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Old 10-15-2002, 07:18 PM
Posts: n/a
3.8 engine interchange

I am exploring my options in dealing with my recently acquired 1982 380SL. I have what I assume to be a serious connecting rod problem (knock). I have searched the archieves looking for interchange information. I found out that the 3.8 engine block and the 4.2 block are the "same" Is the 4.2 block a candidate if I would decide to replace my engine with a used one?

A local wrecking yard has a 3.8 engine from a 1982 380 SEL. They suggest that the only difference between that engine and the one in my '82 380 SL is the oil pan and pick up tube. Swapping out those items from my engine would be the only change to drop their engine in my car. Is this correct?

I guess I would like to know what engines I can expect to be a replacement for my current one. I might add that this car is a decent original car with 133,000 miles showing some wear- in my book a "driver".

I will be removing a cam cover tonight to see if this particular car had the double row chain upgrade. I would assume that I could swap out that set up (if so equipped) when swapping engines (if the replacement is still the single row).

I appreciate anyones help on this information. I apologize for being a newby, I will try to "get up to speed" as soon as possible :-)

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Old 10-15-2002, 08:08 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Suwanee, GA, USA
Posts: 4,712
While the engine will fit, you will find more differences. I think that the oil filter housing is different as are the engine mount arms, oil pan....
Donnie Drummonds
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Old 11-13-2002, 10:57 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,315
My 107 engine swap was a 1984 euro from a 380SEC into a 1981 380SL. The oil pan and filter were the major changes. The oil pumps are the same, but the rubber ends on the pump may be different. I kept the intake and injection. No problems.

Where you may run into a problem, though, is if you swap a complete later engine into the car. The injection and emissions went through several changes and you can end up with features on the engine (like Lamba) that have no corresponding controls in the car.

I can check on specifics if you find an 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 11-14-2002, 01:52 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: oregon
Posts: 2,013
bet that "82" engine has single row timing chain sure would convert it to double row while engine is out of car.........
William Rogers.......
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Old 11-14-2002, 07:12 AM
Posts: n/a
Thanks for the offer Chuck. I will let you know if I come up with an engine that needs the cross reference. I talked to a MB person locally and he says he "upgrades" the 380's all the time with 420 conversions. He says you simply swap out the entire intake system from the 380 to the 420. Of course he had a 420 he wanted to sell me, so he had an interest in pushing the swap. I think if I don't allow myself to get in a hurry on this project it will turn out well. Again thanks.

It turns out that my engine is in fact a double row chain .

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