An interesting acquisition: 1950 Simca 8 Sport Coupé

My Simca 8 Sport Coupé during her test drive outing

My Simca 8 Sport Coupé during her test drive outing, here in Vouliagmeni Marina-Moorings

Few close friends cum classic car aficionados, often meet at a very special Garage in Glyfada, a southern suburb of Athens, Greece. Among drinks and pizza slices we discuss matters pertaining to our hobby, review our host Alex V.’s new acquisitions and occasionally negotiate a friendly deal.

It was during such an evening in late September of 2015 that I became interested in the 1950 Simca 8 Sport Coupé, a fully restored example which Alex had imported from Holland few months ago, previously owned and lovingly restored by Gerard et Jeanethe Meckelenkamp. Here is a video documenting that era:

Excitement mounted when few days later I drove down in the GLK to Glyfada accompanied by my friend-mechanic Makis (who undertook the mechanical restoration project of our 1957 Lancia Aurelia GT B20S), to take delivery and assume the new ownership! I saw again the Simca (Société Industrielle de Mécanique et Carrosserie Automobile) but this time from a different perspective. I was wondering if she was an easy starter or not. If she had any mechanical issues which would unexpectedly surface during my inaugural 20 plus kilometers drive from Alex’s home to my Garage. If she was a smoker, if she suffered from excessive brake fade, and other such concerns which accompany a new classic car acquisition of some 65 years of age…

Facel_Vega_Emblem

The Facel-Vega emblem appears on the front grille!

Alex started the little Coupé on the button (a good omen), drove out of the Garage and parked her on the street for further scrutiny.  The initiation procedure included an explanation of the switches, handing over of the thick Dossiers and paperwork which accompany this elegantly sculpted classic by Battista Pininfarina along the cues of his famous 1947 Cisitalia 202 with which the Museum of Modern Art in New York were so impressed that in 1951, they named the Cisitalia one of the ten great automotive designs of all time, putting the car on display. ☝️ Further fascinating fact, the little Simca 8 Sport was coach-built by Facel-Vega. An interesting trivia pertaining to Facel (Forges et Ateliers des Constructions d’Eure-et-Loir) is that its founder Jean Daninos was a Greek-French individual. My drive back to the north of Athens was uneventful aside from a refueling stop on the way.

Cisisitalia 202

The famous Cisitalia 202 of Battista Pinin Farina on display at the MOMA!

According to many collectors opinion, a significant historic vehicle must encompass these attributes: elegance, important design, sporting performance, rarity, interesting provenance/story line and finally to be nicely presented in as authentic condition as possible. In a nutshell to have Desirability. I do believe that  this example of a 1950 Simca 8 Sport Coupé, ticks all the boxes 🙂

The Simca arrives safely in my Garage (y)

The Simca arrives safely in my Garage (y)

Her nomenclature reads: Chassis No. 886587, Moteur No. 225402 and Carrosserie No. 890778

Her nomenclature reads: Chassis No. 886587, Moteur No. 225402 and Carrosserie No. 890778

Her FIVA Identity Card No. 061374 was re-issued on Oct. 20th 2015, at time of ownership change. The Historic Vehicle plate No. is 5066.

Her FIVA Identity Card No. 061374 was re-issued on Oct. 20th 2015, at time of ownership change. The Historic Vehicle plate No. is 5066.

SIMCA-5066-FIVA Id Card-2

Pages 2 & 3 of the Identity Card with Simca’s details, categorized as “A/3” according to FIVA’s Technical Code.

Here is the history of the Simca 8 Sport Coupé:

rally1First presented at the 1948 Auto Show, was a convertible which created a sensation. Henri Pigozzi wanted to offer its customers a sporty version of the Simca 8, valued for its performance, durability and economy. The convertible has its genesis in the Cisitalia 202 designed by Pinin Farina in 1947 and adapted by Giovanni Michelotti on the chassis of the Fiat 1100 S. In Paris, it charms the audience with the elegance of its bodywork.

The based in France  Simca was originally a subsidiary of Fiat, created on 2 November 1934 to build its models under license in France in order to avoid paying import taxes and customs duties.  Its founder was, Turin born Enrico Teodoro Pigozzi, who later changed his name to Henry Theodore. In 1926 he was given the task of organizing a sales network for SAFAF (Société Anonyme Française des Automobiles Fiat) that had come into being. The problem with this entity was protectionism which affected every nation, caused by the global economic crisis of 1929. This withdrawal resulted in tariffs increasingly greater that prevented the Fiat cars to be competitive with the French productions.

Simca_EmblemIn 1935 Simca settles after redemption in the modern Donnet factory in Nanterre. Production starts on July 1st and the very first Simca-Fiat (name to be given in 1938) came out of the chain. Very quickly Simca becomes the fourth French manufacturer and it’s vehicles feature a new crest with a swallow symbolizing the brand’s slogan: a bird’s appetite. This approach allowed to delete the affiliation of the brand to its Italian parent company while xenophobia was growing in France, especially towards the Fascist Italy.

