The Finnie Bible

1961-1968: a.k.a "Finnie" or "Heckflosse" models
190, 190D, 200, 200D, 220b, 220Sb, 220SEb, 230, 230S, 250SE coupe, 280SE coupe, 280SE 3.5 coupe, 220SEb cabrio., 250SE conv., 280SE cabrio., 280SE 3.5 Cabrio., 300SE, 300SE coupe, 300SE conv., 300SEL
User avatar
Posts: 1193
Joined: Mon 29 May, 2006 8:13 am
Model you own: w111
Region: Queensland
Location: Brisbane Australia

The Finnie Bible

Post by drew56cus » Wed 20 Aug, 2008 9:52 pm

This post contains information collected from various sources and people over the last few years. Thanks to all those who contribute knowledge to their fellow classic car enthusiasts.

For a great website of info that is largely applicable to finnies, go to the Ponton website: ... rkshop.htm
For a good background on the finnies, go to

The first job is often to jack the car up.
1) Always use jack stands under a vehicle if you are going to work under it.
2) Finnies have the engine, steering and front suspension all mounted to a front subframe assembly that is mounted to the chassis rails via steel and rubber mounts (near the front shocks). Never ever allow this subframe assembly to hang from beneath a car that is off the ground (such as on a 2 post hoist). The weight of the engine will tear the mounts.
3) Make up some blocks of hardwood that can sit under the car jacking points in the sills, with a rebate to match the contour of the floor in that area. I also have some blocks with an 8mm slot cut in them for placing under the front crossmember (just behind the bumper).


Tune-up specifications:

Points if you hate changing and setting points, Pertronix kit 1864A can be used with some simple mods. See ... onpert.htm

Spark plugs need a non-resistor type, such as NGK BP7ES or BP8ES. As of June 2008, the Bosch resistorless plugs are NLA.

Spark plug leads these are meant to be solid copper core leads with a total of 1k ohm resistance per lead. Modern silicone leads are not meant to be used, though my car seems ok with them. I think the spark is weaker.

Fuel Unleaded 98RON is ok, but there is evidence from very experienced people in the US that the lack of lead could be affecting the top end. Sydney recommends a fuel catalyst called “Fuel Cat” that boosts octane and protects against valve recession do a search for these words for stockists.

Fuel add 1L of ATF to each tank of fuel for both carby and F.I cars. This helps clean the system and prevent corrosion of the tank.

Radiator coolant Use MB radiator fluid, which is also called Zerex G05. 11.4L

Engine Oil want a high zinc content. Castrol GTC2 20W40 has been suggested. 5.5L (+ 0.5L for filter)

Diff oil Valvolene synthetic gear oil SAE90, or standard 80W-90 EP gearbox and diff mineral oil 2.5L

Steering box and water pump (yes, they need lube too!!) same as the diff 0.3L

Automatic trans fluid ??

Manual gearbox oil ATF to Dexron II standard (NOT Dexron III) 1.4L

Power steering fluid ATF Dexron 1.4L

Fuel injection pump engine oil (little dipstick at the back of it with OEL on it)

Grease the best is made by Castrol, but I only have an MB part number 000-989-63-51-11

Lube points see ... points.jpg for a picture of a Ponton, which is mechanically very similar to a finnie.

The closest radial tyres commonly available are as follows:
13 inch 185/80R13
14 inch 195/75R14
- The maximum tyre size that can be reliably fitted without interference is 205/75R14

ignition are Nieman D series
- Glove box and doors are Huf KST series
- Petrol cap is Ymos TVO


Interior trim Leatherique has been highly recommended for MB Tex and rubber. However, it is NOT recommended for dry old leather, despite the name and its claims.

Steering wheel use an undiluted chlorine household bleach to make the dirt in the cracks go white

Dull bumpers polish with 00 then 000 grade steel wool (available from hardware stores) with some WD40 for lubricant. Then polish with a metal polish.

Buying tips & things to do to get a car back on the road

1) Unless you love tinkering and restoring cars, and can do almost everything yourself, buy the best car you can afford, as the cost of restoring the sedans quickly exceeds their value.

