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Thread: With great regret, finally selling my C43 w/5.4L, full SpeedyBenz suspension, and many MBenzNL mods

  1. #1
    C55 Charter Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    40-55'-44" N / 73-24'-07" W [on LI]

    With great regret, finally selling my C43 w/5.4L, full SpeedyBenz suspension, and many MBenzNL mods


    The day has finally come. I'm submitting my car to Bring-A-Trailer. It takes about two weeks before that goes live. So I'm open to offers until then.

    I barely put any miles on the car in the last decade. And should have sold it long ago. But I didn't have the heart to part with it. As I am moving away from the home that has a two car garage to move into an apartment in NYC, it's time for the car to pass to someone else to love and care for it.

    I detail everything there is to know about the car below: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Ideally I'd have images in-line with the text below. But I just don't have time for that enormous task right now. Instead, please see the photos posted at the following link to accompany all the descriptions I provide below

    1998 Mercedes-Benz C43/55 AMG For Sale

    Offered for sale is a one owner customized 1998 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG in silver with black leather interior and standard red walnut dash. Notable customizations include a 5.4L AMG engine upgrade, custom one-of-two 'track ready' suspension, plus interior and exterior euro component upgrades. Details to follow. VIN: WDBHA33G4WF738740

    My wife and I purchased this 1998 C43 AMG new as a left-over on Memorial Day, 1999. It lived outside for the first two years and was used infrequently until the middle of 2001. After which I needed to start driving to a new office. It lived inside a garage at our new home since then. It served as my daily driver for several years. Until I began heavily customizing it and it became a “project car”, purchased three other vehicles, and began circulating which of the four I drove. In a few short years I performed approximately $25,000 in upgrades & customizations to it. I stopped driving this in winter months around 2007. In 2009 I largely retired it completely. After which it spent most of its time resting in my garage. I never wanted to sell it. But as I am selling my house to move into our apartment in NYC exclusively, I am losing my two car garage. It is with great regret that I conclude it must go to a new loving home and return the car to the glory it should have.

    There are 88,085 miles on the chassis at the present time. The engine has only about 32,000 miles on it (see immediately below). It has a clean title. The CarFax report shows the one accident it had: The car was stopped at a red light. A young man failed to stop in time behind me and rear ended this car at the left side of the bumper. As the car that hit this car was dipped-down in hard braking, and was only going a few miles per hour at the time of impact, most all of the damage to this car was taken by the AMG exhaust. There was no body damage to the left quarter panel or the trunk. or underbody The left rear tail light didn’t even get broken. The exhaust system was replaced using a factory original AMG exhaust system at a Mercedes-Benz repair shop along with a new bumper.

    A) The "GOOD" ...

    PERFORMANCE Upgrades

    Performance upgrades were done by a certified master Mercedes-Benz mechanic employed at a service center of Mercedes-Benz dealerships on Long Island. He is one that “takes his job home” to do service, repair and customization work for people at his home. He is also an enthusiast who is upgrading the performance of any Mercedes-Benz vehicle made over the last three decades.

    A.1) The original 4.3L AMG engine was swapped for a 5.4L AMG engine from a 2001 E55 AMG. This swap has become very commonplace as everything external to the two engines are identical. And the fuel system and ECU will automatically adapt to the proper AFR needed by the larger displacement (however this was ‘chip-tuned’ too to alter the base map from a 4.3L to a 5.4L engine; more on that later). But very few had been done at the time. By some estimates, this was the fourth one done in the USA.

    The low-end torque offered by the 25% larger displacement coupled with the shorter gearing utilized by the C43 [vs. the rear diff gearing of the E55 and CLK55 AMGs of that era] is much more enjoyable to drive. The car is so much more engaging and driveable than with the original 4.3L engine. The original engine didn't feel it had sufficient low RPM torque and needed to be run into the upper RPMs for performance and enjoyment while driving.

