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Diesel Convertible

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monarchd's picture
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My daughter was asking me the other day if MB made a diesel convertible, specifically a roadster. I said the nearest they came in diesel was the 300 CD. Seems to me I do remember an outfit out of Atlanta or Virginia that "converted" 1974-198X two door MBs into convertibles by, of course, cutting the top off and custom installing a convertible canvas top. I do remember seeing this done to a 500SEC.

I'm thinking with the increasing cost of gas and the growing demand for bio-diesel, packaged with an improved diesel sedan engine (2005 CDI), the time might be right for a two seat rag top diesel.

I'm also wondering if converting a 300CD is feasible. What say you?

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darrellws's picture
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Alan, no MB sedan or coupe has the reenforcing to make the body rigig with the top removed. I'm sure the 'frame' could be strengthened but at what cost?

My suggestion would be to get the convertable you want and put a diesel engine in it. There are a few ragtops MBs but none with a factory diesel engine.

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Tom Hanson's picture
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The only MB diesel ragtop that I can remeber is a 1936 260D Landaulet. If you must have a drop-top-diesel, maybe a 380SL with a blown engine would be a good candidate for a conversion. The donor car would be reasonable and you could put something nice under the hood, like a 6-cyl diesel for a 1986-87 300SDL or 300DT. The trans is the same basic design and the engine woul bolt up to it. You'll have other "issues" but it would be a fairly easy conversion. You'd still have decent power and great fuel economy.

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There were some 170D four door convertibles made in the early 1950's. A friend of mine had one and I had a ride in it during the 1970's. This picture is of another 170D.

mercedes 1951 170d 4 door.jpg
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Diesel Convertible

Ever heard of a company that converts two door, two and four seat MBs to rag tops? I recall seeing ads for a company that had some sort of blessing or certification from MB. Aparently they came up with a method of beefing up the body to support the rag top.

Converting a gas SL to a diesel sounds interesting.

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Here is another view of the 1951 170D.

mercedes 1951 170d 4 door rear.jpg
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Re: Diesel Convertible

I'd be interested in this as a long-term project, maybe in a couple of years for now. But, I'm curious -- has anybody actually done it? Taken a gasser convertible and dropped a diesel engine in it? It sounds like a great idea... know of anybody else who actually went through with it?

nhdoc (not verified)
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Re: Diesel Convertible

I have seen 300CD convertibles. They were converted by a well known Florida company that specializes in that work and I think they were out of Fort Lauderdale. M-B has not made one themselves though some have dropped OM617 engines into R107 chassis SLs.

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Re: Diesel Convertible

nhdoc;123531 wrote:
I have seen 300CD convertibles. They were converted by a well known Florida company that specializes in that work and I think they were out of Fort Lauderdale. M-B has not made one themselves though some have dropped OM617 engines into R107 chassis SLs.

Marty-

Ah, there, that's what I'm looking for some examples of -- OM617 engines dropped into R107 chassis SLs, or maybe even OM603 engines dropped into any chassis of SL convertible. Do you have any more info on this?

thanks,
~Garlynn

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Re: Diesel Convertible

afarrier;17985 wrote:
I'm thinking with the increasing cost of gas and the growing demand for bio-diesel, packaged with an improved diesel sedan engine (2005 CDI), the time might be right for a two seat rag top diesel.

Perhaps for certain individuals, but MBUSA doesn't even think the time is right for a diesel station wagon.

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Re: Diesel Convertible

Garlynn;123513 wrote:
I'd be interested in this as a long-term project, maybe in a couple of years for now. But, I'm curious -- has anybody actually done it? Taken a gasser convertible and dropped a diesel engine in it? It sounds like a great idea... know of anybody else who actually went through with it?

It seems more than any other models, Mercedes convertibles hold their resale value. Shame to mess with that with an engine swap.

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Re: Diesel Convertible

I have a friend in the DC area that put a diesel engine in his 113 chassis.

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zak
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Re: Diesel Convertible

380 sl's are only fetching $10 grand, or so.
560 sl's are between $15- 20K
Even 1993- 1995 E320 cabs are only worth $15-20K.
My 1985 300D euro, 4 spd is worth almost the value of a 380 sl.
So I see no special value added to the newer cabs.
I would love to see a 6 cly 300 DSL crusing around.
There was a guy in Holland (?) who converted his 230 sl to a 240D diesel engine swap and loved it.
Good stuff!

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Re: Diesel Convertible

zak;123544 wrote:
380 sl's are only fetching $10 grand, or so.
560 sl's are between $15- 20K
Even 1993- 1995 E320 cabs are only worth $15-20K.
My 1985 300D euro, 4 spd is worth almost the value of a 380 sl.
So I see no special value added to the newer cabs.
I would love to see a 6 cly 300 DSL crusing around.
There was a guy in Holland (?) who converted his 230 sl to a 240D diesel engine swap and loved it.
Good stuff!

Yeah, I'm seeing convertibles benzes (1975 450 SL, 1982 280SL) for between $3k and $5k. And they claim to have good, running engines. So, I think it might be possible to find one with a blown engine for a lot less... it does sound like a fun conversion!

If anybody can post any photos or links to any of these projects that have already happened (not urgent, but if you happen to actually know a guy who's done it, and you could wander by his house int he next few months with a digicam...), it'd be much appreciated. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm kinda in the research phase for this project, so it's a few years off before I really dive in, I'm sure. :-)

cheers,
~Garlynn

nhdoc (not verified)
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Re: Diesel Convertible

I haven't seen any photos but heard tales of these conversion. One problem is the "I" diesel engine sits higher in the bay than the "V" engines traditionally put into the 107 chassis. That means you either have to modify the hood (with a faux scoop) or lower the engine somehow. I believe that the conversions I have heard about went with the former not the latter to get them to fit.

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Re: Diesel Convertible

There are 2 380SL's on e-Bay in the project car listings. One has a 'Buy it Now' price of $2300.00. The interior is a bit rough The other one is up for auction and current price is just several hundred dollars. Go to Advanced Search and type in Project cars and then "Mercedes'

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Re: CDI Diesel Transplants

I am presently researching installation of a 3.0 or 3.2 liter CDI in a 300SE Coupe who's engine is blown. The ultimate mixing of classic styling with modern technology? Of course the BIG issue even "thinking" about this decade's motors is their engine management systems. It is a given that transmission and electronics must accompany the engine. Is anyone that follows this forum "into" the new electronics far enough to provide advice on this project? I'm aware of enough disasters -- such as completed transplants that refuse to come out of limp-home-mode. Contact me on the forum or privately (DALJohn@slmarket.com) if you can link me up with some known successes.

(As for the sacrilegiousness of transplants... I've done my duty preserving a few great cars for posterity. I want to do this one for me.)

John

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