MBCNSW Bring your other car day

Today I went to a cars and coffee event organized by the Mercedes-Benz club.   It was a bit different to normal, as the theme was ‘Bring your other car’.   The idea was that many club members probably own a car that is not a Mercedes, and that there would be interest in showing those cars off.

I thought there would be some interesting cars in attendance so I went along in my Citroen DS.   I figured the Citroen would be very different to what most Mercedes club members are used to.

Bringing the DS fit too, as of last week, the DS is now registered with the Mercedes Club. The Citroen club have introduced draconian new rules governing historic plated cars.   There are minimum attendance requirements and requirements for volunteering.    With regular work travel, sometimes at late notice and family commitments, I wasn’t all that interested in having the Sword of Damocles hanging over my head.    I find it all rather sad, as car clubs all need new younger members.  These rules are going to make it a retirees only club.    When I raised the issue, I got a very defensive reply, so instead of having an argument, I just moved the car.   Both the Mercedes club and the Jaguar club were happy to have the car, so at least I had options.

Bring your other carAs I expected there were some very nice cars on display.    My favorites were the Morris Minor, the Rolls Royce Corniche and the Borgward.    The Morris was a convertible version in lovely condition.   As well as those cars, there was a nice Toyota Cressida, a Porsche 911, a ford Muscle car, three ranger rovers and a number of other modern cars such as BMW, Bentley, new Mini, VW and more.   It was quite an interesting collection.

The event was held in a grassy area behind Cheltenham Sports Club.   This is a nice central location that was easy to get to.   I think it was better than the last location, as all the cars could park together.    I was parked next to a W140.

The other highlight was seeing my old 1979 280SE W116, and meeting it’s new owner.  I was really happy to see that he’s joined the club and really enjoying the car.   Its a nice car and its great that it has gone to a good home.

I understand the ‘Bring your other car’ event is to be an annual event.  I think its a great idea.   It doesn’t stop people who only own Mercedes from bringing one, but we get to experience other interesting cars too.

MBCNSW July 2023 Night Drive – Picton Road

Last night was the monthly MBCNSW Night drive.   We didn’t do one in June, primarily because that week coincided with the week most of Sydney seemed to have the flu, so most people cancelled due to illness.      We were back again for July, doing a route from Engadine to Campbelltown via Picton Road.

This drive was a bit of a combination of new and old.   We’ve done similar drives before, but in the other direction.  Last year we did a Camden to Engadine drive via Picton Road for example.   However, in that case the only real overlap with this drive was the Picton Road section.    We also included the section down the Princes Highway in our Appin Road drive a few months back.    However, the section between getting off Picton Road until we started to get close to our destination – Chubby Buns in Campbelltown, was new.

Finishing up at Chubby buns was also an advantage, the burgers are much better than at McDonalds.   As is normal in the middle of winter, we had a smaller group this time.   I had my 450SLC, there was a C123 280CE, a 380SEC and a very nice W124.    Somewhere on the drive, I reached the milestone of putting 50,000km on my 450SLC over a 20 year period.

The small group made it easier to stop when one of our group made a wrong turn, and the turn off lane to Sublime point lookout became a good impromptu stopping point.   The roads were really good and practically deserted.

Picton Road Night DriveOur four cars meandered our way towards Campbelltown and the Chubby buns burger truck.   Once we had done Appin Road, we took a combination of some tight twisty roads and more option sections as we worked out way north for the final destination.   The actual drive was just over 100km, but I put almost 250km on the car as I don’t live very close to either the start or the end.

It was great to get out for another night drive.  Especially after skipping the June drive and being away for work for a few weeks.    I think this drive worked better going west than east.

Picton Road Night Drive

Selling my 1979 Mercedes 280SE at auction

I recently sold my 1979 Mercedes 280SE at the Shannons May 2023 auction.    I’ve bought a couple of cars at auction, but never sold one before.   This article covers my experience selling the car, why I chose and auction and why I chose Shannons.

Originally I started by trying to sell my 280SE privately.   However, I had the issue that I have a fair amount of work travel in the first part of the year, and a fairly busy work and family schedule at other times.    I missed out on a couple of buyers because they purchased something else before I could even show them the car.


As I was just about to embark on a 3 week work trip, I enquired about various auction options.  As the car was in good shape and fairly original, plus a desirable colour I thought it would probably do reasonably well.

