Like anyone, I love rare and interesting colors. So when I saw this 1983 Mercedes-Benz 380SL in the great China Blue, I just had to take a closer look. Upon taking that closer look, things got even better when I found out this car was a federalized European specification car. From there, it got even more interesting, but maybe not for the best…
Engine: 3.8 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 158,800 km (98,673 mi)
Price: Reserve Auction
VIN Number: WDB10704512000498
498th 380SL off the assembly line
Ultra rare factory optioned China blue paint (color code 934)
True grey market import european version
Owned by German Mechanic and maintained to highest standard
158,800 Kilometers (About 98,700 miles)
Functioning Vacuum headlight adjustments and working clock on the gauge cluster
Dry, Rust free, Accident free Car
$8,000 spent in professional rebuild of a Mercedes 420 engine with the original euro 380 heads (the 380 heads have bigger valves and mechanical idle system with no idle computer.) This solves the 380s issue of being underpowered. It is now very responsive, yet still nimble and light. Giving the car 215HP vs 185HP (380SL). Just as powerful as the 500SL. The car was previously owned by German Auto in Phoenix, the largest independent Mercedes mechanic shop west of the Mississippi. The shop owner personally rebuilt the engine and spared no expense. This car has power!!!!
$25,000 in records dating back to 1983 when it was sold new in Scottsdale, AZ by Young Motorcars. Original loan documents, purchasing agreement, and sale documents included along with the other stack of records. Over $3000 in work in 2017 alone.
Ice cold AC
New kenwood head unit
Clean Arizona Title
Located in San Diego, CA
Overall this is an amazing car.
Now that we are just about done drooling over Craig’s new 300SE, it’s time to take a look at another W126. This 1985 380SE for sale in Kentucky offers up another shade of blue on the S-Class, the darker Nautical Blue Metallic. This one also has two extra cylinders with the M116 3.8 liter V8. Fortunately for everyone, this Gen 1 W126 has been highly cared for and shows only a hair over 45,000 miles. But are you willing to pay the price?
Engine: 3.8 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 45,100 mi
“ONE OWNER! Garage kept Only 45k Original Miles! Owner invested $6400 in upgrades recently…you will NOT find this year and mileage anywhere on the internet. Near perfect condition! Very Very minor paint chips…almost cannot see them. Trunk appears to have never been used. Leather is perfect and the overall interior is pristine. This is a one of a kind car and there is NOT anything like it on the entire internet for this year, make, and model. No fading in paint and the tires are newer. Chrome has no blemishes. Just a beautiful car. Mechanically it runs and drives like new. You will not be disappointed.”
From 1980 to 1985, the 380SE was sold along side the 380SEL, 500SEL and of course the diesel 300SD in the US. In 1984, the M116 in the 380SE/L was upgraded to a dual-row timing chain to fix chain failure issues that the earlier engines suffered from. The dual-row 380SE/L only lasted until 1985 until it was replaced by the 4.2 liter V8 M117 that birthed the 420SE/L that carried on until the end of W126 production. This being a 1985 car, it’s a far more desirable car in the eyes of enthusiasts and anyone who just wants to maintain these cars to go forever.…
I have an itch to buy a W126. Yesterday I test drove a 420SEL that popped up for sale on my local Craigslist (not today’s car – we’ll get to that in a moment). The one I drove was offered at a fair price and when I noticed that it was parked only a few blocks away from my house, I felt obliged to take a look. I had never driven an SEL before. Here are my first impressions: 1. They really are huge. The hood alone seemed to stretch out for miles in front of me. I dreaded to think how far back the trunk extended. “What a nightmare this must be to park in the city,” I thought to myself, as I delicately threaded the car through DC morning traffic. 2. They look glorious in person, even when a bit dinged up, as this one was. 3. When you push down on the throttle you don’t so much surge forward, as waft gently toward the horizon on a magic carpet of dignified torque. Despite being smitten with the car I let it go in the end, concluding that, with snow and ice season just around the corner, I couldn’t justify picking up a RWD, nose-heavy V8 as a daily driver. But I did spend the afternoon gazing wistfully at other 420s for sale on the internet. That’s how I stumbled across this lovely, low mileage example for sale in Florida.
The W126 coupe has always been pretty popular and for good reason. It’s well-built, reliable, has classic looks and can eat up the miles effortlessly. Back when the getting was good in the 1980s, the C126 was so popular that many gray market cars made their way to the US before Mercedes put an end to that. This car for sale in Miami is just that. A grey market car that made its way to America and was probably used by someone who had a strong resemblance to Sonny Crockett or Rico Tubbs because a Testarossa was really expensive. Now that it’s 2016 and 1980s fashion is a popular Halloween costume, the value and collectability of cars like today’s is in sort of in limbo. So let’s try to break down the desirability of this golden coupe.