Presented on the French market in 1938, the Simca 8 is derived from the Fiat 1100 “Nuova Balilla 508C” manufactured in the Simca-Fiat factories of Nanterre under license. As a middle class car, it competes with Peugeot 202 and Renault Juvaquatre. Like Fiat, it has a front face with an egg-shaped grille and round headlights salient and prominent. The body is much more aerodynamic than the old Simca-Fiat/CV SAFAF 6 it replaces. The engine is a 4-cylinder 1.089 cc developing 32 hp at 4200 RPM. Distribution, as on many Fiat engines with overhead valves. Suspensions are independent wheels at the front and the rear solid axle. Drum brakes on all 4 wheels with hydraulic circuit. With a 4-speed box, it reaches 110 km / h.

When the Second World War breaks out, the automobile business in France stops. Well, not quite for Simca. The Germans want all companies involved in the war effort, especially to produce vehicles for the Russian front. Each plant is assigned a director appointed by the occupier. But the Fiat company whose country, Italy, is an ally of Germany was awarded a Simca administrator or a director of Fiat-Germany. In fact, the plant would continue to produce in Nanterre autos for another three years, unlike the Citroën plants, Peugeot and Renault, constrained to produce military hardware for the German Army. In 1943, the setbacks of the German Army lead to the termination of the preferential treatment enjoyed by Simca. The plant was assigned for the maintenance of military vehicles and various fabrications for the occupying Germany, including mechanical elements for NSU Motorenwerke.

After World War II, Paul-Marie Pons was appointed Deputy Director of the Mechanical and Electrical Industries Division (DIME) of the Department of Industrial Production and launches the “Plan Pons” with the objective of streamlining automotive manufacturing. Simca is integrated within the G.F.A. (Générale Française de l’Automobile) with Panhard, Delahaye, Delage, Unic, Laffly and Bernard. The President of the Employers’ Federation of Automobile Manufacturers, Charles Petiet, presents Simca on track thanks to the support of the Minister of Industrial Production then but in exchange following the guidelines of the Plan Pons, the company is committed to make the AFG (French Aluminium Gregory) developed by the engineer Jean-Albert Grégoire, now technical director general of Simca since October 1944.

The particular French car market was then theoretically divided into three main sectors. Citroen, with the Traction Avant, must occupy the high-end, Renault and Peugeot the middle, Panhard and Simca the low end, with the industrialization of the AFG. A first prototype of the Simca Gregory was made in 1945, then a second in 1946. Unfortunately for Grégoire, Henri Pigozzi, who had been quietly following his contacts with the German occupiers, managed to derail this project and resumed  the management of the company. Simca escapes the nationalization and constraints of the government, leaving Panhard to fend for itself. For its part, Renault’s 4 CV imposes its Peugeot and maintains its presence on the average niche or middle sector.

Production starts with the Simca 5 and then the 8. While in Italy, Fiat had already replaced this model by Fiat 1100 B, and the Simca 8 gets a restyling with changes of the front bumper, grille, the hood and trunk. It receives on this occasion a larger engine of 1.221 c.c.’s developing 41 BHP.

Simca 8 Sport Cabriolet

Simca 8 Sport Cabriolet

At the 1948 Paris Motor Show it is presented alongside the sedan, plus a convertible that causes a sensation. Henri Pigozzi wanted to offer its customers a sporty version of the Simca 8, which was valued for its performance, durability and economy. The convertible had its genesis in the Cisitalia 202 designed by Pinin Farina in 1947. He built a few copies before delegating production to his elder brother Giovanni, founder of the Stabilimenti Farina, and Vignale as well. The Stabilimenti Farina, founded in 1906 by Giovanni Farina in Turin, had employed the very talented Mario Boano, Giovanni Michelotti and Battista “Pinin” Farina, the latter departing in 1930. Giovanni Michelotti was entrusted with the adaptation of lines of the Cisitalia to the proportions of the frame of the Fiat 1100 S. This car caught the attention of Henry Theodore Pigozzi during a visit to Turin. He immediately ordered a second copy so as to display it at the Paris Salon where the car charmed the audience with the elegance of its bodywork.

The Ferraric166-Inter Berlinetta by Stabilimenti Farina. See the similarities with the Simca * Sport Coupé?

The Ferrari 166 Inter Berlinetta by Stabilimenti Farina. See the similarities with the Simca 8 Sport? Photo by Luc106, car pictured at Concorso d’Eleganza”Villa d’Este” 2008.

