Posted - 01/30/2016 : 20:28:44
| This is a history of our Group that I have modified from an article I have written for the SuperStar Magazine of the Queensland Mercedes-Benz Club here in Australia.
THE INTERNATIONAL M-100 GROUP
The Group supports the Mercedes-Benz models which used the M100 motor, initially designed to be used in the W100 600 Grosser from 1963 as M100.980. The 6.3 litre M100 motor was modified slightly for use in the W109 chassis by Erich Waxenberger of the Development Department in 1967 and designated M100.981. The company approved the production of the W109.018 300SEL 6.3 version of that series of cars which went into production in 1968. After a break due largely to the early 1970’s fuel crisis, the motor was further significantly modified (virtually no parts in common) for use in the W116 series chassis. While the motor bore little detailed resemblance to its forebears, the company still regarded it as an M100, giving it the designation M100.982. Its capacity was increased to 6834cc’s with only the stroke remaining the same at 95mm, the bore going from 103 to 107mm. The car it was used in was the W116.036 450SEL 6.9.
Despite the motor capacity of the M100.980 being 6332cc’s, Mercedes management elected to badge the Grosser a 600 rather than the more appropriate 630. However, when the M100.981 appeared in the W109 chassis, they more correctly badged the car 300SEL 6.3. This, of course, is the basis for the recent and current use of similar badging for marketing purposes on a number of Mercedes-Benz vehicles with various AMG motors, initially an AMG 6.2 litre motor and more recently a 5.5 litre bi-turbo unit. These motors bear no relationship whatsoever to their M100 predecessors.
Production of the 600 ran from 1963 until 1981, but with cars being made only to order after 1972. There were four basic variants. The basic car was a 4 door saloon W100.012. The W100.014 was a four door long wheel base saloon called a Pullman. Then you could have a retracting cloth roof on the long wheel base chassis designated W100.015, called a Landaulet which came with either a short or long (Presidential) retractable cloth roof. Finally there was a six door version of the Pullman designated W100.016. If that was not enough, there were special versions of these made to order, such as the Pope’s Landaulet which had a shortened chassis and lengthened rear doors, the regal versions of the long wheelbase cars with elevated rooves and finally a single short wheel base landaulet made for a special customer. There were so many options that it can be fairly said that no two 600’s are the same. In total, 2677 were made, 2190 saloons and 487 Pullman and Landaulets. Production of the 300SEL 6.3 ran from 1968 to 1972 with just the prototype made in 1967 and a total of 6526 cars made. Finally, the 450SEL 6.9 was made from 1975 until 1980 with 7380 units produced. That gave a total of 16583 vehicles of the three types worldwide on which to base a club.
How many of these cars still exist is unknown, but the Group’s historian, Paul von Schwartzenberg in Holland, has identified over 40% of the produced 600’s as currently existing with many fewer of the 6.3 and 6.9L cars on the register. Based on this small number of vehicles, an international club seemed a sensible idea.
The Group was initiated by John Olson of Minneapolis, Minnesota in the early 1990’s. John advertised in Hemming’s and similar publications and I saw the Hemming’s ad in 1992 and contacted John. He had started with 37 founding members in 1990, adding another 44 members in 1991 and 1992. After an initial four Newsletters, the Group publication was formalized as the Lode Star edition #5 in August 1992. The “guiding star” name was chosen by Don Abell of San Antonio Texas. The initial membership was all in the USA which was where the club had been founded and the vast majority of the cars had gone and been sold. The first board of directors comprised Don Abell, Otto Bohnenberger from Neustadt, Germany, Hyatt Cheek of Dallas Texas, John Olson, William Stewart of Fairfax Station, Virginia and Robert Supina of Friedswood Texas. They were elected in early 1993. By edition #6 in April 1993, the Lode Star included an article from Ron Cushway from England. Edition #7 from November 1993 contained photos and articles from Australia.