Rust checks
The common rust spots are:
The front crossmember that the bumper brackets bolt to
The chassis rail at the front inner fenders just rearward of the headlight area
The tops of the front guards above the headlights
Under the brake booster
The rear of the front guards down low where the trim is (just above the sill)
Behind the front wheels, where the tyres splash onto the front of the rocker (sill) panels
The areas where the jack lugs are
Bottoms of all doors
The inner rear guards, down low
The boot wells on each side
The boot floor under the rubber mat
The hinge areas for the boot hinges
The back edge of the boot
Below the tail lights
The floors behind the front seats
The floors below the rear seats (the handbrake cable mounts under the car sit in a low spot under the rear seat if the rear window seal has been leaking, these mounting points may be rusted out)

The cars have several important drains in them. Check and clear the following spots:
- there is a drain hole at the base of the wiper stalks that drains into the cabin air intake under the cowl. If these are blocked, water can get into the wiper pivot mechanism which seizes it, and dribbles into the carpets.
- Check that the cabin air intake is not full of leaves
- Drains at the front corners of the boot where the hinges are. There are rubber hoses on each side that drain into the rear wheel arch area (the inside). These can crack or block and leak water into the boot.
- The boot drains also connect into a drain in the C-pillar (behind the nice chrome trim) that also flows out of the hole in the inner rear wheel guard blow this out with compressed air

Fuel System
1) The fuel tank has a large drain plug underneath it find the correct sized nut and bolt, weld the nut on, and you have a removal tool. The drain plus has a mesh screen on it that can clog up. Ultrasound cleaning is nice.
2) Fuel injected (F.I.) cars have an electric fuel pump mounted under the car near the tank. Some can have a fine mesh filter in them where the fuel hoses go in and/or out. So check if your car has one, and that this it is clear.
3) Carby cars should have a fuel filter before the mechanical pump on the engine check and replace as necessary.
4) Check the fuel lines (both hard and rubber) undo both ends, and try to blow through them it should be easy. There is a return line to the tank that must also be clear, especially for F.I cars. I have had a hose with a collapsed inner that was blocking fuel supply.
5) Fuel pumps can get gummed up by the varnishes in old fuel. Try to clean them out if possible.

Engine and Ignition
a. Has the engine been idle for a long time? If so, consider removing the spark plugs, and putting some ATF down into the bores to lubricate them.
2) Meanwhile, check that the points look in reasonable condition and that the gap looks OK adjust and/or renew if in doubt. Also clean up the contact surfaces of the rotor button and the cap.
3) The pull the rocker (tappet) cover. Drizzle some engine oil of the camshaft lobes and the rocker followers.
4) After letting the ATF soak in to the piston rings, try turning the engine over by hand to check that it is not seized
a. You can rotate the motor using the fan and the alternator/generator pulleys (with a spanner on the nut) push the fan belt down to get more wrap angle if it slips
b. Alternatively, the main crank pulley takes a 27mm socket
5) If that is OK, connect up a battery. Ground the coil wire so the car won't start. Use the starter to turn the engine over in short 10-15 second bursts to try to get oil pressure up.
a. Once you have oil pressure, continue cranking until you see oil feeding out over the entire camshaft.
6) Check that you have spark at each plug. Clean the plugs, check the gap and put them in.
7) Now hopefully the car will start!!

1) If a car is new to me, I like to know all its fluids are correct and in good nick. I have seen some weird things, like engine oil in power steering systems.
2) Change the engine oil and filter.
3) Change the diff oil, and top up the steering box and water pump oil
4) Change the tranny/gearbox fluid
5) Drain radiator and flush it out
a. Beware if you don't get red or green coolant coming out of the radiator when you drain it. The engine has lots of aluminum parts that suffer if no (or incorrect) coolant is used.
b. The really knowledgeable guys with these cars swear by the genuine MB coolant, not just any old one, because of the implications if internals start corroding.

