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Old 03-25-2001, 02:58 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Posts: 117
Just wanted to share this update on my 280GE with a transplanted '85 "Euro" 280SEL (M110.987, higher compression) long-block (see earlier post for background). I am just tickled at its performance so far, and had to shout it.

I just took a 560 mile round-trip to Cambridge (MA) -- bringing home my daughter for Spring Break -- that included some hilly portions of the Merrit and Wilbur Cross parkways (CT) and Rts 91, 84 and 90 (CT and MA). Although I wasn't towing my boat, it was still a good test, as I have driven these portions about a dozen times so far in the past two years and I knew exactly how my G had previously performed on each of the particularly steep hills (e.g., the notorious westbound hill just after the tunnel on the Wilbur Cross near New Haven) along this route.
On these "stress tests", the G was fantastic. In the past, a shift down to third, running at around 4,500 rpm (cars travel quite briskly on these roads), was necessary to climb these hills without an annoyingly steady slowing of road speed (and pulling over to the right to let everyone pass). In stark contrast, I can now climb every hill at ~3,000 rpm and even continue to accelerate, even up to 4,000 rpm (about 75 mph) -- in only one instance, for a few hundred yards, a slight ping was heard (I do have about 9.25:1 compression ratio now) and I eased off the gas pedal a bit.
Likewise, not only on this trip but also on highways in my home area, I have found that the G is significantly more powerful. On many hills where, with my old engine, I had to floor it to keep up road speed, I now find myself driving up with only a slight extra push, if at all, on the pedal -- in fact, there are some hills that I've lost notice of.
And both my wife and I have realized that I'm not downshifting to third while I drive around the area on local roads -- previously, I continued to shift down to compensate for hills on secondary roads, whereas now I'm just keeping it in "4th" and just giving it a little more "gas" at times, something that was inadequate prior to the engine swap.
Fuel mileage, BTW, on the aforementioned trip (which included some 75 mph, or ~4,000 rpm, stretches just to keep up the traffic flow) was about the same -- ~14 mpg. And speaking of 4,000 rpm stretches, I also found that I had a lot more residual speed available, as I reached nearly 85 at one point and still felt that I could go faster. And, oil consumption was nil for that whole trip.
[all speeds, BTW, were determined by my GPS, a Garmin StreetPilot, as my speedometer is a little off).

Final determination of my degree of satisfaction (per the cost) will come a little later, when I start towing my boat around (by which time I will have "broken in" the engine a little more, too).

Right now, though, I've got a big grin on my face -- even though my wife, I think, is still going to keep the pressure up to get me to trade up for a W463 just for the "creature comforts" (if I do, I'll hold out for at least an M104 engine, rather than the earlier M103s -- once you've tasted the horsepower, you can't go back :-).

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Old 03-25-2001, 03:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Maryland. USA
Posts: 180
And I thought my wife was the only one pushing for a 463 despite owning a 460.

Hope the good news keeps coming.
S, J.R. Brown
2000 G500 LWB Obsedian Black
2005 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab Off Road Sport
1993 Volvo 240 Sedan Anthracite
1980 450SEL Champange (owned it for 15 years. Great car)
1986 280GE LWB Anthracite (Sold it and kinda wish I hadn't)
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Old 03-25-2001, 07:43 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Posts: 117
Thoughts on trading up to a W463

Well, I guess they're right about the comforts. When we get into our E-class, my wife just loves the ride and comfort (so do I, I readily admit it) -- the W460 is stark, in comparison. But I find myself SO protective of the E (no eating icecream, etc.), whereas in the G, anything goes, including muddy or wet "boat stuff", etc.

What really makes me hesitate, however, is that I don't think that the W463s have a substantially greater towing capacity (or do they?) -- funny thing, I don't think that even the "500"s have more capacity than then M104s or even the new V6s -- it must be more a factor of the chassis than the engine.
Anyway, the reason is that I want a bigger (i.e., heavier) boat, too, and I can't see, right now, investing all that money in another G unless it would accommodate a larger tow payload, too. Do you know any details about any increase in towing capacity, viz. 460 vs. 463? ...with the various engine alternatives?

Meanwhile, at least right now I've got a G with MORE power that will more easily pull my boat (which weighs within the G's towing capacity).

