Chuck, (ctaylor 738),
Thanks for the welcome to the elite club of 5-speed 300E owners and the 300E blessing!
By the way, before I join the fray on projecting what the German people think and want in a Mercedes-Benz transmission, I have a question. I have been unable to figure out how to get the window actuator switches out of the center wood console. I don't want to damage the wood as it is essentially flawless right now. I thought this would be much like a W123 installation, but have not been able to find how the wood trim is fastened. I am embarrassed to say I have also been unable to get the ashtray out, as it does not seem to push in and come out like the ashtrays on the other cars I have.
Well, Larry and all, the German availability of manual transmissions never covered an 8 cylinder engine to my knowledge. I believe this is because in Germany and much of Europe, going back to the 60's and 70's when I lived there, taxes and insurance were related to displacement and horsepower. Eight cylinder engines were always reserved for higher displacements and could only be afforded by wealthy people. This included "S" class cars, as you could always get a 6 cylinder "S" class car (we had a 1959 and then a 1964 220S car with column mounted 4-speeds) with a manual transmission. In Germany you could get your "S" with manual windup windows and cloth interiors as these were not (added by edit) baseline only on the "SEL" models (which were really perceived as luxury cars so they had electric windows and leather as standard in the '80's) through at least 1985 (W126). I do not have the order book for later models, but I think the policy continues to this day.
The cars were always designed to take advantage of whatever optional equipment the owner ordered, even an automatic transmission. The added torque of the larger displacement engine made the existing array of manual transmissions for the 4, 5 and 6 cylinder engines unsuitable. The owner's status as an advertised "wealthy" individual with the "3.5", "4.5" or other decklid designator, led to very limited interest in manual transmissions in these cars as well (as another noted in an earlier post, the perception of shifting manually when, for added cost a wealthy individual could have a machine take care of that task, made the big Mercededs with the big engine only seem properly outfitted with an automatic). As a result there were no manual transmissions developed for the larger engines and none were offered.
I also agree with Michael that Mercedes-Benz designs and builds most of their own transmissions. They may well out source the odd ball unit, or some that are experiencing unexpected demand, but I am sure they are designed by Mercedes, in house staff. Where they are built is likely a cost/benefit analysis consequence.
I agree with Larry that such customers may exist for Mercedes to sell cars to, they may even be the majority of Mercedes customers in the US, I am just not one of them. I have one car with an automatic left (the C230 Kompressor is leaving because it is an automatic, and convinced me a modern automatic may be a better gadget than an older one, but it is no comparison to a manual), only because I wanted a Diesel that would last for several hundred thousand miles and Mercedes only makes that car available in the US with an automatic.
This has become quite an interesting thread. Good Luck, Jim
1986 Euro 190E 2.3-16 (291,000 miles),
1998 E300D TurboDiesel, 231,000 miles -purchased with 45,000,
1988 300E 5-speed 252,000 miles,
1983 240D 4-speed, purchased w/136,000, now with 222,000 miles.
2009 ML320CDI Bluetec, 89,000 miles
1971 220D (250,000 miles plus, sold to father-in-law),
1975 240D (245,000 miles - died of body rot),
1991 350SD (176,560 miles, weakest Benz I have owned),
1999 C230 Sport (45,400 miles),
1982 240D (321,000 miles, put to sleep)
Last edited by JimSmith; 12-05-2001 at 03:07 PM.