I had contacted all the Australian Clubs and the New Zealand Club to advise M100 owners of the existence of this international club and by edition #8 of the Lode Star in mid 1994, the Group roster had grown to 334 members, 66 with 600’s, 166 with 6.3’s and 102 with 6.9’s with over 35 members from Australia and New Zealand and a similar number from the UK. There were several Canadians and a Mexican. Ron Cushway had joined the board. The edition contained an article by me on my restoration of 6.3 #1702 and I had been added to the board of directors to represent the “Down Under” membership. A registry of the known chassis numbers with owners was included. Proposed club by laws were included.
By the first quarter of 1995, the By-laws had been approved the Group was looking at incorporation, Lode Star #9 contained further Australian articles and photos, including the cover photo. The Group held its first gathering in association with the NRMA meeting in Phoenix Arizona in May and those present included George Murphy who spoke about his 6.9 suspension pump repair kit and Neil Dubey who brought an exhibit of 6.3 components. By September 1996, Hyatt Cheek had been elected the first president of the Group. The Group held its first standalone convention at Neil Dubey’s Star Motors facility in Endicott New York in June 1998. The Lode Fest as it became known was co-hosted by Karl Middelhauve at his facility in Woxall Pennsylvania. Several members of the Group also attended the Techno Classica in Essen, Germany, a get-together which has continued over the ensuing years.
The first Lode Fest that I attended was in June 1999 at the same two facilities as the 1998 meet and the special guest was Erich Waxenberger, the father of the 6.3, who was accompanied by his wife. A tally of the cars present either in Endicott, Woxall or both was 35 600’s, 28 6.3’s and 5 6.9’s. US members had also continued to meet at the annual NRMA convention in May, but it was soon eclipsed totally by the standalone Lode Fest. In 2000, Hyatt Cheek stood down as president and Stu Hammel produced the first Lode Star with a coloured outer cover. Stu Hammel also assumed the presidency. Guests at the 2000 Lode Fest at Karl Middelhauve’s Woxall facility included Bruno Sacco, chief of design at Mercedes-Benz and Erich Waxenberger. The 2001 Lode Fest was hosted in Portland Oregon by Gerry van Zandt who had also taken over editorship of the Lode Star at edition #24. It included an article by John Olson advising that Ron Cushway from Loughton Essex had received the first Silver Star lifetime recognition award from MBCCCI, along with Robert Nitske. Erich Waxenberger was again guest of honour in Portland.
Subsequent history in brief.
Annual Lode Fests have been held in central California, St Louis, Charlston, the Classic Center in Irvine California (the M-100 Group were the first club to meet at the new facility), Minneapolis-St Paul, the Finger Lake district, Ford City Pennsylvania, Colorado Springs and other locations with various guests including Paul Bracq and Peter Schellhammer. In 2008, I ran a Down Under Rally for the Group which included the Indian Pacific auto-rail from Sydney to Adelaide, and a road trip from there to Melbourne via Mt Gambia and the Great Ocean Road, Echuca, the Alps, Canberra, the Blue Mountains and the Lamington Plateau. The 2015 Lode Fest was held in Savannah Georgia.
Several editors have followed including Karl Middelhauve, Brian Glusovich, Reed Hitchcock and Anthony Long from Sydney. The Lode Star has gone to glossy paper and full colour. While at its best it was published quarterly, that has not been regularly achieved. Sixty editions have been produced. I took over as president from Stu Hammel followed by Albert Plekker from Pennsylvania and currently Francis Abate from Colorado. Anthony Long from Sydney is vice president.
The Groups most used facility since the early 2000’s has been its website, currently www.m-100.co. This website includes a Message Board which is open to everyone. It contains a huge amount of information and allows owners to pose questions and report their experiences. It achieves a large number of hits on a daily basis. As I said above, Paul von Schwartzenberg maintains our registers. Membership secretary is Chris Lipscomb from New York and Australian membership is maintained by Anthony Long.
Edited by - Art Love on 01/30/2016 20:30:22