Author Topic: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox  (Read 6963 times)

DMen56

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ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« on: April 19, 2017, 13:30:29 »
Can anyone clue me up on W113 manual 5 speed ZF gearbox?
I believe these were a factory option and extremely rare. Ive been told only about 800 were made. Can anyone confirm?
During what period were they manufactured and was it for 230, 250, 280SL?
Finally, if i could find one, any idea what I'd have to pay for it??
Cheers
Dan

Rick

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Re: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2017, 14:37:40 »
Im sure you can get further replies on this subject.    The 5-speed was indeed rare.  I understand it was possible to find them in the 250SL and 280SL.  I don't believe they were installed in the 230SL.  These transmissions slow the engine down in the 20% range which is great on the highway.   The W113's were geared too low, in order to provide quicker takeoff from a stop, and as a result the engines spin too fast at highway speeds.  You will find some that will say the engines were designed to spin fast.  Probably true, but not for long periods.   I find that sedans which are taken care of properly with the M130 6 cylinder engines will commonly last 150 to 250K miles or even more.   I also find that often SL's with the same engine will often need extensive engine work in the 80K to 100K miles range.  I believe this is because they spin too fast for too long. Of course, there are variables here.

ZF did produce a batch of new 5-speeds in 2011 or 2012-  I think about 250 of them. These could be ordered from a Mercedes Benz dealer or a Mercedes Benz Classic center in a kit form to install in the W113.  The kit comes with most everythiing needed to install the ZF.  You had to shorten the shifter rods and the front driveshaft.  Initially these could be bought in the $9000 range.   I believe there are still some available but they are now in the $17,000 to $19,000 range.  This would be the most correct way to modify the car as it is a Mercedes factory supplied option.   I did install one of these during 2012 in my 4-speed manual transmission 1971 280SL.   It is really nice to put it into fifth gear and have the engine slow down and quiet down a lot.  Much nicer than the constant high revs I had before. The 5-speed does not shift as smooth as the 4 speed.  It feels stiffer during the shift, but not a problem.

There are other options to slow the engine that are a lot less expensive.   The cleanest, easiest and least expensive modification is to install a rear axle from certain sedans which are in the 3.27 ratio range rather than the SL 3.9 or 4.0 or so range. That does affect the performance from a stop, but I think that most do not find this to be a major issue.  There are also a couple of other 5 and 6-speed kits out there which can be installed also.   I think there is a company in Texas that can even supply either a 5 or 6-speed along with the parts and pedals you need to convert the car from automatic to manual. 
« Last Edit: April 19, 2017, 14:46:44 by Rick »

Benz Dr.

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Re: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2017, 16:17:26 »
230SL's had 5 speed transmissions installed - I have one. Build dates start somewhere around May or June of 1966 and ran through production until June 1969 when the late model 280SL engine was introduced to the US market. Rather than designing the switch gear used to shut off the IP on the 5 speed for what would have been a handful of cars, they discontinued the option for NA. I believe you could special order from the factory after June 1969 until end of production but it was only for Euro cars so I don't think many were built.
1966 230SL 5 speed, LSD, header pipes, 300SE distributor, ported, polished and balanced, AKA  ''The Red Rocket ''
Dan Caron's SL Barn

mbzse

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Re: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2017, 09:23:24 »
Quote from: DMen56
Can anyone clue me up on W113 manual 5 speed ZF gearbox?
Some ZF S5-20 info in this thread:
https://www.sl113.org/forums/index.php?topic=15543.0
/Hans S

Garry

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Re: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2017, 12:28:34 »
Just so you have an idea of the difficulty in getting a ZF 5 speed gearbox,  I searched Australia for 3 years looking for one, and then spent two years searching world wide.  I found one in Sydney, or thought I had but the guy was so elusive that I now suspect he did not have it.Never did find an original one that anyone would part with under $10,000 USD and that was now 7 years ago  I then heard about the 250 that ZF were going to build and put my name down for one.  It cost 8000 Euro I think at the time. I fitted a Getrag 5 speed in the interim whilst waiting.  The ZF was delivered a year later.  I kept it in a box and sold it with my ’69 280SL that was data carded with one but missing it and I spoke to the current owner who has recently fitted it to the car.  I believe there are a couple still floating around but are now at least double the price. ZF will not be making any more in the foreseeable future as far as I understand.

Bottom line is, unless your car was data carded with a 5 speed, then the cost to get a ZF will not justify fitting it if you are hoping to get the return at a later date.  The better solution in that case would be a Getrag 5 speed, its a better box anyway keeping your original 4 speed gearbox for future selling with the car.

That is just my opinion and experience with all the three different manual gear boxes.

Garry
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 21:27:40 by Garry »
Garry Marks
Melbourne/ Kyneton, Australia.
1969 MB 280SL 5 speed RHD SOLD.
1965 MB 230SL Auto RHD Lt Blue 334G, Top 350H, 213 Leather, Tourist Delivery.
1972 MB 280CE Auto RHD 906G Blue Grey
2005 MB A200.
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Tyler S

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1968 (67) 250sl. 4 speed manual. DB180 Silver
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Rick

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Re: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2017, 18:00:01 »
it would be interesting to see if the Classic Center still has these available. I know they did for some time.

RoyB

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Re: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2017, 20:35:41 »
This may be a suitable option.

http://www.egmcartech.com/parts/NEW-6-Speed-Manual-Transmission-Gearbox-for-Mercedes-230SL-250SL-280SL-Pagoda-_161982145279.html

If anyone knows about this company or have an experience with this transmission, we would like to hear about it.

66andBlue

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Re: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2017, 23:48:12 »
Contact the "Mafia" in New South Wales  ;) ;D
https://www.sl113.org/forums/index.php?topic=23594
Alfred
1964 230SL manual 4-speed 568H signal red
1966 230SL automatic 334G light blue (sold)
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Dale

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Re: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2017, 16:18:40 »
    I agree with Garry's comments. I replaced my factory 4 speed with a Getrag 5 some time ago. Transformed the car for me, and it can go back to original 4 speed, as I kept all the stock parts.
   Cheers,   Dale.
1971 280 SL Five Speed (Getrag) Tobacco/Cognac.
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Scottcorvette

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Re: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2017, 18:02:09 »
What is the cost of the 6 speed kit?

Cees Klumper

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Re: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2017, 05:48:37 »
The one in the link from RoyB is $7K including everything to do the conversion. They also list an option to convert from automatic to this 6-speed for an additional $1,500.
Cees Klumper
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Degbad

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Re: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2017, 13:34:10 »
I am new to this site, my apologies in advance. I have swapped out my 250SL rear end for a 3.69 gear set, but am looking for a 5 or 6 speed gearbox conversion. ZF is out of my pay grade, the Getrag or Tremec T5 solutions might work where do go to get the kit and gearbox.( for eg a refreshed Tremec T5 box is about $1k how come the kits are $5, 6, 7k ?. My MGA conversion was $2.5k all in). What is this 6 speed offering from egmcartech.com, who makes that box?

Benz Dr.

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Re: ZF 5 speed manual gearbox
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2017, 04:27:25 »
A six speed would be over kill with a 3.69 diff.
1966 230SL 5 speed, LSD, header pipes, 300SE distributor, ported, polished and balanced, AKA  ''The Red Rocket ''
Dan Caron's SL Barn