Changing the 250SE back to the correct wheel trims

My 250SE has been ‘wearing’ 280 style hubcaps since I got it, but I had always wanted to convert it back to the correct style.   As it happened, a box containing the original headlights and the original centre hubcaps for this car was found by a previous owner and re-united with the car.   The outer beauty rings were missing, but I had a set of those already I had purchased when a Mercedes dismantling company was closing down.

Both the original hubcaps and the beauty rings were very dirty, but a few hours of cleaning and polishing with autosol got them to a reasonable level.   (before and after).

Before and AfterIt is also interesting to compare the two styles side by side:

Both syles

Next step is to change the v8 style headlights for the original style.

W111 Mercedes hub caps and beauty rings

Classic Mercedes have always had attractive chrome and painted wheel trims, and most people are very familiar with the ubiquitous one piece hubcaps that were available on nearly all models from the late 60s to the mid 80s.   W111s (and associated models such as the W110, W113, W108, W109) had a few different styles that are now rarely seen.

Style 1:  13″ wheels (1959-1965)

Cars covered:  W111 – all 220s except 220b.   W112 – all 300s.  

These cars were delivered with 13″ wheels, although most cars have been upgraded to 14″ during their lives as it is now hard to get 13″ tyres for a full size car like a W111 Mercedes.

These cars had an attractive two piece design, with a center hub cap that was painted body colour (or roof colour if two tone), and a surrounding beauty ring with 12 holes.   From a distance they look very similar to the later one piece design, but up close they are smaller because of the 13″ wheel and they stick out more.    The wheels are also painted body (or roof) colour.

220 Style


The W112 300s used this style until the change to 14″ wheels that coincided with the release of the 250 models.

Cars covered:  W111 220b, W110 – all models.

These cars used the same hubcap, but omitted the beauty ring.   The body coloured wheel was much more prominent on these cars as it was almost hidden when the beauty ring was used.

Style 2:  14″ wheels (1965-1967)

Cars covered:  W111 250SE & 280SE (up to #0053); W112 all models;   W113 230SL & 250SL; W108 250S, 250SE, 300SEb; W109 300SEL

These cars retained the hubcap from style 1, but replaced the beauty ring with a model that covered the outer part of the wheel only, and no longer had any holes.   With this design, a section of the painted wheel was visible between the beauty ring and the hubcap.

250 Style

This style only works with the early style 14″ wheels with the W108 part number.   These have been superseded with a W126 part number wheel that does not have the lip to allow the small hubcaps to mount to the wheel.   (which can be seen in the photo below)

Early style wheels

Style 3:  14″ wheels (1968-1985)

This is the most common style, which was used on nearly all Mercedes models until the mid 80s.   These were a one piece design and will fit to all Mercedes 14″ steel wheels of this period.   They look very similar to the first style, but flatter.



Many cars that were originally delivered with one of the styles above, are now using this style due to its availability both in terms of the trims but also the wheels.   Getting a set of wheels and hubcaps from a W123 was an easy proposition for a W111 owner who wanted to go from 13″ to 14″ wheels.

Style 4:  15″ wheels (optional extra)

It was possible to order 15″ wheels for rough roads, and they were standard for the universals.    These are rare and 5″ wide.    The car pictured below has these wheels and the matching 15″ hubcaps.

15"Some of the different styles can be seen in the photo below – the inner hubcaps used for Styles 1 and 2, the 14″ beauty rings and the 14″ one piece hubcaps.




2015 British Car Display Day

The British Car display is probably the best show each year in Sydney, and this year was no different.   Although the Eastern Creek show is bigger and has a more varied mix of vehicles, plus the parade laps to see the cars moving, The British show has more cars that you keep coming back to have another look and always seems to have something new.

Last year the show was rained out, but there was no chance of that today.   The biggest display was that put on by the Jaguar club, with a nice selection of different models.   In one area, there was a racing green Mk1 parked next to a racing green Mk2 which provided a nice contrast.    Jaguars always have an impressive representation, as there are plenty on display from other clubs such as regional clubs, motorsport clubs etc.   I’ve always been a big fan of the XK140 FHC, and I saw one of these in a regional club.     One owner of a 420 had made a matching trailer he called the ‘draguar’ and was trying to sell it at the show.

