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Old 04-25-2003, 08:33 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Ohio
Posts: 66
380 SEC advice on purchasing

I am considering buying a 1983 380 SEC. The car has 78k mileage and looks pretty good, interior is 9.5 out of 10, the outside body 9 out of 10. The 116 engine has been disassembled down to the block. (heads and intake manifold in the trunk). It has the single row timing chain. The owner has passed away and no one is certain exactly why the engine was disassembled, they think timing chain problems. I could possibly pull the engine and rebuild along with the timing chain upgrade to double row if I buy it. What is considered a fair price. I will do all the repair work myself and just have to buy parts. Lastly, how can I tell whether or not it is a grey market car.
Thanks in advance for any help

Last edited by gedeonbgjr; 04-27-2003 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 04-25-2003, 09:00 PM
sixto's Avatar
smoke gets in your eyes
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 20,123
Typically if it has a US format VIN it's not a gray market car. The VIN will be something like WDCCA24xxxx. CA24 is a 300SE. It'll be something different for a 380SEC. Gray market cars usually have VINs like WDB126043xxxx. You can also run the VIN by any MB dealer and they'll tell you if it's a US spec car.

In evaluating the what you should pay for the car, check what a running car up to your standards would cost and deduct from that amount what rebuilding this SEC will cost.

91 300SE
87 300SDL
83 300SD
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Old 04-26-2003, 08:57 AM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,316
If the chain jumped, you will probably need new valves on one or both sides, and there is no way of telling what is going on with the injection, electronics, climate control, and transmission.

It is really a matter of luck - you could very easily end up 'way over market value. Or you might end up with $300 for the chain conversion, and $500 for the heads and have a great car on the cheap.

Look at the cams carefully before you buy it.

Do a search on 'wayward woman' to learn about my experience with a similar situation.
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 04-26-2003, 01:33 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,508
If it has a single row chain, then it has to be a U.S. car.

European cars never got the single row timing chain. From day one they had the double row chain.
Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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Old 04-27-2003, 01:24 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Ohio
Posts: 66
380 SEC purchase

Thanks to all for the info/help. I will trailer the car home tomorrow. It is a scary thought until I know how much damage was done and if all the pieces/parts are still there. The car has been sitting for approx 11 years. I am sure I will have many questions in the future.
Thanks again

Last edited by gedeonbgjr; 04-27-2003 at 09:27 PM.
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