Kevin Hellriegel's Blog of Worthless Advice

The only blog that you really want to read…or ignore.

1983 Mercedes Benz 380SEL


This past Halloween, I purchased an old 1983 Mercedes Benz 380SEL.  What drove me to do such a thing?

 I wanted a “hobby” car that was large enough for a comfortable drive, yet, wasn’t too expensive where I’d have guilt purchasing it.  I ended up with “Helga”, my 1983 silver gray, 4 door sedan 3.8L V8 (126 body style) with all working power windows, a working sunroof, working heater, and four decent tires (no spare tire).  I’m not sure about the a/c unit yet.  Helga doesn’t have any dents but she does have some issues inside the interior of the car. 

The previous owner was a smoker so I am washing everything in the car to get rid of the smoke smell.  I’ve washed the carpets, the seats, the headrests, and the roof.  I’ve spread baking soda to soak up the smell and did a Google search on how to get rid of the cigarette smell.  Slowly, it has been working.  Honestly, I’ll probably have to get it cleaned at a detail shop.

 The front seats need some TLC.  The driver’s seat is soft in the seat cushion and is torn.  The front passenger seat also has some flaws.  Ideally, I’d like to replace the bottom portion of the seats.  They are gray and I have been looking on the internet for either used seats or a replacement cover.  I suppose I could put some after market seat covers over the existing seats if I needed to.

Helga has 212,000 miles on her.  She reportedly had a different engine (not sure if it was a rebuilt, junkyard used motor, or a new engine) put in about 35,000 miles ago.  Transmission is a bit rough when she shifts.  Her engine is a little slow to response and she idles a little rough when waiting at a red light or when you first start her up.  It takes her a while to warm up and get going.  For a 3.8 L V8 engine, she doesn’t have much pick up and go.  In fact, she reminds me of my 1983 Mercedes Benz 300D Turbo Diesel (123 body style) when it comes to that pick up and go.  While the turbo did help the diesel, it was still a bit sluggish.

How much did I pay for Helga?  $700.00.  How much is Helga worth?  $700 to me.  However, the State of Washington Department of Revenue thinks she is worth $11,500!  I’m now in the processing of printing up For Sale ads from the internet to get them to be reasonable in their taxation of my car.  The insurance NADA book isn’t much help because their value is up there as well.  When you do look on the internet, this car is hard to find and not many for sale to compare it to.  The 420SEL and 560SEL were the larger and more luxurious models that overshadowed this model.

 Since this is a hobby car and not my primary method of transportation, the car insurance is actually reasonable with rate quotes around $161 to $225 per year.  I plan on driving her less than 5000 miles a year.

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