Probably the most impressive display was that put on by the Rolls Royce Owners Club.    Considering the exclusivity of these cars when new, their numbers were very impressive and there were a couple of special displays such as a Phantom II restored chassis, the Vice Regal Phantom that I saw at the German Car Show (special guest).    There was even a 1910 Rolls Royce that made quite an entrance, full of passengers and a backfire as it moved into position!   It is great to see such a car still on the road and being used, and seeing this car on full rego shows the farcical nature of the NSW historic plates scheme.    I also got to see one of my favorite cars, the Bentley S3 Continental, with a lovely example on display, as well as its sister car (the Rolls Royce version).       There are a lot of Bentleys from the RR era as part of the RROC, as well as some part of the Bentley club, but from a casual observation, the Rolls Royce club seems to be the popular choice for the Bentley owner of this era.

There are also nice displays from all the usual suspects, including hundreds and hundreds of British sports cars.

The show is held at the Kings School, who also run their annual fete, providing options for those who are not enthused by seeing all the variants of compact Jaguar lined up.

2015 Shannons Eastern Creek

The Shannons car show at Eastern creek brings about 1700 cars from Sydney and surrounds to Eastern Creek raceway for a display and parade laps around the track.

The show is always a great way of seeing interesting cars that are rarely seen on the road.   It was a lovely sunny day in Sydney and so good numbers turned up.   I did not enter a car, but spent time looking at all the cars on display.   The show is organized by club, and includes the larger make based clubs (e.g. Jaguar) as well as the smaller regional clubs, motor sports clubs etc.     I was not able to attend last year, but did go in 2013.

Highlights for me this year included:

  • Seeing a 1905 horseless carriage do a parade lap, including slowing to almost walking pace as it tried to climb the hills.   It is great to see a car like this still running and able to do a lap!
  • In the Cadillac section, there was a V16, V12, and V8 from the same era which provided an interesting contrast.  The V16 was an amazing looking car and in pristine condition.

Unfortunately in NSW we do not get to see some of these cars on the road very much due to our highly restrictive registration for classics, so a day like this is a great way to see them.    It was highly amusing to hear some announcer say how great the scheme is in NSW and how we wouldn’t want to change it.   I suppose you can’t go anywhere without a bit of propaganda.

Traction coolant flush

I seem to have a habit of buying Citroens that have ditch water in their cooling system.     I spent quite a bit of time flushing out the system of the DS21, and now I need to do the same for the traction.

The Traction currently has a habit of marking its territory after every drive with a nice dirty stain where the coolant has spat out the overflow.   I normally have to top the radiator up each drive or so, which is something I want to have looked at when the car goes in for rego.   Therefore, before that happens, I wanted to get the system as clean as possible, and the first step was the flush it out as best I could.

Unlike a ‘modern’ car, the Traction has a screw on radiator cap, then a mechanism to allow overflow at a certain pressure built into the radiator.   The mechanism on my car does not seem to be working anymore.   Many people convert their tractions to regular radiator caps due to the problems I am having, as well as that the cap is quite hard to remove.

Traction radiator cap

The radiator drain for the traction is not as easy as the DS.   It is at the bottom of the radiator, accessed from the right hand side of the engine bay.   It is quite close to the hot exhaust manifold as well as the metal engine fan which does not have a shroud, so care is needed to operate it when the car is running.

Radiator Drain

I had already fitted a clear hose to the radiator overflow for when the car ‘spits’ after a drive, but the drain is a different outlet, so a second hose can be used to make sure it does not dribble all over the engine.

All I did was let the coolant slowly drain out while the car was running, and then keep topping it up to make sure the radiator core was always immersed.   A traction is much easier to do than a more modern car as there is no thermostat that could prevent the block from being flushed also.     After the first 20-30 minutes the coolant was still very dirty, but it slowly cleaned up, and from the photo you can see the last bottle in the row is much cleaner than some of the early samples I took.


Next step is to put in a cooling system cleaner and do another flush.

UPDATE (22/8/15) – The cooling system cleaner was well worth it with the same amount of crud again being flushed out of the system.

2nd Prize in a beauty contest

My Light 15 was awarded 2nd prize in the pre-1956 Citroen category at the 2015 French Car Day.   I hadn’t planned to enter the car, but did since there were only a couple of Tractions there.    1st prize went to a nice Big 15.   Without a lot of effort I should be able to do better as I was obviously marked down for things like my missing front carpet.   Concours is not really my thing, so while I want to make improvements to the car for my own enjoyment, I will not be wrapping it in cotton wool.

