Mercedes-Benz, a Touch of Class

90 years ago, Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler founded the brand “Mercedes-Benz” in Stuttgart, Germany. After the first world war, the economy was so badly affected that the idea of merging and building a partnership was considered something that overcome the climates obstacles. The DMG and Benz & Cie., the then two biggest automobile manufacturers in the world, successfully merged in May 1924, and in 1926, “Mercedes-Benz” was born.

The Mercedes’ tri-star logo represents the company’s dominance over land, sea and air. According to the company, it represents the automaker’s drive toward universal motoring with its engines dominating the land, sea and air. The emblem is a symbol for world domination.

Cars that created history

The Engines of Mercedes cars are of supreme quality. These top quality engines evolved with the evolution of different cars in every era since its first production. Model K was the first car produced, after the two companies merged.

It was incredibly successful and production of Mercedes-Benz cars rose to 7,000 in 1927. Then came the S series with a variety of cars till 1929. In the 30s, the largest and most prestigious car ‘Mercedes-Benz W15’ made its debut, which helped them to become one of the leading brands in the automotive industry.

The 260 D Model, was the world’s first diesel-run passenger vehicle. By the 40s, the company stopped the production of vehicles due to the Second World War and then resumed activities in 1946 with the 170 V. During the 50s, they topped the sales charts in Germany by introducing some of their best looking cars, like the 190 and 300 SL.

The 1960s was the decade of muscle cars. In 1967, they introduced the Mercedes AMG as a separate high-performance division of the Mercedes-Benz. The first car introduced by the division was the famous 300SEL 6.3 V8 Saloon, which was given the name ‘Red Sow’.

During the 70s, they produced some successful cars like SL and SLC 107 series of cars, the G-Class and S-Class series, which are still in production. In the 1980s, they came out to be the first car manufacturing brand who took concern about environmental pollution. They introduced the closed-loop three-way catalytic converter to reduce overall car pollution.

In 1987, Mercedes-Benz introduced the 100 D 631 series and a year later the W201 Series 2 made its debut, which was a compact executive car with a sports sedan body style. In the 90s, the company introduced the G-Class Wagons and SUVs and numerous new models like the E-Class, C-Class, and S-Class series.

A new era in mechanical superior charging technology was introduced in the 2000s. The numerous groundbreaking designs and engineering concepts, such as the BlueTec system was released in 2005 and had the capability of reducing CO2 emissions.

Today, Mercedes-Benz along with its AMG high-performance division are one of the best and most popular car manufacturers that build luxury cars, trucks, coaches, and buses. Additionally, the company offers financial services and automobile repairs.

Quality and Innovation

Since its first production they have been successful in making quality cars and finding out innovative ways to implement technology that came out to be the road for future generation cars. Some notable works introduced by them are as follows:

  • Developed the first road car to have brakes on all the four wheels.
  • In 1936, the Mercedes-Benz 260D was the first diesel operated passenger car.
  • They were the first to offer direct fuel injection on Mercedes-Benz 300SL.
  • In 1951 they were the first to develop the “safety cage”.
  • Airbags was first introduced in the European market by them in 1981 with model S-Class.
  • Mercedes-Benz was the first to introduce pre-tensions to seat belts on the 1981 S-Class.
  • In September 2003, they introduced the world’s first seven-speed automatic transmission.
  • They are the first to develop, test and implement ESP, brake assist and other types of safety equipments into passenger cars.
  • In 1980s, they developed the world’s first robot car along with the team of professor Dickmanns.

Mercedes-Benz’s Arena in sports

Mercedes-Benz is a sports enthusiastic brand. In football, Mercedes-Benz sponsors the German National Football Team. Mercedes-Benz sponsors Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart and provides the naming rights for their stadium, the Mercedes-Benz Arena. They are into racing for a long time. In the 1930s they participated in Grand Prix Motor racing. For the last few years they have dominated the F1 arena using drivers like Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Identity and cooperation

Mercedes-Benz’s logo speaks volume about the brand even if the name is not there. Now they are moving ahead with the invention and implementation of new technologies not known to us yet. They have been a great companion for years. So much of success and fame didn’t make them irresponsible. They have not made a large fuss about the safety innovations, and has even licensed them for use by competitors, in the name of improving automobile and passenger safety. As a result, crumple zones and anti-lock brakes are now standard on all modern vehicles.

