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5.0 HO/T5 swap into W123 Mercedes 240D

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Old 04-21-2012, 04:47 PM   #1
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Default 5.0 HO/T5 swap into W123 Mercedes 240D

Hi all,

Tried finding out about this on the Mercedes boards but I mostly get a lot of 'eww, why not a Mercedes motor' or 'just leave it stock and buy a car that isn't what you want' or whatever.

I figured I might find some more enthusiasm over here.

I'm going 5.0 even though I'm a Chevy guy. My last ride was an LT1 powered Roadmaster, and I loved that motor. However, 5.0/T5 is cheap, easy, and happens to fit the chassis better. I'd love an LT1/T56 but so would half the hot rodding world. Even the RWD import crowd is waking up to American V8s.

Anyway, like I said, however, the 5.0 happens to be the right tool for the job, and while I never took that big of a shine to the Mustang itself, I can't say anything bad at all about the powertrain.

Likewise, I can't say much but good about the W123 body, chassis, suspension, build quality, etc. I live in LA and these cars go for peanuts, have great brakes and suspension and also have smog exemption.

So, if you know of anyone who has done this and posted a build thread somewhere, great.

If I have to suss it out myself I will. I'm currently looking at whether to use the cable setup from a Fox body clutch or whether I can setup a hydraulic clutch with the T5, since there's already a stick in the donor Merc. Er, Mercedes, not Mercury .

I've done a lot of driveline homework on this car already, and this is almost a poor man's IRS quick-change. 240D's rear ratio is 3.69:1, can swap pumpkins from Benz cars going down to low 2's. Real easy, drop pumpkin/axles...

Anyway, let me know. Thanks.
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Old 04-21-2012, 09:34 PM   #2
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Mc Leod makes a hydraulic kit $579 at LRS(Late Model Restoration Supply)
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:23 PM   #3
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I figured I might find some more enthusiasm over here.
doubt it, most are purists here
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Old 04-27-2012, 06:36 PM   #4
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Well, I don't need everyone's help - just a few.

Personally, I don't see much difference between swapping a 5.0l into a W123 and swapping one into, say, a 65 Mustang. Neither swap is for everyone - there are folks with a variety of opinions on such a thing. That's fine with me.

Personally, I like the car. The 'bank vault' doors. The chassis and parts interchangability, and the local availability - I live in LA, where such cars are turned in for a new model when the ashtray gets full, so to speak. The W123 is the Mercedes equivalent of the Mustang in a sense, and in a sense the original Beetle. It's their most successful, best selling model. Parts are literally available anywhere you can drive a car, because these cars likely there and have been for decades.

For a time in Morocco, for instance, it was said that half the cars on the road were standard, four speed, 240Ds. They're a desert taxi. They're also a rally winning chassis. There's a W123 that has 2.4 million documented miles on it in the Mercedes factory museum. It's former occupation? A taxi - in Budapest. Went through 4 OM616 motors and a few transmissions and was 'mothballed' before it had a chance to be wrecked. For awhile it was the world record holder for most documented miles on a single chassis.

Plus, if you squint, it's just an amalgamation of 'old car'. I like the 'old ness' of the outside sheetmetal, grille, chrome bumpers, etc.

And I like the 'newness' of the chassis. It has a vaguely 'American' steering feel but a very good version of it. I've driven a lot of cars that are handling benchmarks, Porsche 944s, various Hondas, SE-Rs, MR2s, BMWs, and a supercharged Fox or two. The chassis is very good, the parts are standard, so I can drive it anywhere, and the powertrain is one of the easiest to maintain on this continent - should I go 5.0, that is.

The car is already lowered, flat black, very 'hot rod' looking. I'm going to redo the suspension but this is very easy - the front springs are 14 coils, the rear 11, and if you look at the stock 240D/300D/300TD/300CD cars, they're set up like 4x4s almost. Baloney tires on soft, long travel springs with lots of ground clearance.

However with so much leeway, in one of the only instances I've seen where it makes sense, it's just so easy to get a fairly ideal setup (for nearly free, it is perfect - as much as you'll get for the investment) by chopping a few coils off the front a couple off the rear.

As for how the V8 would change the weight of the car, it would actually probably lighten it. The OM616 is roughly the weight of a small block Chevy - the OM617a, the turbo, roughly that of an old school 'iron everything' big block. The 5.0l is lighter than either of these motors so handling characteristics will only improve or stay the same.

I've done extensive 'research' in the canyons around Los Angeles with this chassis, and that was with a sunroof and AC, neither of which this car is burdened with. The Mercedes 5 lug pattern and various generation to generation compatibilities mean I can keep the 14x6 'steelie look' aluminum rims that came stock on the car with the widest/grippiest tires I can find all the way to what I really want on the car, which are the 17" "Torque Thrust" looking wheels that came stock on late model C230s and such.