Actually, and I know that this may be considered sacrilege, in spite of all the superior featuers of the G (locking diffs, instead of that power-robbing brake system on the 4ETS; higher ground clearance), my wife might convince me to trade it for an M-class someday if they improve their product quality and reliability (at my dealership, they are full of M's getting warranty work), and increase their towing capacity beyond a paltry 5,000 lbs. Maybe the next generation M-class, or the MLG hybrid, will have a higher towing capacity rating, to better compete with the 8-cyl BMW X-5 (6,000 lbs on the V-8, while only 5,000 on the V-6) -- I could never consider a BMW, though -- no low range. You really need a good 4WD system, and a really low range, on a slippery boat ramp -- and with a heavier boat, nothing but the best 4WD system and really very low range. I've seen too many 2WD pickups, even with "dualies", spinning their tires uselessly and fishtailing themselves and their trailers, trying to pull their big boats out of the water onto a wet, algae-covered ramp to accept anything else.
In contrast, I love pulling my G (with its diffs locked if necessary) up the same slippery ramp with a refined dignity, no drama at all!

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Old 03-25-2001, 07:50 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Posts: 117
Thoughts on trading up (continued)

Anyway, what I forgot to say is that, at least for the immediate future (at least a couple of years), I don't foresee any increased towing capacity for the current M-class (nor know of any model year W463s with more capacity); so I went with the upgraded engine in my W460 to make towing (with my present boat) easier -- I'll probably have this boat for at least a couple of more years, and our W460 is now a better match for it.

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Old 03-27-2001, 04:20 PM
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Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: SW Colorado USA
Posts: 296
The 463

Ken , What is the towing capacity of your 280? As far as I know both of my 463s and the G500 are rated for 7000 lbs towing capacity. It is a function of the chassis and driveline. Keep in mind tractor trailers have a very low power to wieght ratio as well, capacity is determined by things other than the power. So 7000 lbs is a pretty substantial boat, how big are you thinking about going? If you seek to ease the towing stress by increasing power I would buy a 300GE/G300 and add a supercharger kit. There is one designed for the 300 made in England. I think it is even intercooled and requires no other engine mods. The HP and Torque figures are quite impressive. As a 320 (M104) owner that is what I would do faced with having to tow more than 4000 lbs.

The luxuries of the 463 are really nice to have. If you are concerned about getting it dirty Europa sells a supurb set of rubber mats including one for the cargo area. Then go with the durable yet easy to clean leather interior. Besides the extra comforts the full time 4wd is really nice. You dont notice it until you need it then it is there. It is a very impressive system especially in snowy climes like mine.

So my favorite 463, except the out of my price range G500, would be a '94 G300. I would either go for the supercharger kit or track down a 3.6L from Renntech or Brabus. All of which produce 250+ HP and far more torque than the 3.2L M104. I also "feel" better about the M103, it is a better engine due to its simplicity and proven durability IMHO.

1995 G320
1984 280GE
1971 Unimog 416
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Old 03-29-2001, 04:34 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Posts: 117
Tow capacity and engines

Hi, Brent.

re: "...As far as I know both of my 463s and the G500 are rated for 7000 lbs towing capacity...."

That 7,000 lb towing capacity for the W463 sounds nice -- almost big enough (for my next boat). My understanding was that, for the W460, the capacity was only about 5,171 lbs (with brakes, of course -- only 1,603 lbs without brakes, for anyone interested). I'm glad to hear that the 463 has a little more capacity.

re: "...So my favorite ... would be a '94 G300.... I also "feel" better about the M103, it is a better engine due to its simplicity and proven durability IMHO...."

I wholeheartedly agree that simplicity is often better, and I like the M103 (after you've been through that first awful head gasket thing :-), which is in two of my cars (300E's). But that extra power and lower-end torque is so nice, and needed, especially for towing, in the G. And I've got my dougts about those 3.6 Renntech engines -- while they have a lot of output, I wonder how suitable they are for towing -- all the driving in the mere middle of the rpm range is not exactly what these engines were bred for.

Best regards.
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Old 03-29-2001, 05:37 PM
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Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: SW Colorado USA
Posts: 296

Ken, Remember if you buy a M104 you are also subject to a headgasket failure. Fortunately it looks as though mine has already been done.

On the Renntech engines, I am not sure how they configure those engines. I know that in the sedans you can opt from a couple of power levels. Passing on the more expensive one forgoes the extra head porting and keeps the torque peak as low as stock (rpm) yet with a substantial power boost.

I have also found the M104 in the G to be rather peaky. I get a substantial "kick" over 3500 rpm, below that it is not much better than the M103.

1995 G320
1984 280GE
1971 Unimog 416
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