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

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-bb-

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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.



 

Michel

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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
 
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Styria

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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
 

WGB

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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.

Bill
 

B13

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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).

I.
 

chrisp

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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

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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.

Tim
 

BenzBoy

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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.
Regards,
Benz-Boy
 

Andrew280SEL

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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. :)
 
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