    The engine was taken from a car that was totaled from a fire from the firewall back. The engine was never in the fire. CarFax reports that the vehicle and engine had only 9,750 miles on it at the time. Engine Serial Number: 113 980 60 026 386 E 105. VIN of the original vehicle: WDBJF74J61B353667

    The engine was shipped cross country from west coast to the east coast. The person who performed the swap had the heads cleaned and a 3-angle valve job done on them. All oil and cooling channels were thoroughly flushed. Pan was taken off and bottom end also cleaned. All engine ancillaries were swapped from the 4.3L engine to the 5.4L engine. To recoup some of the cost of the engine and labor I sold the original 4.3L engine; so that is not available.

    Engine Swap Photo Roll:

    Engine Swap Discussion Thread:

    A.2) The ECU was re-programmed ['chip tuned'] locally by a mechanic who worked with a tuning firm located in the Netherlands. They started with a stock W202 C55 map (the vehicle was only available in Europe). It was then tuned for more responsiveness and higher performance. While an original C43 engine can become quite "sleepy" when driven lightly from its early-era transmission adaptation that these vehicles are equipped with, this chip-tune makes the vehicle immune to that and the car is always eager to "get up and go" to the slightest movement of the right foot on the gas pedal.

    A.3) Phenolic spacers were installed between the intake manifold and engine block to help keep the intake temperature cooler.

    SUSPENSION Upgrades

    Suspension was designed and built by an individual [well know by the OGs here on Club202] who is an engineer by education and trade, as well as a motorcycle racing champ with a multitude of wins under his belt and a wall of trophies to accompany them from west coast and california cup races. He was well known on the top W202 specific forum and wider Mercedes forums with the moniker ‘speedybenz’ as he was the premier supplier for adjustable camber arms for the W202 platform and other Mercedes. This however, is the only “full suspension” that he produced and sold for use on another car other than his own. He drew on his expertise with properly setup motorcycles -- in consultation with the team techs employed by his Penske Racing sponsors for the tuning of the Penske 8100 dampers utilized on this build -- to engineer a suspension for the Mercedes-Benz W202 platforms that perfectly matches the dynamics of the platform and betters any other street-suspension made for the W202.

    The suspension was installed by a “speed shop” named TKX Performance. They do everything from performance customizations of street vehicles to prepping of race cars.

    Suspension & Shop Photo Rolls:

    Suspension Discussion Threads:

    The suspension investment was made because, my intention was to participate in “track days” here in the north east. And I wanted the absolute best suspension for my W202 that could be had on it. While I did participate in local auto-cross events with it, and won top honors for my category/class, I never did visit Limerock or other tracks with this as I wanted to upgrade the brakes first. But kept putting that off. Then retired this car from use and my larger hobby of upgrading and customizing any of my cars. I got very busy with life and work, and never ended up getting around to it.

    A.4) The suspension is completely custom; it is one of only two like it in the world. Please see the photographs which are worth a thousand words. The first prototype suspension kit was developed using the person noted above’s own W202 vehicle. Tuning was designed and verified to perform exceptionally on various racetracks in Northern California. I purchased the only other one he developed and sold to someone. Responsiveness and turn-in of this vehicle is frighteningly fast. While being exceptionally balanced at the same time. One can easily turn themselves over the white or yellow lines if they base their turn-in point and rate on a traditional road car. Whether the vehicle has a hint of understeer, or a hint of oversteer, or utterly balanced, is entirely up to you with the turn of some dials and adjustment of adjustable links.

    A manifest of its components follows:

    - Penske Racing 8100 Dual adjustable racing dampers having external reservoirs with separate dials for compression and rebound. The ability to separately dial-in the damping rates for compression and rebound allows for control of vehicle dynamics well beyond anything offered by typical sport/performance dampers used on road cars. The person that built the suspension determined that digressive/digressive valving best matched the vehicle dynamics. He has a feel and sense for what the suspension is doing that is unlike anyone I have ever met.

    The dampers were given a nitrogen 100psi recharge several years ago and they are mostly holding the pressure. The front dampers charge is a near 80psi. The rear dampers charge is near 50psi. Buyer will need to keep in mind they periodically require a nitrogen recharge.

