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  • Car Throttle and Mercedes-Benz turned a 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280 S into a period correct rally car.

    Mercedes-Benz W 108: Project Retro Rally.

    Car Throttle and Mercedes-Benz turned a 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280 S into a period correct rally car inspired by the “red pig” – and they’re sharing their experiences with the world in 12 YouTube clips.

Definitely heavy metal.

50 years old and definitely heavy metal instead of old iron: Mercedes-Benz Classic built a period correct rally car inspired by the “red pig” out of a 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280 S. All the footsteps of the entire build have been documented in a twelve-part YouTube series – including all the failures and learnings along the way. The series was produced in cooperation with Car Throttle, one of the largest online car-related communities around the world. There will be new episodes every Friday and you’ll find them right here!

Car Throttle and Mercedes-Benz built a contemporary rally car from a 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280 S.
Play on YouTube

Episode 1: That’s Heinrich.

Petrolhead Alex Kersten of Car Throttle introduces us to “Heinrich”, a 50-year-old Mercedes-Benz 280 S. And he’s more than honest: Right now Heinrich drives as comfortably as his favourite armchair in the living room, but that’s about to change. At the Mercedes-Benz dealership Wilhelm Jesinger KG in Esslingen, the classic Mercedes-Benz is getting some special treatments – the W 108 is being converted into a period correct rally car, including stiffer suspension and a cage.

With its platforms, Car Throttle reaches 200 million young enthusiasts each month to celebrate automobiles. The first Project Retro Rally episode is the prelude to a series of 12 clips that will explain the build in great detail.

Episode 1: Behind the Build.

Alex from Car Throttle takes a close look at Heinrich in a 160-point check. In the check, which is also mandatory for every vehicle sold by ALL TIME STARS, and later in dry ice blasting, various rust problems on the underbody and paint damage become evident. The transmission is not the first one and the six-cylinder leaks quite much.

There is not much time left until the participation in the AVD Histo Monte, so the team does not choose their usual way of a perfect restoration. The main focus is to make Heinrich mechanically sound and handle like he’s on rails. Cosmetically a rally car is allowed to wear some battle scars – but the drivetrain has to be in tip-top condition!

Play on YouTube
Play on YouTube

Episode 2: Oil Leaks.

In search for rust Heinrich, our Mercedes-Benz 280 S, has been freed from most of his not original underbody protection. The challenge is far bigger than anybody expected, the wheel arches are still not done yet. Alex from Car Throttle introduces us to Karl-Heinz, who has been working for the brand as a mechanic since 1972 and will provide all the knowledge for the upcoming build.

One of the first things they need to fix is the oil leakage. The gearbox is one of the main culprits and has to be removed. Until the new seals arrive the boys start working on the crankshaft oil seal at the front of the engine. Not without problems, of course. 50 year old bolts like to stay where they are.

Episode 2: Behind the Build.

The very last remains of the not original underbody protection are removed and for the first time Heinrich can’t hide his rust anymore. After it becomes clear how much welding has to be done and all of the panels are ordered, Alex and Karl-Heinz start a full inspection of the engine.

The two adjust the valves on the in-line six-cylinder and measure the compression. The air filter, the ignition contact and the spark plugs are replaced with genuine Mercedes-Benz parts. Then disaster strikes: Heinrich refuses to start which results in exhausting hours of troubleshooting. A tough test for the team.

Play on YouTube
Play on YouTube

Episode 3: The Chassis.

The thing that mostly distinguishes gliding comfortably along in a standard Mercedes-Benz 280 S from bone-juddering rally drifting is the chassis. Alex and Karl-Heinz first inspect the exposed rust holes on Heinrich’s underbody and then get the work started.

After the brakes are checked, the two men with the greasy fingers replace the old springs and shock absorbers on the front axle with brand new suspension components by H&R. By adding a reinforced anti-roll bar and getting rid of the massive bumpers, Heinrich gets a little closer to his “secret” role model – the famous “rote Sau” (red pig) by AMG. Finally, a day when everything seems to be going according to plan. Until the rear axle needs to be sealed...

Episode 3: Behind the Build.

Alex and Karl-Heinz must seal Heinrichs leaky rear swing axle. In the same turn H&R springs are also fitted in the back. The removal, the cleaning and the dismantling of the heavy axle initially prove not to pose a problem for the petrolhead from Car Throttle and the mechanic from Autohaus Jesinger.

But the rusty bolts in the trailing arms, however, refuse to turn. A task that should take only 30 minutes for both sides actually takes the team over three hours! After having won the battle between man and machine the Mercedes-Benz 280 S got reassembled with new bushings and now sits on his new ride height. If you squint your eyes hard enough, you will be able to see the vision of the build for the first time!

