A trip to the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center

Michael Kunz (facing away from us) and Nate Zander extract the scrap-heap 250 SL from its resting place at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center.
Nate Zander taught us every trick to get the differential out of one of these cars.

Nate Zander taught us every trick to get the differential out of one of these cars.

A recent meeting at the Scottsdale auctions with Mercedes-Benz Classic Center head Michael Kunz and his assistant, Nate Lander, led to a trip to the Mecca of classic Mercedes cars in this country.

Anyone into old Mercedes owes themselves a visit to the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine. As is typical of anything Mercedes does, this place is first class, with an impeccable showroom full of dozens of classic Mercedes from 300SLs to 600 limousines.

The workshop area, where they restore customer cars, is well laid out and there are always at least half a dozen restorations in progress at all times. Car guys to the bone, Nate and Michael convinced us to stop by and even offered to help us on their day off to pull the rear end out of a W113-chassis 250SL parts car they were about to scrap.

On Friday we were at the swanky Hotel Valley Ho having breakfast and talking about classic Mercedes. Monday afternoon we were elbow-deep in grease, removing an old Mercedes differential.

As the insanely knowledgeable Mercedes-Benz Classic Center guys pointed out, this differential assembly is nearly identical to our W111 except for the 3.92:1 (versus our 4.08:1) final drive ratio. This will make for more relaxed cruising, and comes with an upgrade: rear disc brakes.

As we intend to rally, autocross and even use our “Fintail” for track day work, rear disc brakes intrigued us. Brake shoes are nearly unobtainable for the rear drum brakes that came in our 230 S. That cemented the deal for us.

Not everyone has a Pagoda roof W113 SL to use as a parts car. Michael and Nate pointed out that the much more common and less expensive W108 sedans from the late ‘60s also have disc brake rear ends that are essentially identical.

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