Ford’s Story of Success and Pride

The headquarter of Ford is in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. This is the place where the ex-chief engineer of the Edison Illuminating Company, named Henry Ford founded the, “Ford Motor Company”, on June 16, 1903 with a capital amount of $28,000 along with twelve other investors. The famous scientist Thomas Alva Edison was a great friend of Henry Ford and he encouraged him to go ahead with his idea and dream of establishing an automobile company which will manufacture simple and affordable car for the Americans.

At the beginning only two to three workers worked on each car. On July 23, 1903 the company sold its first produced car, Ford Model A and Dr. Ernst Pfennig a dentist from Chicago, became the first owner. Other car manufacturers made cars for wealthy people but Ford developed a design and manufacturing method that reduced the price of the Model T, which made its debut in 1908 at a price of $825. In its first year a record sale of over 10,000 cars was reached. Four years later the price dropped to $575. By 1914 Ford claimed a share of 48% of the automobile market. The car was sold like hot cakes. With the rise in demand, Ford was able to reduce the assembly time of the Model T from 12.5 hours to less than 6 hours. Ford created history and became the change maker of the automobile market.

World War 1 came to be a turning point as it changed the course of automotive history. Henry Ford was able to draw a large profit at that time. Ford Model T cars were used by the several armies for war purpose. It not only served as ambulances but also as delivery trucks, staff cars and artillery movers. As soon as America joined the war, Ford started producing ambulances, trucks, vans, tanks and submarine chasers. Ford’s Trafford Park factory in Manchester supplied the British army with 30,000 Model Ts as ambulances and transporters of troops, water and munitions carriers.

When World War II started there was a boost in Ford’s economy as they were serving both the sides. They produced roughly around 2,82,352 war Jeeps in the years 1941-1945. Ford’s bomber plant at Willow Run, located in the Detroit suburbs manufactured automobiles for war and not for public transportation. Ford V3000 ambulances were used in World War II by the Germans. Ford of Germany built a total of 80,000 trucks for the German army during the war.

Ford did not limit itself in manufacturing only cars. They also manufactured trucks, vans and tractors. In 1925 they also manufactured airplanes. They also produced some important cars in the history of automobiles apart from the Ford Model T. Ford 150 Pickup remained a best seller for almost six decades. Ford Mustang is the first American “muscle car”. Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, Lincoln Continental, Ford Thunderbird, Ford Transit, Ford Capri, Ford Escort is some of the most popular Ford cars.

Engines play a vital role in car’s success. Ford produced 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 cylinder engines till date. Some of the important engines manufactured by Ford, are Ford Model T engine, Flathead V-8 engine, Cobra Jet engine, Boss engine, Ecoboost engine, etc. The 1.0 Ecoboost is a UK-designed 3-cylinder engine which has won awards from industry judges and experts. The Ecoboost engine is developed to be more fuel saving, more Eco friendly and less costly. Ford is not only famous for producing beautiful cars, but also for producing one of the best engines and creating history in the competitive automobile market.

The Ford family is a proud owner of the company for more that 100 years. It is one of the few notable brands in the world whose ownership stayed in the family of the founder for more than a century. They take pride in producing the first ever car for the common man by breaking the idea that a car is a rich man’s property. Ford always created examples in the automobile industry. “$5 day”, is an important day in the history of mankind because around 10,000 people gave line with a desire to get employed at Ford when there was a salary hike of $5 per day. It created an impact within the society as well as in the automobile industry as the production rate and quality of Ford cars got raised after the hike.

Today Ford factories are located in the USA, Britain, Germany, India, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Russia, Spain and many more. Henry Ford is considered to not only be a car manufacturer, but a change maker who changed the fate of the automobile industry.

The Importance Of Tightening Spokes On Wire Wheels On Classic Cars

I own a number of classic cars and have never really been a fan of wire wheels for a variety of reason. Firstly they take a lot of cleaning and it is very difficult to get between all the spokes and to clean the hub properly. Secondly and more importantly, spokes can work loose, or worse still they can actually crack or break under hard driving. I have never had a spoke snap on me, you really need to be doing some spirited rallying for them to fail, but I have had them work loose.

Over the years I have replaced the wire wheels on some of our cars (MGB Roadster, Triumph TR4a and Austin Healey) with Minilite alloy wheels and have D-Type alloy wheels on our Jaguar E-Type. These are easier to clean, no spokes to mess about with and they are actually easier for tyre companies to balance properly so normally make for a smoother, better ride. One of my latest acquisitions is a 1961 Jaguar Mk2 saloon which arrived with chrome wire wheels. Minilites would look out of place on a Jaguar and changing to standard steel wheels would involve replacing the hubs, and would look a bit plain and boring. So for now I am sticking with the wire wheels.

