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V8 Conversions



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,418
    If I may offer a tip---if you can afford it, go with vintage air right away. The Mercedes system is not very good and repairs are quite expensive.


  • I'm interested in your rear end kit. Please post or give me more information.

    Secondly if anybody is familiar with 450SL rear ends please tell me if there is another Mercedes that has direct replacement third member with lower gears than the stock 3.07. I searched books, aftermarket manufacturers and wrecking yards but so far everything I've found looks like a major change. The 240D looks to small to mess with and the larger car have higher gears then the 450.
    please advise,
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,418
    The 300D and 300TD is geared 3.46

    The model 250 1975-1985 was a 3.92 but that's a 6 cylinder car, so I dunno...


  • 660ce660ce Posts: 1
    I've been harboring fantasies about a swap for so long. I built a Healey Sebring MX kit (don't like Chevys in Cobras) and have grown tired of feeling like I'm in a carnival ride AND still can't smog my "66 El Camino" 396 motor in California due to an aggresive street cam, 10.5 compression, port-alignment, etc.

    I know I'm jumping in amongst a number of SL swappers, but I'll be "dropping" my bowtie 402 big block into a freshly purchased '84 300CD. Not a beauty, but she's solid and no rust. Body and paint will come after she's road worthy... maybe ;)

    Very interested in cross members and options for Ford 9" installations even though I'll be trying the stock rear for the initial go. It's just too cheap to cut-and-balance drive lines when you have all the parts for both Chevy and MBZ.

    I get the illusion that there are a number of converted MBZs out there, but they're harder to find than expected. I was beginning to think the only connection was the guy that swapped his Rustoleum-Flat-Black 190e in to a V8 to do bigger drifter-burns..... Thanks for hosting this thread. There IS comfort in numbers, if not safety!

    Cheers for now,
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    Several years ago I knew of a W123 that someone had dropped a Ford 302 into - apparently it worked well. I don't know any of the technical details however.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,418
    I once saw a Ford 289 dropped into a 280SL Pagoda and it was beautifully done. No doubt it devalued the car considerably but I'm sure it was way more fun to drive. The stock 280SL was always, in my opinion (and as a former owner) a very feminine car.


  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    I won't disagree about the femininity. The car has somewhat delicate lines, especially with the thin-pillared hardtop on. It doesn't make any pretense of being an extreme car.

    At the Vancouver Auto Show this year a customizer had a 190SL with some form of Corvette engine. It was also beautifully done, but certainly a way to burn a lot of money.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,418
    Given that a correct and restored 190SL can be worth $80,000 and that a 190SL with a Corvette engine worth perhaps $25,000, that wasn't so smart----unless of course the 190SL was trashed to begin with and ready for cutting and customizing. Nobody really wants a 190SL with rusted floors all patched up, or severe body damage that's been straightened out. So customizing a 190SL might not be a bad idea on that level.

    But really underneath the chassis, brakes, steering, etc. of a 190SL has very humble entry-level sedan underpinnings, so the V8 engine is only the FIRST thing you'd have to do to avoid driving a death trap.

    At least with a 280SL you get a car that is competent in handling and braking from the get-go.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,418
    It's well done. The engine bay looks radically altered, interior less so. Wheels ruin it IMO. Wonder what they did underneath?

    I saw a 190SL with a Chevy V-6 installed and it didn't require any alteration per se. It moved out smartly, too and looks perfectly stock.


  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    I suspect there's a lot of reinforcement underneath. I hate the wheels know what they say about a fool and his money. I suspect the person who had that car built has never been called sensible...but it least it isn't in wild colors.

    I'd like to see such a conversion with another MB engine. If one wants power, 5.4L V8, AMG-tuned, is known to be relatively bulletproof and is capable of a lot of mods. The old M103 and M104 I6 engines are very solid too.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,418
    the problem with putting an American V8 in a small sports car is that you always end up with a "brute". You lose all the smoothness and sophistication and your SL sounds like a Chevelle if you don't take the time to build 'em quiet and balance them out. But headers and Flowmasters and you've got the wrong sound and feel for the car IMO.

    Also I find American engines rather unattractive unless they have cladding on them. They look like crude foundry iron with chrome stuck on them.

    Modern American V8s are more attractive as they are "dressed".

    My two cents is that if you are doing a V8 conversion into a pretty little foreign car, you've got to take care to do it right, and remember what you are building here. No headers, sensible mufflers, sensible intake system (a cut out air scoop on an SL---now REALLY) and tasteful wheels that match the car's lines and time period.

    And balance that engine, flywheel, driveshaft, etc.

    Even the Cobra 289s are much better cars as modern kits than they were when first built.


  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    I like the idea of putting a more modern I6 (or maybe a tuned V8 to be wild) in an old car, resto-mod vs resto-rod. The smallblock Chevy thing is a cliche and doesn't really belong in a German car.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,418
    I'm starting to like the "Pro Touring" concept.


  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,476
    Any BMW inline six would work but the twin turbo mill from the 335i would be best.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    That would be amazing in some vintage BMW or maybe another car as some kind of hybrid. It could be a real sleeper...put that in a Bavaria or something.

    I'm really thinking of the potential of the old M103/104 I6 in a fintail or W108, or maybe a diesel badged W123. It should fit in the hole, add maybe 50hp from the old engines (maybe double the diesel hp), and be quieter and even smoother. The bad thing is that the old engines might actually get better mileage, maybe from the lower displacement.
  • ajvdhajvdh Posts: 223
    A friend of mine who's a long-time BMW mechanic is currently running around in a stock-looking Bavaria with a mildly tweaked 3.8l S38 from a late '80s Euro M6. Admittedly not a V8, but with well north of 300 HP in a car that weighs less than a 1 series, it's a pretty interesting ride.

    This same guy was one of the builders of a late 80s M5 which wound up retaining the "correct" motor, if by "correct" you mean "punched out to 4.0l and running a turbo with 20 psi of boost."

    Speaking of BMW V8 swaps: I see in this months Roundel, somebody's trying to sell an S62 from a 2001 M5. Complete with wiring harness. Pre-war 328 swap, anyone? I can hear Shifty grinding his teeth at the thought.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,418
    I would personally come to your house and dissolve you in a vat of hand lotion if you messed up a pre-war 328. :mad:

    20 PSI of boost? Isn't that asking for KA-BOOM? I trust he's not doing that for long, or up a steep hill. Maybe a big C clamp on the cylinder head?

    A 300 HP Bavaria...the mind boggles.....Hmmm....sounds like lipstick on a pig to me, but you know, I am so mean and opinionated, don't pay me any mind! ;)


  • texasestexases Posts: 5,511
    "A 300 HP Bavaria...the mind boggles.....Hmmm....sounds like lipstick on a pig to me, but you know, I am so mean and opinionated, don't pay me any mind! "

    Sounds kinda like the high-output 6 european car magazine put in an older 528i - they had lots of trouble getting the chassis to handle all the power.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    I think that Bavaria would be pretty cool. An the key is to keep it looking stock, even have it wear the most boring wheels possible. A real sleeper.

    Shifty is right about messing up the prewar car...that's a crime to invoke capital punishment. IIRC the Sbarro replica 328 had a BMW I6, so maybe that would be better - when your original engine was out for servicing but you still wanted to drive it, of course.
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