My 4.3L V8 swap - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 02-23-2017
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My 4.3L V8 swap

I guess i will begin by saying Hello to the SLK community.. i've been sitting in the corner over here watching everyone else for quite sometime, and now i finally have something meaningful to post about. I usually am working on everyone else vehicles and until recently haven't had much time to do my own stuff. but its been building up, and now i have something truly special to work on.

anyways, last July, my SLK230 became my second car. its been my daily for almost 4 years and has been remarkably reliable... until last fall a head gasket started to leak externally, the A/C quit working and the car has slowly felt more and more lazy and tired. still, this car has been there when i needed it most, and I wanted to do something to bring it back up to snuff. since then i've been looking at the Kleeman Supercharger kit but couldn't bring myself to spending nearly a grand on the kit for what i would call "so-so" performance gains.

so about 3 weeks ago i was browsing Craigslist and found a 4.3 V8 from a CLK. it came with the ECU, transmission and harnass - which basically is everything mechanically. i haven't really thought about putting a V8 in the ole girl, but after doing a little bit of research and parts comparisons, i began to realize that this is feasible.




on to the build! i spent a couple of weeks freshening up the V8, as you'll see in the pictures i did a little painting and cleaning.

Currently i'm one week in on the build. last Saturday i pulled the old unit and was able to test fit the V8 and found the first problem was that the SLK A/C lines wouldnt fit around the exhaust of the V8, requiring me to use the lines that came with the V8. the second, and biggest issue, was that the steering box was severely in the way!



at this point, i pulled it back out and started to think about solutions.
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#2 Old 02-23-2017
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day 2..

so update number 2.

i removed the A/C compressor, lines and Left exhaust manifold and decided to do another test fit.





after looking at the V6 exhaust manifolds, it looks as though they have a curl near the back of the manifold that looks like it may avoid the steering box.. then i found an image of a crossfire engine bay and noticed that the steering boxes on those (as well as SLK320's) was about 2" lower on the car. I believe in 1999, the SLK only had the 4 cylinder and i believe this is why they had yet to lower the steering box which is why i'm having a clearance issue.

at this point i realized that the V6 manifold that i bought to modify to fit the V8 wouldn't fit either, unless the box was moved.
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#3 Old 02-23-2017
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day 3

so an update as of tonight 2/23.. i got the trans back in the car. i'm using the V8 trans for 2 reasons. 1: the bolt pattern on the bell housing is different between the 230 and 430, and 2: the 230 trans was feeling very lazy and shifted hard when cold. This saturday i will be grabbing the rack & pinion from an E320 and am going to fab some brackets and attach it to the car. this should solve the last of the interference issues i have. people who have swapped V8's into V6 cars or Crossfires need not do this as the steering box is mounted lower down on the frame rail.

so now that i have some time, i'll clear the air on a few details because someone may want to know this. My SLK is a 1999 with the sport package and AMG wheels. the engine came from a 1999 CLK430, and it had 150,XXX miles and i got to see it run and even do a burnout before the engine was pulled from the car. the car had been T-boned. i was able to grab the engine/trans/ecu for $350. i have compression checked the engine, as well as used a scope to check everything out internally. to be honest, ive never seen such clean cylinder walls on a used engine! i also believe in "If it aint broke, dont fix it" which is why i didn't do a complete rebuild. i painted the valve covers red in homage to the red "kompressor" strip on the old engine. note: i had to make custom engine mounts that may not be required on SLK's that came with the V6... the V8 mounts were 3" too wide, and 2" too far back. i'll take a picture next time i'm in the shop.

the 4.3 is a good engine to try this swap on for a couple of reasons. the first is that it isn't an extreme amount of HP, and i can make sure that nothing gets torn up prematurely. the second is because it shares underpinnings with the 500 and 55 engines, which may come at a later time. the third is that the 4.3 has a lower compression ratio than the N/A 500 engine, which may play well later on down the line with a Kompressor upgrade. don't quote me on that!

until next time. have another picture:
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#4 Old 02-24-2017
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Thanks for sharing this! You've got some serious skills. This is going to be a lot of fun watching as it comes together. I'm already excited thinking about the first test drive report you're going to give us
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#5 Old 02-24-2017
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Moar poasts plz . Seriously this looks amazing. I'll be following this thread closely.
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#6 Old 02-24-2017
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We love this kind of project.


