In 1741, Benjamin Franklin said, “Beauty, like supreme dominion, Is but supported by opinion”
There is no better example of this than the Mercedes W114 280C you see see here and it’s creator, Dan.
This W114 is achingly gorgeous, beautiful, of that there is no doubt. The owner, Dan, however is not your stereotypical classic Mercedes owner. No carefully manicured hipster beard or designer flat cap or vintage skinny jeans. Dan’s a quiet unassuming guy, usually found with oily hands fixing broken shit. He’s happy to stand back and let his work do the talking.
Dan spent his early years in the dog house, on first name terms with the local police. The most polite way to describe the young Dan would be to say he was a late convert to the right side of the tracks.
Some people are lucky enough to have a special talent, a calling if you like. Maybe it’s a religious calling, maybe they become an artist or a musician, maybe they write novels or build houses. Dan heard his calling when he was a troubled youth and it sounded just like a pair of twin 40’s on a crossflow singing their beautiful song. He answered his calling, picking up his spanners and has hardly put them down since.
By the age of 14 School was a distant memory and Dan was working on the tools for a coach company in Plymouth.
From that day to this, he has been a petrol head of some repute with a string of creations that would make Jay Leno sit up and pay attention. From a chromed Suzuki Hyabusa to an M3 engined E30 Bauer, E28 M5, R5 Gordini, Mk2 Escort Harrier, Chevette HSR, Dan’s had them all and more.
Built not bought has always been his mantra. He’s not the kind of guy that buys a collection of off the shelf parts and calls it a build. He likes to do it his way, find the answers, create a solution, work around a problem, take the road less traveled.
His last build was a beast of a V8 engined, custom space framed ultra 4 off road, rock crawling monster. It started out as a roadgoing Toyota Hilux for a bit of dirty fun, but by the end it was virtually a full space frame monster, with only a tiny section of the Hilux chassis remaining. The entire creating, including Rover V8 and spaceframe chassis was fabricated and built then broken and fixed by Dan. He competed in it in Ultra4 and did really well, but scratched that itch so it was time to move on.
The Rover V8 in the Ultra4 truck was a decent lump but he’d been toying with the idea of rolling coal. In fact, he’d already bought a donor Mercedes W210 for it’s OM606 diesel heart, in preparation.
Since he was a lad, Dan has always loved the look of the stacked headlight Mercedes. It’s a love that has never faded, so when he made the decision to stop competing in 4×4 and sell the truck, his partner Hayley knew that he needed something to occupy him.
You remember that lad at school that was always in bother? The kind of lad that needs to be kept busy or he’ll get himself in trouble? That’s Dan.
After a bit of searching and a couple of missed opportunities, Hayley found him a 1973 W114 280C for sale online. It was a black, pillarless, stacked headlight, LHD. Everything he had always wanted.
Left hand drive worked best because Dan planned to transplant the OM606 he had dragged out of the donor W210. The exhaust exits on the right of the OM606 so on a RHD car it fouls the steering box which restricts power and tuning potential in the future.
Long story short, a deal was done and the car was his.
‘Plan A’ was some light recommissioning, throw on some lows and enjoy the summer.
One day, further down the road, drop in the OM606.
Why that engine? Why not?!
The OM606 is a great engine. It came in N/A and turbocharged form and was manufactured from 1993 – 2001 (turbo from ‘97 – ‘00) and was fitted to a range of Mercedes including the W124, W210, W300, W140 & W463 G.
It’s a 3.0 litre inline-six cylinder, double overhead camshaft (DOHC) diesel engine with indirect mechanical injection.
In standard form it makes around 170bhp with 330 Nm torque but it’s a very strong unit and capable of much more. Anyone remember the Finnish drift team Black Smoke Racing and their W123 wagon drift car? That was powered by an OM606 running a big turbo & supercharger & nitrous, all on standard internals.
Crucially, it’s not common rail either. That means it’s analogue and not ECU controlled, so is much simpler than a modern diesel.