Cleaning the wheels recently, I noticed that a couple of the spokes were loose, and much credit to my local garage they also spotted this on the car’s annual MOT test, so I decided I needed to check all the spokes on all five wheels (including the spare).

This is a non-trivial task and can’t be done with the wheels on the car as you need to be able to get to both sides of the wheels to tighten the outer and inner spokes. First you need a spoke spanner, or at least a spanner the same size as the spoke nipples. The spokes themselves don’t tighten, they are held in place by the nipples and it is the nipples than need tightening. These are fitted though the steel wheel rim onto the spokes and the head of the nipple is therefore inside the wheel, touching the inflated inner tube. If you tighten the nipples with the tyre inflated it is quite likely they will pinch the tube and could puncture it.

The first thing to do is therefore to deflate the tyre almost fully. Then find the loose spoke(s) and tighten the nipple until the spoke no longer actually feels loose. Once the loose spoke(s) are tightened, you should then work round the whole wheel tightening up all the spoke nipples a little. Start at the valve and work round the outer spokes, and then turn the wheel over and work round the inner spokes. So you don’t overtighten any spokes, just tighten them a little and then work all the way round the wheel again giving them another little tweak.

Once all the spokes have been tightened you can re-inflate the wheel to the correct pressure, then refit to the car and move onto the next wheel. Completing all five wheels will probably take a couple of hours. Particularly if like me, you use the opportunity, of having the wheels off the car, to clean and polish them properly.

Job done. All spokes tightened and unlikely to work loose for at least another year. An afternoon of my life I’ll never get back.

Now I remember why I replaced the wire wheels on the other cars with alloy ones

The Importance of Painting Brake Calipers and Brake Drums on Classic Cars

On a guided tour of a Bentley dealer, the service manager took great pride in emphasising their attention to detail by showing me one of the mechanics painting the brake calipers on a modern Bentley that was in for a service. I’ve been doing this for years on our fleet of classic cars for a number of reasons.

Anyone who has bought a classic car that hasn’t had much use knows that rust on the brake calipers can cause problems. It is unsightly when viewed through nice gleaming chrome wire wheels or period alloy wheels. But most importantly rust can actually cause problems with the braking system when servicing.

The calipers are normally made out of cast iron and while some cars have nickel plated or, better still, copper brake pipes, virtually all of them have steel fittings on the brake pipes and steel brake bleed nipples which can rust. If the rust isn’t kept under control then the bleed nipples can rust into the calipers making it virtually impossible to bleed the brakes. I have seen too many cars where the flats on the bleed nipples have been rounded off so that they can no longer be undone with a spanner. In severe cases I have known of bleed nipples that have snapped off, meaning the caliper has to be removed, brake pipes removed (if they will come undone, and then the bleed nipple very carefully drilled out and replaced.

If the bleed nipple has reached this stage then it is quite possible that the brake pistons have started to rust in the calipers as well – but that is a separate issue.

When I do my main winter service on all my classic cars I remove any rust from the calipers with a wire brush, particularly around the brake pipe ends and the bleed nipples. I treat these items with a rust preventer, normally Kurust, and I then give the calipers a thin coat of Smoothrite paint, normally in silver. Some brake calipers were cadmium plated when new (which has now been banned) which has a yellow / gold colour. In this case I use the gold Smoothrite which dries to a similar colour to cadmium.

I emphasise here a ‘thin’ coat of paint. Just enough to give a good covering and brushed out thinly. DO NOT paint the brake pipe ends or the bleed nipples or the part of the caliper that the nipple screws into, otherwise this can seize up with paint which is as bad as it rusting in situ. If you remember, it is also worthwhile adding one drop of thin oil or a squirt of WD40 (or equivalent) to the base of the nipple to allow it to seep into the top couple of threads.

Some of our cars have drum brakes on the rear, so here I remove the drums, de-rust, Kurust and paint them, normally in silver Smoothrite. The brake pipes and bleed nipples don’t fit into the drums but through the drum back plate, so while the wheel and drums are removed, I wire brush the pipe ending and nipples and Kurust these as well.

You now have a set of rust free, very tidy looking, calipers and drums with fittings that hopefully will undo when needed. Nice to know that Bentley in Cheltenham come up to my standards.

At this point it is also worth adding a reminder that brake fluid absorbs moisture from the air and therefore should be flushed out and changed every three years, hence the need to be able to undo the bleed nipples.

