1989 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL muffler - Our Shed

By: Guy 'Guido' Allen, Unique Cars magazine

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Why is it that everything Guido owns breaks when a mate comes along for the ride?

At risk of seeming superstitious, I reckon my old English mate Simon carries a curse. You see, every time I go travelling with him (which is once a year when he visits from the UK), something breaks and it’s usually some form of transport I own and therefore have to fix.

Three years ago, we developed a sudden oil shortage. Last year it was a failing clutch master cylinder on a different vehicle. Painfully aware that we were well on the way to having a pattern develop, I went over the recently-acquired Benz with great care.

mercedes-benz-300sel.jpgOn tour - the accursed one is holding the camera, which didn’t break

It had been up on a hoist for a roadworthy, and I double-checked everything I could, including all the assorted fluids. All good.

We loaded four blokes into the car and went touring for a couple of days, something the old 300SEL Benz is admirably suited to. It’s basically a lounge room on wheels, which is fine if you’re not in a hurry.

mercedes-benz-300sel-4.jpgGotta love having a hoist

A couple of hours short of home some onimous noises emerged. Clearly some large component was trying to escape, and sure enough, it was the muffler.

The Benz had suffered the fate of any car that had spent too many years sitting, and then only getting short runs, in that the condensation in the system finally produced enough rust to give it terminal rot. We removed the offending item and made it home.


Of course it’s a twin pipe system that requires some weird bends to fit in the allocated space, which ruled out a quick and cheap locally-made replacement. And local stocks of a muffler for what is an obscure model over here simply didn’t exist.

Pelican Parts in the USA came up with the goods – a reasonable quality aftermarket unit landed in Australia in under 10 days for $580. Perfect. Fitting a muffler generally isn’t rocket science, but with no hoist at home, I got lazy and flicked the job to Mick, our tame workshop bloke at Glenlyon Motors.

mercedes-benz-300sel--muffler.jpgMick tries to spread the new pipes

As always, he had one or two tips for this sort of job. The first was if you’re going to have to use a cutter to remove the old pipes – which we did – use a light air-powered tool and not your electric angle grinder. The air tool is less aggressive and far less likely to accidently carve its way through something expensive.

More importantly, since you’re working near the fuel tank (and in this case a filter and pump), make damn sure there are no leaks before you start using cutting gear that will inevitably throw off sparks.

mercedes-benz-300sel-5.jpgWe’re in and it’s a good fit

As is often the case with pattern parts, the muffler wasn’t going to fit without a little adjustment. First the connector pipes needed to be spread to fit, a task which defeated Mick’s air-powered spreader. He ended up bolting down the road to a muffler shop to use their more powerful gear. Then we needed to swap out the big thick clamps provided for something much slimmer.

There was nothing terribly complex about the whole job, but just enough obstacles to make it interesting.

As for Simon, next time he can take a taxi...


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