Good luck solving the issues.

Myk


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Thanks go to those that post problems, solutions & feedback. It all helps.


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Smartop : Cubby Holder : Cree fronts : Both rear fogs.

EVERYWHERE IS LOCAL IN A
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And nowhere is too far on a VFR
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#7 Old 02-24-2017
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hats off to a proper bloke

I wish I could do that kind of engineering. I'm stuck with thinking in the box, which is hard enough for me...
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#8 Old 02-24-2017
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Awesome, gonna be my favorite channel! Nothing like a mechanically inclined individual with ball bearings of stainless steel to take on a beast project. Your inspiration to create beast from beauty is surely to be an infectious thought for me. This looks to be a fairly reasonable and relatively inexpensive project, hope it turns out really well. May just find me an old beauty to transform, preferably an R171 body.
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#9 Old 02-24-2017
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Originally Posted by Elmer Fudd View Post
I wish I could do that kind of engineering. I'm stuck with thinking in the box, which is hard enough for me...
Or hunting scwewey wabbits You can do anything you want if you have the time and patience to do the research that goes along with it (plenty of info and support out there). There is a solution to any problem, that is part of the challenge and it is greatly satisfying when you find the solution. For me its a matter of motivation or how interested I am in something, if its there I'll go for it successful or not.
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#10 Old 02-24-2017
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This conversion has been in the back of my mind for ages , it should make for a good little car , I'm guessing a 320 would be an easier starting point but you already had the 230 so that's the way it goes . The steering rack conversion should improve the car a lot regardless of the engine swap !
I'm ok with the stripping out , fabricating mounts and re fitting but electrics have always been my problem, I just can't get my head around them . When I swapped rover v8 engines into a couple of older fords there were only ever a few wires to swap about to get it to fire up , invariably twisted together and taped up I wouldn't know where to start with a modern wiring harness , sensors and ecu .
I'll watch this thread with interest .
Good luck
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#11 Old 02-24-2017
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Originally Posted by Robrowdy View Post
Or hunting scwewey wabbits You can do anything you want if you have the time and patience to do the research that goes along with it (plenty of info and support out there). There is a solution to any problem, that is part of the challenge and it is greatly satisfying when you find the solution. For me its a matter of motivation or how interested I am in something, if its there I'll go for it successful or not.
this is exactly my thinking; a solution to every problem! fortunately i dont have very many problems (mechanically). once i get to the ECU and immobilizer, i may be down wind from the cattle farm... we'll see though!
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#12 Old 02-24-2017
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so, back in my thinking box

and I'm thinking that you will have to uprate the front springs a bit,and probably the shockers as well. that luvli V8 and gearbox has to weigh a fair bit more than the 230 kit you took out. and you'll probably need a bigger radiator, as all those extra horses are going to warm things up a bit under the bonnet. and then you might want to do up the brakes as well.

what's the extra weight factor you are lookng at?

P.S, I don't fancy doing 16 sparking plugs on that with my back.
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#13 Old 02-24-2017
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Originally Posted by Elmer Fudd View Post
and I'm thinking that you will have to uprate the front springs a bit,and probably the shockers as well. that luvli V8 and gearbox has to weigh a fair bit more than the 230 kit you took out. and you'll probably need a bigger radiator, as all those extra horses are going to warm things up a bit under the bonnet. and then you might want to do up the brakes as well.

what's the extra weight factor you are lookng at?