Which Do You Prefer – British Classics or American Muscle?

I never really understood why Americans developed such a love for our British Sportcars. For Brits of my generation it is obvious as we grew up with them. In the late 50s and early 60s there were very few foreign cars on UK roads, a few Renaults and Citroens and the inevitable VW Beetles. Japanese cars didn’t start getting imported until 1965 and it was only in the 1970s and 1980s when a combination of strong unions, bad management and bad quality saw them really have an impact on the UK manufacturers. For a while there were probably as many American cars in the UK as German, as we had a lot of US bases all over the country and many GIs imported US cars.

I have known for years that about 75% of production of Austin Healey, Jaguar, MG and Triumph went to the US but it is only now that I own two American classics that I think I understand why British cars are loved so much.

To illustrate this I think it is worthwhile doing a straight comparison with a couple of the classics that I have owned and driven. My favourite car by a long way is my 1970 Jaguar SII E-Type. I am now on my 3rd E-Type having progressed up the value chain from a SII 2+2, the least desirable version, to a SII coupe and now to a SII Roadster. 1964 saw the S1 E-Types evolving from the original design with the 4.2 litre engine replacing the 3.8, a Jaguar gearbox replacing the appalling Moss one, brakes being upgraded and a decent servo installed and good supportive seats replacing the original bucket ones. 1964 saw the launch of the Ford Mustang in the US and my 1st American Muscle Car is a 1965 Mustang Fastback GT, so I believe it is fair to compare these two.

I will ignore the fact that the Ford Mustang is a 2+2 v the 2 seater E-Type and concentrate on the technology and driving. Both cars have similar power outputs – Mustang 250 bhp, E-Type 265 bhp, both have 4 speed manual gearboxes and the weights are pretty close. There the similarities end. The Mustang has a solid rear axle on good old fashioned cart springs and single Macpherson strut suspension for each front wheel. The E-Type has double wishbone front suspension and fully independent rear suspension. Ford offered various braking options: drums all round; drums plus a servo or drums on the rear and disks on the front – which ours has. For some inexplicable reason Ford didn’t think the driver would need disks and a servo. E-Types have disk brakes on all four wheels and a servo as standard – right from their launch in 1961.

It is this combination of fully independent suspension and decent brakes that make the E-Type completely outclass the Mustang, which is pretty fast in a straight line with 0-60 being only 1 second slower than the E-Type. Sadly the myth that American muscle cars were not designed to go round corners seems fairly accurate. The basic suspension is responsible for a soft ride and lots of body roll, speed really needs to be scrubbed off to get round even the gentlest of bends. The E-Type will easily leave the Mustang standing on any winding country road.

Over the years technology improved a bit so it is worth comparing our 1974 Triumph TR6 with my 2nd American muscle car – a 1978 C3 Corvette Special Edition Indy Pace Car. The TR6 develops 125 bhp from its Lucas injected 6 cylinder 2.5 litre engine while the Vette develops 220 bhp from its V8 which is more than twice the size at 5.7 litres (350 ci). This engine has to drag along about 50% more weight than the TR6 – 3,624 lbs v 2,410 lbs but does manage to carry it to 60 mph about 1½ seconds quicker. Top speed of the Vette is only 5 mph faster than the TR6. Not a huge difference for all that extra horse power and fuel consumption.

The TR6 has a 4 speed manual gearbox with overdrive giving it 6 gears while the Vette has a 3 speed auto box which doesn’t rev very high, even with the accelerator flat on the floor.

Both the Vette and TR6 have independent rear suspension so the road holding on both is better than the 1965 Mustang but not as good as the E-Type. The Vette has disk brakes on all four wheels and a servo v the TR6 front disks and servo. To help handle the weight of the cast engine V8 engine block our Vette has power steering which while it makes life really easy loses all feedback to the driver.

We take our cars on track when possible on a classic car tour and our Etype would leave the Mustang standing. I haven’t yet taken the Corvette on track and while it will be quick off the line I am sure that the TR6 will see it off in the corners as it is much lighter and more nimble.

The two American muscle cars do have a few things going for them: that unique V8 burble, straight line speed and their ability to attract attention. There is also no doubt that the success of the Mustang (1 Million cars sold in 18 months) is unlikely ever to be matched again and Ford with their huge options list did more to push the idea of the ‘personal car’ than anyone else.

But our TR6 and Etype are much better driver’s cars, better road holding, better braking, more nimble and much more fun.

