1936 Mercedes Marlene

Chicagoland Replicar Association members Rich & Tracy Mcdonald

This car is still in the final stages. See pictures below, and follow though the entire process.

The project started in 2005 with the purchase of a 1936 Mercedes Marlene by Classic Roadsters. Without a quality kit to start with I don't believe many of the modifications that were attempted would have been possible. Before attempting any modifications on a vehicle each person should take their own skill level into careful consideration. Please see disclaimer at bottom of page.

Engine & Transmission

A Chevy 305 with a 700R4 transmission was selected as the drive-train for the car. The engine and transmission were fully rebuilt. See photos below. The frame was modified to accept a V8 by removing the front center supports (seen in the above right photo) and re-welding additional side supporting braces. The front side panel/fender mounts were also shortened and moved forward 3 inches to allow room for a power steering pump and steering linkage changes. Custom motor and trans mounts were also made to locate the engine precisely where it was needed. Additional supports were also fitted to the floor pan for the trans mount. The original firewall was removed and a new firewall with no factory holes was re-welded to the frame. This allowed for cleaner firewall, slight tunnel widening, steering, master cylinder booster, and blower motor changes that we needed.

Engine installed onto frame

Below is the engine installed onto the frame. Beyond the normal rebuilding parts, rings, bearings, oil pump, etc, a Edelbrock 2102 Performer-Plus Cam and Lifter kit was installed along with a new matching timing gear set. The Edelbrock Endurashine manifold, and Edelbrock low profile valve covers were used. A Holley Street Avenger 570CFM with vacuum secondarys and electric choke was chosen for the carburetor. To keep things clean and simple I replaced the 7 pin module on the distributor with the 5 pin type. With the engine space still tight I opted to use a short water pump over the original long one saving another 1 3/8".  The timing marks were then relocated as they were blocked by the new water pump. Another note here is because of the added weight of the larger engine and the larger wheels and tires I planned on using I did not cut the front springs to the spec in the manual. Only 2/3 of a turn was removed. The original steering mounting blocks on the frame were also relocated to accommodate space for the exhaust. 

Serpentine, Power steering, Alternator, AC Compressor

The old v belt system was replaced with a new serpentine system from March Performance Pulleys. March kit 20735 for a small block Chevy with inward mount, AC & alternator, reverse rotation short water pump, and power steering was used. This allowed space for the addition of the power steering pump, and the new AC compressor within the tight engine compartment. This March kit presented a few challenges with the 305 that was used. I believe the Saginaw press fit PS pumps first came out on the 1986 305s so a new PS pump was needed, along with a new short reverse rotation water pump. The head design also was modified slightly between 84 and 86 so a change to the AC compressor mount was also needed. I would recommend a new crate for any future builds. The pictures below show the new serpentine system, and aluminum radiator with the air conditioner condenser mounted.


Fiberglass work and changes to body panels

I believe a change was made to every body panel except maybe the doors. We were trying to bring the car a little closer to the original 500K working through different manuals, books, and pictures. First I cut off the tail light mounts (left pic) protruding out of the rear fenders. Then we fiber glassed the front fenders to the running boards (right pic) to produce one long flowing fender.


On the front of the front fenders we filled the headlight bar mounting divots (left pic). More on the custom headlight bar later. On the rear deck (right pic) the reverse light protrusions were removed, a custom sunken gas filler was added, and the recess for the tail of the trunk lid was also filled in.

The next photo (left pic) shows the modifications to the trunk lid, where you can see the wing and tail removed. The next photo (right pic) shows the crank plate. Instead of the bolt through assembly, we opted again to try to bring it back closer to the original and built on side lips to the crank plate, and both front fenders. This allowed for a very clean looking front end.

The next two pictures show the left and right side panels and where we cut out for side vents. The upper cutouts contained ribs from the factory which added stability to the panels. The panels were re-strengthen  with 1/4 angle in the center and a frame was also built around the top, left and right side of the left panel to add additional strength for the hood latch. On the right panel steel was added for the side pipe supports.

Again trying to bring the car closer to the original design we have to move the drivers wiper mount on the cowl. The wiper mounts were originally setup as they are on all cars now days, with the wipers both swinging from left to right or right to left. We needed an opposing swing on the wipers so the drivers mount was moved. More on the modifications made to the wiper assembly later. The picture on the left shows the original setup, the right picture shows the mount cut out of the cowl. The two photos below that show the cowl with the mount moved to its new location.

