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Old 13th May 2008, 20:55   #1
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Default The Restoration of a Mercedes W116.

Hi guys. This is all about one of my most loved cars a Mercedes Benz W116 so if the post is a little long or boring, i apologize, its coming form my heart.

Zeenat Aman (Sighh!!)owned this car a 280S (beige). See was the first and ultimate Oomph woman of Indian cinema. No one has or had an air of sophistication and class around them as she. The apt car for the apt woman.
A similar 280S (White) was bought from the STC and gifted to Rajneesh the God man by none other than Vinod Khanna. Apart from these guys I do not remember anyone else in the Film Industry using the W116 maybe someone else did but these were the first two. It was expensive then and not quite easily available.....lets get back to the car. Zeenat Aman needs an entire thread dedicated to her
The car in question is a W116 Mercedes 350SE. Its a LHD and a V-8 but is a European spec LHD as opposed to an American spec.
The car was purchased by me from Chennai a few years ago.
I was informed about this car, which had hardly clocked any kms and was a direct import. The pics showed the car was buried at least 6-7 inches in the ground in a private parking in a Bungalow and belonged to a very well known social figure of the South.
Since this celebrity had several houses in Europe, this was custom ordered for him. The peculiarity was that this was a column shift automatic.

At first I thought I had not heard right. A W116 column shift? "No way" I
I figured, it was a victim of a swap so the column shift. On asking a few Merc gurus and going through endless books, I realised that yes, a W116 could be custom ordered with a column shift. That was enough for me. Its rarity got to me and I set about the task of bringing it back to life.

Specially ordered W116 with a custom column mounted gear selector. P.S.- This is a reference picture only
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An OE W116 with floor mounted Gear slector
The Restoration of a Mercedes W116.-116-2.jpg

My guy was sent to Chennai to work the deal out and soon I was the new owner of a car that had not moved from its place for atleast about 10 years.
A local mechanic was involved in making the car road worthy.
The brakes were attended to as was the suspension and electricals and in about a week she was ready to hit the road.
The idea was to get her by truck to Bombay and then drive her in Bombay from Thane, hence the road worthy-ness.
The next day I get a call from my friend.
He wanted me to arrange for four brand new tyres for the car.
I advised him to get old ones to put so that she could be driven into Bombay, Why spend on new tyres as the car would be going in for a full restoration, I thought.
He then informed me that he was driving the car back to Bombay. I was shocked and immediately asked him to drop the silly idea. The car was lying unused in excess of a decade and it would be a nightmare to try such stunts.
" I am driving the car back and have already reached Bangalore. The car is running like a dream. Only the tyres will give away anytime. Please arrange for new tyres." he beamed.
I could not believe what I was hearing. I would have never resorted to this risk but his enthusiasm got the better of me and I arranged for new Pirelli
shoes from Bangalore for the 116.
Within the next 22 hours he was in Bombay.
That was the test of the car. It was running beautifully apart from a slight miss.
The car looked weary in an off white colour but was still magnificent.
The W116 has held a special place in my heart. For me it is the most stylish and sturdy S class, Mercedes have made, apart from the W108, its predecessor.
A W116 came with a host of eatures. It was the first car from the Benz stable to feature the Anti-lock braking system and a host of safety features like padded dashes and steering wheel.

Getting around looking at the car, the age and neglect was showing. The all leather black interior was tattered and cracked with weather abuse. The car was missing the original stereo and a lot of trim. A missing Bonnet emblem was the least of my worries to find and replace. It was the other small garnishes which were missing or vandalised.
A short test drive revealed she was missing a few beats but was stompy to wheelspin out of a traffic light.
Nevertheless she had zoomed down to Bombay from Chennai without a single problem. Talk about German precision and build quality. No squeaks or rattles either.

The car was sent off to the garage fro restoration and after a few days I was told the missing was due to a faulty fuel metering device. I tried all over India but could not find a metering device fro an 8 cylinder car.
It was available abroad, in the UK to be precise and the device was ordered.
AFter that, she was purring like a Merc should.
I thought the car would be with me in another 6 months as some other parts were to be ordered. The chrome accessories had taken to rust and the only way out was to change them.
All was going fine till the floods hit Mumbai.
No the car was not submerged but the stores of the garage where they keep the dismantled body parts, seats etc is situated in an area which is low lying.
The floods hit the garage as it did the whole of Bombay and lucky for me, the car and engine was untouched by flood waters as it was parked on the upper level but everything else rotted away in the floods. The windscreens and glasses were kept atop a Cardboard box which melted away and gave way to their weight. The pattis had washed away and the seats and the side panels (made of cardboard) had literally disintegrated.
I was grief stricken. All these would have to be replaced. This meant back to square one or rather ground zero. This meant all efforts were wasted and the car would have to be redone again from a scratch. This also meant a whole lot of more money to be spent. Already, the money I had budgeted fro the restoration would make this car more expensive to restore than to buy a good example of from the market. Now it meant I would have to spend the equivalent of restoration of two such cars. Was it worth it?
In India these parts were not likely to be available, even in the chor bazaar or even new. here were not so many 116s to warrant a parts inventory.
As every cloud has a silver lining, I decided to restore her anyways. New parts were ordered. The rubber parts and windscreens cost a fortune. I sourced the side pattis from Malaysia, UK and USA. The electricals were reordered from Germany and the Middle East.