P.S, I don't fancy doing 16 sparking plugs on that with my back.
i dont ever fancy buying 16 spark plugs

i'm estimating it will be about 100 lbs extra. max. there are a couple of things to consider as far as weight goes. the first being the 2.3 is smaller, yet it had a supercharger bolted to it, as well as all the piping, and the 2.3 is also a steel block compared to the 4.3 being aluminum. i'm saving some weight by removing the intercooler and replacing the old rolling ball steering setup with a normal rack and pinion. that rolling ball gearbox has to weigh 25 lbs alone!

as far as cooling goes, a supercharged engine requires a good amount of cooling capacity. it also looks as if the intercooler covers roughly 40% of the radiator, and not having that heat exchange in front of the radiator will definitely improve airflow. at this point, i'm going to run it with the current radiator and see how it handles daily driving, and maybe even some autocross in the hot Kansas summer.
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#14 Old 02-24-2017
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there must be some fancy equation we can invoke

to work out the cooling issues ,if they ever become issues, but in the meantime an easy stab at it would be to compare the sizes of the two respective rads. I'll bet there isn't much difference. another thing would be water pump delivery rates. If the pump rates are similar, then I'd guess the rad qualities will be similar and the heat output would be similar as well.

I definitely tip my hat to you Sir. and the chap at benzworld who put a V12 6.0 in his r107.
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#15 Old 02-25-2017
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GREAT JOB ! I'll be following this thread to the very end Good Luck

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#16 Old 02-25-2017
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Update: 2/25/17:

Thank you everyone for the kind words!

didn't get much done on the SLK today unfortunately. I was planning on grabbing a steering rack this morning, but got tied up with a close friend who needed help rescuing a couple of '65 Chrysler 300's. fortunately LKQ wrecking yards are open on Sunday so I will go pull one first thing tomorrow (sunday the 25th). the car i will be pulling it from is a 2001 E430, but the LKQ in Wichita has 3 more E320's and an S430 if I need anything pressing. Unfortunately this E430 is missing the key, otherwise i would grab the ECU/immobilizer/key from it and have my electronics figured out. this could still be an option if someone knows if i can have new keys programmed to the ECU and immobilizer. It would be the new style "key" where its just a piece of plastic that you put inside of your ignition hole (clean thoughts), maybe someone has some experience having those keys made?

from what I've researched, i will also need an E430 diff with the correct ratio or the ECU will put the car in safe mode when it detects that the vehicle speed isnt matching what it thinks the speed should be (based on pre-programmed gear ratio calculations).

so after i get the steering rack and engine in, i'm an ECU/immobilizer/key and Diff away from having a nearly-factory running SLK430. (anyone have a parts car???)

how about some pictures:

did some cleaning

my fabbed mounts


one of the 300's

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#17 Old 02-25-2017
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back to the exhaust..... real quick!

so as far as the exhaust goes, I did a fit up of the V6 manifolds I ordered. IT STILL HIT THE STEERING BOX!!! the engine was about 1.5" lower than before, but the box was keeping it from leaning back. My thought is that i would of cut the V8 one in half and welded the front half of it onto the rear 2 of the V6 manifold, however, with the rack and pinion steering i wont need the up-sweep in the back of the manifold for clearance. I like that it has the O2 bung in it but that isn't necessary. the upstream O2 bungs can be welded in further down stream as long as they are before the cats. It also looks like the V8 manifold will flow better.



i found my immobilizer (passenger foot well)
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#18 Old 02-26-2017
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Fantastic! I really admire your skills, I only wish I had 10% of your know how. I can just about change a light bulb, and that is not a headlight bulb!


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Life is too short to drive a boring car!

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#19 Old 02-26-2017
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cool project. Will you be able to use just the 430 diff or do you have to use the entire set up? i used to do stuff like this a million years ago (aluminum f85 v8s into mgb) but with modern engine controls, it makes it way too complicated for me.
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#20 Old 02-26-2017
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cool project. Will you be able to use just the 430 diff or do you have to use the entire set up? i used to do stuff like this a million years ago (aluminum f85 v8s into mgb) but with modern engine controls, it makes it way too complicated for me.
i believe i can use just the diff, as Mercedes made them universal. but I wont really know until i have one to study.

if there hasnt already been a proven method to getting past the immobilizer, i may not have attempted this swap either!
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