1966 Mercedes 300SE Cabriolet
The mid 1960s Type 112 Mercedes is a large car, there's no getting away from it. Into this bodyshell Mercedes fitted their 3 litre fuel injected 6 cylinder engine, an automatic gearbox and the self levelling air suspension from the Type 600 limousine. The air suspension system has a small belt driven compressor mounted on the front of the engine, ride height and and self levelling adjustment controls throughout the car and lots of pipework underneath to make it all work - a true 'plumber's nightmare'! The cabriolet with its immense power hood is a much sought after classic car, well able to waft 4 or 5 people along in fast open-topped luxury. High fuel consumption is the price that has to be paid for all this weight of car - low teens mpg is the usual thirst level . . .
This 1966 Mercedes 300SE cabriolet arrived with us in a unique fashion. Another firm had started the restoration but it had defeated them. They had partially stripped the bodyshell and rolled it over, building a huge girder frame inside to support it without crushing the windscreen surround. After we finished off the welding work underneath we had to roll it upright again and remove the frame. This rolling operation was just about completed when this photograph was taken. Incidentally, in the foreground is a Jaguar XK150 and in the background a Triumph Renown.
Then we repaired the upper bodywork areas. Here the nearside wing has been removed to allow the inner areas to be repaired. Mercedes supplied new wing panels for this car with no trouble at all - not cheap but they fitted superbly. The breeze blocks were a temporary support whilst the axle stands were being repositioned. This is a view of the off side inner front wing area. There is a lot of metal to be repaired and a lot of rust to remove. The front suspension subframe has been removed for restoration and this gave good access to the needed areas.
Here the rear axle restoration has been completed. It is a swing axle design having a huge pivot in the centre which allows bot half shaft tubes to pivot up and down. Mercedes used this design extensively during this period and late on many different models. Incidentally, there is a Daimler 2.5 litre V8 in the background.
When the bodywork repairs were nearly finished all the chromework was trial fitted to check the panel gaps and alignment prior to painting. The front view of the trial fitting process. The nearside front wing was repaired but the offside one had to be renewed. Its at this stage of a restoration that it starts to look like a proper car again. After the car was resprayed in a shade of Mercedes Blue the fitting up process got under way properly. There was a lot of complexity to this car. The air suspension unit can just be seen inside the front suspension assembly. The air system has a large reservoir tank inside the nearside front inner wing area - the curved top of it can just be seen. The finished engine bay looking superb. The finned top of the air compressor for the suspension can be seen just in front of the orange distributor cover. There are a LOT of pipes in the engine bay.
A rear view of the assembled car. The owner had arranged for a specialist Mercedes trimmer to retrim the car as the final stage of its restoration so it now left us. A front view of the assembled car. These 4 headlight Mercedes are always most impressive and elegant, especially from the front. The cardboard boxes inside the car in the first photo contain rest of the trim parts for the specialist Mercedes trimmer to restore and fit.