Tuner Tuesday: 1979 BMW 320i Dinan 4.6

The E21. By far, it is the 3-series we feature least frequently (barring new models). In U.S. trim, it is also by far the least sporting 3-series. But don’t throw the baby BMW out with the bath water, because it’s still a classic BMW, it looks nice and it’s quite affordable relative to some other hyperbolic models.

For one, I really like the E21. I’ve even enjoyed driving a few. Of course, never once did I think when driving one “You know what this needs? A M60 V8.” And certainly, even in the very unlikely scenario that idea sprang into my head, there’s no way I would have said “Right, now, off to Dinan to bump it out to 4.6 liters!”

But, if nothing else, this Golf Yellow example of an extreme E21 dispels the myth that they’re all underpowered?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 BMW 320i Dinan 4.6 on eBay

1978 BMW 320i

7The E21 has never been quite as popular among enthusiasts as later iterations of the 3-series. Produced between 1977 and 1983, the E21 was the successor to the beloved 2002 and the first in the line of BMW’s compact sedans to carry the “3-series” designation. Available only as a two-door sedan (and eventually a Baur cabriolet conversion, produced in very small numbers), the Paul Bracq-led design contains a number of classic cues: the steeply raked front nose and kidney grilles, the four round headlights and the “hoffmeister kink” in the C-pillar among them. Even when stymied by the dreaded, US-spec diving board bumpers, as here, these wedge-shaped cars have a quirky and charming look that embodies the best of early BMW styling.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 BMW 320i on eBay

1990 BMW 320i

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Even with automatics, I love perfect examples of old bimmers, and this 20k-mile 320i is no exception. It has lived most of its life in Japan but is thankfully still LHD. The island life has kept its use regular but minimal, resulting in the extremely low amount of miles. It’s a beautiful example of the E30 sedan and would make a great daily driver with a pay-no-mind transmission deciding how to best use the most diminutive M20, a teacup 2.0-liter inline-6. The seller is hoping for strong E30 money even though it’s a basic model, but that’s to be expected when the car has traveled roughly one American’s yearly miles over a quarter century.

Click for details: 1990 BMW 320i on eBay

1988 BMW 320i

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Here’s a great example of the late-80s, pre-recession business-sedan side of the E30. We spend so much time looking at rare examples, 325ix tourings, tuned 325is, that the populist-yuppy nature of the breed can be forgotten. This Euro-spec 320i commuter model – 4 doors, 4-speeds selected for you – helped you fly through the HOV lane listening to the Scorpions with brisk confidence and understated good looks. BMW nailed the E30 so hard that even the plastic steelie wheel covers end up looking like the E34 M5 turbines done smaller and better.

This recently-imported German example has less than 18k miles – 28,000 kilometers on the GDM odometer. It may not be the best athlete of the family, but this perfect 320i is the attractive accountant.

Click for details: 1988 BMW 320i on eBay

Motorsports Monday: Reliving the Glory Days – A4 STW v. 320i Supertouring

While Touring Car fans are widespread (after all, we can interpret NASCAR as a form of Touring Cars, right? crickets chirp in the distance), it seems that every fan has their favorite era. For some, it’s the wild wings and gold BBS wheels from the 1970s that defined production-based racers. For others, the winged warriors from the 1980s and early 1990s are the best era; after all, we get the M3 and 190E 2.5-16 Evolution from those generations. I have to admit that my personal favorite touring car has to be the V8 quattro that was won the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft in 1990 and 1991 is my favorite because Audi just did things differently. They took their largest car, kept some luxury details like the wood trim, and stomped on both BMW and Mercedes-Benz with their lightened luxury liner. But although there was some stellar racing from some superstars of the 1980s in the DTM around then, it’s not personally my favorite period. For that, I’d have to move up towards the mid-1990s, when even more companies like Nissan, Opel and Renault joined Audi and BMW at the front of race series like the British Touring Car Championship. I watched in awe as pilots like championship-winning Frank Biela rubbed doorhandles with the Alain Menu, Matt Neil and John Cleland. And who could forget Rickard Rydell, the Super Swede piloting the 850 wagon replete with inflatable dog in the back? It gave the series more character; you genuinely weren’t sure who would win any day the flag fell, and that made for some great watching. Today, two stars from that period are for sale and allow us the rare opportunity to get into a touring car – if you have the means:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi A4 Super Touring on Racecarsdirect