The design of the Cisitalia marked history again when it was picked for the Ferrari 166 Inter, the first convertible model of the Prancing Horse, which would be presented at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show. The warm welcome of the Simca 8 Sport encouraged Henri Theodore Pigozzi to start making the car very quickly. However, the amount of production of Stabilimenti Farina was very limited and to export the convertible, it was necessary to overcome high taxes. Pigozzi also used Jean Daninos, founder Facel Metallon, with which it had good relations, which already had the opportunity to work with Pinin Farina for Bentley coach-building and had appropriate industrial facilities for the establishment of a production line dedicated to the Simca 8 Sport Cabriolet and its Coupe version in the study phase.

The actual production of the Simca 8 Sport began in March 1950, in both Coupé and Cabriolet. The body parts were produced in Amboise, the assembly line was installed in Colombes and the finish was ensured by the factory in Dreux, justifying the high price of the car, twice that of the sedan. More powerful, with 50 against 40 hp for the sedan, the Simca 8 Sport allowed a speed of 135 KPH, a respectable performance for a relatively small displacement engine but disappointing for a car for sporting purposes. But anyway, the customers were more sensitive to its elegance.

Simca 8 Sport: One of the most elegant Coupés

Simca 8 Sport: One of the most elegant Coupés

Considered the most beautiful French car at the time, the Simca 8 Sport would have a short career as its body was modified in 1951 to accommodate the platform of the new Aronde. The convertible that can accommodate only the cut remains, becomes the Simca 9 Sport with a windshield in one piece to the show in 1952 where it gave way to a new generation with fully drawn Simca model as the Aronde based Simca Sport Plein Ciel. A production run of 5.165 Simca 8 Sport, including all versions was made.

The Simca 8 Sport Coupé wins its Class during the 1950 Rallye Monte Carlo

The Simca 8 Sport Coupé wins its Class during the 1950 Rallye Monte Carlo

More interesting readings:

http://www.simcafacel.levillage.org/

http://www.simcafacel.levillage.org/spip.php?article404

http://simcafacel.levillage.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=15

http://bringatrailer.com/2015/03/26/restored-1950-simca-8-sport/?corder=asc#comments

Photo Album Presentation of the 1950 Simca 8 Sport Coupé

https://www.flickr.com/photos/128623295@N04/albums/72157652566683011/page1

Photo Album about the Restoration of the 1950 Simca 8 Sport Coupé

https://www.flickr.com/photos/128623

Photo Album about the car being detailed in Athens, GR.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154102435384897.1073742183.181783909896&type=3

The day I met “Princess Michaela” a.k.a. 1967 Mercedes-Benz 250SE Coupé

Mercedes-Benz 250 SE Coupé (W111/III A) 1967

Chassis W111.021-12-088627, Engine M129.980-12-020994

Hand-Built Luxury Made In Germany!

My newly acquired beauty, fondly named “Princess Michaela”!

First shown at Frankfurt Motor Show in 1965, the new S-Class Mercedes-Benz range was outwardly distinguishable from preceding models by a sleeker body-shell with lower roof and waistlines with increased glass area. All models featured similar all-independent suspension, as well as four-wheel disc brakes and power-assisted steering. However, although the saloon used this New Generation’ body-shell, the Coupé and Cabriolet kept the timelessly elegant coachwork that had debuted back in 1960 on the 220SEb. The latter had moved Mercedes-Benz’s styling into the modern era; longer than their predecessors, these elegant cars featured a wider radiator shell, wrap-around windscreen, enlarged rear window and vertically positioned twin headlamps, all of which were carried over to the 250SE Coupé and Cabriolet. As befitted top-of-the-range luxury models, the duo came equipped with automatic transmission, air conditioning, electric windows and stereo radio as standard. The 250SE employed a fuel-injected version of Mercedes-Benz’s new M129, with overhead-camshaft, seven-bearing straight six engine, displacing 2,496cc and developing 150bhp at 5,600rpm. There was a choice of four-speed manual or automatic transmissions, while the rear suspension featured Mercedes-Benz’s hydro-pneumatic compensating spring. Thus equipped, the 250SE was good for 190 km/h, with 100 km/h reachable in 12 seconds, a substantial improvement on the superseded 220SE’s figures. When the 280SE 3.5 ceased production in 1971, its passing marked the end of this long-established body style. Today all examples of these classic Coupés and Cabriolets are highly sought after.

When Paul Bracq introduced his latest design for the 111 sedans it had all of the trappings of a legendary car.  However, his translation of these designs into the 220/250/280 Coupés and Cabriolets made for some of the most desirable, best looking Benzes of the 60’s and early 70’s.  These cars have a presence nothing on the road can match; they’re staid and athletic, serious yet not imposing.  The more I look at the car the more l like it.  Perhaps even a little more than its Cabriolet brethren.  The shape, especially the C pillars and rear window, are more interesting in their execution than the soft top.  I would also prefer this design with the sunroof, not just to get a breeze, but it simply looks better with an open roof, combined with all that open pillar-less glass, it’s striking. From any angle or perspective.