    - Original fixed ride height is now adjustable via adjustable spring perches. The height of the car can be changed with the turn of a bolt. (the vehicle's suspension geometry and lack of structural reinforcement at the damper mount points does not allow for coil-overs that integrate the springs over the dampers).

    - Eibach Racing Springs. Front spring model 142298 w/specs 0800.250.0950. Rear spring model 146028 w/specs 1000.250.0600.
    If I remember correctly the specs represent:
    [length in inches].[inner diameter in inches].[spring rate in lbs/inch]

    - Most rubber bushings were replaced with solid nylon/poly bushings. Making for much more road feel and turn-in responsiveness than any stock AMG vehicle.

    - Three of the five rear links were retrofit with adjustable links having heim joint rod ends. Allowing for adjustment well beyond that offered by the stock suspension. Often, people would install adjustable camber rods. However this suspension permits the installers to dial-in camber and rear toe-in independently. It was determined that ⅛” toe-in of the rear suspension is very important to enable both quick responsiveness as well as good stability. Which the additional flexibility offered by the extra adjustable rods enable.

    - Equipped with Eibach anti-sway bars. 28mm front, 18mm rear. These are no longer in production. They are significantly larger and stiffer than the anti-sway bars equipped stock on an AMG vehicle.


    A.5) One-of-a-kind Kinesis K57R 17" 3-piece rims, made custom for me. They started as 18" stepped hub rims. But I kept bending the rims. That was when I had the very stiff original AMG suspension still on the car. I sent them to Kinesis for repair. I learned that they experimented with straight/flat hub lips in 17" size that I could mount on the same center spokes, which were said to be more immune to bending. Going from 18" to 17" would also give the vehicle one extra inch of tire side-wall height, to help safeguard against new bends of a rim. (IMPORTANT: keeping the tire pressure above 35psi also plays a vital role to prevent bent rims!.) The 17" straight hub was never released to the public. But they were willing to make them for me. So I bought them.

    Rim Photo Roll:

    Rim Build Discussion Thread:!

    At the same time, Kinesis was selling the company to another. They told me that they were going to send all the various width inner and outer hub pieces for the front and rear rims to the recycler. Which meant, I could never get the rims repaired it I bent them. So I bought up all the extra stock! Thus I have two huge boxes that contained enough hub pieces that every rim could be remade if any of the current hubs were to get bent. Please see the photos in the listing; some of the pieces are raw stainless, or polished stainless, or chromed. If the buyer makes use of them the finish will need to be matched to the rest of the rims.

    Thankfully, and in large part because of now always keeping the tires above 35psi plus the better control and motion provided by the custom suspension described above -- i.e. it is not nearly as resistant to movement as the stock springs and dampers, yet it controls the motion of the suspension far better -- none of the rims ever got bent again. However, I have no use for the extra rim hub inners and outers. So these will be included in the sale of the vehicle.

    A.6) New tires were recently installed: Falken Azenis FK510 ; stock tire size for the C43 model: Front: 225/45ZR17 94Y, Rear: 245/40ZR17 95Y. These are “summer tires”. You should never use them in even the slightest of flurries let alone full snow; recommended that you limit use below 40 or even 50 degrees; or at least take great care as grip will be greatly limited at those temps. NOTE: Most exterior photographs were taken before the new tires were affixed.


    The Interior upgrades were all performed by an individual with the moniker ‘MBenzNL’ on the Mercedes-Benz forums. He lives in the Netherlands. He made a living travelling the globe (this is not an exaggeration) retrofitting Mercedes-Benz vehicles with components equipped only on vehicles that were sold in Europe.

    MBenzNL Customizations Photo Roll:

    MBenzNL Customizations Discussion Thread:

    A.7) The original radio and analog phone system was removed replaced with a COMAND unit from the W163 1st gen ML series of that era, retrofit into the two DIN slots used by the original radio and telephone unit that were combined into one. See the photos. A list of capabilities follows:

    - It has CD based navigation that still works. Newer CD are available to cover any roads have been created in the last decade and a half.

