Sold and manufactured from 1980 to 1985, the 380SEL was one of the vehicles created by Mercedes Benz under its popular W126 series. The W126 line was the company’s longest-running vehicle generation to date. Its sedans were introduced to the, market in 1979 and they were built until 1993. On the other hand, its coupes were made available in the market from 1981 until 1991. Here’s a quick overview of the Mercedes Benz 380SEL and its roots in the W126 line.
Late 1960s: The Mercedes Benz S-class generation
During the late 60s, Mercedes Benz began to develop its second generation S-class line to replace the first and previous generation W116 line. The new range was going to be comprised and full-size cars and grand tourers and they were going to be built using the FR layout. As a result, the brand came up with Project W126 with the goal maintaining the image and reputation of the brand as one of the best luxury automakers in the world. At the same time, the automotive community was at a crossroad towards building more cars that used less fuel. And with this in mind, the designer of the W126 line, Bruno Sacco, integrated new features that would make the sedans and coupes not only fuel-efficient, but also easy to handle and ride.
Early 1970s: Design and development of the W126
During the first half of the 1970s, Mercedes Benz became busy with evaluating and finalizing the details of its new W126 line. However, the process would take longer than expected and the final designs were only finished in 1977.
Late 1970s: An introduction to the W126 line
After taking almost a decade, the W126 line was finally introduced to the market in 1979 at the International Motor Show held at Frankfurt, Germany. Compared to their predecessors, W126 models had a new and different look and this was mainly due to their new polyurethane bumpers—a drastic shift from the traditional chrome bumpers present in older models. Aside from that, their designs were also more aerodynamic. And even though they looked sleeker, they were actually more spacious than their earlier counterparts. The Mercedes Benz 380SEL was one of the first vehicles launched under the W126 line.
Early 1908s: The 380SEL
During its short but good 5-year run, over 27,014 units of the 380SEL were produced and sold in the market. This vehicle utilized the W126.033 chassis and it was powered by a powerful 3.8 L M116.963 V8 engine, which could churn out up to 201 hp at 232 lb•ft of torque. This engine also boasted a maximum speed of 127 mph. Five years after the 380SEL was dropped, the W126 line was replaced by a new generation of S-class vehicles—the W140 line.