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  #1  
Old 05-09-2000, 11:48 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,316
I realize that there is a topic for performance improvement. I checked it out and it seemed to be dominated by discussions of whether a V6 Mustang could beat a 300E off the line and dreams of a 500E.

So I thought I would post this here.

I bought a 300E with a 5 speed about a month ago and am happy with the performance but I think with some tinkering it could be improved.

The car does have 182K on the clock and could benefit from a rebuilt head. The engine seems to have a wealth of low-end torque but could use some more punch above 5000 RPM. I would be willing to sacrifice some of the abundant low end for more power at the high end. I would be happy with another 20 horsepower.

My questions:

If the head gets rebuilt, can the compression be raised modestly? Are there any reputable sources for higher performance cams, valve springs, etc.? And (my biggest concern) would all of this be defeated by a wimpy fuel injection system?

I have entered into a long-term relationship with this car, so any stick-to-the-facts advice would be appreciated.

BTW - I think the real issue on these cars is not the engine, but the automatic. And that's why I think mine would be a blast with some more to end.

I quote from "Featured Cars" on this very site:

"Zero to sixty is about 8.3 seconds for the older 300E and 8 seconds flat for the E320. The manual version of the 300E was able to make 60 in 7.8 seconds."



Thanks guys!

------------------
Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
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  #2  
Old 05-10-2000, 09:04 AM
LarryBible
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Chuck,

Congratulations on finding the needle in the hay stack. I found mine a little over two years ago, I looked for a 5 Speed 300E for a very long time before finding this one. It had 88K miles then, now has 170K.

The car had extensive records and I saw where the valve seals were replaced, I thought that it was just a trumped up repair by the shop that had charged the previous owner for some questionable repairs. I since learned that there was a serious valve seal problem with these engines. I'm still skeptical about the repair because mine uses NO oil. I change it every 3,300 miles and it's still at the full mark when I drain it. Unless you are having low compression due to the need of a valve job, or high oil consumption with blue smoke at cold start up, I don't think the head needs to come off.

As far as increasing the compression, I personally believe that this would be a mistake. This is already a very high compression engine, given todays fuel availability(or lack thereof).

Being Frank, I'm kind of surprised that your impression of this engine is that it is a stump pulling torquer. My impression is that the low end torque is adequate, but it really doesn't "come on" until about 3,200 RPM.

In Germany, vehicles are taxed (heavily) based on engine size. For this reason, the German manufacturers engineer their engines to get as much performance as they can from the smallest displacement. When I say as much as they can, I mean within acceptable drivability limits. Unlike the old American V8's, porting, induction, cam timing, exhaust flow, etc. are already pretty well optimized. Because of this, whenever you cam up an American V8 and put a better manifold and exhaust, you have a lot of room for improvement. With most Benz gas cars, there's not a lot of room for improvement. Sure, you can improve some, but it costs BIG BUCKS.

Another thing to consider when camming up such an engine. One of the most important things about a performance engine is the combination. Everything has to work together. Ideally you should have induction, exhaust, cam timing, ignition timing, etc all laid out so that they work together, in the same RPM range. If you put 305 degree duration cam in an engine with ultra long intake runners and a plugged up exhaust, you're not matching these components. This is not to say that the M103 has either, but it is to say that the combination is not bad as it is.

The 300E is not a perfect car, but it's a great combination of ride, handling, comfort and a little performance. I doubt that the 5 Speed 300E will ever be as sought after as a Gull Wing, but as long as you can still buy gasoline, I believe it will be a well thought of car. To a stick shift lover who is also a Benz lover, you have a very rare find. If you go down the path toward serious modification, I believe you stand a good chance of turning your small treasure into a not so drivable, not so desirable car.

This is coming from someone who is not timid about modifying a car. I've built several hot rods, done several engine swaps and built some relatively radical stroker motors. But, my personal opinion is that the 5 Speed 300E is a good example of a car to maintain well and enjoy as is, with no radical modifications.

I added sportline suspension to mine, and it handles incredibly well when you consider that the car is so tall and narrow it looks like a phone booth.

BTW, now that you have posted that you have a 5 Speed 300E, you can expect to start getting emails asking if you want to sell it. I've received a number of them since frequenting mercedesshop.

Good luck and enjoy,

------------------
Larry Bible
'84 Euro 240D, 516K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles
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  #3  
Old 05-10-2000, 10:42 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,316
Larry -

Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

We may have to agree to disagree on this. Typically, the European engines get another 20 hp with higher compression and mildly hotter cam, so I am going to check this out. I am not thinking 305 degrees, don't worry.

I will keep you posted.

BTW - I actually converted a US spec '79 280E to a 4 speed. I bought a German 280E with a rotten body and a dead engine and used the transmission, flywheel, linkage, pedals, etc. along with new hydraulics from the 240D. The only challenge was having the new and old flywheels static balanced. The conversion turned out wonderfully.

