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Old 08-22-1999, 03:14 PM
Posts: n/a
I just looked at a 81' 380SE with 170,000 miles on it. I'm worried about the life of the V8 and things must be wearing out. Any opinions whether it is a good buy for 7900 bucks? What needs to be checked specifically?
'95 E320
Old 08-22-1999, 04:45 PM
Alain V.'s Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: KS.
Posts: 459
You need to find out if all of the engine "updates" were done. Including,dual row timing chain,gears,tensioner,steel inserts in the block for headbolts.
These engines had single row timing chains until (83 I think) when mercedes probably got tired of all the cars showing up with bent valves due to the "lightweight" chains jumping time. They also had alot of head leakage problems because the bolt threads in the block would pull with thermal expansion. The fix for this was to pull the heads and install steel inserts in the block using a special template. It always surprised me that mercedes didn't seem to know better, becuase porsche had a similar problem with case bolt threads stripping for many years.
Old 08-23-1999, 01:35 AM
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: San Diego, CA USA
Posts: 38
Maybe a typo, but 380SE's were '84 and '85. If it's a 1981, it should be a 380SEL.

The price is quite steep. Retail blue book looks to be in the low $6k's...

I bought a 1983 380SEL with 85k miles on it for $6600 (Southern California). Was in beautiful shape - garaged, practically perfect interior, had dual-row timing chain conversion done on it already.

But, if it's in good shape and checks out at a mechanic, work on bringing the price down and you'll wind up with a wonderful car! Smooth and quiet - makes for a fantastic freeway cruiser.
Old 08-23-1999, 10:20 PM
Posts: n/a
That's interesting. It was posted on the window as an 81. Could it be a european model? It has one-piece front headlights, where, I know, later W126's have two-piece headlights. Well, that would be wonderful if it is newer than I thought. It definetly is the short-wheelbase model.
E320 95'
Old 08-23-1999, 11:48 PM
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: San Diego, CA USA
Posts: 38
I'm not sure if there was a Euro 1981 380SE... I only follow the American-spec models... :^)

American-spec W126's '81 through '85 used sealed beam headlights. They appear set back in the car's face.

However, a popular modification was to replace the headlight assembly with the Euro-spec one where the entire headlight assembly is flush with the face of the car (like in the '86 - '91 W126's, sans wipers - most think it looks better).

So that MAY be an indication of a Euro, but maybe not...

Anyone else have pointers on how to identify a Euro version??
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