This can all be summarised by the split in the age range of who appreciates which car. The American cars tend to attract the attention of 30 somethings who have grown up with American films like Grease and High School Musical. The E-Type and TR6 tend to attract the attention of 40 and 50 somethings who grew up with them in the UK.

It would interesting to see a remake of Grease with ‘Greased Lightning’ being based on an E-Type!

Hints and Tips on Storing Your Classic Car Over the Winter

We don’t let our classic cars go out on hire in the depths of winter, particularly once the first frosts arrive and the councils start spreading salt on the roads. Our cars were never rustproofed when new and even though we tend to Waxoyl them ourselves this can never be done completely and always leaves untreated bodywork which is subject to the dreaded tin worm.

We take them all off the road over the winter and work through our list of improvements and put them all through our garage for their main annual service. Putting them away for the winter isn’t just a matter of driving them into the garage and we do, and recommend that classic car owners do, as much of the following as is practicable.

    • Clean and polish the whole car properly, including the underside of the bonnet and boot lids and as much of the engine bay as is reachable. Empty the boot and clean and polish the inside of the boot and the boot floor.
    • While you have the spare wheel out make sure it is clean and check the tyre pressure. As tyres can lose a bit of pressure over time when stored, pump it up to a few PSI more than is needed.
    • Hose down the underside of the car and dry it off as best as you can – if necessary taking it for a short drive to dry it off – as long as there is no salt on the roads of course.
    • Check the carpet to see if they are at all damp – most classics tend to leak to some extent. If possible lift the carpets and any soundproofing or underlay and check the floor isn’t wet. If it is, remove the carpets and dry and polish the floor. Hang the carpets and underlay up in the garage to dry, or store them in the airing cupboard if you are allowed to.
    • If you have over mats in the footwells it is a good idea to remove these to allow the main carpet to breathe. Store these somewhere where they will keep dry, or dry out if necessary.
    • If there was any damp inside the car at all this can creep up into the carpet that covers the gearbox and transmission tunnel or the carpet under the seats. Install a mini dehumidifier which will dry the car interior out slowly over a couple of weeks. These are not expensive – about £30 each and I have used them for over 15 years. They only consume about 40w so don’t cost much money to leave running continuously. They extract water and fill up a small tank which needs emptying when the light changes from green to red. Keep running the dehumidifier until no more water appears in the tank.
    • Store the car with the windows wound up otherwise the dehumidifier will be extracting moisture permanently as the air circulates round the car.
    • More importantly keeping the windows closed will stop your local rodents from deciding to make their winter home inside the car and chewing up the carpet and seats.
    • If you have the luxury of keeping your car stored in a Carcoon or an AirChamber then as long as the fans on this are kept running they will dry out the car both inside and out so an in car de-humidifier is not needed. We keep one of our cars in an AirChamber which works extremely well.
    • Check all under bonnet fluid levels: coolant – top up with antifreeze rather than water; oil; brake and clutch fluids and the battery electrolyte level.
    • Connect a trickle charger to the battery to keep it topped up. I prefer the ones that show a red LED while charging and a green LED when fully charged so the charge state can be seen at a glance. There are some premium priced chargers on the market for over £70 but I have normally bought suitable ones in the £20 to £30 price range which have worked perfectly. Some of these come with extra leads, with an inline plug, which can be fitted to the car so the charger can just be plugged in. I have fitted one of these to our MGB to save me having to lift the panel over the batteries to get to them. Alternatively connect the cigarette lighter direct to a live feed, not switched through the ignition, connect a cigarette plug to the charger and then it can just be plugged into the cigarette lighter.
    • Pump up tyres to a couple of PSI above the normal pressure to allow for any loss over the winter.
    • Do not use the handbrake in case it sticks on.
    • If your car is convertible, keep the soft-top raised and taut to keep it dry and free from mould.
  • If you have chrome wire wheels, clean them and give them a liberal coating of WD40. This can be cleaned off in the spring.

It is a good idea to start the car at least once a month during the winter and run it fully up to operating temperature. If possible, and salt hasn’t been used on the roads for a while, then take it for a short run. If this is not practical then at least drive it back and forth out of the garage to make sure the clutch works, none of the brakes have stuck on and at least get some of the oil and grease doing their jobs on moving parts. Also try all switches to make sure they work. Switch contacts can oxidise internally if not used and just switching them on and off will help prevent this.

And finally look forward to Spring, sunshine and no salt!