over, i.e. when the received signal weakens, the equipment switches automatically to mono reception.   The stereo indicator lamp continues to light up however and extinguishes only when the station can no longer be received satisfactorily.

Becker 374 Mexico Cassette functions

With the Reverse cassette section of the MEXICO CASSETTE VOLLSTEREO the cassettes need no longer be turned over at the end of the tape – i.e. on reaching the end of the first side the unit switches automatically to the second track.

Tape Playing

Insert the cassette into the cassette slot (9) and push in up to the stop.   Switching from radio to tape is automatic.

Track indicator (11)

The track indicator shows which track is being played now.

Track change-over

By pressing the track change-over button briefly the opposite track can be played.   At the end of the tape the change-over is automatic (continuous operation).

Fast forward (12) and fast reverse (13)

By pressing the forward (12) or reverse (13) buttons the tape is advanced or rewound quickly to choose other pieces of music.   A brief press on the opposite button stops this winding process.

Cassette ejection

The operation of the ejection button (14) ejects the cassette from the cassette slot, and the unit switches automatically to radio reception.

We recommend:

Only use branded cassettes C60 and C90.   Chromiumdioxide and Ferrochromium cassettes can be played without damaging the tape unit.

Through vehicle vibrations the tape roll in cassettes can shake loose.   It is thus advisable to store cassettes in commercially available cassette boxes with tape spool locks, where they are also protected from dust.   If despite this the spool has loosened or a loop has developed in the tape, rewind the tape by turning one of the spools with the point of a pencil.   To prevent distortion of cassettes, protect them from direct sunlight or excessive heat.

Care and maintenance:

By cassettes the quality of reproduction gradually diminishes as deposits on the playing head are unavoidable.   The playing head should thus be cleaned from time to time by using a cleaning cassette (available at your specialists).  Be sure to pay close attention to the instructions included with the cleaning cassette!  After about 1,000 hours of operation the equipment should be serviced by a service expert.

Connection of accessories

Possibilities here are automatic antenna, short-wave adaptor, traffic waveband adaptor, and EIC adaptor (interference suppression).

Fade-over control

When additional loudspeakers are installed at the rear of the vehicle the sound distribution can be varied between front and rear speakers by the fade over control.

Antenna trimmer:

After installation the antenna trimmer must be adjusted for optimum medium wave reception.   Therefore select a weak station in the medium waveband at about 1500kHz.  Insert a suitable screwdriver in the opening in the front panel below the manual selector knob and by turning lightly adjust the antenna trimmer to the maximum volume.

Becker 374 Mexico Technical Data

Radio Section:

Semi-conductors:   33 transistors, 38 diodes, 5 ICs
AM-circuits: 3x RF (variable), 7x IF
FM-circuits: 3x RF (variable), 12x IF
Wave ranges:  (AM) M 510-1630kHz, (FM) U 87.5-108MHz (stereo)
Station choice:  Automatic selector, Manual selector
Stereo-decoder:  PLL-switch decoder with continuous mono/stereo change-over
Intermediate frequency:  AM 460kHz, FM 10.7Mhz
Fading control: effective for 2 stages
Limitation:  2 diodes
FM: Automatic frequency control (AFC)
Tone control: Continuous with intermediate lever
Output voltage: 2x5W with 2 loudspeakers, 2x7W with 4 loudspeakers
Loudspeaker Impedance:  5 Ohm
Possible connections:  Automatic antenna, EIC-adaptor, SW-adaptor
Operating voltage:  12V minus to mass
Current consumption:  0.36-1.3A depending on modulation
Fuse:  5 AT
Dimensions:  Radio 185 x 52 x 167 mm, NF-part 147 x 42 x 55 mm

Cassette section:

Tone carrier:  Compact cassette C60, C90
Tape speed:  4.76 cm/sec.
Operating method:  Stereo reproduction, automatic reverse with track indicator.
Motor:  Electronically regulated direct-current motor
Cassette ejection: by pushing the ejector button, automatically when power supply is interrupted
Track change over:  By pressing the track change over button automatically at tape end
Change-over radio/cassette: Automatically when cassette is inserted and ejected.   Automatically at radio information if VK-5 is connected.

Stuck W116 ignition barrel – part 3

I’ve ben grappling with a stuck ignition key on my 280SE W116 for some time.   In part 1 I finally managed to move the key to position 1, but could not unscrew the collar to remove the tumbler.   In part 2, I tried a special tool, and then attempted to remove the whole steering lock.   As the collar and tumbler was still on the steering lock, I was unable to get it past the dashboard.   At that point I rigged up a temporary solution to take it to mechanic.

I was hoping he would find something I missed and get it out quickly.   It turned out not to be the case.

He first tried removing the collar and was unable to make it turn.   Next, he even got to the point of using a dremel to make a notch in the collar and using a big hammer and chisel.    He also tried cutting the collar, but the dash of the W116 gives little clearance and after making a mark in the dash wood (even after covering everything with tape) he was worried about destroying the dash.

In the end, to get the steering lock out, he dropped the steering box down to create enough clearance to then slide out the steering lock.     He then fitted my used steering lock and raised up the steering box.

Steering lock

I got the car back yesterday and fitted the instrument cluster and lower dash panel back myself.   The W116 instrument cluster is far more fiddly than the W126 version.  The speedo cable and oil pressure line don’t have a lot of slack.   At least it can be removed without taking off the steering wheel – in contrast to the 107 models.

After I got all that back in, I took the car for a short test drive around my area.    There is a W116 280SE D-Jet in a Coles carpark nearby.  Its not moved since May so is probably dumped.   A sad way to go for such a brilliant car.   I thought it would be interesting to get a few photos of the two 280SEs together while it’s still there.


This whole saga with the steering lock and ignition barrel in my 280SE illustrates why the easiest way to steal a Mercedes is to steal the key.   It also prompts a thought that with so many of these parts now no longer available, what the long term solution is here.   Perhaps a simpler ignition switch that removes the steering lock?  That would need to be backed up by some other kind of anti-theft feature.