The 380SEC is a model that belongs to the Mercedes Benz W126 series—a line that’s comprised of flagship sedans and coupes manufactured from 1979 to 1993. The W126 series serves as the replacement for the W116 line—a Mercedes Benz series that was sold and produced to the market from 1972 to 1980. Here’s a quick look at the Mercedes Benz 380SEC—from its roots in the W126 line and its changes and transformations through the years.
1966: Development of the S-class generation
In 1966, the development of a new S-class generation of Mercedes Benz vehicles started. During that time, the company had just released its W108/09 line, which was comprised of full-sized luxury cars created based on the FR layout. To maintain the prestige and luxury that Mercedes Benz offered, the goal for this particular generation was to create a new line of vehicles that were more fuel-efficient, had better handling, and were easy to ride. The design of the new W126 line was headed by Bruno Sacco—an Italian automobile designer who worked for Daimler-Benz from 1975 to 1999 and is regarded as one of the best car designers in history.
1973-1975: Design and style
The W126 was designed from 1973 to 1975. The initial design concepts were finished by the end of 1975, but the design for the coupe version was only finalized two years after. In terms of styling, W126 cars were the first models to drop the traditional chrome bumpers found in older Mercedes Benz models. They were also furnished with pleated leather and woodgrain trim, which added class to the cars.
1979: The birth of the W126
The W126 line was the second generation of Mercedes Benz vehicles to carry the S-class name. It was introduced to the market in 1979 through the Frankfurt International Motor Show and it was comprised of vehicles that were powered by straight-6 V8 engines such as the 280 SE/SEL, 380 SE/SEL, 500 SE/SEL, and the 300 SD. Compared to its predecessors, W126 vehicles were more aerodynamic, fuel-efficient, spacious, and powerful. The W126 line also saw the emergence of new safety innovations for Mercedes Benz cars such as the incorporation of pretensioners on the seatbelts.
1981-1985: The 380SEC model
The Mercedes Benz 380SEC was introduced to the market in 1981 and it was sold until 1985. It utilized the W126.043 chassis of Mercedes Benz W126 vehicles. It was equipped with a powerful 3.8 L M116.963 V8 engine, which could churn out up to 201 hp. During its run, a total of 11,267 units were produced until production ended in 1985.
1991: The end of a good run
In 1991, the W126 was replaced the W140, which was comprised of luxury coupes and sedans manufactured from 1991 to 1998. The W126 was considered as the longest-running S-class line in the history of Mercedes Benz.