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  #1  
Old 03-20-2002, 12:17 PM
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Import/Federalizing

I am wondering what exactly they did to my car when it was shipped to the US from Germany. I know they changed the headlights and put on the different speedo face and put some beams in the doors, but I am most concerned about my engine. Does anyone know exactly what was done to my engine? Or does anyone know where I can find this out?
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'86 420SE Euro
904 Midnight Blue, Gray Velour
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"A Mercedes-Benz is like a fine wine, it only gets better with age."
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  #2  
Old 03-20-2002, 01:17 PM
Fimum Fit
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Try www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import

for the general principles they would have applied if it was a Euro-spec car originally.

The bottom line of your signature makes me wonder if it wasn't a USA-spec car to begin with, just ordered for Euro delivery. Or are you talking about a different car?

Last edited by Fimum Fit; 03-20-2002 at 01:25 PM.
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  #3  
Old 03-20-2002, 02:04 PM
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No, it was originally a Euro car. Notice that it is a 420SE, not an SEL. The 420SE was never imported. It was driven in Germany from 86 to 89 before it was shipped to the US.
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'86 420SE Euro
904 Midnight Blue, Gray Velour
Dad bought it new, now I own it.

"A Mercedes-Benz is like a fine wine, it only gets better with age."
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  #4  
Old 03-20-2002, 05:28 PM
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It depends completely on the importer and or how it was brought in. At one point there was a "one time exemption" that allowed the car to be brought in without any emissions modification. You could check to see if there is a sticker on the drivers door from the importer. Does it have catalytic converters? They may have been optional on the car in Europe in 1986, not sure. My car is an 1980 and it had nothing done to the motor or to the bumpers or lights as far as I can tell. No catalytic converters or any other emissions equipment.
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got rid of:
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  #5  
Old 03-20-2002, 06:50 PM
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You are right, a non-cat version was available in 86, but mine has one on it. It also has a smog pump which I think is factory. So it had all the basic emissions stuff on it. What else could have really been done? I think all they did was mess with the timing and general tuning. I was just posting this to find out if there was anything I don't know of, because I am wanting to return my car to exact euro spec.
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'86 420SE Euro
904 Midnight Blue, Gray Velour
Dad bought it new, now I own it.

"A Mercedes-Benz is like a fine wine, it only gets better with age."
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  #6  
Old 03-20-2002, 07:06 PM
Fimum Fit
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Incredible details need to be covered for certification

There are so many fine points from which it is clear that a lot of our US "safety standards" are really just hidden trade barriers to raise the price of imported cars, and not just the well-known headlight absurdities. There is a legend that one Ferrari grey market importer was fined $10,000 for not changing the turn signal flasher in cars he was certifying as legally converted; it seems that the USA "experts" think that a turn signal must flash 60-80 times per minute to be safe, whereas Europeans want 90-120 flashes per minute.
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  #7  
Old 03-21-2002, 09:52 AM
Matt Crooke
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This is a really interesting topic actually, about the differences in cars between europe and the states.

Catilityc converters are a good example, they have only become mainstream on cars since about 1990, before that you could have one as an optional extra. A rear fog lamp is required on UK spec cars as well, it has to be fitted on the right rear of the car.

One other sticking poing for US cars being imported over here was the indicators (turn signals) On a lot of US cars the indicator flasher and the brakelights were one unit and coloured red. This is illegal in this country as flashers have to be orange.

Lots of silly rules!!
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  #8  
Old 03-21-2002, 09:53 AM
Matt Crooke
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ALso, Smog pumps and other such emmissions devices dont have to be fitted here, only the cat.
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  #9  
Old 03-21-2002, 04:08 PM
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Flaser int he rear it he US can be red. take a loo at most any ford, or GM truck made, as well as many other ford's and chevy's..

Most had all red taillights. I believe the new caddy's do too.

As long as its visible in the rear it should be legal in the states... But it has to be red or orange to be considered legal.

Though I haven't had any issues with mine using clear bulbs at all front and rear... yet.

Alon
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  #10  
Old 03-21-2002, 06:11 PM
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mbtjc,

If your car was legally modified to meet the EPA and DOT regulations, you should have a nameplate in the driver door jamb that identifies the importer of record. It should list the address as well. It may list your name or the original owner in this space, which won't do you much good.

In 1986 a Euro version of the US emissions control system was made available for most Mercedes-Benz autos as an option. It made bringing the car into the US much easier, but that is not why it was offered.

Apparently the Green Party found the fact that the cars were for sale in the US with superior levels of environmental friendliness than were available in the Fatherland, and this was publicized as a good reason not to trust the auto companies and impose speed limits. In the end, the systems were made available, as well as unleaded fuel (if your car came from the factory with a cat installed, you might see a sticker that is a green background with white or silver letters that says "Bleifrei" or unleaded under the filler cap) in a negotiated solution to imposing speed limits on all the Autobahns.

