Driving an old Merc in less than ideal conditions...

More threads by -bb-


Last weekend, I decided to take the Merc on a trip to see some people. Little did I realise that once I got off the main drag, it was a gravel road of varied quality from that point on for about 40k's. Now, normally I wouldnt think twice about driving on a gravel road, but normally I wouldnt be doing it in a 30 year old car. I did wonder what the dust, bumps, corrugations, stones, cattle grids and all the other stuff that goes along with these sort of roads would do to an old car.

I am pleased to say that in this case, absolutley nothing.

Nothing broke, fell off or otherwise went wrong. Maybe I was worrying for nothing, but once I started on the road, I soon forgot about my worry and was actually surprised how sure footed 2 tonnes worth of Mercedes is on a gravel road and how well the hydro suspension takes the edge off the rough parts. There were times where I was driving and looked down at the speedo and got a shock at how fast I was going.

Not that I plan to make a habit of taking my 6.9 off sealed roads, but if I need to in the future, I will feel much better about doing it now.

I'm curious about other peoples experiences with driving old cars (Merc or otherwise) in varied road conditions.



The Prince of Arabia
Sydney, Australia
The biggest problem with driving on unsealed roads and gravel is the time it takes to clean up the car ;)

Otherwise, it is a pleasure to drive with the unique 6.9 suspension on any rough terrain... it simply soaks the bumps and any inconsistencies in the road...:D
Last edited:


The Godfather
Hi bb, Michel is about right when he refers to the task of cleaning cars afterwards - you know, all that time I put into cleaning your car before I gave it back to you ! :D

Anyway, I am digressing. Some years ago, on an outing with the Mercedes Benz Club, we went to some restaurant near Mt. Victoria, and to get to it, it involved some eight kilometers of gravel road, with a fair few corrugations thrown in for good measure.

Pussyfooting along on the way in, it was a terrible ride and I did not cherish the thought of having to traverse the same road on the way out.

For some reason (can't recall why), I was in a hurry and decided to press on. Guess what ? Totally different car, no squeaks, no rattles, the car just swallowed up all the bumps, potholes and corrugations. Someone must have graded the road in between times - at least, that's how it felt. Yes, 6.9s are pretty good in the rough stuff. Regards Styria


New Member
Perth Western Australia
I worked as a country doctor for 8 years in an area with mainly gravel roads at a time when the 116 and 123 were the kings of the road and many local farmers owned them.

They were the best gravel road cars around at the time for ability to put speed onto unsealed roads (160 km/hr+) with safety and comfort while showing endurance.

I have seen a 450 with a shattered front shockie and the Michelin tyres were were not well liked as they split on course gravel.

That was before the era of air suspended constant 4WD as is available now.



New Member
Re. that autocross I did last month, you may remember seeing the pictures.

Driving in that is like taking your 116 onto the worst roads you could find to put a RWD car on. It took me the first lap driven gingerly to get some idea how the barge would handle on the dirt, and then for subsequent laps went flat out. The 116 dirt manners are second to none, except for stopping distance in the dirt, but all cars would be let suffer same lack of stopping distance.

When I drive my 6.9 on unsealed roads I tend to start slow and after getting used to the difference in feel of the car usually work up to a more normal speed (100km/h on 80-zone unsealed roads is not uncommon as long as I can see far enough up the road to see oncoming traffic).



New Member
Perth, WA
We took our E36 BMW 318i to St Albans near Wisemans Ferry in torrential rain a couple of years ago. There are only gravel roads into and out of the village. It was the best fun I've had in that car. For a couple of hours I was Carlos Sainz (in my mind anyway!)

TJ 450

New Member
Perth, WA, Australia
The drive up to St. Albans is quite challenging.

I often take my 450SEL on unsealed roads. The suspension soaks up a reasonable amount and that's with original front shocks at almost 350,000km.
You don't have to worry about the dash falling off due to clips breaking, either, such as in modern cars.



Sydney - Centre of Civilisation
I know from experience that a 450SE is quite capable of handling sustained driving on dirt and gravel roads. The handling is stable in gravel drifts and as Tim notes, nothing rattles or falls off. Dust sealing is also excellent.


New Member
Tasmania, Australia
I have to drive on less than great roads quite often where I live, whether it be sealed but narrow and windy (sp?) or just a plain unsealed road...the W116 is the best vehicle I've driven on these types of terrain so far. :)
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Des Anyone got any old hella driving lights in their shed? Gumtree/eBay/Facebook Listings 4
S semi autonomous driving Articles 24
Andrew280SEL A few observations after test driving a W140 S420 Talking Torque 4
Styria Driving Experience GB 6.9 Mercedes W116 23
260ebenz Dirty Harry driving a 500SEC Mercedes W126 4
260ebenz Jerry Seinfeld driving a 280SL Mercedes Mercedes W198, W121 SL and W113 0
Michel Great Driving --Lots of Laughs Websites and Links 1
Michel Precision Driving Talking Torque 3
Des Hella Driving Lights Gumtree/eBay/Facebook Listings 3
J Snow driving Talking Torque 0
Michel Driving the 690SEL Talking Torque 12
D This sound is driving me nuts Mechanicals 25
abl567 Driving other cars Talking Torque 10
B Driving a 1961 Rover.. Rover P4, P5 And P6 23
Des Driving Lights Gumtree/eBay/Facebook Listings 4
Martin280s Test driving Talking Torque 2
s class Driving the 6.9 daily Mercedes W116 41
TJ 450 Driving the 450 - filmed Mercedes W116 5
Styria 6.9 Driving Experience Mercedes W116 8
S Matching old with new ..Paint Articles 0
c107 Great old W126 Ad Mercedes W126 6
SEL_69L 21 Year Old E55 Just Ticked over 100,000 klms Today Talking Torque 9
c107 Old Tyres Exteriors and Body Repairs 7
260ebenz Well done me old China! Talking Torque 0
S never too old to learn Exteriors and Body Repairs 1
B Old School or Custom Paint Exteriors and Body Repairs 0
motec 6.9 Queanbeyan Old Holden Day Talking Torque 4
Styria "New" old tyres Technical Information 11
motec 6.9 My old Gold wreck Mercedes W116 3
260ebenz Why are holding onto that old clunker? Articles 3
Andrew280SEL An old W114 280 in need of some good ol' TLC Mercedes W114 and W115 26
S Old timer Auto Electrican Mercedes R/C107 3
300SDude Old Mercedes Benz Ads Websites and Links 8
Michel A Bit of Old and a Bit of New Talking Torque 8
B Bosch reproduced old parts - D, K, KE jet Mechanicals 3
B Old car - new Technology Interiors 31
L Old Magazine Aritcles re w116es Mercedes W116 5
J New-old-stock 107 mats Interiors 1
Des A few nice old Benzes Talking Torque 2
1 Merc 6.9 Euro idler pulley and bracket Mercedes W116 13
S used merc v new Vw Road Tests 1
Oversize Blown Merc at the strip Motorsports 0
S mobile Merc. specialist Mercedes R/C107 11
Parks DYNAMAT -keep your merc quiet and cool Interiors 15

Similar threads