Now shes almost complete and should be with me in the next 20 days.
I had not mentioned her as I was superstitious about something going wrong again but then Im not superstitious, so what the heck.

Brothers and Sisters, I present to you my W116 Mercedes 350SE.

Standing tall. Painting and upholstery completed
The Restoration of a Mercedes W116.-dsc00786.jpg
The Restoration of a Mercedes W116.-dsc00787.jpg
The Restoration of a Mercedes W116.-dsc00788.jpg

Will have to change the hardly 900 kms done tyres owing to the time taken in the restoration. Almost 4 years.

The finished Interiors. Note the cover on the Leather upholstered interior which had to me remade.
The Restoration of a Mercedes W116.-dsc00790.jpg

The Laminated windscreens and side glasses being installed with new rubbers.
The Restoration of a Mercedes W116.-12012008220.jpg
The Restoration of a Mercedes W116.-12012008221.jpg
The Restoration of a Mercedes W116.-12012008228.jpg

As the progress goes on further, I will be updating this thread too.
I only hope nothing wrong happens now. Meanwhile read about the Magnificent W116 in this link.
Mercedes-Benz W116 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 13th May 2008, 22:31   #2
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Excellent car!! Cant wait to see her purr back into the roads.
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Old 13th May 2008, 23:05   #3
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Fantastic Gogi bhai, finally she's getting completed eh!! Looking forward to more updates!
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Old 13th May 2008, 23:19   #4
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Excellet Gogi paaji,very heart touching write-up,all of us dream,but some make it to reality,Fantsatic job there wish you all the very best to get her on road..looking forward to it..and that waits for a "cheers"

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Old 13th May 2008, 23:37   #5
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So this is the Car you were talking about ehh?? Waah Waah Gogi bhai.
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Old 13th May 2008, 23:45   #6
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So the 116 finally appears on the forum. You've been doing this a long time now havent you? Glad to know that she will hit the roads soon Cant wait for that day now.
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Old 14th May 2008, 01:02   #7
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Sweet mama ! V-16ji you have hit the spot!.

Whatta car, seriously brings out the memories and since I have sat in this car in the middle east extensively really love it. I have sat in a similiar car during the 1983's in Dubai.

Beautiful car, wonder how it would look post restoration, the old mercedes are built like guns, a relative of mine owned one for thirty years and all he did was service the car.

Excellent find Gogiji. Way to go, this one I would personally like to see.

Cheers and don't be supersitions of hard work (restoration).

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Old 14th May 2008, 08:46   #8
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Finally we see it, the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes! Great stuff.

Ive always had a special thing for the 116 as a dear friend owns a 450SEL, the first (and possibly the only) Mercedes Ive ever driven. What shocked me was the turning radius of the car is almost as tight as his Baleno! And mind you, the SEL impies long wheelbase.

Give us a shout (and a main chalaaoon!) once shes ready. All the best.
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Old 14th May 2008, 09:19   #9
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The fact that you've spent over 4 years restoring this beauty says it all. You do have a piece of history in that splendid vehicle. Its amazing how people buy these amazing vehicles and then dont drive them for years. Glad that its now in loving hands where its finally going to get some miles.
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Old 14th May 2008, 11:04   #10
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Wow, Gogi, which Mercedes do you not own!

The first car that I drove was a Merc 350SE w116. I was 10, our host in Hamburg had one of the first ones back in 1972. Seeing me jump up like a mad monkey at riding intihs, he went off into a field, put me on his lap and said drive!!!

Oh boy!
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Old 14th May 2008, 11:12   #11
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Wow gogi! she's looking great!! Can't wait to see the completed car! Now all u need is a ponton and a 108/109!!
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Old 14th May 2008, 15:10   #12
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Thanks all you guys for your loving words. This car is special to me.
One person I forgot to add when I was mentioning owners from bollywood would be the uber stylish Feroze Khan (maybe not so stylish now). This guy had a 450SEL which is now owned by a friend of Karl's. Feroze also had a host of not so common Mercedes cars like this W116 and the 280SL pagoda top amongst others.

Originally Posted by ajmat View Post
Wow, Gogi, which Mercedes do you not own!

The first car that I drove was a Merc 350SE w116. I was 10, our host in Hamburg had one of the first ones back in 1972. Seeing me jump up like a mad monkey at riding intihs, he went off into a field, put me on his lap and said drive!!!

Oh boy!
Wow Ajmat. Thats some startup. Bless the guy who let you at his priced possession. He would have seen your passion at that age too.
Im sure thats where your love affair with the three pointer started.

Originally Posted by JayD View Post
Wow gogi! she's looking great!! Can't wait to see the completed car! Now all u need is a ponton and a 108/109!!
And a coupe W114/5

Yes I have been on a lookout for a ponton and a W108 fro a long long time now. The prices I have seen are almost prohibitive. I hope to get these cars within my budget sometime.
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Old 14th May 2008, 15:44   #13
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Gogi-Wonderful is the word. I am dying to see it in front of my eyes. Just let me know when you have it parked in your garage. You effort is commendable.
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Old 14th May 2008, 16:01   #14
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WOW!! great effort there gogs.. Do give us a shout when the car's ready.. We'll do a special trip to bombay to see it!
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Old 14th May 2008, 16:25   #15
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Congratulations Gogi, excellent work. Looking forward to some completed photos.
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