Potential buyers could go and look at the car at the auction house and then make a decision to bid or not.

Based on that, I considered a number of different auction providers:

  • Shannons
  • Lloyds
  • Grays
  • Collecting Cars

At the time, I didn’t really think about Trading Garage or Burns and Co.  I probably should have.

I quickly ruled out Grays and Collecting Cars.   The impression I have of Grays is that it is the place that people dump cars they can’t otherwise sell.   I’ve also had stories from friends about the quality of the cars they had purchased from Grays.   Given my car was a very nice original car, I didn’t think it was a good fit.

I also didn’t think the commercial model worked well with Collecting Cars.   The minimum buyers premium is $1,000.   This is an exorbitant amount of money for a car I expected to sell for around $10,000.  I wouldn’t bid on a car unless I was getting it cheap as chips as I would feel I’m being ripped off.  It might work well for cars at the $40-$50,000 range, but at that point I think the high value stuff goes through other auction houses anyway.   Plus each auction runs in its own time so you don’t get the marketing impact of a regular auction date at a well publicized auction house.

That left Lloyds and Shannons.   I went with Shannons because I felt they have the reputation as the auction house where the nice cars go through.   They generally do good descriptions and take high resolution photos plus the mechanical report.   The Lloyds descriptions are often one sentence and the photos are quite low resolution.     I can’t remember the exact numbers but the fees were fairly comparable.

I also chose to go with a no reserve auction.   I felt the exposure I would get through Shannons would give me enough exposure I would get a good market price.   While I was hoping for $10,000, I felt I would easily get $8,000 if things went badly.    I think reserve auctions put off buyers at the cheaper end of the market.   The fees are much higher.

The sign up process was pretty easy and the Shannons employee I worked with was really helpful and was genuinely interested in the car and appreciated it.    The showroom is in St Leonards which is reasonably simple for me to get to.  I was able to drop off the car on the way to the city one day.

Once the car was there, Shannons took some very good high resolution photos of the car.   The only criticism is that their watermark covers the middle of the photos, meaning it can he hard to zoom in and look at the details.   They also do a mechanical report, which I think is a useful thing for bidders.  I thought their report was reasonably fair, although like a 280SEL they had a previous auction, they noted the car as down on performance.  I don’t think it actually was and they were comparing it to a non ADR27A car.   ADR27A had a big impact on the performance of the M110.

Shannons don’t do an in person Auction anymore.   The lots go live and bidding is open for a week.   Like most Auctions, most of the bidding happens in the last 10 minutes or so that the lot is live.    I normally find a general rule of thumb on these type of auctions is that the bid level will double in the last day of the auction.

The collector car market has really softened in the last 6 months or so.   I went into the last day at $4100.   This was below where I wanted to be, but not fatal.   While my overall goal was to get a figure that would net me $10,000, I felt $8,000 while disappointing would at least be a tolerable result.

Some of the early auctions were doing quite well – then something happened that would change everything.    The Shannons main website went down.   This was a little after 6pm.    It would remain down for the rest of the evening.

During this whole time, the Auction site was unaffected.   The issue is that many people get to the auction site via the main website.    I don’t know how many people this impacted, but certainly the lots that were scheduled for later in the evening had pretty poor results – worse than the ones scheduled earlier.    In the end, I managed to scrape a result of $6,400.   I hardly had any bidding right at the end.

I wasn’t alone.   There were other cars going to equally low numbers around the time of mine.   A great example was a rough R107 that went for $6,800.   The car was rough, but that is a particularly low result.   Neither of the Pagoda SLs got good numbers, and they are normally very popular cars.   The W126 280SE couldn’t get any bids at all.

Shannons had one job to do that night.  Keep their IT infrastructure up.   A short outage of 10-15 minutes would have been inconsequential.   But the hours long outage had a major impact.    While the market is down, and I didn’t expect to get a number in the mid to high end of the guiding range, I felt my personal guiding range of $8-$11,000 was reasonable.