The small block Ford was a popular swap into earlier Mercedes chassis because they happened to fit very will with either the front or 'mid' sump oil pans and the transmissions basically go the right place on the crossmember.

The W123 chassis was actually designed to accept a Mercedes V8 M117 series engine, but only with an automatic transmission, and frankly, I'd rather put a 5.0/AOD in there rather than a MB trans. They're programmed to upshift early out of 1st gear into second and there's no getting around it that I've seen. Manual transmissions of any sort behind a Benz V8 is $$$$$ and the MB manuals kinda suck really. Even to recent models, nothing to write home about other than the fact that a Benz is rolling with three pedals at all.

I'm also taking into consideration that my Mercedes in any build condition is less of a target for cops than any Mustang in any build condition. Mustangs, Camaros, Civics of any sort, etc, get looked at hard by cops. I immediately missed my lowered, maroon with blacked out trim 240D's seeming invisibility on the LA highways.

With only a hint of sarcasm I say it's probably something about a caucasian weirdo speeding around in a vintage Benz that probably makes the cops say 'next!' in LA. Who knows who I might be the nephew of, or whatever.

I'll take it where I can get it.

Plus, it's just a practical car. The parts are still around and cheap. It's four doors with a decent back seat and a good sized trunk. Safe - not like, say, V8'ing a Datsun Z car, which are mostly made of tinfoil.

Due to the design of the rear, I can undo 10 bolts or less and drop the pumpkin and axles. Translation - drive X miles to race with granny gears (high as I want, to 2.20:1) for mileage, Swap in welded 3.69:1 240D gears/axles, compete, swap again, drive home. I've seen folks on the Benz boards report high 20s with a mild 5.0 and a T5 with the Benz V8 gears.

Personally I see swaps like this as a natural progression of 'hot rodding' as the chassis become cheaper and cheaper and the 'native' drivetrains that came with them become harder to maintain/more valuable, aka more worth seling than modding. Google V8 RX7 Forums, 'Where To Go When Your Rotary Blows'. I think you'd like the company.

Even the pushrod hatin' import mags have been warming up to the fact that American V8s simply put out more hp/dollar than can be had, reliably, from a lot of the overseas motors, with less hassle. It's hardly any harder to put a 5.0 in a W123 or RX7 than it is in an OG Mustang from the sixties, and if you're going to romp on the car, why pick such a valuable chassis?

For me, most of the 'engineering' has been done. I'm aware of the various suspension kits to make a Fox slalom like a Viper GTS and all of that, but for 2500 bucks or so that they cost I can have this car done.
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Old 05-02-2012, 07:32 AM   #5
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I don't have any tips, other than GO FOR IT! I love and always wanted one of the old Mercedes sedans; it is still on my car bucket list. Dropping a 5.0 in it? Yeah, that makes sense too. Of course, I am from L.A. too so I understand.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:36 PM   #6
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I don't have any tips, other than GO FOR IT! I love and always wanted one of the old Mercedes sedans; it is still on my car bucket list. Dropping a 5.0 in it? Yeah, that makes sense too. Of course, I am from L.A. too so I understand.
Appreciate it, man. I should probably seek out a 'hybrids' site - think v8rx7forums.com, not Prius - as I'd be more likely to find the enthusiasm and knowledge base I'm looking for. I'd have to admit, I'd be a little protective if I thought of someone taking a car I dig - say, the 94 Roadmaster I sold to get this Benz - and more or less saying they're gutting the drivetrain. I get the reaction.

The Benz guys are no different, really. Eww, a lighter, more powerful, easier to maintain and completely buildable drivetrain that isn't a Mercedes. What WILL the neighbors think . There's a few 'go for it!' guys over there, too, and a few that have done the swap. I just haven't found a build thread yet.

I might even try the Volksrodders forum - those guys love two things - whacky rat rod style projects, and welding. I love referring people to that forum when they come from a 'if it doesn't bolt on, it can't be done' mentality . The only problem is that the project might be a little blase for them, but hey, what can you do.

If I do this I'll likely do a whole how-to. The cars are cool done up right, they just look dowdy and 'grandpa' as all hell stock, and most people don't mod them.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here's my old 240D right before I sold it. So little to do to achieve this, it's almost criminal. Just add motor and admit, you're thinking - 'I'd hit it - like the fist of an angry god!'

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Little 'photoshop phantom' work here. Makes you wonder where they got the idea for the nose for the previous gen Charger, doesn't it?