This particular example which is wonderfully correct, original and unmolested, has an interesting history as her first owner was Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark, (to His friends “Michel de Grèce”) cousin and close friend of King Constantine who owned two similar 250 SE’s but Cabriolets.:!: The car belonged to the Royal Palace fleet and carried the Kingdom of Greece’s crest as a license plate on the front and rear! HRH kept the car until 1970 (when he and the King’s family fled the country from the Greek Military Junta era), when a very wealthy Greek shipowner, a young member at the time, of the Gratsos family, took ownership of the Coupé and kept her mostly chauffeur driven and meticulously maintained until 1999 when the car was acquired by its third successive owner, a well known Athens car dealer and ex race driver who kept the SE for ten years, allegedly having only added about 5,000 KM on the odometer. Aside from her intriguing ownership history, this is a quite nice example in that it has three of the most sought after features of the time:  1) The electric windows, 2) Air conditioning and 3) That wonderful automatic 4 speed transmission.

The rear bumpers have no dents, the tail lights are perfect as are the chromed dual exhaust pipes.

The 4 speed auto is a real treat, it’s precise and smooth, with a quick responding kick-down, whilst the gear changes are mated perfectly to the free revving mechanically fuel injected in-line six; it’s great both in traffic, and on the highway with plenty of pulling power.  Everywhere I would go in this car, people would ask me questions, she’s simply something people rarely encounter these days. I’m planning to be driving the 250 SE Coupé quite often, and I expect her to be doing everything quite well.  She doesn’t run hot; even in 38 C degree Athens summertime with the Behr pumping, water temp remains stable at 85 C.  In traffic she’s happy idling, on the highway she’s equally happy cruising at 120 km/h.  With all the windows down, it’s close to an open touring experience, with them closed, the Coupé really reminds me more of a 90’s model car, albeit with more wood, chrome, and style. Needless to say, it was a “love at first sight” affair with this 43 year old German beauty; I bought this car on the second day of viewing (18th Feb. 2010), upon inspecting the also excellent undercarriage;  the spouse justification being “a retirement gift for myself after having sold my IT business in the Fall of 2009” 🙂

Exterior Condition:

First glimpse of the car in its storage area. The front end is superb! No dents on the highly polished bumpers or imposing M-B radiator grille. A “Love at first sight” affair 🙂

The metallic paint is glossy with good shine, and the metallic silver color is quite good, nevertheless, I could not find the exact color code in my research.   I am not sure how long ago the car was repainted, however it is holding up rather well, is highly reflective, and is nicely presented.  I have established that the original color was dark blue (from the metal tag it must be DB-332). I would have to consider if  it would be advisable when the time comes for a new repaint to reapply the original blue color. All chrome has a high shine with no serious pitting, while some pieces are not as reflective as the grill and bumpers, but nothing is ‘dull’ on the car as you can see from the pictures.  There are not any small impressions in the 280SE model replacement bumpers (featuring the practical rubber protective surrounds), both front and back aside from very few superficial scratches on the rubbers.

The Daimler-Benz AG Serial Number metal tag

There are two blemishes on the surface paint that can be repaired by a specialist (one on the bonnet and one on the LH side just behind the driver’s door), few rust spots, but the fender mounted side mirror is loose and retained by tape.  I’ve seen no other blemishes on the kick panels, doors, or anywhere else on the surface of the car.  The inside of the trunk is very well presented, with no rust present although the original rubber mat is completely disintegrated and needs replacing.  The tail lamps are not cracked and the twin chromed exhaust tail pipes look shiny and good.

Interior Condition:

The interior is in good original condition.

The interior shows very well. In fact, the rear seat appears to have hardly ever been used.  Seats are blue leather, with no rips, tears, or heavy wear, all inner stuffing is in good shape. I had the Connolly-Auto Stop people look into the leathers and a treatment session is being arranged. The material used appears to be an original pattern but as expected the driver seat is worn more than the rest. All of the dashboard wood is in relatively good and in presentable condition, there is some cracking and chipping but it is all there, including all pieces along the headliner.  All of it would require to be refinished to a Valspar standard, a job to be undertaken by a Connolly associate. There are no cracks in the dash. There is no splitting of seams on the seats. All stuffing and springs are in good shape, and all seat controls work great and the metal hinge plating is shiny.  The headliner is completely intact and original; it looks good with no sagging but a thorough professional cleaning would be in order.  Both the rear & transmission tunnel floor mats and carpet are original while the front ones are newer replacements, but are not faded nor are they excessively worn. I have already undertaken cleaning them with a special carpet vacuum machine. The window/door rubber seals are in need of replacement and while at it, the window felts will also be replaced.  The Pioneer cassette radio as you’ll see in the pictures is incorrect, product of the 80’s-90’s, but it works well.  A Becker replacement is in order here.  The clock is working occasionally and would require repair.  The Kangol non-rewinding seat-belts are there, but the driver’s latch needs refurbishing.  Also, there’s an original factory fitted BEHR air conditioning unit which works well producing cool air upon trial. Pumping-up with old spec’s Freon is an issue though, as “Refrigerant 12” is banned from the market and hard to find.

