I had previously replaced the front speakers in my 1987 560SEC. Now it was time to look at the rears. As I outlined in the article about the front speakers, I am replacing the W126 Rear speakers with Crunch 16.5cm speakers. These speakers should fit into the factory brackets and underneath the factory grilles.
Changing the rears in the second generation W126 is a bit more of a fiddly job. For starters the factory grilles are now very brittle. Not only are they over 35 years old, but the Australian sun is not kind to plastics. It is quite common for them to break when removed. The best way to ensure this does not happen is to remove the seats first. The grilles have to slide towards the front of the car, and the top of the rear seat is in the way of that.
Despite having owned three 560SEC’s in my life, I had never removed the rear seat. I assumed it was like the C107 or W111 coupe, where getting the rear seat out is like wrestling with a gorilla. However, that is not the case in the SEC. The left and right sections are removed separately, making it quite easy to get them out. As with the saloon, the bottom cushion is removed by pressing the red tabs, and then the backrest lifts off ‘hooks’. It took me a matter of minutes to get the seats out.
While they were out, it was a good opportunity to clean them and apply leather conditioner. While I regularly clean and condition the seats in the car, it was amazing how much better a job I could do having them out. It was almost worth doing this job just to force me to remove the seats and clean them.
Once the seats were out, the speaker grilles could be removed. They slide towards the front of the car. It is vital to be very gentle with them. There are various hooks that are easily broken off. The hardest one to get out is actually the front one. Normally what happens is that it also pulls out its receptacle from the parcel shelf.
Once I got the grilles out, I was shocked to find that the car still had the original factory speakers. Still with the original MB part number on them, made in West Germany. They sounded better than the more modern Pioneers I removed from the front. It seems incredible that somebody would go to the trouble of rewiring the car for the speakers, fit new front speakers, fit a new head unit and leave the old Rear Speakers alone. As the car had been rewired to remove the fader, the becker plus were no longer there.
The series 1 W126 had the same size speakers front and rear. To fit larger speakers in the series 2 cars, the factory came up with these angled brackets to fit a 16.5cm speaker. The brackets are held in with two screws towards the front of the car. Once those are out, the unit pulls towards the front of the car and can be lifted out.
The factory speakers are glued to that bracket. Given their age, its fairly easy to pry them off the brackets with a screwdriver. Instead of gluing my new W126 rear speakers on, I used double sided tape.
The Crunch speakers fit perfectly in the brackets. The speaker is actually deeper than the bracket, but that is ok, as there is a hole in the rear parcel shelf for them to protrude through.
Once mounted, the Crunch speakers are slightly taller than the old factory ones were. They still fit into the hole in the parcel shelf and the factory cover still fits on there quite well.
In the picture above, you’ll see the square hole in the parcel sheft to the front of the speaker. A receptacle for one of the hooks in the speaker grille goes in there. In both cases for me, the receptacle came off with the grille. It is much easier to fit the grille if you remove the receptacle from the grille and put it back where it goes. I found this out when doing the second speaker.
But before I put the grilles on I tested the quality of the sound, and I was happy with it. Its not perfect, but its a huge improvement on what I had before. I feel like I have a system that looks like a factory setup, but sounds better. I also have much nicer and cleaner rear seats. I’ll have a long road trip to decide how good this system really is.
In testing the setup, It also sounds heaps better if the EQ function on the iPhone is disabled.
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