LOWERING (DIY, kinda...)
My next step was to lower the car. AMG Cars already come lowered from the factory - as in they are lower than non-AMG Mercs. But still, there left some room to improve upon the looks. After some research, I decided on the B&G Sport Springs for the R170 due to a forum member recommendation of it being the correct height for a 32 after install. He somehow convinced me that installing springs yourself was an easy DIY - which I found out it was not (at least for me) but here's my documentation of the process regardless...
Stock ride height:
That's crazy! 2 inches of wheel gap!!! MUST BE FIXED
I bought a spring compressor tool for the job. The new springs from B&G are shown here, new in the box.
Unbolt the front shocks at the top, from under the hood. This allows the control arm to drop an additional inch or two when you jack up the car.
Remove the nut, washer and rubber stop so you won't lose them.
Jack up the car, and make sure you use jack stands. I had no idea what I was doing when I did this, by the way.
Slide the top compressor plate into the top of the spring. It takes some trial and error to figure out which "rib" to use depending on your setup. For me, the second rib (shown) gave me the proper compression level at full compression in order to get the spring out.
Do the same with the bottom piece and then thread the bolt up from under the control arm. Ratchet that sucker down as best you can. (sounds easy)
The anti-sway bar will sometimes prevent the arm from moving down far enough for you to remove the spring. If this is the case, remove the two nuts holding the bracket on and the arm will lift out by itself. Use your floor jack and lift up the control arm a little while you undo the nuts to prevent pressure from bending the screws or the bracket itself.
Success... finally. It's harder than it looks, especially by hand and without any air tools.
Oh by the way, Eibach manufactures the AMG springs, as you can see on the print.
Wear gloves.... like I didn't.
OEM spring (top) and new lowered spring (bottom)
You can see it's a tighter wind and a tad bit shorter.
Spring pads - Additional ride height adjustments can be done by the spring pads that Mercedes uses. Here are the pads I used - 2 bump pads up front (count the bumps, this is Mercedes' thickness indicator, more bumps, thicker the pad)
2-Bump (left) vs stock 4-bump (right)
FYI the pads are only used at the top of each spring. The bottom does not use a spring pad in any corner.
New spring getting compressed... without a vise or something steady (I used my feet) it was such a horrible experience. Trying to ratchet this thing down and prevent the spring from turning was just simply the most annoying thing I had to do. Somehow I got it done, though.
Put the spring back in, make sure your spring pad is already up there before you place it in there. Then loosen the bolt from the bottom (reverse as before) making sure the bottom and top of the spring sit securely in the notch designed for the end of the spring.
Reassemble the sway bar bracket, then put the wheel back on.
Two words - Hire someone.
Here's where I failed - big time. I did not have the tools to take out the rear springs at home and I ended up screwing up the alignment pretty bad.
I lifted up the car from the "pumpkin"
Place your jack stands on the rear lift pads...
Now remove the rear wheels.
Here's the rear spring on a SLK32.
The key is to drop the rear arm by undoing a bolt then the spring just falls out. In order to do this, you need to first remove the plastic shroud covering the arm
Two 10mm bolts on each side of the rear.
This is the bolt I tried to remove...
And now the other two bolts need to come out as well... but a problem arose... the hole on the left got misaligned and I could not get it to line up again...
No matter what I did...
I could not get the bolt to go back in.
So I drove it very slowly and carefully to my indy... sure it's easy if you have a LIFT and air tools and all the safety mechanisms and know what you're doing...
They installed my rear springs in minutes. They also adjusted my front springs, as I did not seat them properly. Glad they noticed that.
They sure look great
After an alignment, I took her home and got some pics of the new stance:
Comparison of rear ride height:
The fronts came down about 1.75" It's now at about 1/4" of wheel gap, enough for one knucke of your finger to fit.
In retrospect, I would get the springs professionally installed if you could, as this was a major pain for me due to the lack of knowlege and tools available at the time. If I had to do this again, I probably wouldn't. I'm not trying to discourage anyone, just that I've had enough spring compressor experience now to last several lifetimes and I hated doing this one myself.
Oh and screw the shock tops back in, or find out the hard way like I did (thunk thunk thunk thunk)