Mechanicals:

The undercarriage is unmolested, no dents, no rust anywhere, original Bosch horns.

This 250SE Coupé is in terrific original shape, hence I would classify her asCondition 2 Fine”, i.e. well-restored, or a combination of superior restoration and excellent original. Also, an extremely well-maintained original car, showing very minimal wear. The previous owners have obviously cared for her, and there are several new parts present to attest to this.  One can immediately see upon opening the hood a new fuel system solenoid and lines, plus I was told by the last owner that he had new brake pads fitted and a new electric fuel pump.

Both of these make sense, as the car idles well and tracks true even under heavy braking.  The emergency brake is working well, as are all lights, interior and exterior, the air is sufficiently cold, and all gages work including the odometer. The mileage indicated is 108,843 KM which may or may not be true. The only faults I’ve found are a dead spot lamp switch, the add-on FIAMM air horns do not blow although the air pump is churning and the RH rear window lever was detached but not missing. These have been easily repaired though, prior to taking delivery of the car. All windows (electric front, cranked rear) roll down OK.  There is and auxiliary BOSCH electric radiator fan which is triggered automatically by the thermostat but also has a manual override with a period red light indicator glowing when activated.  Upfront there are twin Hella halogen spot lights.  Tires are a set of matched Goodyear Eagle GT+4’s, which appear to be in good shape but hardened by age, while the spare is an unused Michelin XWX.  A new set of Made in Germany Semperit tires are now on order. The aircon compressor is a YORK unit, made by Borg-Warner, USA and I wonder if this was an original item or a replacement fitted to work with the Behr cabin unit. A cylinder compression test indicated (psi): #1 150, #2 152, #3 165, #4 155, #5 160 and # 6 162, verifying a healthy engine condition. Needless to say, the car prior to transfer of title, passed the MOT test with flying colors!

The rear view of the car proves the beauty of the design lines, pleasing  from any angle!

Sports Car Market pegs the 1966-68 250SE Coupés value between €20,000 and €35,000 with a 100% change in value from last year! There were only 6,213 units made in 1966-68 combined for the worldwide market, of these, 4,108 being Coupés and 2,105 Convertibles.  As a new owner I believe that I will not ‘lose’ money on the car provided the car is well maintained.  For less than the price of a new Kia, I can buy a legendary Mercedes design, with a number of rare features and unique “Royal” history, a really appealing automobile that’s sure to appreciate.

The pillar-less side view, so characteristic of the Paul Braque design.

Repairs Log:

One of the first actions I took after delivery was to access the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center and order in CD form the STAR Classic Service Manual Library for the W111, plus the EPC Compact plus Spare Parts list. I also obtained the original 250SE Coupé Owners Manual, the Maintenance Booklet as well as some other accessories. Thus I started digging-into the secrets of these magnificent cars.  The other main priority after taking possession of the car was to seek and find appropriate repair establishments for the following categories:

  • Mercedes-Benz specialist for mechanical issues
  • Body work specialist
  • Leather & interior specialist
  • Spare parts suppliers in Germany and in Greece
  • Air condition service center

Past 70 and still going strong! Michael Gouliaras is possibly one of the few Mercedes-Benz mechanics with unrivaled training and deep-deep knowledge of the firm’s older (and newer) automobiles!

The first category was the most urgent one and for which I had no previous knowledge. Hence I asked a PHILPA (Antique Car Club of Greece) member and friend Dimitris Rizos, who owns a W113 230 SL Pagode along with few other M-B beasts (a.k.a. Unimog’s), to make a recommendation. Thankfully he did so quite successfully, referring me to the AUTOHAUS STUTTGART, an old “Pointed Star” establishment in the area of Piraeus. The main proprietor, Mr. Michael Gouliaras (now in his early 7o’s) has attended a three year course at the Mercedes-Benz School of Engineers during his youth and has worked in Germany, Switzerland and Greece all these years. His team members (all of them coming from the early 1930’s established M.K. FOSTIROPOULOS-VIAMAX S.A. exclusive M-B Distributor and coach builder until the mid-nineties, when Mercedes-Benz Hellas was established as a factory subsidiary). They are trained by him and all of them love their jobs and the old cars, while showing a lot of respect for their clients.

Car extra options:  Dark Blue color code 332 G, Klimaalange 306, Becker Europa Radio 514, (& other info) are engraved on the second metal tag of the car.