Play on YouTube
Play on YouTube

Episode 4: Seats and cage.

Karl-Heinz, Marcel and Alex solved all technical issues and Heinrich is now getting some interior improvements. Alex and Phillip from BodyTech have made a custom-made roll cage and also brought along two bucket seats for the Mercedes-Benz 280 S in order to convert its interior from the commode glider into a snappy rally car.

The bucket seats are fitted with a custom-made console to remain fully adjustable. Furthermore, the extra lightweight roll cage is only bolted in so the parts can be removed easily, if the buyer prefers the original interior at the end of the series. The team is busy preparing the final seat adjustments for Karl-Heinz and Alex. Will it all fit together?

Episode 4: Behind the Build.

It was only a few broken cables – but they rendered Heinrich immobile. Karl-Heinz and Alex repair the cables, adjust the points and the ignition timing as well as fine-tune the two carburetors – now the six-cylinder engine really comes to life. The sedan has earned himself some fresh oil and new filters.

The underbody is now in perfect condition as well. The additional headlights and the removed bumper bring the Mercedes-Benz 280 S visually closer to the "Red pig"! Marcel also installs a revcounter, a rally computer and new tyres. At the end, Heinrich is now a period correct rally car!

Play on YouTube
Play on YouTube

Episode 5: Rally Training.

The transformation is done – Heinrich is now a period correct rally car! Alex and Karl-Heinz will be one of 90 participating teams in the 27th year of the legendary AvD Histo Monte Rally. But beforehand, Alex has to be coached for the upcoming rally: Peter Göbel is the right teacher.

The multiple German rally champion and organizer of the AvD Histo Monte demonstrates Car Throttle the use of the built-in rally computer during the time trials, urges concentrated driving and prepares the British man: the real 1900 kilometers through the mountains to Monaco will be more challenging!

Episode 5: Behind the Build.

Peter explains the history of the AvD Histo Monte, which has become one of the most spectacular winter rallys for historic vehicles to date. He has clear predictions: reaching Monte Carlo with Heinrich is possible, but winning the rally is difficult.

The challenge is demanding: the route takes the team from Germany to Switzerland and France in five days. Following in the footsteps of the Rally Monte Carlo, they will travel via Italy over the Alps to Monaco. Peter explains the roadbook and uses the serpentines of the Col de Turini as an example while Alex looks forward to the champagne in Monte Carlo.

Play on YouTube
Play on YouTube

Episode 6: Rally fever.

It’s time! Heinrich needs to prove himself on the 1860 kilometers of this years AvD Rallye Histo Monte. But not only the classic Mercedes needs to work hard, driver Alex and navigator Karl-Heinz are also pushed to their limits. The time trails through snowy forests are harder than expected and the mood on board is not always the best.

The small and slippery roads prevent catching up the time after they had lost the route. Thanks to the nearly perfect navigation from Karl-Heinz, the team nevertheless reaches Aix les Bains in the French Alps more or less unscathed. From now on its getting hard for the 280 S.

Episode 6: Behind the Build.

The goal for the last stages: Alex and Karl-Heinz want to drive into the first 50! The overwhelming panorama and the curvy route make it difficult to maintain a speed of even 36 km/h. Apart from the time trials they score extra sympathy points by pulling out a Porsche 944 from a ditch!

During lunch Alex gets some last minute tips from more experienced rally drivers and after that he’s motivated to push Heinrich hard – and so they arrive in Cannes completely exhausted. Nevertheless, the team aces the famous Col de Turini pass on the last stretch to Monaco and then it’s time for champagne. 

Play on YouTube
Der Mercedes-Benz 280 S (W 108).

Project Retro Rally: Buy now.

At ALL TIME STARS you can now buy the original Mercedes-Benz 280 S (W 108).

Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert CO₂-Emissionen kombiniert Stromverbrauch im kombinierten Testzyklus

1 Die angegebenen Werte wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren ermittelt. Es handelt sich um die „NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 1 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

2 Die angegebenen Werte sind die „gemessenen NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 2 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153, die im Einklang mit Anhang XII der Verordnung (EG) Nr. 692/2008 ermittelt wurden. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Aufgrund gesetzlicher Änderungen der maßgeblichen Prüfverfahren können in der für die Fahrzeugzulassung und ggf. Kfz-Steuer maßgeblichen Übereinstimmungsbescheinigung des Fahrzeugs höhere Werte eingetragen sein. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch und die CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

4 Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, Stromverbrauch und CO₂-Emissionen sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe des WLTP-Prüfverfahrens ermittelt und in NEFZ-Werte korreliert. Eine EG-Typgenehmigung und Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.

6 Stromverbrauch und Reichweite wurden auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind abhängig von der Fahrzeugkonfiguration.