A great contrast was another 280SE sold by grays a couple of weeks earlier.   This is a good comparison as both cars are sold under the same market conditions.    The grays car actually got a slightly higher hammer price than mine, but there was a big gulf between the two cars.   For example, compared to my car, the grays car was:

  • In materially worse condition, with various dents and scratches on the body work
  • A 1974 D-Jet car vs a 1979 K-Jet car.
  • Poorly optioned (no sunroof, crank windows)
  • Sold on grays vs Shannons

I pointed this out to Shannons and they agreed to waive the 7% commission.   This puts me at an equivalent hammer price of around $6,850.   Better, but I don’t think a realistic representation.

I think this outage cost me $1,000-$3,000.   Based on my experience here, I won’t be sending another car to a Shannons auction.   The front end process may be good, but if they can’t do the basics of keeping the IT infrastructure up on the night of the Auction, what is the point?

W124 Ignition tumbler

When I purchased my 300TE, I noticed two things that slightly concerned me.   The first was that I only had one key for the car.   The second was that the ignition barrel was slightly sticky.   There are key blanks available for Mercedes of this era at locksmiths, but the only key I had for the car was a copy.  I didn’t feel like a copy of a copy was all that great an idea, so I contacted the classic centre to see if new ignition tumblers were still available.

Turns out, for this era of W124, with the transmission interlock, they still are.    They are now NLA for the earlier cars such as the, W107, W126 etc.    I got one of the last ones for my old 300SE for example.    While I still could, I ordered one plus two new keys for the 300TE, matched off the data card.    I would encourage anyone who has a W124 of this vintage to order one while they are still available.   They won’t be forever.    The club price for the tumbler plus one key was USD$92, and an addition USD$30 for the second key.  This is obviously before shipping.  These prices are very reasonable.   I bought all this at the same time as the fan clutch a few months ago.

I thought this would be a very good solution.  Swap out the tumbler before I have the same problems on the 300TE as I did on my old W116 280SE.    After that, I would have a brand new tumbler, two genuine keys to use and the copy as a spare.

At this point I assume its going to be a very simple matter to swap the W124 ignition tumbler over.   I’ve done it a few times on the W126, and since it wasn’t stuck yet, I didn’t think I’d have the same issue as the W116.   Turns out I was wrong.

W124 Ignition tumbler

The later W124 tumbler is slightly harder to remove than the W126 version, as there are two tabs that must be unlocked on the tumbler.   This means two metal rods at the same time and then the cap should pop off instead of screw off.    I tried all sorts of different rods, but could never get the cap to come off.   As I persevered, I was often able to feel the tabs push back, but I’m not sure if the cap was stuck somehow, or the tabs were not quite releasing enough.

I went back to the factory manual a few times, re-reading the text each time to make sure I was not missing anything.   I even went to Bunnings (large Australian hardware store) to buy metal wire in the exact diameter specified in the manual.    Didn’t help.

I tried on and off for the next two months, thinking maybe a fresh try would yield some different results.  It didn’t.

In the end I had to conceded defeat and send the car to the professionals.     I hope it would be a less painful result than with the W116, as that required major surgery.

In the end it took my mechanic about three hours to get it out, but unlike me, he was able to get it unstuck.   A good example of how experience counts.    I’ve now got a new W124 ignition tumbler in the car.  I also feel confident that I won’t have a problem like with the W116.

MBCNSW Amazing Rally 2023

Today was my first ever observation rally.   After having gone to car events regularly for well over a decade, I had surprisingly never attended one.  The premise is that you and your navigator follow along a set of directions and get points for correctly deciphering the clues.    Today, the MBCNSW was running one, dubbed The Amazing Rally.    I thought it would be fun to give it a try.   It was a requirement to bring a navigator.   Why stop at one when I could bring three?   I enlisted my three kids as navigators.   They are 8, 6 and 6, and I thought they were now old enough to enjoy something like this.

We took my 560SEL.  Its a good size for four and easy for the kids to get in/out of the back quickly.    It also has plenty of power for the hilly roads in the northwest where the rally was planned.   We had to use that power a few times to pass errant cyclists.

The Amazing Rally

The event started early in St Ives, in one of the locations we regularly use to start night drives.   All entrants got their rally packs and and instructions and we set off, first stop being the St Ives Sphinx.  From there we stopped at various clues going via the Berowa Ferry and over to Cattai Ridge Road.  These would have all been familiar roads to regulars of the night drives. In addition to the clues there were also three ‘sweet spots’ along the way.   This was where each participant picked up lollipops and had to take a photo in front of the location.   My kids were particularly excited about the ‘sweet spots’.