Amazingly, Gouliaras knew well Prince Michael’s car, having worked on her along with King Constantine’s Cabriolets and the other Merc’s of the Greek Royal Palace fleet being brought to FOSTIROPOULOS for service. He also snapped “Hey! her original color was Dark Blue!” (which is correct as depicted on the car’s metal tag, with code # 332 G). From that moment on, I knew that I was in good hands.

The Steel Compensating Spring and new bracket installed with the appropriate rubber shims.

Not knowing for how long the car was inactive in the hands of the previous owner, I wanted to empty all her fluids and pour in fresh stuff, along with replacing the relevant filters. That meant replacing the engine oil, brake, coolant, power steering, differential and auto gear box fluids plus executing a thorough grease job covering about 22 check points. The air filter and the fuel injection filters were also cleaned. The auto choke solenoid was looked after while a special injection cleaning formula was poured into the fuel system. The spark plugs and the distributor points were changed and the timing calibrated. The front brake disk pads were almost nearing their end of life so these were replaced and the brake system was bled. What a change in the braking power all that care did!

A new set of appropriate model Bilstein shock absorbers were fitted in the rear suspension. Noticeable in the picture is the new fuel pump that was installed by the previous owner.

The other main concern was around the hydro-pneumatic rear axle self leveling BOGE compression leg device. The rear end was sitting low and needed rectification. Mike told me that this was a well known problem for the W111 series and the BOGE units were replaced by the factory back then, by installing the earlier, simple coiled steel spring. So far so good, but where could we source such a spring, when in fact it came in three different grades? Michael’s “old boy network” was put into action, and within minutes he had sourced locally the appropriate spring, in brand new condition together with its fixing bracket for 100,00 €! WOW :-). By next morning the car was sitting perfectly level having gained the correct increased ground clearance, while the camber of the rear wheels were measured OK by an old rig which Mike had in his tool chest. Next a new set of appropriate Bilstein shock absorbers were fitted in the front and rear axles.

The AUTOHAUS STUTTGART Team. From Left: Stefanos (co-owner), Panayiotis (body shop chief), Yiannis (a.k.a ‘Spithas’), Mr. Michael and the younger Electrician.

The AUTOHAUS STUTTGART incorporates a body shop service and an electrician. Mr. Panayiotis looked underneath the car, checking for rust spots; alas he did locate some in the passenger side floor board, hidden by the underside tar covering, plus minor ones in the spare wheel well in the trunk. These will be addressed in the coming weeks. A foam sealing was applied in order to provide a temporary protection from possible car operation in the wet. He also fixed the inoperable drivers side door lock. The electrician replaced the emergency flash switch cum relay and now the turning signals and flashers operate perfectly. He did adjust the head, fog and spot lights. He also replaced another relay for the FIAMM air horns which now blow nicely! We all agreed that the Pioneer radio-cassette unit is due for replacement by an appropriate Becker Europa or such model.

I left the shop with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction: for a job well done, for making new friends and from knowing that the AUTOHAUS STUTTGART will be indeed the appropriate house of care for my precious Princess Michaela!

The Semperit Comfort-Life tire

While the Coupé remained in the Piraeus shop for three days, my tire supplier had called to advise that the new set of four Semperit Comfort-Life 205/70 R 14’s – which had already been ordered from Germany the previous week – had indeed arrived. What a joy! Now that I had in my hands a well sorted car in the areas of brakes, steering, suspension, engine tune-up and so forth, a new set of radials would further increase the comfort of the ride as well as that all important factor of road safety. The more than 10-year old Good Year’s had lost their softness and the treads were well worn. Onwards then from Piraeus to the other side of Athens, in the North East region of Gerakas. Costas greeted me smilingly. Alas, his Kärcher hot water high-pressure cleaner was broken, as I wanted to have the steel wheels well cleaned before wearing on the new tires. Oh well! A small job left behind for another time. He did inspect all four wheels for rust, signs of damage or untrue turning. All were in great shape. The new tires and air valves were quickly installed and the wheels carefully balanced. These high-tech balancing Corghi machines (all Made in Italy), never cease to amaze me!

A new set of Semperit Comfort-Life tires were fitted.

Costas Michopoulos is my trusted tire supplier of many years.

All along these day’s, intensive Internet searches pointed me to the DB Depot in Dettenheim, Germany as a reliable specialist for spare parts. A similar search for two local suppliers verified that their prices were much more expensive, most items not in stock (probably they would buy them from DB Depot or similar source). Exchanging several e-mails with proprietor Andreas Reinacher, helped me source the much needed rubber parts for the doors and windows, plus a number of other cosmetic parts. Andreas offered his valuable advice about the many items I inquired, he only failed to provide me the fuel tank sending unit and the windshield wiper rubber foot pump which was leaking. “The search is on” for these vital OEM items. An order has been placed with DB Depot which I eagerly await in order to proceed with my appointment at Auto-Stop/Connolly where my good friend George Pitsikos is going to take care of revamping the leathers, the wood and the carpets, and changing all the weather seals in between.

