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Old 04-01-2001, 07:39 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 21
Good afternoon

We have an old but otherwise immaculate 28o S as a spare car. Right habd drive here in Southern Africa. Old engineering but good engineering, and would be sorry to see it go.

Problem is that it 'seems' to underperform. It is heavy and we are at 6000 feet altitude. Once going it is smooth. It is heavy on gas and exhausts burn vry dark grey/black on leaded fuel 93 octane. Merc mechanics shrug and say its old and we don't really know the condition of valve seals etc. It starts very easily. It gives a large puff of whitish smoke if the accelerator is depressed hard when travelling fast---say having had ones foot off the pedal for a few seconds and then accellerating firmly.

Other mechanics say that the carburettors on these cars eventually warp and proper settings cannot be achieved thereafter. Some say to convert to a Weber alternative that is OK but not quite up to the original carbs (A4 Solex, I believe). New Solex carb is abortively expensive for this car.

So much for questionable performance, but I was reading up on torque converters and there read about clutches in these devices that --if not functioning correctly--- can cost one 30% of power and gas overusage. Older auto-transmissions may be more susceptible to this. How would one check this?

Any tips or basic tests on 280S or effective ways or solutions to typical 'underperformance' problems (such as the carbs or transmissions) from any aspect will be very much appreciated. There could be simple things like throttles not opening fully, or some unexpected --but imprtant thing with these cars--like coils deteriorating in a benign way.

It is a pity that no effective English Language Workshop manuals (such as Haynes publications don't seem to exist).

I do look forward to comments with much interest and great appreciation.


Ed Cumings

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Old 04-01-2001, 09:14 AM
cth350's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 3,651
The engish language manuals are available here in the states. EVERYTHING you'd ever want to know about this car, mechanically, can be found on paper or CD. The CD contains the Engine manual, body & chassis manuals, climate control and electrical troubleshooting. There's even a copy of the owner's manual.

This web site can sell you the CD.

If you email me (, I can send you a .zip file that contains the carb adjustment data that I scanned from the introduction to service manual for this carb. Between a carb adjustment and setting the valve clearance correctly, you might make the car more peppy.

The smoke conditions you describe sound to me like there is some engine work in your future. Armed with the CD, a competent machinist and a parts supplier here in the states, you should have no serious troubles.

I have a 74 280C, which has the same engine as yours. I paid 50$ for a replacement carb in "good, used" condition.

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Old 04-01-2001, 11:30 AM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
The smoke you describe sounds like valve guide oil seals which are not easy to replace on the M110 engine.

My wife had a 81 280SEL for 13 years (1985 - 1998) and it gave a little puff after decel all its life. If your oil consumption isn't high I wouldn't worry about it.

Timing is critical for that engine to get power. I would experiment with higher settings since you have good gas.

Since I have lived my whole mechanical life at sealevel I can't say what to do about rejetting and adjusting for altitude, but I know that it can be done and is being done. The action of the secondaries is complicated and in constant need of attention on those carbs. Calibration of the secondary air valve spring tention is most important.
Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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