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  #1  
Old 03-11-2002, 11:25 PM
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Old MBs good in snow (Aaron Greenberg?)

Aaron and others in snowy areas,

Hi. I need advice on MB models and how they do in the winter. In about a year or so I will be trading in my '96 Dodge (110,000 miles currently) for a "new" car. I'm considering getting an older MB, perhaps 114, 123, 124, 116, or 126 chassis. If I go for a used MB as apposed to a new car (Honda, Toyota, Subaru, etc), it would be because of a low point of entry cost; below $15,000 for sure, maybe below $10,000. (Yea, I know, I'll spend $4,000 to get it running like it was when new.) The only thing is that I would really need a car that would go well in the snow. My first three cars were rear-wheel drive ('76 Buick Electra, '83 Toyota Celica, '85 Nissian 300ZX) and I got by with them pretty well. What old MB would do me right in poor weather? Also, with all the other unskilled poor weather drivers in Ohio, what car would I be safest in? Are these two criteria met by one car?

Thanks!
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www.mbca.org - www.sl113.org - www.ohio4x4.com
NOW: 2006 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, 1997 E300D, 1966 230SL, 1980 450SL (for sale!)
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  #2  
Old 03-11-2002, 11:38 PM
PaulC
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For rust protection alone, I would choose the 124 or 126 over the other choices presented. Get FOUR good aggressive snow tires, no wider than the factory original size, and put a bag of sand in the trunk over the rear axle. A 300SEL would be an excellent choice, with the long wheelbase enhancing front/rear weight distribution and a relatively low-torque engine to keep the driver out of accelerator-induced trouble.

Second prize goes to a 124 WAGON, with the extra rear-end weight a wagon brings to the equation (compared to the sedan).
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  #3  
Old 03-12-2002, 09:51 AM
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Our 1982 300D was awful in the snow. The automatic engaging low gear and the low-end torque of the diesel combined with no limited slip in the rear end meant that you could literally get stuck with one wheel on a patch of ice. My Porsche 928 was better, and it was no joy either.

My 1979 280E was much better - 2nd gear start and less low-end torque.

My 300E does very well.

Our C-class is OK, about like the 280E.
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'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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  #4  
Old 03-12-2002, 10:48 AM
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Which models, and in which years, was a limited-slip differential available? I'm assuming it was not available at all on the 114, 123, and 116. Is this correct? I had one on both the Celica and 300ZX (w/ 5 speed manuals on both) and they went well in the snow. I will be looking for an automatic transmission in case the wife needs to drive the car.
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NOW: 2006 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, 1997 E300D, 1966 230SL, 1980 450SL (for sale!)
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  #5  
Old 03-12-2002, 11:41 AM
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rmasteller... go with a 126

however, its a rear wheel drive... not sure if thats what u r looking for.

Im having fun with mine
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  #6  
Old 03-12-2002, 09:47 PM
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Yes, they are all rear wheel drive. I think with a limited-slip diff. and snow tires I'll be fine. Heck, I've been driving for almost 20 years and I've never had true snow tires.

So, following the previous advice, I guess I need to know when the 124 and 126 chassis had a limited-slip offered.

I have heard on various lists vastly differing opinions on the ability of the 124 and 126 chassis cars in the snow. Can this be attributed to driving skills and habits, or can individual cars and different tires be that varied?

Thanks,
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www.mbca.org - www.sl113.org - www.ohio4x4.com
NOW: 2006 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, 1997 E300D, 1966 230SL, 1980 450SL (for sale!)
PAST: 2006 C230, 1994 E420, 1994 Neon, 1983 Celica GT, 1984 300ZX, 1976 Electra Limited, 1984 Honda Nighthawk 650, 1979 Suzuki PE175
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  #7  
Old 03-13-2002, 12:59 AM
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Bill,

I do seem to remember that conversation My 380SE (RARELY driven in winter) would always manage to get stuck in my driveway no matter how little snow there was on the ground. My W116 300SD "Eduardo" did not leave me stranded once! Neither has my W108 280SE. The W116 and W108 were very well balanced cars, unlike the W126. The W123s are pretty bad as well, and the wagons can be worse due to lack of weight in the back. In any case, I put two 50 pound bags of bird seed in the trunk of whatever I am driving and keep them in there till spring, then when I take them out, I can feed the birds! It's a win-win situation. My choice for best old MB in the snow? Either a 116 or 108 and preferably the 116.
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  #8  
Old 03-13-2002, 08:06 AM
dweller
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The only MBs that I have owned that have been decent in snow (in Michigan) are manny tranny models. My current winter driver is a 240D 4 speed.

Unlike most front-wheel drive cars, you'll want to have really good snow tires to drive in snow, and put them on all four corners.

I have gotten by with good all seasons (Michelin X-ones), but it's far better to get true snow tires for the winter and then change to good all-season tires for the summer.
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  #9  
Old 03-13-2002, 09:13 AM
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Aaron,
Thanks for the input. Could your w126 problem be that it does not have a limited-slip diff, but the other cars do? It's always better to have two tires powered instead of one. Also, you said that wagons have less weight in the back, but "PaulC" claims they would have more. Is there some place I could check this for sure? There must be documentation somewhere that shows the front/rear weight distribution.

And shouldn't you be feeding the birds in the winter instead of the spring?