After that job, (more news and progress report as they develop), the car will go back to AUTOHAUS STUTTGART for the body work repairs and paint touch-ups. I do consider as appropriate to repaint the car in her initial dark blue color, but I tend to leave this task for the Fall or even for next year, since the current Silver Metallic paint is quite good and presentable.

The Behr Aircon will be pumping plenty of cool air after upgrading the refrigerant system.

Mike’s partner Stefanos has already referred me to another M-B specialist from their extended “old boy network”, for taking care of the air conditioning system. The task involved is to upgrade all system valves, hoses, filter etc. with closer tolerance fittings and thoroughly clean the refrigerant gas from the old (now forbidden) Freon R-12 to the new, R-134a US/EU approved and environmentally friendly refrigerant agent. Such replacements are required in order to prevent the smaller molecular structure gas of R-134, i.e. with higher density, from escaping the system and polluting the environment. Since summer is just around the corner and temperatures in Greece are quite high, having the old Behr unit pumping out plenty of cool air in the cabin is deemed important and will certainly add to the comfort and enjoyment of the car.

The Becker Mexico 7948 unit offers all the high-tech jingles & bells plus an iPod interface!

The last issue would be to replace the radio. I fancy the Becker Mexico 7948 modern replica unit, but aside from its high price, there are some pro’s and con’s to consider about that…


P.S.: My Uncle Costas 250SE Cabriolet

From Left: Cousins Connie, Christopher & Aunt Sophia, at their Cedar Grove, N.J.  family house driveway.

Fate has it that my beloved Uncle Costas Iliades, an ENT M.D. with practice in New Jersey, who was also a high ranking officer in both the USN and the Hellenic Navy, was himself a Mercedes-Benz aficionado! Having owned first a 190SL in the late fifties, which eventually he donated to his son Christopher upon entering College, then he bought for himself a brand new signal red 250SE Cabriolet (W111). The car was driven aside from the Doctor, by his wife Sophia and daughter Connie. I thank Connie for providing me with this period family picture of the car.

Technical Specifications of the 250SE

Engine Type: 6 cylinder overhead camshaft
Bore and stroke: 80 x 78.8 mm
Displacement: 2496 cc
Power output: 150 hp
Compression ratio: 9.3:1
Torque: 22 mkg @ 4200 rpm
Carburetion: Bosch two plunger injection pump
Engine speed at 100km/h: 3245 rpm
Gear ratios Automatic: I. 3.98:1II. 2.52:1

III.1.58:1

IV. 1.00:1 Rear axle ratio:3.92Chassis:unit frame and bodySuspension: independent front, with coil springs, single joint swing axle rearBrakes and area:disk, servo assist, two circuit hydraulic, 273/279mmWheelbase:2750mmTrack front/rear:1482/1485mmLength:4900mmWidth:1810mmHeight:1440mmGround clearance:152mmTires: 7.35 H 14 or 185 H 14Turning circle:12.1 – 11.9 metersSteering type and ratio:recirculating ball, 22.7:1Weight: 1490 kg
Maximum speed:188 kphAcceleration:12 sec 0-100km/hrFuel consumption:Automatic:17 L/100 km, Super (13.7 mpg)Fuel tank capacity: 82 L (21.7 gal)

Datacard for Chassis W111.021.12.088627

I am indebted to Mr. Gerd Langer,  of Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz Cars, Brand Communications of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Organization, who kindly provided me with the official “Datacard” of my car along with a number of additional documents, period brochures and so on. Among other details, now I know that my car was built on 25th June 1967! 🙂

Click here to browse the “Datacard”: Datacard-11102112088627

Anyone can also double click below to see the spec’s and options that HRH “Michel de Grèce” had ordered for this car (marked with an X on the left), as for example, Code 256 “Differential mit begrenztem Sperrwert”, Code 3o6 “Klimaanlage” etc. : W 111_112 Coupé_Cabriolet 1967

What can I say about German efficiency, meticulous record keeping and customer care?

Finally, read the “official” version by M-B about the story of these cars:

At the opening ceremony of the Daimler-Benz Museum in Untertürkheim, which was housed in a representative new building in order to celebrate the “75th anniversary of motor traffic”, on the 24 February 1961, a new passenger car model, the 220 SEb Coupé was unveiled. This elegant and representative model became the successor of the 128 series coupe, which after October 1960 had been produced no longer.

