Why the not so Sporty or Leicht (SL) R129 is the next car you should get

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Why is the R129 SLs so cheap these days and the R107 SL so expensive in comparison? The R107 has already become a true classic since it started production back in 1971. The oldest R129s are already passing 25 years and becoming old. But they are ridiculously cheap compared to what you get. This is a common trait among luxury sedans aged between 20-30 years old before the prices start to go up again, but the SL is supposed to be a sports car and it is a convertible. These types of cars normally have quite higher prices than the aging luxury sedans.

The funny thing is that you can get a V12 SL600 fully equipped for just around 15k Stirling pounds. That’s crazy for a car that nearly cost 100K£ new back in the olden days, especially considering the inflated currency and the value of money back. Why would you even consider buying  new car when you can get this luxury three pointed star of rolling ludicrousness for absolutely less than a single cruise holiday to the Caribbean? Also if you want one R129 in red, they are the most expensive ones, not many came in red and for some reason they are highly valued.

The R129 SLs are also reliable cars where the bigger engines have super strong dual overhead cam axles. Buy it, drive it and don’t bother opening the hood in between services. The only major thing you need to take care of here is the soft top that will deteriorate quicker than the rest of the car. But you probably have a garage right? You can even get them with a hard top which can be used for other seasons than the summer, perfect for northern Europe. Although my personal opinion is that you should avoid driving around in a convertible with the hard top on, what if the sun comes out!?!?

The styling has become timeless yet still feels modern even though it’s a 30 year old design. I have never heard anyone said that the R129 SL looks bad, and in the end that’s what matters right? To drive around in a cool car is first priority. Power, speed, comfort and reliability usually comes second when having a 2-seated mostly unpractical convertible. If you get the R129 you will get all of these except the practicality. Although you will probably fit your unused golf clubs while impressing your business friends that most likely are not good at gold either. (I would rather hang my muddy mountain bike off the back, throw in my diving gear in the boot along with the boots and back pack for hiking, but that’s just me)

So what are you all waiting for? Get out there and buy a cool R129 and drive it!

To be inspired check out these videos about the R129 from Harry’s garage and The Smoking Tire respectively:

Cheers, Robs out 

Ride along in w140 S600 from Japan

Reading Time: 1 minute

This video I just made for testing camera equipment, camera placement and angles, the noise quality etc. Watch with this in mind and laugh at the ridiculous intro/outro and some weird cutting. Comment on Youtube if you want to give constructive feedback.

I used the GoPro Hero4 and built in mic. Some lessons were definitely learned from this recording session:

  1. The gopro mic is not good enough. Use of external mic and good placement is necessary. Inside car is good for louder cars, but for the S600 the mic has to be placed next to the exhaust.
  2. Shooting inside back of car is difficult when it is very bright outside.
  3. Wind noise needs to be dealt with, external mic inside car or wind muff.
  4. More angles and faster cutting is needed.
  5. Introduction to car and it quirks and voice over is necessary for viewers to enjoy videos. This means I have to pull out my English skils and hopefully not so much the Norwegian accent.
  6. Wide angle shots not necessary for every angle. I have a camera for this purpose too.

 

Cheers, Robs out 

W140 S600 added to the collection

Reading Time: 1 minute

Before the summer I acquired a 1996 w140 S600 (Japan spec) as an addition to my old w123 280CE, hence the updated site main picture as of July 2017. It is actually the same car I did the review on last year and the offer was simply too good to refuse. The car is an extremely good find with under 70.000km original km in it’s 20 years lifespan.

The car collection is now larger than 1! My plans with this car is to keep it completely original and use it mainly for long road trips with extreme comfort, silence and unlimited v12 power if you need it. I also hope the value for this flagship will increase significantly since the 600 version is rarer than most production vehicles and the value is now at the lowest it can be.

