By on November 8, 2016


manual transmission. Shutterstock user alexkich

Jack writes:

I have a W203 Mercedes-Benz C 230K/1.8L. Would a rear-drive GM DOHC 3.4-liter V6 with a turbo make the 300-plus horsepower I think this car needs? Would an LS V8 fit? Would a 392 Dodge Hemi fit? Unless AMG, even the Mercedes-Benz V12 is only 5.0-liters. My car has the six-speed found in manual transmission Camaros.



Sajeev answers:

ZOMG those came with a T-56? Why would the dark ages of Mercedes’ engineering implement a gearbox so totally overbuilt for a W203?  That’s totally not possible. I think you have this unit, and with that in mind, sell it and get a C55

Look I get it: this is a non-stereotypical performance car with a factory manual transmission. As the years go by this’ll be like a frickin’ 1969 Camaro to all the autopilot-driving conspiracy theorists that loathe our (their?) fantastic future. But even if you had a T-56 in that wee beastie, odds are the bellhousing wouldn’t fit an LS.  Or any other high power engine available outside of Affalterbach.

Not to totally kill your vibe, here’s a quick video of a friend’s E55 AMG powertrain swap.

And it took him years to get all the Mercedes parts talking with each other! So interfacing with Mercedes’ CAN bus electrical system with non-factory parts? Oh hell no, son, ain’t nobody dumb enough to do so much work for such a useless vehicle.  I mean, you really have to be touched in the head to tackle such a project.

(Looks back at his idiotic project car and the current hurdle of getting modern Hella H4/H1 lights installed.)

Sajeev Mehta 1983 Continental Valentino Restomod Hella Headlights, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Misery enjoys company. You go right ahead and do an LS swap, including the T-56. Disconnect any warning lights that come with possible CAN bus rejection. When complete, it’ll make more sense than my restomod.

[Images: Lead image: Shutterstock user alexkich. Body image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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33 Comments on “Piston Slap: But, But, But…It Has a Stick!...”

  • avatar

    Oh, and the MB V12s are either 5.5L or 6.0L, not 5.0L.

  • avatar

    I remember looking at these (specifically, a C230K) and almost buying one. Congratulations, I’m envious: I always liked these cars.

    Depending on the engine, hop-up parts are somewhat hard to find, but I recall Kleeman had a few options for it, including, at the simplest, the C230K’s supercharger (pulley, ECU, intake). You probably won’t get as much as 300hp without some expense, but you’ll get stuff that’s supported, tested and won’t be nearly as expensive or time-consuming.

  • avatar

    If Touge Factory can install a 561 HP LSX + T56 in a 2010 RX-8 and keep the electric steering rack, ABS and stock gauge cluster (working perfectly with no warning lights), I’m sure that JKD’s dream is achievable.

    I’ve seen this beast in-person and rode shotgun on one of Jason Saini’s autocross runs and I can tell you it is a BEAST and perfectly executed. You wouldn’t know it didn’t have a Renesis in it until you lifted the hood or started the engine.

    That said, it’s going to cost a LOT of money.

  • avatar

    There comes a point where just buying another car becomes the more sensible option.

    I’ve wanted to engine swap my old Toyota T100 – a small block would have woken that truck right up – or put in a later Honda 3.0L V6 into my ’01 Accord, or an SR20DET into my ’97 Altima. But I gave up those dreams due to the complexity of sourcing the parts, the custom exhaust work needed, the transmission issues, and not to mention the strength of the rest of the drivetrain components. And at the end of it all, you could have a car that perfectly difficult to drive.

    Old story here: But back in the early aughts, I took a ’86 Monte Carlo SS with the weak 305 and replaced it with a stout 355 (vortec heads, ZZ4 roller cam, intake, etc) with headers. And I also had to replace the 200-4R transmission since the old transmission was about to go, and I also had little faith that a stock one could handle double the horsepower as before.

    It was a pretty fast car when I was done. But… the brakes weren’t enough for the new engine. Nor was the suspension. The car always felt like it was going to break loose on barely damp pavement. During a rainstorm that car become a real white-knuckler. And I always feared that the weak 7.5″ rear was about to let go with all the additional power. In the end I wish I had built a weaker 350, or just stuck with the 305 and kept the car as a cruiser.

    Long story short – look at the car as a whole system, budget accordingly.

  • avatar

    that question sounds like it was written by a 14-year-old.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. And it breaks with any sense of accessibility to a reader who’s not well-informed on platform codes and engine types. It’s also very evident that he’s got little idea what he’s talking about.

  • avatar

    If you love it as much as Mehta loves his Lincoln/Mercurys – go ahead and make it a project car.

    With enough cubic dollars anything can be modified.

  • avatar

    It’s usually a bad idea to spend tons of money and time on the worst C-Class generation ever.

  • avatar

    “Would a rear-drive GM DOHC 3.4-liter V6 with a turbo”


  • avatar

    Pretty soon you’ll have a $15,000 dollar Mercedes worth $1,500.

    • 0 avatar

      $15k if you are lucky. It could be double that.

    • 0 avatar

      You mean there’s a W203 that’s currently worth more than $1500? That sounds dubious. It’s a bad sign when there are ~10 year old Benzes with Mazda-grade rust.

      • 0 avatar

        You mean there’s a W203 that’s currently worth more than $1500? That sounds dubious. It’s a bad sign when there are ~10 year old Benzes with Mazda-grade rust.

        I think he means that you've spent $15k on the car (or double that) and the cars is _still_ only worth $1500.

        If you're spending $30k, then clearly there are a lot of cars you could just buy and drive that will offer power and prestige (and probably a much better transmission). For example, a used 335i or S4.

        I hope you don't live in California, because you'll never get that thing street legal.

  • avatar

    If you’re looking at creating a real sleeper, an easier, and far cheaper alternative is to buy a C55 and swap the C230 badges across.

    Maybe take a plug lead off and run it low on oil so it sounds like a diesel.

  • avatar

    I have been trying to find out what transmission the Mercedes manual is. There are some rumblings online about it being a Getrag unit, but nothing confirming that. It’s apparently really week no matter who makes it. If it is a Getrag, the question becomes if the bell housing or internals could be swapped with another unit.

    Either way the OP is in over his head.

    • 0 avatar

      The only really nice Mercedes manual I’ve driven was the “close ratio” unit from a 190E 2.3-16v. I think that transmission was an option in other Mercedes of the 1980s, but that was the only car in which it came to the USA. BTW, I had a 1986 300E with the regular manual transmission; more fun to drive than the automatic, but it certainly wasn’t a great manual transmission.

  • avatar

    If you’re serious, buy a good running ’02 manual Z28 Camaro (LS1), use the entire GM wire loom, ECM, emissions, etc, and graft in the GM gauges/instruments, splice in the Mercedes HVAC, and upgrade the diff, drive shaft and suspension to AMG or equivalent.

    Or just get the damn AMG car.

  • avatar

    Almost any engine will fit in any car if you’ve got enough money and time.

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