Last week I took a look at Kermit’s convertible – a early production run R107 450SL that was all green. Today’s 1981 380SLC represents the end of the run – but not for the 107 chassis in its entirety. As Mercedes-Benz moved to the new W126 chassis, it moved the big, personal coupe from the SLC to the SEC in 1982 and 1981 was the last year of C107 production. By the end of the run, there had been some changes to the lineup. Gone was the 4.5 liter M117, replaced by the smaller displacement M116 3.8 liter V8. With a single-row timing chain which proved problematic and low compression generating only 155 horsepower, they might just be the least desirable Mercedes-Benz V8. The later U.S. cars also enjoyed the added weight both physically and visually of the DOT-mandated 5 m.p.h. safety bumpers. It was as if Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron were playing out with automotive subjects. But there are a few reasons to like this SLC. Like the early 450SL I covered a bit over a week ago, today’s 380SLC comes to market looking like it could be Kermit’s personal luxury sports coupe:
The W111 coupe is a hell of a design. But it’s one thing just to be a good design. Lots of cars over the years have looked great but when it comes to putting the rubber to the road, well, it’s better off sitting quietly in the Denny’s parking lot on Friday night ‘Cruise Nights’ in small town, USA. Not true of the W111 coupe, and especially not the 3.5. Launched in 1970 to wrap up production of the W111 and make way for the R107/C107, the 280SE 3.5 coupe was the 230 horsepower V8 version to the regular 280SE with the straight-6 M130. Strikingly handsome in almost any color combo, 3.5 coupe values have more than doubled in the last few years. This 1970 located in New York City checks all the boxes if you are looking for the almost perfect classic Mercedes coupe.
Having recently written up a number of performance oriented vehicles I thought it might be a good idea to switch it up and do something different. I’ve had my eye on this super cruiser down in Naples, FL for some time now and honestly I’m surprised that it hasn’t sold already. The W126 is an absolutely timeless chassis, an 80s icon known around the world for its luxuriousness and durability. This example is finished in rare Glacier White paint over Dove Grey leather which cranks the Euro luxo-barge vibe up to 11. Personally I love it, more often than not you see these in black or grey, both of which are handsome but I much prefer this look.
This being an ’85, it represents the end of the first cycle of the W126 run in the States. The 3.8L V8 isn’t the most exciting power plant fitted to chassis, I’d have to give that honor to the M117 5.6L V8 found in the 560 SE that we didn’t get. Still, it is a capable motor that was able to move the hefty 380 SE up to a comfortable cruising speed with ease and isn’t that really the purpose of a car such as this? In a way I enjoy the fact that this was the only choice for U.S. buyers who wanted more performance than the 300 SD offered with its oil burning inline 5. Made things simple, you either got a diesel W126 because you truly didn’t need the power or you got a gas W126 because you did. Sure a whole lot of people snapped up grey market W126 cars during the 80’s and enthusiasts of my generation have benefited from the availability of federalized 500 SE and 560 SE models but clean ones are few and far between.…
There’s just something about the W126 coupe that I find captivating. It’s not the most attractive Mercedes-Benz ever made, but the combination of the large body with the sweeping roof lines somehow works just perfectly. There were quite a few of these coupes made in several different configurations, and we’ve featured just about all of them. The last one I wrote up was the most rare; The 420SEC European model that officially never came to the U.S.. But while we’ve seen our fair share of 500 grey market imports and the “normal” 560SEC, it’s easy to forget it all started in the U.S. with the smaller motored 380SEC. Only around 11,000 of these early models were built; about 1/3 of the production of each the 500 or 560 models. A few decades on, they’re fairly rare to see but still a treat:
The W126 is still considered by many to be the pinnacle of Mercedes-Benz’s combination of luxury, style, affordability and longevity, and it’s no wonder why. It was a huge sales success when new and the stout over-engineered design means that today there are plenty that are still available in good shape. It’s pretty amazing, actually – it’s quite rare to see a good condition E23 or C2/3 Audi in good shape today, but it’s almost rare to find SELs and SECs in poor shape. But at least on these shores, most of the later examples are the big-engine 5.6 V8 U.S. models – while there are some early 5.0 European market cars that were imported, it’s rare to see the later cars on this shore. That’s especially true of one of the lowest production number variants of the W126 – the 420SEC. With only around 3,600 total produced, they’re a fairly rare sight anywhere:
UPDATE 2: The car has been relisted with a lower AU $10,000 price, apx. $10,300 U.S..
Here is one of the more odd advertisements we’ve come across of late.
The ad is for a 1967 Mercedes 300SEL that appears to have the 3.5 liter V8 underhood. While we have spoken of the goodness of the 3.5 liter Mercedes V8 in the past, that engine was not available in 1967.
Model: 300SEL 3.5
Engine: 3.5 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
What is utterly unexplainable is why a seller, with what appears to be a pretty unique car, advertises it as a factory test car, as opposed to an early model with a privateer engine swap, but then provides zero documentation and one of the lamest ad descriptions we’ve seen in awhile. The ad is all of one sentence long about the car.
The only thing I can think of is that the seller has a buyer lined up already that has done the research, but wants/needs to sell through eBay for some added protection either as a seller as a buyer. Obviously all car ads don’t have to cater to those who are curious, but boy if you advertise a test car don’t just tantalize us like this.
The car is in Australia and as such is a right hand drive model. It sure looks pretty. If any of our readers out there have more info or documentation on the car or explanation of the remarkably thin advertisement description please post it in the comments.
The mileage isn’t given ask price is $15,600.
Update: It looks like the guys over at the M-100 Group, which has a strong Australian contingent, are on the case to get some docs.…