Eventually we ended up at Ebenezer Church, Australia’s oldest surviving church, from 1809.   There we allowed everyone to regroup and sample a delicious Devonshire tea.   I had not been before and it is a very nice location.    The clues were often not easy, often not exactly in order and there were a few trick questions here and there.   It makes sense, as its the only way to separate out the scores with 25+ entrants on the day.

The Amazing Rally

After the morning tea stop we proceeded across the Sackville Ferry, across to river road and then finally back to the Old Northern Road.   As per before there were many clues we had to find along these routes.  Among them were some unique letterboxes such as a repurposed outboard motor.   I was reasonably familiar with a lot of these roads, as this is one of my favourite areas to drive around Sydney and I commonly use these roads for the night drives.

We then concluded the day at a country club in the area where the scores were added up and prizes awarded.   I’m not sure what our final score was, but I think we probably ended up middle of the pack.    I was pretty happy with that result, given not all of our navigation party can read.    We actually won a prize (Presidents Choice) for the youngest navigation team, and the club let the kids give out the rest of the prizes which they enjoyed.   The club always goes out of its way to make the kids feel welcome at these events and they were quite excited to win a prize.

The Amazing Rally

We had a really good day out at the Amazing Rally, and all three kids agreed that if the club did it again next year, they would want to come along.   We also learned a thing or two about doing these events.  Watch out for trick questions and it is worth backtracking to get points.   The time you finish is irrelevant.

Guest Article: Ford BF MK2 Futura Wagon – 6 Month Update

Note:  This is part two in a series by Nick Gruzevskis about owning a Ford BF MK2 Falcon Futura Wagon.   Part 1 is available here.  

What could go wrong owning a 16-year-old Australian designed and manufactured vehicle? It’s now been close to six months since we picked up our 2007 Octane Metallic Ford BF MK2 Futura Wagon, affectionately known as ‘Lister of Smeg’, because it was too sensible for Naomi. Instead, she is thoroughly distracted dividing her time between her hoon and classic cars, leaving Lister to Jack and I.

Reviewing the odometer, we started out with 368,733 kilometres and as of time of writing, it now reads 377,002kms which is a total of 8,269 kms added. In this time, we’ve done two trips to Canberra, one to Port Fairy and used Lister our daily driver. Average LPG usage during this time has been 15.2L/100, which is so close to the published ADR82 combined average of 15.1L/100. During this time the price we’ve paid for LPG in Victoria has fluctuated between $0.79 and $0.99 per litre.


Lister came with both sets of keys and remotes, however the buttons on the circuit boards are known to wear. A visit to Ben at Bond Locksmiths in Blackburn sorted this problem out with a new flip key. While I was tucking into a Lasagna and a glass of Shiraz at the café around the corner, Ben successfully programmed a new flip key and cleaned the old remotes.


As an owner of several classics, I’ve always got thoughts in my head about what could potentially go wrong or maybe what has just gone wrong. I wouldn’t say I’ve got anxiety but provides a good dose of motivation to keep up vehicle maintenance.

Even faithful Lister isn’t immune from wanting attention. The first problem occurred the night before we were planning to leave for Canberra in March. Lister had other ideas and as I started him, I watched horrified as a cloud of white smoke exited from the engine bay on the driver’s side. This could only mean trouble, as the idle was now all over the place too. The timing couldn’t have been worse, and we fretted over the next move.

Ever the networker, Naomi immediately said I should ring Dudley, as he runs an AU Falcon Wagon, using a factory LPG setup. After a short phone call, the offending item was found – the PCV vent breather hose had blown off at both ends. An impressive feat according to Dudley, usually it’s just one end! Fortunately, it was a somewhat easy fix, although I had to remove the whole plastic air intake snake box, to reconnect it to the inlet manifold. Backfires are not all that uncommon on dedicated LPG vehicles, so you always need to mindful of checking plastic air intakes and PCV vent hoses.