The next two pictures are additions to the underside of the rear deck. The picture on the left shows the brackets that we made to support the trunk lid struts. These were made out of leftover aluminum stock from the radiator shroud. In the right pic you can see the supports glassed in place, the power trunk lock, the reverse light changes, and the under-side of the gas filler modification.

The last picture shows just some of the cutouts removed from the body. Not shown is the modifications made to the hood so the hinges did not need to bolt through the outside. The rear wheel wells were also modified to accept the taller tires and realign the axel center with the wells. All fender edges were also rounded for a smooth even finish look and feel.

Wiper modifications

Below are pictures of the modified wiper assembly. We started with a VW wiper setup and used the motor, pivot arms, and arm ends. The wiper assembly frame and arms were remade to the new specifications. In the right photo you can see the left (drivers) pivot arm at its closets point to the motor and the right (passenger) at its furthest point giving us the setup needed. The key here we found is to either have the motor in the center or the motor and pivot arms in a straight line. Unfortunately neither were an option in my setup because of other obstruction under the dash.

Turn signal modifications

The photo below on the left shows the front turn signals we used. These were closer to the original 36 style marker lights (mounted to the body with a white or clear lens) so the factory supplied front turn signals were not used. Along the top of the photo it shows the original setup of these lights. We did not want the boots or wires protruding from underneath the fenders so we redesigned the signals so the bulb was running within the enclosure and used a yellow bulb inside as shown in the lower portion of the photo is the redesign. The right photo shows the tail lights. Again closer to the original 36 we were able to find two oval lights to use. The taillights from the factory were not used. New taillight standoffs were made from flexible steel tubing (the same as used on the exhausts). Wood molds were made to enable us to bend the tubing into the oval shape and curve needed without kinking or crushing the tubing.  14 gauge steel  was then welded to each end to provide flat mounting surfaces. Both standoffs were then completely fiber glassed to give it a smooth finish. The lights we purchased needed to be modified and the divider on the left side of the photo was not used.

Headlight bar and Horns

The new headlight bar started out as a 29 Ford dropped, polished stainless steel.  This had the proper original curve and enough length to complete the modifications needed. The drops were cut off and are shown in the upper portion of the left photo. The center and ends were re-welded and then stainless bolts were also welded to the top side of the assemble, the entire assembly was then re-ground and re-polished. The lower tubes in the left photo are the cut offs from shortening the new horns. We insured when ordering the horns that they were all stainless steel so the modifications needed could be completed. We then ordered stainless elbows and welded them onto the new shortened trumpets. The horns were then mounted to the headlight bar as on the original 36.


A new dashboard was made for a six gauge set instead of the original five. The light switch and turn signal indicators were moved inward and heat/air louvers were added. The top of the cowl where it wraps the dash was cut back to add additional room, the gauges moved upward, and the bottom of the new dash was lowered to accept a radio, and heat and air controls The glove box was made slightly larger, and engraving was added to the door. Stain for the dash was then selected to match the mahogany steering wheel.


Two new stainless steel  bumper blanks were used to manufacture the bumpers. Both blanks were originally made for the rear of a 1932 Chevrolet. The left photo shows the stainless blanks before any modifications. The right photo shows the rear bumper after re-forming and polishing. The two following photos show the front and rear bumpers after re-forming.  Wooden forms and a press were used for bending. Next year I plan to cut the front bumper into three pieces and recess the center as on the original 36.


Although seats came with the kit, they did not offer the features, style, and color we were looking for.  The requirements we were looking for in seats were. A. Buckets B. flip forward and reclining C. 6 way power and controls self contained within the seats. The width of the seats we selected needed to be taken  in two inches. The left photo shows the seats before any modifications. The right photo shows one of the seat bottoms and seat back frames after removing two inches out of the centers. More to follow on the seats in the coming weeks.


Next: More on the seat modifications, Detailing of the trunk, wiring, interior, final accessories list.

Follow the build and comments in the weeks ahead.

Also visit us at www.1936Mercedes.com

Last updated 6/12/10

Disclaimer: Before attempting any modifications on a vehicle each person should take their own skill level into careful consideration. We offer no warrantee guarantee, recommendations, etc and only show how we accomplished our changes. Any modification you decide to undertake are your responsibility.


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