Project 107 SL: Heart of a Samurai

Project 107 SL: Heart of a Samurai

It’s not everyday that you see project builds online. I mean, yeah, we normally see the final result of these builds but how often do we actually see the project in the very early stages of a build? Since I started this automotive photography journey in Japan, I have always wanted to try and find a project build that I could take pictures of during its early stages and track it all the way till completion. So, when the owner of this 1989 Mercedes 107 SL asked me to take pictures of his project car, I was more than eager to do so.
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We met just outside this wrecking services building on the outskirts of Tokyo, which made me a little anxious to see the Mercedes and what condition it was actually in. I had not seen any pictures of the car prior to arrival and if I was to judge the car based on some of the cars I saw inside this building, I guessed this was in the VERY early stages of the build.
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We rounded the corner, and hidden behind a couple of flatbed tow trucks lied the Mercedes 107 SL.
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This was exactly what I had in mind when I wanted to do a feature on a project car in its beginning stages. Parts could be found everywhere and the car was resting on jack stands in the corner of this little shop. It was definitely not a ‘pro restoration’ shop but a very local shop just big enough for the project. So Japan.
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The man behind this entire build is simply called ‘the Samurai’. Due to his passion and somewhat crazy builds he has done in the past (trust me on this one.. you would have to see some of the pictures he showed me), they say that it is his warrior spirit coming out and helping him building these cars. Thus, giving the Mercedes a heart of a Samurai.
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We could also take this idea of a Samurai (Japanese), and ‘a heart’ (engine) and take a wild guess what kind of power plant we could find in this 107 SL. That’s right, a Japanese engine has found it’s way into this Mercedes. A Mark X V6 4GR to be exact.
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I asked why they had decided to go with the Mark X power plant instead of something more traditional such as a 1UZ or 2JZ swap. Basically, reliability was the main concern of this project. The owner doesn’t want to worry about things breaking on the engine so using a relatively brand new, recently built engine, was the best way to go
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Even though the Mark X has a very reliable engine, there are still some major complications in preforming the swap. The Mercedes was originally (and still is) a left handed car which means a wire harness designed for a left handed car. The Mark X, being a newer Japanese vehicle, is a right handed car, which means a wire harness designed for a right hand car.
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Thus the mix match in wire harnesses causes a lot of trouble, and delaying the completion schedule..
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The Toyota Mark X didn’t only donate its heart, but also parts of its soul in the form of its transmission
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Interior trim pieces such as the AC/ Heater dashboard ducting
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And the digital dash ofcourse.
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The rest remains original Mercedes parts to make sure the car passes Shaken. The beautiful leather interior
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The original size rotors ( they might be upgraded as the project progresses) and brakes
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And the shuspension will remain OEM specs.
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However, some new creature comforts have been added such as the trunk and gas opener. I know it sounds pretty basic but the original setup required the key to open both the trunk and gas opener.
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A rear camera has also been added to help you park in the these incredibly tight spaces in Tokyo
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There is only so many pictures you can take of a project car that can’t technically move, so we wrapped it up, left the Samurai to continue his work on the SL, and headed back for home.
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I can’t wait to see what the finished results will look like. Also, let us know what you think. Would you like us to find more project cars in Japan?

About Celestine Photography

Traveling automotive photographer that is currently living in Shinjuku, Japan (新宿、日本). I some times go by the name Rurounin Photographer where 'Rurouni' comes from the fact that I tend to be a wonder and never know where I'll end up, but that's the adventure in it.

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