A factory installation meant for the Fatherland will also include a round, black plastic fitting, about one inch or so in diameter with green lettering on the driver's side fender with wire running to it. It should have a letter "N" on the top one one side and about half way around to the other side a a letter "S" with tick marks between them. This thing is to adjust the ignition timing for the gasoline you are using, "S" equals "Super" and "N" equals "Normal" (high octane and regular, respectively).

Someone should have records of who performed the modifications on the car, as the door beams and bumper mods, as well as the lights, speedo and CHMSL had to be added regardless. These were not made options on MB's (the door beams and bumpers, I believe however, became standard on Porsches around this time due to an accident by a factory driver on the proving grounds that resulted in injuries that might have been avoided with a US model).

A very detailed report was submitted by the agent selected to handle the modifications to both the EPA and the DOT. These reports may or may not be available for you to copy through the government. I doubt anybody that did the modifications is still in business today though, as when the dollar value dropped in the later 1980's the cost incentive to play in the grey market vanished, and so did the large number of people playing.

Hope this helps, Jim
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  #11  
Old 03-21-2002, 06:55 PM
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Well...here's the deal. My dad is the original owner. He had a special attachment to it, so when we moved to the US, he couldn't let his car go! So he shipped it. Then the people stole his radio and messed up a few things and when he went to file a claim, he found out that they went out of business. So he was screwed there. I guess I could contact another import company and ask what the "to-do list" was for cars in 89. Good idea? I think he took the sticker off, but I think I found it in the glove box...doesn't say much, but a little thing about timing and idle speed. I really don't mind the beams or the reinforced bumpers, esp. because they still look like the short euros. The headlights, the trip computer which they messed up and the speedo that is off pisses me (and my dad) off the most. Then I start thinking about what all they could have messed up in the motor...aaahhh!
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'86 420SE Euro
904 Midnight Blue, Gray Velour
Dad bought it new, now I own it.

"A Mercedes-Benz is like a fine wine, it only gets better with age."
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  #12  
Old 03-21-2002, 07:13 PM
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check the engine number, could have different cams with smaller lift and duration, number is on back of the cam once the valve cover is off you should be able to see it with a mirror, I'm not sure what the number was on my 500SE Euro, but when I changed my engine, it had a different block, heads, cams and intake, bigger I mean, I didn't bother with finding the parts, so I just got a whole 380SE US engine, mine still doesn't have cats or a smog pump, but it doesn't need them because mine is waived from emissions, best way to check yours would be to get the engine number, sits on the left side of engine at bottom of the head, I believe yours is a 117 number, my 500SE was a 116 number as for other things, guage cluster is still Euro, seat belts Euro, has the door stamp with importer name, different suspension, Euro bumpers, and all these buttons on the center dash which I can't figure out since I've never seen them on any other 380 or 500, the vin number is not on the window beam, its under the hood agianst the firewall, different than the US, the turn signal does not disengage automatically like the US, the cruise control is in all german writing, maybe others had that, I'm not sure though, I'm sure their are other things different but I just drive the car, no one has said anything to me yet
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  #13  
Old 03-21-2002, 07:27 PM
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My engine is a 116.034. The 500s and 560s were 117s. My VIN is on the A pillar, I am thinking that was part of the 86 makeover. My cruise is in German too, but my signals disengage. The buttons are German too but that is no problem since I can speak German. The speedo was converted to a US speedo face, but I think the calibration of the face is different because my speedo is off, so I am getting a KM face to return it to original, I can figure out my speed. I have also have a supposedly rare trip meter on the right slot on my cluster and my tach is on the left. Oh..and how are the seatbelts different? Just wondering.
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'86 420SE Euro
904 Midnight Blue, Gray Velour
Dad bought it new, now I own it.

"A Mercedes-Benz is like a fine wine, it only gets better with age."
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  #14  
Old 03-21-2002, 09:00 PM
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thanks BriBenz, as for the seatbelts, the Euro's are different my car originally came with cloth seats, but I recently changed them to black leather, and the seat belts don't fit, the Euro one's are too big maybe its the seats I don't know but I do know they don't fit
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  #15  
Old 03-22-2002, 12:01 AM
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My seat belts are wider, perhaps 3 inches instead of 2 1/2 inches.(I did not measure this but you can tell they are wider than normal) My turn signal auto cancels. I am quite certain that all the cars I have driven in Europe had canceling signals but I could be wrong because we were drinking so much wine that i might not remember correctly! I also do not remember if i drove a Mercedes while I was there.
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Currently
1991 Mazda Miata 174000
1991 Subaru 189,000 Winter beater

got rid of:
1984 VW Vanagon 195,000
1976 350SE Euro 185,000 KM
1973 280SE 4.5 (boy do I regret that)
1980 280SE European W126 4 speed manual (miss it)
1989 BMW 735iL 119000 (good riddance)
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