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Old 01-15-2016, 11:00 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: So. Cal
Posts: 3
1972 W108 SEL 280 Motor Mismatch to Data Card

Hello All. I'm in need of some advice/opinions here.

I recently acquired a 72 280 SEL 4.5 that'd been sitting in an East L.A. Garage for the past 25 years, and as best as I can tell, had not been started the entire time. I immediately joined this forum and have been diligently researching and learning from you all. A few weeks back in my quest for parts, I started to notice some glaring discrepancies between what our host parts company said should match my car, and what was actually on the car currently. This lead me to a drive down the freeway to visit the classic center in Irvine, and the parts guys agreed with my suspicions - the cars motor does not match the data card. I confirmed this by cleaning off gobs of grease and reading the serial number on the drivers side stamped into the block.

The data card shows a M117 with Bosch D-Jet injection.

What I've got is an M116 with K-jet, and a serial number that matches a European 350 SE(L) circa 1977-1980 (W116 chassis). According to the classic center parts guy "you've got an expensive motor there". It's a 3.5L not a 4.5L.

Work I've already undertaken: I've changed all old fuel hoses, oil, all filters and fluids, removed and serviced the radiator, dropped the gas tank and had it professionally cleaned (serious amount of rust), removed and cleaned injectors and installed new nozzles and seals, new plugs. In order to start the car for the first time in 25 years, it was necessary to uninstall and dismantle the fuel injection distributor as the plunger was gummed up and sticking. And hey, it started up with a little coaxing and ran fabulous.

Once started, I noticed a rubbing and whining sound and discovered that the AC compressor belt was rubbing on the sway bar. Pretty severely.

So my question is multi fold : Is this rubbing the result of a motor/chassis mismatch. In other words, this chassis and this motor aren't compatible?

Given that this motor is a Euro model, what if any U.S. model would have a M116 that is substantially similar and therefore make parts procurement less of a chore. I got the correct fuel injector nozzles by ordering from a 77 450 SEL. But that doesn't mean the belts from that car will fit mine. I see no listing for a 350 SE on any U.S. Parts sites. Any advice in this area would be much appreciated.

I've got a new set of Bilstein shocks and new subframe mounts ready to install, I'm hoping that this will cure my belt rubbing issue. But I also suspect that the engine mounts are in dire need. Don't they compress over time? Not sure what mounts to use if I replace. Regular W108 mounts?

Any and all help and suggestions would be a huge help here. Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-18-2016, 10:11 AM
Tomguy's Avatar
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: near Scranton, PA
Posts: 5,176
The 4.5 and 3.5 fit without issues, it's possible a 116 chassis A/C setup was used but I know from pulling one from the yard, aside from a casting change, the A/C idler for a 116 4.5 circa 1975 was identical to my 72's 4.5. To keep things simple, MB used the same mounts, setups, etc for all 116 and 117 engines since the blocks were NEARLY identical.

Which brings me to this: Is the front of the vehicle jacked up with the wheels down when you started it? When I did this with mine I had the same issue. The engine does not like being run with both front wheels dangling from it, with the sway bar and subframe geometry.
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
1999 Chrysler 300M - 214,141+ miles

1972 280SE 4.5
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited "Hefe", 1992 Jeep Cherokee Laredo "Jeepy", 2006 Charger R/T "Hemi"
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Old 01-22-2016, 07:19 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: So. Cal
Posts: 3
Tomguy. Hit the nail on the head. I've had the car on a lift with the tires off while working on it. I put all four back on and dropped it to the ground and see a 1/2" clearance between the AC pulley and the sway bar. Thanks again for your help.
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Old 02-15-2016, 08:58 AM
cth350's Avatar
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 3,782
which means you might need front subframe mounts and or engine mounts replaced to eliminate some of that sag. -cth
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