As usual it was a good day, despite the cold and I was able to see a ~1908 Delage that drove under its own power from Bankstown, as well as the some of the usual nice French cars that turned up.   The electric DS also was in attendance and usually had a crowd of people gathered around to see how it worked.  Due to the cold weather, attendance was down a little from 2014.

I also got to speak to a gentleman who is pretty sure he owned my car in the late 70s and was the one who installed the radio antenna.   He is going to send me a photo of the car from around 1977.   It is great to be able to put a piece of the puzzle of the car’s history together.

W123 Radio Upgrade – bypassing the factory fader

The 280CE was back today to get a radio installed.   When I purchased the car, the previous owner had removed their radio, so there was a great big hole in the dash.   Luckily, my brother who purchased the car from me already had a radio he had removed from his previous 280CE.

This car still had the factory fader switch installed.   That means that there is only a front and rear channel for the radio and all the speaker wires go through the fader switch that controls the front/rear fade.    After a while these switches stop working well, and can be bypassed when using a modern radio – if you’re happy to cut the factory wiring.

While it looks complicated, to remove the fader switch, what is needed is to cut the wires that come out from near the fader switch itself – near the switch the smaller set of wires are for the rear speakers, and the larger set go back into the dash for the front speakers and radio connection.    Therefore, so long as the speaker wires are cut before they hit that section of wiring that joins them up, they can simply be wired into the new radio.   A 9v battery is a good way of verifying which speaker is which to ensure the radio is correctly installed.

280CE radio

If the wires are carefully cut, there is enough slack to re-install the radio without having to re-wire the speakers.

DS Sill trim – complete

The DS is back together and sporting pretty much a whole new interior.   The new sill trim is complete and the seats have been refitted and carpets re-installed.    I’m really happy with the results and glad I didn’t try and make a part-pallas.   In part 4, I glued down the drivers side trim, so what was left was to re-install the stainless steel outer sill covers, and then re-install the interior.

Before Installation

While I was there, I also had the rubber pedal cover for the parking brake.   This is simple to fit when there is no interior.

Parking brake

Pallas cars have a chrome surround, but the regular DS leverages this rubber cover.

It is also easier to put the carpets in first, before the seats, with the rear seat in before the two drivers seats.

Finished job


With the seats back in, all that is left is to slide the armrest back in.   This pretty much completes the interior rejuvenation for me.   All that is left is a few more adjustments on the retrosound radio.

DS sill trim – replacement part 4

The project to replace the sill trim progresses well.   The glue had done a good job with the passengers side trim in part 3, so I proceeded to glue down the drivers side as well.

driver side

While this set, I was able to re-attach the seatbelt and then start working on re-attaching the lower stainless steel trim.   The stainless steel trim is quite fiddly, as it needs to be attached to the car in one long piece.


I found it easier to rest the front of it on a small cardboard box and then start attaching the rear.   The trim screws in at the top, holding down the silver covering that is mostly glued down, and clips over the ridge in the floor pan of the car.   The front is much harder with the mud flap, I started with a few screws to hold in the rear piece, and a couple middle of the front section to locate the trim, then to start from the back making sure the trim is clipped into the bottom before tightening the top.     The rear is on nicely now, although I was not able to finish the front as the jack stand is in the way.

now attached


DS sill trim – replacement part 3

The installation of the new sill trim in the DS progresses.    Today I was able to glue down the passengers side of the car after doing some final trimming to size (mostly done in part 2).    I ended up using an entire can of spray adhesive, as the underside of the trim absorbs a lot of the glue.     Unfortunately, I did not have clamps big enough, or old phone books, so I had to use water and oil containers to weight down the glue so it sticks properly.

The key was stretching it enough so it did not appear baggy, but making sure it stayed in the channel on the outside of the car.   So far it seems to be working quite well – I’ll see in a day or so how well it has stuck down.


If this works well, I will repeat for the drivers side.   There was an unknown black wire that went under the trim – not sure what it is for – hopefully I never have to get to it!

From the outside

While I waited for the glue to dry, I also trimmed around the height corrector and accelerator pedal for the drivers side, so I should be ready to go next time.