Retrofitting Headrests to a 230 SL

This component is part of Interior. The content has been provided by Larry in CA.

Content and pictures from will need to be added here.


As we all know many of our SL's were not equipped with head restraints. Such is the case with my 230SL.

I live in the so-called Silicon Valley where the traffic flow is intense no matter when you are on the road. This correlates with a high likelihood that I might one day be rear-ended by some lame-brained teenage girl fiddling with her cell phone. Probable result: debilitating whiplash neck injury. --- NO THANKS !

Therefore, my in-process interior refurbishment will incorporate adding the headrests to my seat backs.

There a several sites on the web that describe a procedure for retrofitting headrests into the seat-backs. However, most of them have poor photos and incomplete descriptions. A search of produced lots of results but not any specific work instructions. I will walk you through the steps of how I recently did it.

I was able to procure the four recievers and also the headrest assemblies quite simply, by just being patient and checking on eBay every couple of days. They did eventually turn up there. The necessary "notched" (later-style) seat back cushions are also easily found, but are kind of expensive when bought from a vendor. (US $110. to $180. each )

Near the top end of each receiver (or rail , as they are commonly called) is a 10 mm peg with a groove in it. The Mercedes design consisted of a keyhole slot in the sheet metal seat frame for the groove to engage as the peg slides down . No other retention method was used, other than the two sheet metal screws at the lower ends .

The usual retrofit would require cutting narrow precision width slots in thin heat treated steel while it is oil-canning. This is not an easy task even for someone like me who has an FAA Airframe license. There IS a better way.

Since the piece of sheet metal across the top of the seat back frame is too flimsy anyway, I first pop-riveted on an aluminium doubler plate (.035) to reinforce the area.

After a precise layout with the pieces assembled, I then drilled two 10mm through holes.

My method of attachment for the peg is to use an "e" clip. Before passing the peg up through the hole, I selected a thin grommet to shim up the height difference and provide a compressive type of fit for the e-clip to seat against.

An alternate method uses a crimp-able type retainer. The malleable C_clip from a brake shoe overhaul parts kit works quite handily.

The lower end of the rails is secured with s/m screws in the conventional M/B fashion. My upholstery shop is handling the installation of the new leather seat covers.

My finished product photo shows the new back cushion, the Maroon leather, and the C_clip detail.

I encourage everyone to consider this important safety enhancement.

Regards to all, Larry in CA