We’ve discussed the issues associated with finding the correct material for the W116 S-Class’ interior here before, but if you’ve not seen it or can’t be bothered to read, here’s a brief synopsis; finding the correct fabric in the correct shade of green was a nightmare, one which saw us scour Europe and contact dozens of Mercedes specialists. Finding the material was only half the battle, as we also had to acquire enough to coat the entirety of the (sizeable) S-Class interior.
Still, the battle of the trim was eventually won thanks to Dean’s ingenuity and ability to make a small amount of fabric go a long way, which means that we’ve instead been able to turn our attention to general re-assembly of the car’s interior. The good news is that we’ve been restoring cars for almost a decade now and therefore know the importance of careful disassembly and accurate labelling. The bad news is that knowing what goes where is only half the battle, and actually getting 40+ year old trims back into a recently restored shell is a tougher ask than you might first think – as evidenced by the battle to re-clip the trims onto the inner pillars.
It’s worth pausing to take a closer look at the point in time this W116 occupies, certainly in terms of Mercedes’ own history. Our example is a ’73 model, an early car and therefore from an era when the company was moving from being a modestly sized producer of largely hand assembled cars to the modern, luxury car behemoth we know today.
Evidence of the above can be found throughout its interior, including the door apertures. Each has a dedicated, almost certainly hand-made ‘fillet,’ effectively a spacer to fill the gap between door and seam. It’s the kind of specialist trimming you simply don’t see in modern, mass produced cars.
This attention to detail is impressive, though it did present us with something of a challenge when it came to replacing those trims considered ‘too far gone’ to fit back into (and onto) the car. Most were salvageable with some careful restoration, but the likes of the stainless steel sill inserts which clip within the sill line proved more problematic. We eventually had to commission a dedicated steel insert manufacture to produce them, largely as it was the only way of resolving the issue satisfactory.
Sourcing the original radio was another stumbling block, the OEM example having been replaced for a more modern (yet far less stylish) unit at some point in the W116’s life. Becker were Mercedes audio supplier of choice for much of the 20th century and were therefore our first port of call. We eventually came up trumps (after some judicious googling) with the unit shown here, the Becker Grand Prix the S-Class would’ve rolled off the line with.
Re-fitting the interior of a Benz of this era does at least give us ample opportunity to inspect some of the more left field design elements, not least the ‘heated’ arm rests. These have a feed taken directly from the heater system, with a vent mounted just above the drivers’ arm. It’s one of those touches that’s doubtless been rendered obsolete by modern climate control setups, but that doesn’t detract from it being an interesting retro touch.
That’s not all; the W116 also sports some of the comfiest seats ever bolted to a car – any car, regardless of age or indeed spec, and remember this isn’t even the top spec S-Class of the time. These are the kind of seats designed to cosset the buttocks of the well to do while crossing continents, something they’re every bit as adept at in 2018 as they were 1973.
We’re hoping to have the S-Class finished, re-trimmed and running by the middle of next month.