Autobahn Bruiser – Gray Market 1983 Mercedes Benz 380SE

European market cars of the late 1970s and 1980s still have a forbidden fruit quality to them that makes them especially appealing (and for that matter, any newer car that wasn’t sold here), and that characteristic makes cars that otherwise wouldn’t merit a second glance worthwhile. While we here had to contend with outsize bumpers, sealed beam headlamps, smog-strangled engines, and in some makes’ case, the same style of wheel on every model (think 1980s BMW and Mercedes in a general sense – bottlecaps and bundts were near-universal), the Europeans had trim design, a variety of accessories, and power! For a good example of forbidden 1980s fruit, have a look at this 1983 Mercedes 380SE offered for $3400 in Millstone Township, NJ.

1983 Mercedes 380SE left front

The BBS spoiler and MSW wheels, along with the petrol blue paint, say I’m wealthy and in a hurry. While your average VW Golf these days can likely go as fast as this car, the experience is no doubt still on a different plane. Seller claims no rust, a good running drivetrain with double timing chains, and a great sounding new stainless exhaust system. You’d probably still find yourself doing 100mph on the way home without even knowing it.

1983 Mercedes 380SE interior

For some reason, the only interior picture shows the rear seats. Normally, this would lead to the assumption that the fronts are all torn up, but given the otherwise glowing description of the car and reputation of Mercedes materials, one might hope the whole interior is excellent. Note the wind-up rear windows – when’s the last time you saw that on a Mercedes?

1983 Mercedes 380SE right side

Since this is a European-market car, you’ll want to double check for traces of accidents before importation, and for proper documentation. The seller does not say if this was ever federalized by a gray market importer. An engine photo would be nice, so ask for that before you head out. If this checks out to be as well-kept as it appears (and judging by the photos, it is owned by an enthusiast seller), this could be a great deal.


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3 Responses to “Autobahn Bruiser – Gray Market 1983 Mercedes Benz 380SE”

  1. Sean Says:

    ….and it was a great deal….so I bought it for $3000.

  2. Chris Keen Says:

    Nice work! Curious – did you find it here or via other channels?

    • Sean Says:

      I found it through the NJ Craigslist ad. I immediately knew what it was, and being a European model, jumped at the opportunity. The price was unbelievable. I bought it from a collector who has 8 other 80’s models Mercedes, one Koenig wide body and several AMG spec vehicles. All in immaculate condition. This vehicle is pristine, has had all of it’s maintenance done and does not have a spec of rust.

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