1) Old brake hoses have a tendency to swell internally, so they can allow fluid through to put the brakes on, but may not release. If you can't find a receipt for brake hoses in the last 4 years, then just get new ones.
2) The brake fittings are mostly 11mm
3) If you have an early car with a brake booster at the front left corner of the engine bay, then hope that it is OK the diaphragm inside is NLA. Other parts can still be obtained though.
4) Drum brake shoes are NLA, so will require rebonding with new friction material if they are no good

Getting the car to run properly
If the car does not start or does not run properly, check these things

bad spark plug and/or coil wires
bad coil
bad condenser
bad ignition points
bad distributor cap, including the carbon button in the top/center position
bad rotor
bad spark plugs or plugs that are gapped waaaaay wrong
bad timing chain allowing the timing between the crank, cam and distributor to be scattered all over the place
bad distributor advance mechanisms (mechanical and vacuum)
bad ignition timing
bad gaskets between the carb bases and the intake
bad gaskets between the intake manifold and the cylinder head
bad valve adjustment
bad valves
low compression
carburettor synchronization

If the car still has problems, then it may be time to rebuild the carbs.

Here is a link for the Zeniths:
Here is a link for the Solex carbs: ????

Heater taps
These are a big problem with these cars they are metal taps in a metal tube, and so they can get stuck easily.
1) Don't try to use the levers to budge them if they are tight they will break
2) Find the heater taps above the trans tunnel hump, and try soaking them in Inox/WD40/RP7, then give them a wiggle with some pliers.
3) If they are still stuck, you will have to remove the taps from the tube. This can be done without removing the heater from the car (you don't want to have to do that, otherwise you will be in hell for a weekend).
a. Unscrew the heater tap lever and remove
b. Get a long (say 30mm) bolt that fits the thread (metric 8mm from memory) and a stack of washers that have the inner diameter the same as the diameter of the heater pipe
c. Now use the bolt and washers as a puller the washers stop the bolt from moving into the heater core so when the bolt is turned, rather than the bolt moving in, the heater core will be pulled out
d. Be careful not to stuff the thread in the heater core by going in too far go in a bit, then remove the bolt and add another few washers and repeat the process
4) Once the core is removed, give the core and the pipe a light sand with some wet and dry sandpaper. Then coat the core in marine grease and pop it back in.
5) Make sure you use your heater taps frequently to keep them moving freely.

Adjusting the rockers/tappets
1) You will need either a 14mm or 17mm crows foot socket the adjuster nut changed over the life of the cars. Hazet make such a tool, but they are not cheap.
2) The adjusters are an interference fit, with no lock nut. So they can be very tight.
3) Do it cold like it says in the manual.

The tailshaft, or propeller shaft, running from the gearbox to the diff has a center bearing that is out of sight, and hence often out of mind and neglected.
1) Make sure it gets greased
2) There is a center bearing in there that can wear the bearing and rubber mounts are available
3) Some tailshafts have the universal joints staked in, rather then held in with a circlip like many older Australian cars. So it is not a simple job to replace universal joints if they are bad. The tailshaft will have to be sent to a specialist to have the uni's removed and new ones installed. They may even be able to machine them so they take a uni with a circlip. The assembly must also be balanced. So it is not cheap.

Other info that comes to mind
1) I have been told that Mercedes balance the rotating mass of the engine (crank etc) with the flywheel or flex plate attached. For this reason, I have been advised when swapping out motors not to put a manual trans car into an auto car by swapping the flywheel and flex plates, and vice-versa. I have heard anecdotal stories of people doing this though and not having problems. It is your choice.
2) The little engines love to rev. At first I did not like driving auto cars as they seem reluctant to kick down (they should if you floor it and hit the switch under the accelerator pedal). However, the tranny is happily driven like a manual by selecting a lower gear when you are losing momentum and giving the car some revs. So don't be put off a car just because it is an auto and you prefer a manual.
3) Workshop manuals are very handy. Search for manuals that cover 1959 to 1967. The genuine factory manuals (hardcopy) are rare and expensive, so you will most likely find and Autobooks version. I have most of the factory manuals so if you can't find a detail you require, I may be able to find it.

Please add any other suggestions, corrections, or missing info (look for ????) so that we can provide our fellow finnie fanatics with good information without wasting hours trolling through endless web pages of rubbish!
'65 220SE 4.5 Frankenbenz finnie :)
'65 220SE/C (#1 project - Tenorite grey)
'64 300SE/C (#2 project)
'66 250SE/C (#3 project)


Return to “W110, W111, W112 Sedans, Coupes and Cabriolets.”