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Old 08-12-2002, 10:35 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,315
1981 - 1985 380 Engine Swap for 380SL

Having decided that I am a fixer, not a restorer, I have acquired yet another orphan. A 1981 US 380SL with a very sick engine. Huge clouds of blue smoke, noticeable miss and a "chuffing" sound, all of which make me think it has a hole in a piston or some other cataclysmic problem. Very complete and original.

As luck would have it, I was able to score a decent 1985 380SEC engine on e-Bay. It is complete except for the fuel distributor, and needs new cams.

My plan is to use the '85 engine, keep the heads on it, replace the cams, and use the fuel distributor from the '81, plus all the emissions stuff, AC, etc.

Is this a reasonable path to go down, or am I going to hit some fundamental incompatibility between the two engines?

My goal with this project is to come out with a roadworthy 380SL on the cheap so I am not too concerned about getting all the horsepower out of the "new" engine.

Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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Old 08-12-2002, 12:43 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Central Oregon
Posts: 91
Sounds very do-able!!

Wondering why you plan to use the '81 fuel distributor.
Seems like you could be infecting problems from the old(er) into the new(er). I would check the salvage yards for the right one.

My 2cents.

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