Everything fit, looked totally stock, and the car literally came alive. Mein Mekaniker, Herr Fuchs, could not believe the change in the car. Cost about $1700 after I sold the automatic and the donor car.

------------------
Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
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  #4  
Old 05-10-2000, 11:08 AM
DuckMuck's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2000
Location: Chandler, Arizona, USA
Posts: 804
Wut IS a 5-speed MB 300E??? I've never heard of such a thing...I'm assuming it is a W124, but I thought all W124's had 4-speed automatics in the US and Canada. This is a 5-speed automatic on a 300E??? Can you guys plz tell me a bit about the history of this car, when it was made, tech stuff, etc.??? I'm actually extremely interested. Thanx!

------------------
1995 Mercedes-Benz E420 (W124 - Black Pearl/Black)
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  #5  
Old 05-10-2000, 06:14 PM
LarryBible
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DuckMuck,

In '86 and '88 MBNA made the 300E with a 5 Speed Manual transmission available in the US. There aren't many of them here. Chuck and I both have one.

As you can see Chuck and I are disagreeing about whether or not to go to a lot of trouble for 20 more HP for use with the manual transmission, but you can also see that we both agree that a manual transmission makes a wonderful car out of the 300E.

Have a great day,

------------------
Larry Bible
'84 Euro 240D, 516K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles
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  #6  
Old 05-11-2000, 08:44 AM
LarryBible
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Chuck,

If you are intent on raising compression, can you find out if the Euro model with higher compression achieves it with a different piston top or a different combustion chamber. If they do it with the head, it looks like you need to find out how much can be milled off the head with no problems.

Also, I saw a camshaft advertised which was made by Schrick. It claimed 12 to 15 horsepower increase. No meaningful specs or other information were given. I'm sure that you know that it does this by pushing the torque peak to a higer RPM which increases the calculated result. In some cases, this will actually slightly decrease the maximum torque, but since the torque peak is shifted to a higher RPM the calculated HP figure increases. As I recall from a table in a David Vizard book I have at home, increasing the compression by about a half point will theoretically increase power by about .5%, so that would give another horsepower or so. I will check that table when I get home tonight.

The intake ports of American car cylinder heads have a lot of room for improvement with minor work with a hand grinder. I have never seen the intake ports on an M103 head. If they are like an old gas MB cylinder head I rebuilt a number of years ago, they're pretty decent as is, not much room for improvement. But there may be some things you could do with the ports and valves while the head is off. If you can achieve the same flow increase with port work as you could the camshaft, the port work is a much better increase because it doesn't have the ill effects of more cam. If you can increase port flow AND increase the timing a little, you MIGHT get to your desired 20 HP increase with all this.

Lots of IF's.

One concern I have about doing all this without freshening up the cylinders and rings, is that you will be increasing cylinder pressure. This could start causing problems with a high mileage cylinder/piston/ring combination. It very well could start blowing oil like crazy.

Your 280E stick shift project sounded great. Anything that gives me a manual transmission is okay with me.

Good luck,

------------------
Larry Bible
'84 Euro 240D, 516K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles
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  #7  
Old 05-11-2000, 09:37 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
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Larry -

Thanks for the info. I will check Schrick out. From my Chevy days, I am acutely aware of "If ya valve, ya gotta ring."

I did a little bit of research last night and found an interesting resource, Try this:

"http://beta.mmwi.co.za/cgi-bin/dbase.cgi?t=mos&make=Mercedes-Benz"

What I learned is that the Euro SOHC cars had 188 HP, and (interesting) that the DOHC engine made 220 (217 in US trim) and was available with a 5 speed. Now that would be the combination to have.

Click! Maybe a '89-92 M104 will drop in the '86? There are plenty of complete engines in junkyards at reasonable prices.

Has anyone out there done this swap or looked into it?

Thanks.



------------------
Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'86 300E 5 speed
'95 C220 (wife's car)
'98 Porsche Boxster
Past: '79 280E, '82 300D (18 yrs), '77 240D,
4 250C's
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  #8  
Old 05-11-2000, 11:07 AM
LarryBible
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Chuck,

Check out the Shop Swap Classifieds. There is a 190E with an M104 and 5 Speed for sale. It was built by someone at Patomac, a large salvage yard. If I was around some place like that, I'd find out what would fit what.

I want to research this, I don't know how helpful the fellow at Patomac will be. It seems that the 5 Speed that's hooked to the 2.6 in a 201 car is the same transmission. If this is the case, the transmission has some availability. If a person could get the pedal mechanism with the master cylinder and the other parts, you could get enough stuff to build an M104 with a 5 Speed out of an automatic 300E. There are lots of them around here with good bodies, but maybe tired engines or transmissions.