From a technical and stylistic point of view, the new model was derived from the 220 SEb sedan, which was presented in August 1959, and was also assigned to model series 111. In contrast to its successor, the coupé was planned as a fully-fledged four-seated model. It was based on the chassis of the sedan the wheelbase of which remained unchanged accordingly. Although the tailfins, which had made such a sensation at the presentation of the 220 b – 220 SEb models, were now apparent in rudimentary form only, coupé and sedan still had many stylistic features in common. This makes the fact that not a single construction element of the four-door model could be used for the coupe even more surprising. Engine and chassis had been taken over from the sedan without significant modifications. The only important difference was a technical specialty: The 220 SEb Coupé was the first Mercedes-Benz passenger car model to be fitted with disk brakes at the front wheels.

In August 1961, a convertible version of the 220 SEb was presented, which was an exact replica of the coupé, except for the absent roof and required body stiffening. Half a year later, the 300 SE Coupé and 300 SE Cabriolet, which had been constructed from pre-existing building blocks, had their debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The bodies of the corresponding 220 SEb versions had been touched up with additional decorative elements and were combined with the technology of the Type 300 SE. Thus, these new exclusive models, which were, like the underlying sedan model assigned to model series 112, featured a whole set of technical details.

Basic equipment consisted of a 3.0-liter light-alloy engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, power-brake unit, air suspension and dual circuit brakes with disk brakes at the front and rear wheels. There was additional chrome decoration in the shape of a chrome trim extending from headlights to taillights along the longitudinal bead as well as conspicuous decorative trims at the front and rear wheel arches. From March 1963, the 300 SE Coupé and Convertible were, like the sedan, available with optional 4-speed manual gearbox; in this case the list price was reduced by DM 1,400.

In January 1964 engine power was increased to 170 hp so that driving performance was improved. This was made possible by converting the injection pump into a six-plunger unit. In 1962 the test department also constructed an individual special design of the 300 SE Coupé. The rear roof edge was removed together with the rear window and replaced by a retractable hood. This resulted in a landaulet, which for several years became the personal car of Professor Nallinger, head of the development department. Nothing more is known about the whereabouts and subsequent fate of this interesting car.

When the “fintail”-sedans of models 220 Sb, 220 SEb and 300 SE were replaced by a completely reconstructed generation of models, the coupé and convertible versions remained in the sales programme. As these exclusive models, which had been produced for some years then, were by no means outdated beside the sedans of the new generation, expensive stylistic revision or the development of new small-scale serial production of model versions were unnecessary.

The two 2.2-liter models received the 150 hp 2.5-liter engine of the 250 SE and also its model designation. Furthermore, like the 3.0-liter models, they were fitted with the 14-inch wheels and bigger disk brakes of  the 108 series sedans. New, too, was the hydropneumatic compensating spring at the rear axle, which had been incorporated into the 2.5-liter models instead of the coil spring that had hitherto been used, guaranteeing that the level of the body remained constant irrespective of loads.

January 1968 witnessed the debut of the 280 SE model, which had a newly developed 2.8-liter engine with 160 hp and became the successor of the 250 SE. This change of generation did not only affect the sedan, but also the two-door versions. Apart from the new engine, only some details had been changed in the coupé and the convertible; like the sedan, both received flatter one-piece decorative wheel covers with integrated boss cap. At the same time as the 2.5-liter models, production of the Type 300 SE Coupé and convertible was stopped.

There was no immediate successor, but this was not really necessary either, as engine power was only 10 hp lower than in the 2.8-liter versions and the same driving performance was achieved because of their lower weight. In September 1969 the more powerful 280 SE 3.5 Coupé and Cabriolet models were presented. The completely new 3.5-liter V8-engine with 200 hp was very quiet and smooth and made sports car performance possible. These new models, and also the 280 versions with the 2.8-liter 6-cylinder engine had minor external modifications. The radiator grill was lower and wider and the bonnet was accordingly lower at the front. The bumpers were also modified, now being fitted with rubber strips like on the sedans. There were no external differences between the 8-cylinder versions and the new 6-cylinder versions.

In May 1971 the production of the 2.8-liter coupés and cabriolets ended and two months later the production of the 8-cylinder versions also ceased, thus bringing the ten-year era of the 111 and 112 series coupés and cabriolets to an end. A total of 28,918 coupés and 7,013 cabriolets of this range were built in Sindelfingen. The most exclusive version was the 300 SE cabriolet with 708 units produced, followed by the 250 SE cabriolet (954 units), the 280 SE 3.5 cabriolet (1,232 units) and the 280 SE cabriolet (1,390 units). The 220 SEb coupé achieved the highest production volume with 14,173 units.

The 350 SLC, which became available from February 1972, was the successor of the coupé models. This car was not based on a sedan, however, but on the SL model, which had been launched in April 1971. No replacement was planned for the cabriolets; fresh air Mercedes drivers had to be content with the two-seater SL.

Text: Courtesy Mr. Gerd Langer, Images: web files

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