1989 BMW 320i Touring

Hot on the heels of wagon week, we have another great little E30 Touring that was brought to Virginia from Germany (probably by an armed services member) a while back. In addition to the great looks of the original 3-series longroof, you get a dog cage, buttons in German, and that 80s cloth interior that reminds me so much of my childhood. Bidding is hot but significantly lower than most clean E30s out there as I write this. It seems like the allure and rarity of these wagons is starting to wane, bringing them to a much wider audience and taking them back to their original status as an entertaining, useful, and affordable daily driver.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 320i Touring on eBay

1989 BMW 320i Touring

I promised myself I’d switch it up this week and not write up another BMW but then this rig came across my desk and I couldn’t ignore it. Royal Blue over Tan leather is one of my all time favorite color combos. It looks good on nearly any vehicle and the E30 Touring is no exception, it just works so well with the design and vibe of the vehicle. I have to say the replica BBS wheels are not for me, but the bright silver polish on them does pair nicely with the blue. I look to swap them out for a 5 or 10 spoke wheel if I was going to go with an aftermarket set, otherwise I think some E46 M3 wheels would look excellent here, though I’m sure many of you will disagree.
I think that one of the most attractive things about all E30’s is the variety of ways they can be modified (or not) by their owners. There are so many different paths one can go down, full Euro-spec, engine swaps, “Stanced”, rallye or just restored to stock. Each genre of E30 has its own vibe and I think this one would be best lightly modified but kept visibly simple. Blue/Tan is a pretty classy color combo, one that evokes thoughts of clean European cities and tidy country homes. What I’m trying to say here is this isn’t a model I’d like to see turned into a hotrod with a Thule rack and bunch of stickers on the windows. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t want to replace the sway bars, control arms, end links and all the bushings because I certainly would. The beauty of an E30 is that it’s a relatively slow car that you can drive fast if you know what you’re doing and enhancing the handling capabilities will only enhance that experience.…

1988 BMW 320i Touring

The E30 Touring I wrote up last week was a fine example but not for me as it was a.) Red and b.) a RHD model. I quickly moved on from that vehicle and wasn’t really giving the E30 Touring much thought, that is until I came across this beauty on eBay.

Certain cars just catch my eye and immediately I feel a connection to them. Such is the case with this 1988 320i Touring that currently resides in New Jersey. The overall condition of the car looks to be quite good for its age and living in a state that still thinks it’s ok to use road salt. Most people think silver is a boring exterior choice but here, I think it works splendidly. The blacked out kidneys are a nice touch, something I would have wanted to do myself. It’s such a minor detail but one that really makes the car pop given that the window trim is also black, not of that chrome garbage. The 15″ BBS mesh wheels also look to be in good condition, some scratches and curbage are present but not so much that I’d take issue with their condition.

The interior of this car is what really sells me on it, no tears, cracking on the dash or droopy headliner. The grey cloth seats are wonderfully simple and the grey door cards only add to the clean, elegant vibe of the car. It’s getting harder and harder to find BMWs with appealing interiors, whether it’s the condition or the color choices, that makes this car even more of a rarity in today’s market. I’d go so far as to say this is the most lust inducing classic BMW I’ve come across in over a year of carefully watching the used market, that includes M variants as well.…

1983 BMW 320i

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The E21 is an underappreciated gem in the classic BMW market. While many of the prime examples we’ve seen for sale have been low-mileage survivors, they have also been demanding prices in the mid-teens, which is several orders of magnitude higher than what standard, stock examples cost. Today’s is a fun compromise, combining dramatically modified looks with some careful mechanical attention and all coming together for a fairly reasonable price. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but I like the cream exterior on shiny BBS deep-dishes. It’s a little too low, but that’s clearly the look the seller was going for. The big selling point for me is that the current owner bought good parts and has everything in working order – no mean feat for a 1983 BMW. With a slightly readjusted ride height, the silliness would disappear and this would just become one of the cleanest E21s out there.

Click for details: 1983 BMW 320i on eBay

1983 BMW 320i with S50 Swap

I have to hand it to the BMW crowd; no one pulls off as many clean swaps as we see from the them, and no group gets as creative. Sure, there are plenty of VR6 Mk.2s that look slick and the 1.8T is finding its way into plenty of different Volkswagens, but often the VW swaps have a list of needs longer than their builders’ ironic beards. That doesn’t mean we don’t see our fair share of poorly executed BMWs too – but today isn’t one of those days. While the current swapoholic candidate is the E30 chassis, this enterprising individual decided to go all vintage on the bandwagon and chose a clean E21 instead. Kudos, sir – well done right off the bat. Then, with a clean motor swap, a slick interior from a Volkswagen, brakes from a Volvo (no, really!), and some minor plastic surgury, they created one heck of an appealing package – perhaps one of the nicest aftermarket-built E21s I’ve ever seen:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 BMW 320i on eBay