I would like to do this instead of changing my original 124 5 Speed car.

Anyway check out the classifieds on this site, and have a great day.

------------------
Larry Bible
'84 Euro 240D, 516K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles
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  #9  
Old 05-11-2000, 03:24 PM
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Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: SW Colorado USA
Posts: 296
Of course the ultimate solution albeit spendy is a 3.6 conversion from Renntech or Brabus. Either gives over 250 hp and a corresponding torque increase. I have been seriously considering this for my 300GE 5sp. You guys are right about the 5sp, I have driven G wagens with the M103 automatic and my M103 5sp feels like a hot rod in comparison. With 250hp and a 5sp you would have an M3 killer with a sweet tuned 6cyl howl. Good luck with your project.

------------------
90 300GE 5sp
95 740iL
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  #10  
Old 05-12-2000, 12:45 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,316
Larry-

Potomac German Auto is up the road from us. They used to have a $75 all-you-can-unbolt-
and-carry deal on Saturdays for the local MB club. Then they got an 800 number and sort of abandoned the DIY crowd.

I think I will call the guy and see what he knows about interchangabilty.

For some reason, another trans swap doesn't sound interesting, to say nothing of Senior Management's reaction to buying another car.

Chuck
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  #11  
Old 05-12-2000, 08:31 AM
LarryBible
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Chuck,

I can understand why a transmission swap would be looked forward to with dread. The pedals and hydraulics are probably the worst of it. But you have to admit at least with our stick shift opinions, we would be improving the car we did the swap on.

There is a foreign car salvage yard in Fort Worth that used to let the Benz club into a specific area once a year for a free all you can pull Saturday morning. They were still doing this after they "put in their 1-800 number". But, what killed it was that some people with shops came in and got everything they could get and then took it back to their shops to sell. I didn't blame the salvage yard for slowing this down. They now do it every other year, have security, and charge a few bucks. It's amazing how a few people can ruin things for everyone.

Keep us posted about whatever you come up with for the 3.2 in the stick shift car. I'm very interested in this.

Good luck,

------------------
Larry Bible
'84 Euro 240D, 516K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles
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  #12  
Old 05-13-2000, 12:39 AM
juan01
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quote:
Originally posted by DuckMuck:
Wut IS a 5-speed MB 300E??? I've never heard of such a thing...I'm assuming it is a W124, but I thought all W124's had 4-speed automatics in the US and Canada. This is a 5-speed automatic on a 300E??? Can you guys plz tell me a bit about the history of this car, when it was made, tech stuff, etc.??? I'm actually extremely interested. Thanx!


Reply/Info:

I bought an '86 with about 85k in 1996. It has now 167k, half of it city to NJ suburbs and back and quite a few trips to Montreal. It is parked on a city street, urban area, summer and winter, and runs like a new car. It has five gears and I bought it from its first owner who told me that in '86 only four stick-shift models were sold in NJ. I get most of the more significant work done in Montreal where I found a superb shop with decent prices and great and honest mechanics from the Middle East. I keep on trying to buy another car but this guy runs so well and so fast that I feel guilty checking prices. Going to Montreal I set it in fifth gear at about 70 and basically stop once for gas and coffee. Trade in would be about 3k.
Only problem -and a sort of a mytery to us- is how difficult it is, when the To. is below freezing, to get her in reverse.
Regards,

j.






------------------
juan01
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  #13  
Old 05-14-2000, 10:48 PM
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: Charlotte, NC, USA
Posts: 688
You were thinking how dreadful it would be to convert an automatic to a manual. I've converted my 190 when I put the V8 in and now four years later I've converted back to a 5-speed. Putting in a pedal cluster is a matter of four nuts on the power brake booster studs and one bolt vertical, all of which are easily done with a 3/8 ratchet, a six inch extension and a 13mm. socket. You have to fish your line to the reservoir through a hole in the firewall and hook it to the slip fitting on the brake master cylinder reservoir. The reservoir has a plugged off fitting there, just cut the nipple off and slip the hose on and refill it. The cluster for a 201(190) and a 124 (300E) are interchangeable. The clutch masters are both 19mm.
Just remember when you buy a transmission that you get the driveshaft as it is different and get the console cover and boot.

Good luck...it's worth the little trouble!

TobiasMB
300SE, 300CE, 190/5.0
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  #14  
Old 05-15-2000, 08:24 AM
LarryBible
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juan01,

If you ever get rid of your 5 Speed, please don't trade it in at a dealer to go to the scrap heap. Put an ad on the Shop Swap classifieds on this site. You will get more for the car and save it from the crusher.

Thanks,

------------------
Larry Bible
'84 Euro 240D, 516K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles
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