I will be posting maintenance DIYs where possible with this car, which are extremely rare by the way! And I will be looking into doing car related videos, starting with filming the S600 and then the 280CE. I did some camera tests now in the summer, which I will post almost immediately under the Videos section. I am though planning to making better videos with use of external mic for excellent sound quality which so many car videos lack except high end production.

How to replace tie rods, center drag link and steering damper on W123

Reading Time: 4 minutes

When your car steering starts to feel floaty and maybe the car is starting to drift to one side so you constantly have to correct when going down a straight road, consider changing the steering linkage components and do a wheel alignment.

I will describe how you replace the tie rods, the center drag link and the steering damper only. I will not describe how to do a wheel alignment, because professional wheel alignment equipment is needed.

Changing the idler arm bushing is also possible if you experience a knocking sound going over bumps, but this procedure will be described later in a separate article.

 Theory

Get the parts needed for this job, they are quite cheap since they are normal wear items on a car.
Parts you should get:

  • Right and left side tie rods
  • Center drag link
  • Steering damper
  • Idler arm bushing (job not described in this article)

You will need a special tool for removing the tie rod ends, this can be picked up quite cheap. Either a tie rod fork or a tie rod press tool will do, the latter will not render the tie rod bushing seal useless, but if you are only changing the parts then this does not matter. Additionally you will need a hammer, a torque wrench, some hex tools and some spanners.

 Practice

Start by raising the front of the car on to jack stands, make sure you block the rear wheels. You will have to be able to remove the front wheels to gain access to the tie rods and also be able to turn the wheels.

Because you are working around the brake rotor, it is important that you wear a dust mask and get a bucket of soapy water and start cleaning the brake rotor and the area around to get rid of all the harmful brake dust before you do any other further work. Think of your health!

When you have cleaned the brake dust, turn the steering wheel all the way left if you are working on the right side, and vica versa.

tie rod tool
Use of tie rod press tool to pop the ends off

Get a small pick and clean road grime from the top of the tie rod so you can get a hex tool inserted in to the top. You will loose the bolt with a spanner, but because the whole tie rod end will rotate you have to counter it with the hex tool. When he bolt is off you will notice the tie rod is still extremely stuck. Hit the side hard a couple of times with a hammer to knock the rusted component loose, this might help to loosen it. Insert the tie rod press remove tool and start tightening until the tie rod pops off, this can sometimes be violent. Be careful and don’t lie under it when this happens, because it can happen quite suddenly and the tool and parts might fall on top of you, ouch!

You have to repeat the process twice on each tie rod for both of the car’s sides.

When you have gotten both off, measure the length by counting the turns the tie rod end can rotate before it comes off, it is important that this is exactly the same for the new tie rod. The new and old tie rod should have exactly the same end so your car will have the same handling properties, so it will not be too much “toe in” or “toe out”. The workshop will do the last alignment with reference to the manufacturer specifications after you take the car there. Tighten the tie rod adjustment screw so it will not rotate when the lengths are right.

w123 steering damper
New vs old steering damper. Old one was leaking and in bad condition

Time to take the steering damper off. This is the easiest procedure, it is held in place with two bolts only.

w123 steering damper bolt
Steering damper bolt on the frame side.

One end is attached to the frame of the car while the other one is attached to the center drag link.

Now it is time to get the center drag link off, the procedure is the same here as with the tie rods. Except you don’t have to adjust anything.

W123 center drag link nut
Unbolting the center drag link nut

The fitting is pretty much straight forward, but remember to use the right torque settings for the tie rod mounting nuts. You should tighten them down only to 41Nm, the tie rods will be stuck in the steering arm and the nuts have plastic inserts in them. Remember throw out the old tie rod ends nuts since thee plastic self tightening mechanism is word. The new tie rods and drag link comes with new nuts and be sure to use these. Loosing control of the car because of some old nuts would be as stupid as driving off a cliff.

Safety warning:
You absolutely have to take the car to a workshop where they will do a new wheel alignment. This must always be done right after changing the lower suspension parts!

Cheers, Robs out