Old Mercedes, New Challenges – Preparing A Car For The Ultimate Endurance Test

When finding a diamond in the rough you must spend a little time cleaning, a lot of time fixing and most importantly dedicating the love to making it drivable. As a team we did just that. When the Mercedes 260E was brought home, the intention was to make it a lemon but a few surprises came out during the tear down for our to-do list. The suspension was already an item on the list that needed attention as it was stock and mostly all original. Our surprise that was a little unnerving, was a rusted out front drivers side spring perch. It had rusted through the structure of the unibody and required the three aforementioned traits to properly repair this area. A new perch was purchased and the old one ground off. After a day’s worth of cutting, grinding, measuring and welding we had reestablished the original structural integrity of the car.

A tired and worn out suspension from years of bouncing down New Hampshire roads sparked an in depth conversation about choosing the most appropriate suspension configuration. After much deliberation and web research it was decided to purchase a full set of Bilstein shocks and struts to handle the abuses of race weekends. One of the team members had also mentioned cutting the springs to lower the center of gravity – why not? So another weekend of rusty bolts, copious amounts of PBlaster and some four letter words (we threw out the lovey dovey stuff with this project) had the Mercedes sitting on a new set of shocks, struts and cut springs.

Aerodynamics play a more significant role than people might initially think when handling comes up, of course sticky tires and a good suspension are critical to getting a car to handle well, and a few aerodynamic tweaks can also help out in the quest for more speed. We built a front splitter to increase downforce. In order to keep costs low we decided to use the cheapest quality plywood we could find and a polyurethane coating to protect it from the elements.

The first step to creating our splitter was to find mounting locations, for us we made brackets that dropped off of the bolts holding the front bumper on, and welded brackets to the frame in order to mount the adjustable end links for supporting the front of the splitter.

Once the brackets were made, it was time to fit the assembly to the car. Critical measurements were made to insure proper fitment so as not to be too low, prevent rubbing from the front tires and the all-important adjustments for maximum aerodynamic efficiency.

All in all, these projects provided the means to get our car to handle in a racing environment. Testing involved a few autocross events and a couple of trips to Limerock Park for the full shake down. We continue to improve all aspects of the cars drivability with our next focus on the engine and doing our best to eek out every last horsepower that Mercedes gave us when it was built, so many years ago.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.