Needless to say ‘Plan A’ went to shit so ‘Plan B’ was actioned.
What that meant was virtually a full restoration including new floors and a retrimmed cream leather interior, ICE install followed up with an air suspension install and the OM606 transplant.
170bhp and 330 Nm torque might be fine in a family run around, but in this W114 it simply wouldn’t cut it, so It will come as no surprise to hear that Dan didn’t leave the engine standard for long.
The engine received a freshen up with triple angle valve seats and a ported and polished head. Fuel is taken care of by a Dieselmeken 7.5mm fuel pump, a big increase from the standard 6mm, which is key to making more power on the OM606. There’s also a big ass hybrid Holset HX40 twin scroll turbo with two Tial wastegates, mounted on a beautiful tubular, handmade stainless exhaust manifold and 3″ stainless exhaust system. All of this stainless fabrication work is absolutely gorgeous and courtesy of the awesome Olliminium at Bicester.
To top it off there’s an alli intercooler hidden behind the luxurious, chrome Mercedes grill.
Power figures are sketchy. Dan isn’t one for boasting, he’s a doer not a talker. When he first built the engine, it ran around 475 hp and 785 nm torque. In this guise it had the OEM cast exhaust manifold, smaller turbo and no aftermarket wastegates. With the current spec, power is estimated to be somewhere around 550 hp and there’s a big chunk of more torque. Those are some serious figures and i can tell you, this thing kicks ass. Form and function combine to make this install magnificent.
When the sled first hit the streets, Dan ran an auto ‘box from a donor E300 that he had lying around. He made his own paddle shift for it and ran it for a few months through the summer, but by the time winter came it had pretty much surrendered. 4th was distant memory and it was slipping in other gears. When ha pulled the ‘box out, the oil was black and burnt. I’m not surprised.
In its place he’s fitted a 722.6 5 speed gearbox from an SL600 AMG. This ‘box has extra clutch plates to help handle the power. The ‘box is ECU controlled so Dan sent the ECU away to be repaired and upgraded. Now he can change settings such as shift points and how hard it shifts. This is the sort of trial and error, the ingenuity and resourcefulness that makes Dan who he is.
Mercedes bestowed the W114 with fully independent suspension and Dan has modified it to make it work with an Airride.lt air suspension on airlift 3H management. There’s a boot mounted tank and dual viair compressors and obviously, all installed by Dan himself.
As Ben Parker said; ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ So he’s fitted a 2.47 diff from a W126 which has the ultra rare LSD. Brakes are stock but there’s is a W126 V8 brake upgrade on the cards.
This gangster sled rolls on subtle 15” steels, wearing ultra rare 15” Mercedes trims, all wrapped in galaxy whitewalls.
As with all projects, I doubt this will ever truly be finished. There’s a list of planned and potential mods as long as your arm. Steering rack conversion, powder coated suspension, new paint and more.
It’s only been together and running for 5 minutes and has already become quite the celebrity on the scene. In 2017 at Still static it it bagged ‘Best retro’, at Lowcollective it was awarded ‘Top 20’ but his proudest moment was nailing ‘Car of the year’ at RetroRides Gathering. Not a bad haul for a shake down summer.
Dan has built his dream car. It’s the most gorgeous, exquisite, brutal, wonderful car. It’s ridiculously fast, pinning you in every gear like a supercar, and when you cruise, it snaps necks like the queen skateboarding naked through your town centre.
They say that behind every great man there is a great woman and Dan’s great woman is his Partner Hayley. She’s not only been by his side the whole way, but she’s encouraged and supported him. They are an awesome team and i’m proud to be able to call them my friends.
Special thanks go to;
Olliminium auto fabrication
And especially to Hayley for being part of the dream
Images courtesy of me (Mark Turner) and Chris O’Mahoney (Tilted Media)
If you want some more details, there’s a page about the car which Dan regularly updates. https://www.facebook.com/w114monstersleeper