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 04-23-2013, 04:10 PM   #7
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Default V8 Mercedes 240D

Just saw the posting on the 240D MBZ 5.0/T5 swap. I'm going to be doing the same with my 300D/Turbodiesel, getting the motor pieces together first, and will be running a AOD with it. I bought a motor kit from "Woody" at fordstrokers.com, a 347 stroker with Trick Flow 192 heads. I had a custom Hi-lift, low duration cam ground through fordstrikers also. I'm looking for a relatively smooth idle, (so my wife can drive it too...) and some serious torque.
The MBZ 123-chassis is their most successful, and longest lasting vehicle on the road. It may lean a little bit around the turns, but it feels like it's on rails giving you the confidence entering a hard turn. The suspension smooths out the road very well, and parts are always available. The one I bought had the engine seize when it ran out of oil-great body and interior-I'll give that motor away. I also picked up a mock-up 302 plastic long-block, and AOD to use to design/build the mounts, and see how the exhaust is going to run.
I should have the mock-up started by end of May, I'll keep posting as I move along. I do drive a 1992 5.0 GT Convertible, still loving every minute.
Later!!!
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Old 04-23-2013, 05:46 PM   #8
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Purists!! HA!!! Not around my place!

Thoughts:

-DO IT!!!

-Since you're clearly down for some fab work, skip the McCleod kit and look at S10/F-Body (and even AMC) hydraulic clutches. The T-5 on my AMC Eagle uses an external slave... I've often considered fabbing a mount up to make it work on a Fox bell housing... then I thought about how that won't make the car the least bit faster and moved on. Not quite the same boat you're in.

-Get a 5.0HO out of a more "modern" Fox. MAF motor is preferred

-Now to contradict myself, I'd get it running with a carb first just for simplicity's sake. Sort out the EFI later or never. Your call on that one.

-You're going to need some real tires

-It's going to need lowered at least 2"

-Body color bumpers, grill, trim, and clear fogs
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Old 04-23-2013, 07:43 PM   #9
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Do it.
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:44 AM   #10
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Default The 347 swap

I'm using the AOD due to torque considerations, I thought about the T5, but don't want the drive train to scatter bangin' gears. I'll leave that to my '92 GT, I want the MBZ to be a sleeper, and appear as stock as possible.I'm going to also run the Powerjection-III fuel injection, but plan to start it with a carb and simple ignition. I'm looking for a little over 400 ft-lbs torque, and an honest 375hp. I don't think the center support bearing assy. on the original driveshaft will handle the power very long with a stick, and I'll just invite the law rowing through the gears...I would also like to see others that have done the swap, I've only seen a 450slc with an LT-1, what a hassle that swap was. I also want to find a good match for a MBZ air filter box to help it look more original.
Later
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Old 04-25-2013, 03:12 PM   #11
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Glad to see some interest brewing here.

As for the center bearing and all that concern, two thoughts:

1) Folks on both sides of the pond have put 560SE V8s into these cars, so I'd say you've got some leeway. The W123 chassis was designed with a V8 in mind, but the car was literally so popular that MB couldn't keep up with the demand of the 'boring' versions. Although the 280E with a stick is hardly boring

2) Screw all that - you're going to need a custom driveshaft anyway. Might as well start with the proper Ford part in the front and choose which pumpkin you'll be going with, add appropriate part, measure shaft, order.There are folks at the Peach Parts, benzforums.org and/or Super Turbo Diesel forums who have done a lot of research on the chassis and apparently there's a typical Dodge part that mates fine with the rear pumpkin.

2.5) The pumpkin is stout but no lsd available. Possibly, just possibly, there's a stock Ford driveshaft that would be of a correct length to use with an 8.8 IRS pumpkin. Would require custom axles (Ford inner MB outer) but that's probably cheaper/easier than getting a good limited slip for these cars. Unless you want to try sourcing an AMG part from the 70's.

240D's have something akin to 3.68 or 3.90 gears depending on the year, the shallower gear probably more likely.

300D's came in two flavors, turbo and non, non were ~3.23 turbo ~3.08.

Remember that this car was designed with 14" wheels and no optional upsize. I'd go, personally, with late model C230 wheels in the 'torque thrust' style, 17" all around. Fit the wheels first and then start messing around with cutting springs (absolutely ok on this suspension), the front springs sport 14 coils, and I believe the rears are 11. You can -3 front -1.5 rear and get a really, really good sporting setup, ideal even, but be prepared to spring for the skid plate to protect the pan, too.

Might get around it depending on the pan you go with but most likely it'll be the 5.0 double sump and believe me, pulling over and shoving Water Weld in a hole bleeding hot oil gets old quick. However, I was running lower profile tires on stock wheels and some 45/50 series tires on 17's would likely raise it up a bit even with the same setting, and I have no idea how better/worse a 5.0 would be in the same car with the same springs as yet. I also have no idea how rubbing would be an issue with said 17's but MB and other Euro makes tend to make the suspension do the heavy lifting, and not the tires, so if you go with stock C230 sizes you'll likely be ok.