On the same trip, but returning home to Melbourne, we stopped at Tallarook on the Hume Highway to fill up with LPG. Again, we found another LPG gotcha. Unbelievably, we could only get 22 cents worth of LPG into the tank. Naomi felt rather silly going into pay, but the kind attendant was actually most apologetic. Most service stations have their LPG tank underground, so the temperature differential between their tank (cold) and the tank in Lister (hot) was too great to fill up, as we had been driving for two to three hours. In this case it was too late for a coffee, so I devoured a chocolate Drumstick and within 15min the tank was cool enough to be filled up. We wised up after this mishap and given the tank size of 116L provides close to 1000km highway range, we now ensure we have a full tank before departing for our destination.

In early May I noticed a musty smell but could also hear water sloshing around. As Lister lives outside, I didn’t think much of it, I just thought water was running off the roof. I should have paid more attention to the symptoms though, as I soon found that the driver’s footwell carpet was soaking wet with an inch of water underneath the foam! Have you ever tried to dry out footwell foam and carpet?? Definitely don’t underestimate this task! The foam was so wet, I had to cut it out (as it’s one piece underneath the carpet) and we spent days trying to dry everything with multiple heaters. Not making great progress, we were very grateful to Dudley for coming to the rescue again and drying the foam with the industrial heaters at his panel shop.

Attempts to find the root cause were frustrating, as I couldn’t find any leaks, apart from a blocked AC evaporator drain. Luckily, we have a hoist at home, but even then, the drain hole is up above the gearbox and difficult to reach. Clearing the drain was only the first part of the problem, as first I had to work out how to remove the interior. There’s a wealth of YouTube content of performing various DIY jobs on your Falcon, so after some quick viewing, I decided to dive head-first in. Within about two hours I had drivers’ seat, lower centre console all removed. I am amazed at the quality of the Ford Australia product, as all the trim went back together very easily and there’s been no rattles or squeaks and more importantly no water ingress since.



Over the past six months, money wise we’ve spent a total of $1034.22 on maintenance and a roadworthy certificate to get Victorian registration.

  • Replaced front windscreen $285
  • Replacement remote key $250
  • Bluetooth adapter, (integrates into Ford ICC Aux Port) $100
  • RWC $220
  • Oil change, coolant flush, including replacing thermostat $179.44
    • Labor $0, as I did all the jobs.

The issues we’ve encountered in the last six months have fortunately been minor and just part of the journey owning a 16-year-old vehicle. In this time Lister has proved his worth, being comfortable, reliable, cheap to maintain and run, whilst providing flexibility to carry large amounts of cargo.

Author:  Nick Gruzevskis is a contributor to classicjalopy.com, and the custodian of a great collection of classic and modern cars.  Click here to read about his fabulous 450SE and SLK230K.    This is the second article about Lister the Ford BF MK2, the first one is available here.   

MBCNSW June 2023 Cars and Coffee

This morning I attended the MBCNSW cars and coffee event in Silverwater.   It was held at the Armory café down by the water.    It is quite nice down there, and there is plenty of parking.    The venue the club used last time is probably nicer, but has a severe shortage of parking.  This forced the cars to triple park and making it very difficult to leave.

This venue has loads of parking, but the downside is that there are a lot of other cars already in the parking lot from the general public so its a bit of a shame seeing a gormless SUV in the line up.  Silverwater is quite a good central location, you can get there from pretty much anywhere in Sydney in an hour or less.

Armory caféThere was a good range of cars there.  Surprisingly the W124 was by far the most common.   It’s only in the last couple of years that the W124 is starting to see a growing interest in the club.   The coupes and the wagons always had somewhat of a following, but it is also great to see the saloon get some attention too.    Not only did I manage to photograph a few W124s, two more arrived just as I left.  A coupe and a saloon.

The highlight for me though was seeing the W108 and W111 saloons parked side by side.   It was a great contrast between the two models.    They are both lovely cars.   And there was also a 300 Adenauer in excellent shape.   Surprisingly for all their popularity in the club there was only a single W126 (A 560SEL) and two 107s. My 450SLC and a 500SL.  There were obviously some modern Mercedes too.

I took my 450SLC.  I’ve been driving it almost daily the last few weeks, and have been really enjoying the Becker radio I just installed.   I did the final fine tuning of the install last night.  It’s sitting far better in the dash now.   After owning the car for over 20 years, I still enjoy driving it.

As well as the cars and coffee, there was also a club breakfast that I didn’t attend.  It was good to go and have a quick look at the cars and say hello and be back at home well before 10am.

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