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Mercedes 380 SEC W 126 in the driving report - popular hobbyist's item

Hardy Mutschler
Mercedes-Benz 380 SEC W 126 in the driving report
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B almost you would have made it the rebuilders and lower layers. It would not have been missing much, and we would only have remembered the coupé of the W 126 series as an unspeakably tinkered suburban eight-cylinder. And all because the then Mercedes design chief Bruno Sacco had delivered a true masterpiece in 1979 with the new S-Class, and even more so in 1981 with the accompanying coupé. Perhaps the time was not quite ripe for such technocratically sober and at the same time perfectly elegant designs to be launched as successors to the baroque W 116 and 107 series.

The Mercedes-Benz 380 SEC W 126 became a collector's item for hobbyists

So shortly after its presentation on the IAA 1981 mostly less talented converters of the C 126. They cropped the roof or gull-wing doors, the chrome elements gilded and the wheel arches decorated with riveted strips. There was hardly a car in which it was so easy to transform the dignified simplicity of the original design into an intrusive demi-world attitude. All that was needed was a set of wide, cross-spoke design wheels and a set of spoilers. And it was to get even worse: When the first coupés were getting a little old and the owner entries in the vehicle registration documents were moved to the second page, a group of customers took over the coupé that Mercedes marketing had not even considered.

Mercedes 380 SEC from a third hand with 190,000 kilometers

He wore cowboy boots and antique leather jackets with balloon silk Jogging pants and preferred the hairstyle of the young Toni Schumacher. It is a good thing that nobody knows how many spotless coupés have had this fate. When tuned SECs were no longer deductible even in the east, they moved to the back rows of the gravel pitches. Today they still populate the sinister columns of the used car pages on the internet. We wish our dream SEC a different history. It doesn't have to be the meticulously maintained, checkbook-backed SEC from first hand. Sometimes there are still pearls to discover for little money, as Holger Biermann's copy proves on these pages. The Stuttgart music editor acquiredhis light blue Mercedes-Benz 380 SEC with 190,000 kilometers on the clock from a third party.

Almost 40,000 trouble-free kilometers under Biermann's direction have been added since then. The car was originally delivered to France, as evidenced by the French lettering on the instruments and control levers, which give the dark blue interior a touch of the exotic. The years have left traces in the metallic paint and on the velor upholstery. But after more than 200,000 kilometers, the Mercedes Benz 380 SEC is as fresh and full as it is only the case with a Mercedes from an era in which cars in Sindelfingen were still carved from the solid. Only the steering wheel, which many drivers thought was too big and unwieldy at the time, was replaced with a smaller, more grippy copy from a newer Daimler.

The light alloy engine of the Mercedes Benz 380 SEC develops 204 hp

The 3.8 liter eight-cylinder hums clearly audibly but inconspicuously at low engine speeds down. But as soon as the gas pedal is sunk deeper into the deep-pile carpeting, it becomes clear that it was a wise decision to offer the SEC only with the two eight-cylinder engines. The light alloy engine has a decent 204 hp, but it has a little trouble with the almost 1.7 ton coupé. Even the values ​​measured by auto motor und sport in the test in issue 7/1982 are not very impressive today.

A top speed of just over 200 km /h and a zero-to-hundred spurt in around ten seconds are of course no longer suitable for the upper class. Nobody buys a 380 SEC as a TDI hunter, but a touch more sovereignty would be welcome. So it is hardly surprising that most new buyers sacrificed the comparatively low surcharge for the 500 SEC. For around 4,500 marks more, there was an increase of 25 hp and a top speed 20 km /h higher. Incidentally, a 380 SEC was available from 71,416 marks in 1982. Only 11,267 buyers had chosen the 380 by 1985, while the 500 SEC had been ordered 24,121 times. The successor 420 SEC found even fewer fans. Only 3,680 copies were built. Perhaps those interested in the coupe did the little eight-cylinder injustice.

Cozy velor in the interior

Because it shows qualities in a completely different department. Modesty at a high level is an almost forgotten virtue. The Mercedes-Benz 380 SEC embodies them perfectly. It is therefore also logical that Holger Biermann's Coupé proudly presents its model name on the trunk lid. He doesn't want to be mistaken for a 500. And in the interior, the cozy velor in the typical SEC two-tone design shows that the French first owner chose the extras with care and taste.

On theCruise control is sure to do a good job on limited motorways. And the baroque light alloy wheels give the simple line of the SEC together with the light blue metallic paintwork a shot of Romanesque joie de vivre. A black 560 with thick wheels and chrome wheel arches cannot offer all that. The fact that the converters and hobbyists rarely took possession of the small eight-cylinder is perhaps its greatest merit. Because we have a real chance of discovering a still untouched SEC. Like the smoky silver 420 with brown velor on the Internet. Maybe you should take a closer look at it.


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