Personally I'd take it slowly, I don't know of anyone who has 'seriously' done this and posted his settings, ie like 'serious' as in went to the auto cross or track day and posted whatever time in a field with X cars of Y type.

I'm thinking, after having lowered 3 of these cars, that when I get around to 5.0'ing a W123, I'm going to try and add wheel and keep as much wheel travel as possible. The 14" factory rollers run 185/70/14s on 240D, 205s on 300Ds, and they're balonies, to be sure. If you want handling get rid of the obvious slop (ie the giganto sidewalls) and proceed from there. I'd be surprised if muscle car folk especially weren't happy with a nice, mild front rake (like -1 or -1.5 coils) and stock rear.

Lesjofors (sp?) makes a heavy duty rear spring that folks use to get rid of the SLS suspension on the wagons and it would probably help quite a bit to control the rear and make the car more neutral without having to lower it and lose utility (not to mention camber and thus contact patch in a straight line - the rear suspension is NOT adjustable for camber, so if you lower it, you'll be negative all the time). The Lesjofors springs would likely have to be cut, refit, and cut again in small increments to really get it right.

However anyone who has done a similar project in a car with truly zero aftermarket options (there are a few spring companies out there who offer springs but they often - shocker! - require trimming to fit) the mere ability to actually cut and adjust springs in such a way is a blessing. And yes, I've driven my lowered cars, hard, my old 240D was quite a nice canyon carver. I had all three cars for extended times and no problems developed, and I've not yet heard of anyone complaining of a failure after properly cutting the spring, how-tos are all over the above mentioned forums, as are debates on how good of an idea it is.

There are other concerns - unrelated motor/trans going into unrelated body, surprise! - but I'll hold off here since it's already a huge post
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Old 04-25-2013, 03:23 PM   #12
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Also, I don't know about anyone else's direction, but I'm going after a very doable/liveable, semi-stock driving experience. Many Euro cars are damn good drives with modest amounts of power (many NA BMWs are sub 250hp, yet are considered sports cars by most who drive them). Said refined chassis with even a stock-ish V8 should be quite a fun time and the simpler I keep it, the more likely that I'll like the end result and want to drive it every day, not just on weekends.

That said, and considering I've been uncovering tests that show that the 5.0's main 'cork' is the awful, awful heads, and that it's fairly hotly cammed from the factory, I'm thinking a few simple mods, invest in a good set of aluminum heads, custom exhuast necessary anyway, and whatever I get, I get. 300hp would be quite fine by me, more even finer, but having it be tame and everyday drivable and getting whatever power I can while maintaining it is the goal.

At such an output level using a T5 is doable, hell the thing will probably never hook anyway . Scatter that and it's Tremec time.

Sticky tires, whatever combination of springs and sway bars proves to be 'correct', Bilstein HD shocks, and S class brakes. Many upsized brake options from the MB parts bin are swappable but late 80's S class binders are easy, early W126 vented disks bolt on even behind the factory 14's and require no trips to the junkyard to make work.

Simple, 300hp/3200lb car, German suspension, chassis, brakes, and a nice sleeper package to wrap it all up in - I've mistaken the W123 for a Volvo 240 while driving my own W123. To say it's a sleeper even in such a mild form would be no exaggeration.

Might not be able to face off with GT500s and ZL1s and the like but I'll look into it when I got the coin to try and beat the factory at it's own game - probably take more than the 60k they want!

Really, though, if it's swapped, done, and I like the result, hey, the 'making it faster' bit is all Mustang, shouldn't be too hard
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:21 PM   #13
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Well Im about to go the exact same route. I have a 1994 Mercedes E320 and about to drop in a 1993 Mustang 5.0 v8 and Tremec 3550. I could give a hoot about the purists, this my darn car.

I have 20 years experience repairing and modifying European cars trained in Germany by Mercedes Benz.. that being said unless you have the bucks go get the hottest v8 or v12 you end up with a car that has excellent brakes, superb handling and about 100 hp less than it ought to have.

My last Mustang was a 1967 Convertible in 2008 now I have a 1994 Mercedes E320 Convertible that has been a custom turbo with 366rwhp for last 3 years, I', on the second transmission in two years and the turbo is tired.

I picked up a 93 5.0 block
and im going to build it, even with the best parts it wont come close to rebuilding the stock engine and trans which is also getting tired.

Last small block Ford engine I built for a customer did 404 rwhp NA from a 347 with AFR heads, with a single 750 carb...Im being conservative and plan to build a reliable powerplant with at least 350 ft lbs torque not to concerned with Hp, once i get it dialed in then ill look into forced induction to power my Benz. A/c is a must and everything must fit under hood with any hood scoop.

I say your project can be done because I have done it before 15 years ago when my welding/fabrication skills were entering preschool...
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:21 PM
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