Mercedes-Benz SEC (1981 – 1991) Review

Mercedes-Benz SEC (1981 – 1991) At A Glance


+Stylish and effortless pillarless coupe

-Not quite as good to drive as it looks

The SEC was arguably the best (if not the most charismatic) coupe in the world when it was launched - but then it had a good starting point, being based on the S-Class saloon. Originally launched in 380 and 500 form, the SEC in its most basic variation came with 204bhp and steel wheels, with ABS only an optional extra until 1985.

The post-1985 facelift 420SEC was a much more accomplished all-rounder. The 500SEC was the range-topper for five years until the 560, and had a fairly lazy 240bhp, electric seats, ABS and a walnut-veneered dash. But the 1985 560SEC was something else entirely - it added fatter tyres, flared arches for a more muscular look, and a
limited-slip differential for improved handling.

Climate control came as standard, as did heated seats from 1988. With the aid of a mechanical/electronic fuel injection system, the 560’s engine put out 20% more power than the 500SEC's but used barely any more fuel to reach a maximum speed of 155mph. Formidable then, fast and comfortable now, all SECs offer a lot of car for your money.

Ask Honest John

How can I trace a classic car?

"I'm trying to trace a car. It's a Mercedes 380 SEC first registered in 1984 and had two owners in UK. It was imported to Ireland in 1990. The Ireland tax book says that the original identification was B639 CMP but when I try using a Motor check web site they can't come up with anything. How can I find the correct UK number plate? "
I think the original numberplate you have is correct. Our MoT Check service ( identifies that plate as belonging to a green Mercedes 380 registered on 6 June, 1984.
Answered by Keith Moody

What are the pros and cons of a 1990 Mercedes-Benz SEC?

"I'm about to yield to the long standing desire to buy a Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC. I have located a 1990 car with less then 100,000 miles and in outstanding condition. What are the pros and cons of buying such a car?"
MBUK was one once owned by Nigel Mansell and then Brian Sewell. Drives beautifully, but doesn't brake like a modern car. There is a nest of worms. Take the air filter off and if you see any oil under there the car needs maybe £10,000 of work on the engine. Make sure all the electrics work: ALL of them. Magnet test the body for bondo filler over rust. Definitely have the underside inspected by an expert for rusted brake and fuel lines and leaks.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Mercedes-Benz SEC (1981 – 1991) cost?