Thanks,
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Rodd
www.mbca.org - www.sl113.org - www.ohio4x4.com
NOW: 2006 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, 1997 E300D, 1966 230SL, 1980 450SL (for sale!)
PAST: 2006 C230, 1994 E420, 1994 Neon, 1983 Celica GT, 1984 300ZX, 1976 Electra Limited, 1984 Honda Nighthawk 650, 1979 Suzuki PE175
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  #10  
Old 03-13-2002, 09:16 AM
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300D

I live in Minnesota. I have found that good snow tires are much more important than which wheels drive the car. Also, heavier cars seem to do much better than lighter ones. My 1983 300D with blizzaks on all four wheels was much better than my front wheel drive saab with regular all season tires. A manual transmission is very helpful also. Four wheel drive is no compensation for driving experience. Every year after the first snow I see SUVs in all kinds of trouble because they can get going ok but canít stop or handle any better than any other car in the snow.
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  #11  
Old 03-13-2002, 12:20 PM
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Rodd,

Yes, when I take the bird seed out in the spring, I feed them. The seed stays in the trunk till then. My 116 didn't have limited slip, nor does my 108. My 6.9 does however, but that car doesn't get driven in the winter. See, because of the perfect balance of the 116 and the 108, you can get away with all season tires in the winter. I have Michelin MXV4s on my 380SE and it sucks in the snow. If you drive a 126 or 123 in the snow, you MUST have good snow tires, and my choice there is the Michelin Arctic Alpin. We had them on our 300E and it was great in the snow. Wouldn't move without them.
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  #12  
Old 03-13-2002, 11:41 PM
PaulC
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RE: Tail-heavy wagons

I've dug up some random specs on a few MB's regarding curb weight and static front/rear weight distribution:

According to April 1981 Road & Track:

1981 300TD wagon (w123) - Curb weight = 3,805 lb.
weight distribution front/rear(%) 52/48


According to April 1986 Road & Track:

1977 280E sedan (w123) - Curb weight = 3,565 lb.
weight distribution front/rear(%) 54/46


According to Jan 1987 Road & Track:

1987 300TD wagon (w124) - Curb weight = 3,715 lb.
weight distribution front/rear(%) 52/48


According to April 1986 Road & Track:

1986 300E sedan (w124) - Curb weight = 3,220 lb.
weight distribution front/rear(%) 54/46


According to January 1981 Road & Track:

1981 380SEL (w126) - Curb weight = 3,815 lb.
weight distribution front/rear(%) 54/46


According to November 1971 Road & Track:

1972 280SEL 4.5 (w108) - Curb weight = 3,775 lb.
weight distribution front/rear(%) 56/44


According to June 18, 1970 Autocar:

1970 280 SE Automatic (w108 w/6 cyl.engine) - Curb weight = 3,450 lb. (in Euro trim)
weight distribution front/rear(%) 51.5/48.5

It would appear that diesel wagons are not only significantly heavier than their gas-engined sedan counterparts, but a static weight distribution comparison indicates the wagons are a little more tail-heavy than the sedans, even though the wagons are equipped with turbodiesels which I assume (and correct me if I'm wrong) were heavier engines than the 6-cylinder gas engines.

I threw the w126 and w108's in for laughs. It's interesting that all of the post-1972 sedans outlined above have the same weight distribution. Coincidence, or design philosophy?

In my teens, my family owned two 1978 full-size GM cars, one a wagon, the other a sedan, both with the same drivetrain. My idea of a good time was to pack either of these cars with a few friends and whale the crap out of them (both cars and friends) on a very narrow, winding country road. (Clever, huh?) I remember having a significantly easier time swinging out the back end of the wagon on a tight curve than I would with the sedan. I assumed then that a difference in weight distribution played a role in the handling differences encountered.

I believed then, and I believe now, that most station wagons are more tail-heavy than their sedan counterparts.

Last edited by PaulC; 03-13-2002 at 11:57 PM.
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  #13  
Old 03-14-2002, 01:23 AM
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I have owned two W108s absolutely identical cars except one had a limited slip and the other did not. That alone made a very big difference in the snow. I would not drive one of these big sedans in the snow without a limited slip. I put weight in the truck and mount a full bore snow on all wheels then it's just OK. I also own a lightweight front drive compact (Nissan SER) I like a lot better in snow. BTW, always get snows that are as narrow or narrower than OE tires. Wide tires "plow" the snow. Just my 2 cents.
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  #14  
Old 03-14-2002, 10:23 AM
PaulC
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Segue into Snow Tires

Aaron mentioned his use of Michelin Arctic Alpins on his 300E. My most recent snow tire experiences involve BMW 7-series models from 1989-1998, all shod with the first-design Blizzaks. I find that these tires work well in reasonable snow depths and particularly on ice. However, they are somewhat squirmy on dry roads, particularly if you forget that the summer tires are in the garage when you get a little aggressive on exit ramps.

Does anyone have any back-to-back experience with Blizzaks and Alpins? I'm curious about the dry-road behavior of the Alpin.
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  #15  
Old 03-14-2002, 10:37 AM
dweller
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I've had both Blizzaks and Alpin Arctics, but not on the same car.

My general impression is that the Blizzaks are a better snow & ice tire but the Alpins are a better all-around tire. I'd never want to run the Blizzaks in the summer, but I would run the Alpins year around if I had to. (I didn't do that, but I would.)

But, as I said, I haven't had both kinds on the same car--one on a 1980 280E, the other on a 1985 300CD--so my comparison isn't very reliable.

Right now I have X-ones on the 300CD and MX4s (I think that's the right #) on my 240D. Both the Alpins and the Blizzaks are better snow & ice tires than these. But the X-ones and MX4s have been adequate in the snow.
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