    - The FM radio displays radio station and music title information when transmitted by the radio station. It does not have HDRadio. NOTICE: As Europe has a different AM radio standard which dials in increments of 8 vs. the one used by the USA which dials in increments of 10, some/many AM stations cannot be tuned-in perfectly.

    - A 6-CD changer is included and operates. An extra changer cartridge will be provided that you can quickly swap to listen to 12 different CDs easily without swapping them out of and in to the caddie.

    - The TV button works and accepts external video and audio from a G5 iPod Video or other.

    In-car COMAND Video Screen Discussion Thread:!

    With the special “black box” discussed in the thread above installed behind the COMAND, you can use the cable output adapter for an iPod classic or similar, or a DVD player, to play things such as music videos on the COMAND screen. Actually, output from any DAP (with or without a converter as needed) that has analog “red/white/yellow” out for audio-right/audio-left/video -- CAVEAT being that output must in PAL format, not NTSC -- can be played on the screen.

    Likewise, if you purchase an adapter that takes the output from your phone and breaks-out analog audio and video in PAL format, you can utilize the navigation and music of your phone in the car and display it on the screen.

    The utility of this should not be overlooked. You could even purchase a modern Bluetooth enabled interface module that has Navigation with audio video out, thereby both bluetooth enable the system and utilize a more modern navigation on the screen.

    - 3.5mm AUX in. There is also a female 3.5mm jack located within the glove compartment, for analog audio input from any Phone or DAP.

    - Hands-free digital phone. The analog Motorola phone system was removed and upgraded to the digital system, using the venerable Nokia 6310i phone. Phone not included in the sale.

    A.8) The stock side-view mirrors were replaced with wide-angle blinking side-view mirrors. They do not fold. The update was either blinking wide-angle, or folding. I opted for the former.

    A.9) Aftermarket illuminated AMG door-sills were installed. They operated properly and illuminate when each door is opened.

    A.10) Aftermarket (commonly called) “S600 Style” Grill is installed. The original grill should still be available.


    Early maintenance was all performed at Mercedes-Benz dealerships. You will see a record of it all when you run a report on the VIN at a dealership and in the CarFax report.

    Once the engine swap was performed all maintenance was performed by the person who did the engine swap described near the top of this write-up. Thus most maintenance and repair work after 2005 will not show-up when you run the VIN at a dealership or in the carFax report. Regular maintenance however continued to be performed.

    A.11) Numerous parts were replaced or repaired as would be expected over the course of 20 years of ownership. Some of the notable items repaired or replaced were: right front wheel bearing, harmonic balancer, motor mounts, a part in the transmission that prevents the car from rolling backward on a hill -- all previous items were done under warranty, the remainder were done out of warranty -- fuel pump, fuel relay and fuel filter, charcoal vapor canister shutoff valve, MAS, oil pan.


    A.12) Other than associated with some paint blemishes described under "The Ugly", there is no significant rust on the car.

    A.13) The black seat leather, dash plastic or vinyl and wood of the interior is about as 'mint' as you could want. You would never believe that it is a 20 year-old interior. Please refer to the photos. The only problem in the interior is some separation of the headliner directly in-front of the sunroof cover vent. See “The Bad” for more on this.

    B) The "BAD" ...

    B.1) It seems the throttle pedal value sensor in the engine compartment needs to be replaced. The vehicle will sometimes go into limp-mode when the gas pedal kick-down switch is activated. (As the car is extremely powerful with the larger engine, activating the kick-down switch isn’t really ever necessary with normal driving.) When I was at my mechanic's to have the engine oil and filter changed, it did not misbehave. But it seems to be back to misbehaving. You'll want to plan to change it. If you floor the car, you need to either a) stop the car, turn it off and back on, or b) while rolling put the trans in neutral, turn the car off and back on. In either case the gas pedal returns to normal by an engine restart.

