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Mercedes-Benz 230 SL restoration: from nightmare to dream pagoda

Mercedes 230 SL restoration
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'I think we have to throw it away.' Volker Kuhl first had to cope with this devastating news. Elmar Huebner had just called him and sent him a condition report on a Mercedes-Benz 230 SL that the two actually wanted to restore. Was the car really that bad? No, it was worse.

Mercedes-Benz 230 SL Pagoda purchase without viewing

It all started so well. Kuhl, Managing Director for Marketing and Sales at Veltins, still remembers the surprising words his boss said at the end of a conference in January 2009: 'You are now going to Düsseldorf, there I bought an old car for us.' Michael Huber, general manager of the brewery, knew about his employee's love for classic cars.

And since he was also interested in classic automobiles, he had bought a Mercedes-Benz 230 SL Pagoda without further ado, which was for sale among his friends - but without having inspected it. So Kuhl picked up the hardtop car and took it on the road directly to Warstein in the workshop of Elmar Huebner, whom he had already consulted when buying his Mercedes R 107.

Patched underbody on the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL

'At first glance, the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL didn't look bad, the inside was very worn, but it worked and had Passed the main inspection shortly before, 'says Hübner. Only the thickly applied underbody protection made him a little suspicious. At first, Volker Kuhl was still in good spirits, especially when Huebner agreed to make the car look good again. He wanted to provide the same amount for reconditioning and new parts that his boss had invested in the purchase, so that everyone owned half of the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL. 'Huebner dismantled the car within two days, and I was optimistic that it would be as quick to assemble,' says Kuhl.

But after a dry ice blaster had completely removed the underbody protection, the extent of the disaster mentioned at the beginning became really clear. The body of the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL Pagoda had been welded over and over again over the years, with a wide variety of welding types and devices being used, depending on what was available in the workshops. According to Hübner, 'the new sheets were always overold ones were welded over it, and in view of this messing around, all that was left was to restore the car to some extent with the least possible effort or to drive the full program. '

Restoration according to the German purity law

After Kuhl himself Having recovered from the initial shock, he consulted with his supervisor. The two finally decided to go through with the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL Pagoda project despite the significantly higher costs and to strive for a perfect result - a restoration in accordance with the German purity law, so to speak Now, Hübner, who runs an Autofit workshop that is usually more dedicated to the maintenance and repair of modern vehicles, was extremely challenged. But he, who had not yet carried out a restoration on this scale, was thrilled.

Blessed with an above-average craftsmanship and great fighting spirit, he managed a real one Masterpiece. When there was little going on in the workshop, or in the evenings and on weekends, he would separate the countless rusty parts from the body of the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL in order to replace them with new parts. In between, the body looked more like a coarse-meshed sieve than a car. The sheet metal parts supplier left no doubt that he had strong doubts about a happy ending, and Huebner's local customers who came to refuel, shook their heads and checked the current state of affairs.

A perfect pagoda, which almost ended up on the scrap metal

The welding work kept Hübner in suspense for a long time - Kuhl kept getting new bad news when another sheet metal part had to be cut out. In order to achieve a particularly good result, an endoscope was even used to look into the cavities, with the success 'that bars were cut open so that they could be derusted cleanly from the inside and then protected against corrosion,' reports Hübner. Kuhl took care of the procurement of parts for the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL. 'At first I pursued the strategy of getting new parts, but later, if possible, I had the old things reconditioned or re-chrome-plated.'

By the way, the best preserved part was the soft top, which the first owner never used. As a toupee, he dreaded the open-top drive in the car that his parents had given him to pass the doctor's exam, so he always left the hardtop mounted. Kuhl took all the attachments that were still usable and all the elements of the instrument panel including the displays home, where he dismantled them as much as possible, cleaned them thoroughly and polished them up. Things really picked up after the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL body came back from the paint shop and the parts were assembled. Hubner had sandblasted and painted the axle beams.

Friendship developed during the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL restoration

The engine waschecked and then resealed. The machine was okay, but since the first owner had used the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL almost exclusively for short journeys, stubborn oil carbon deposits had to be laboriously removed. Kuhl was now in the workshop more often to help Hübner with the assembly. He values ​​his performance very much and now counts him among his best friends. In addition to the body work, Hübner found the installation of the interior, especially the instrument panel, to be particularly nerve-wracking.

Firstly, because he no longer knew in which order what was to be installed, and so he had to remove the speedometer several times, for example. And secondly, the original screws and washers should go everywhere, of which there were quite a few different ones. Incidentally, together with his boss, Kuhl had opted for brown instead of the original black leather interior. Since Huber is an extremely busy man and constantly on the move, Kuhl led the project but kept him constantly up to date.

When the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL was finally finished, Kuhl secretly drove it to the brewery to reveal it to his boss the next day. He could look forward to half of a perfect pagoda, which almost ended up on the scrap metal.


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