    B.2) A/C is not cold. It does get ice cold if you give it a charge. But that only lasts about 12 hours. Plan to fix it.

    B.3) The battery goes down to about 70% if the car sits for a week without starting. It will drain if left alone for weeks to months. I keep the battery on a trickle charge when not used frequently; as the car is almost never used now, that means I always keep it on a trickle charger. It was suggested to me by the person who built the suspension -- as this happened on his car too -- that when the alarm battery gets old, it starts to draw a lot of power in a futile attempt to charge the battery. You'll want to look into diagnosing the source of the current draw, as it may or may not be what was just cited, and correct it.

    B.4) As noted in the previous section: There is some separation of the ceiling headliner from the sunroof directly in-front of the air vents. See the photos.

    B.5) A recent development is the rear differential cover seal will need to be corrected. No oil is hitting the floor. However the differential is 'wet' with oil.

    B.6) The Headlight Wiper on the left side is stuck in the up position. I do not believe that it wipes.

    B.7) The popup dual cupholder broke long ago.

    B.8) The driver’s door molding & seal at the bottom is missing. There is a picture of this; see the photo of the bottom of the driver’s door. If the car is driven in rain or drives thru a large puddle, water can enter the doorsill area. There is the inner door seal that keeps the water outside. However, buyer will definitely want to replace this piece that ensures all water remains outside the doorsill area.

    B.9) The warning light stencil to the left of the instrument cluster has slipped down a little. See the photographs.

    C) And The "Ugly" ...

    C.1) Front bumper was repainted. Too much hardener must have been used. Resulting in extreme chipping of the front bumper. Especially the downward facing areas. See the 'Imperfections' photographs.

    C.2) The bottom of the front bumper has some very heavy scrapes from hitting the ground when transitioning from steep downhill to flat roads. See the 'Imperfections' photographs.

    C.3) The hood has some paint chips from rocks. Some were repaired. Some need to be repaired. The scratch at the top front tip of the left fender shows mild signs of rust. See the 'Imperfections' photographs.

    C.4) There is a one to two inch scratch on the right-rear quarter panel (from the handle of a rolling generator as it was being pulled out of the garage one of the times when I lost power; didn't ever do that again, but the damage was done). Some visible rust has developed on the exposed metal.

    C.5) The rims on the right side had curb rash that was ground down, smoothed, and polished; i.e. largely repaired. It is still visible, but does not stand out in most light. Please zoom in to the photos.

    C.6) The right-side fog light lens is broken. The light is out. It is assumed the entire assembly will need to be replaced and not just the bulb and lens. I did not replace it as I always intended to replace the fog-lights with a scoop and piping for cold-air intake. However as I live near the Long Island sound and several beaches, there is a lot of sand on the roads here. So I put that off, worried about not want to risk sucking up sand with the air intake. Then I stopped using the car so the light was never fixed. See the photographs.
    Last edited by c55m8o; 10-11-2019 at 09:00 PM. Reason: fixed numbering

  2. #2
    In Charge
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Left Lane
    Wow. Definitely an end to a great era. I can personally say that the description above matches my recollection and following of the build. I can also vouch for the work of speedybenz and MBenzNL. Their contributions are legendary on the forums.

    Asking price?

    1998 C43
    1994 C280 (Retired)

    "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." - da Vinci

  3. #3
    C55 Charter Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    40-55'-44" N / 73-24'-07" W [on LI]
    Ya, thanx for the kind words. It was a tough choice. But one that was long overdue.

    I'm not listing a price. I don't want to undermine the reserve I'll be applying to the BAT auction. But I'm open to realistic offers before the BAT auction goes live.

  4. #4
    C55 Charter Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    40-55'-44" N / 73-24'-07" W [on LI]


    The car is gone! It went to the best home I could have ever wanted for it! I never imagine a C43 fan like you existed. So glad we met. ( The buyer wishes to remain anonymous so I'm not naming any real names or handles. )

    It was great meeting you. And I wish you the best fortunes with it and all your other MBs! We'll keep in touch.

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