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1978 BMW 323i

The first generation 3 series was always a bit of a milquetoast offering in the US BMW lineup. This could have been attributed to the lack of variety when it came to engines and body variants. However, a hotter version with the M20 inline six was available in certain overseas markets, dubbed the 323i. This car would pave the way to the ever popular E30 BMW. Over 1.3 million E21s were built over an eight year time span.

The seller states:

You are bidding on a very rare piece of BMW history; a 1978 European-spec 323i (E21). The E21 chassis marked the birth of BMW’s legendary 3-series cars, which to this day are regarded as the benchmark for luxury sports sedan. European spec E21’s were never sold to the U.S. market, so to find one today is quite difficult. Differences include: Inline 6 cylinder motor (U.S. = 4 cylinder), various suspension components, different headlights (quad high-beams with “city lights”), no side markers front or rear, slim European bumpers, filler panel between tail-lights (euro-plate goes beneath rear bumper), fixed rear quarter windows, disc brakes front and rear (U.S. = rear drums), and of course metric gauges and german print on interior controls.

To add to this car’s rarity, it also has the sunroof-delete option, rear sport-spoiler, and vintage 15×7 BBS RA wheels (tough to find low offset 13). The interior is also a great combination, as we’ve installed Recaro sport seats, custom-wrapped with black vinyl (charcoal perf vinyl inserts), rear seats wrapped to match.

To add even further, this car has a great history; Originally purchased by a member of the U.S. Military stationed in Germany, the car stayed there for a while, then was shipped to Hawaii (Same owner). The car was brought to the Continental U.S. at some point, and sold to a dealership in Florida. It then made its way north a few states and into the hands of the family we purchased the vehicle from. Throughout all this, the car has managed to keep very low miles (A mere 87,000 km on the odometer…approximately 54,000 miles! I‘ve also retained the prior owner‘s title, as it indicates “*Odometer – Actual“, whereas the new Michigan does not reflect mileage due to age; I thought this would be a good item to keep in order to help substantiate the low miles) and has been very well taken care of, seeing almost no winters at all (and it shows; VERY solid car). Car also comes with lots of vintage BMW literature, as well as BMW dealership repair manuals (german and english, Vol. 1 and 2, 320/323i 6 cyl) which are VERY hard to come by. With all that said, description as follows:

Mechanical: Euro-spec Inline 6 with 4 speed manual transmission. Car runs excellent; has been a daily driver for the past year or so, always garaged and well-cared for. Lots of miscellaneous maintenance items completed (hoses, lines, oil changes, fuel filter, fuel pressure regulator O-rings, rear brake work, fuel accumulator, aftermarket electric fan and controller unit, etc…)

Exterior: Originally a silver car, one repaint to an OEM BMW dark charcoal (Delphin Metallic 184, I believe). Refinished BBS RA 15×7 et13 wheels (color matched centers) wrapped in Yokohama S-drive tires (Less than one summer on tires). Also included with the car: OEM 13” wheels (and beauty rings) with Firestone Winterforce winter tires (One winter on tires), and 4 mudflaps (see pic). Tinted windows, blacked out trim; looks great!

Interior: Black interior, front Recaro sport buckets (Black vinyl with perforated charcoal vinyl inserts; rears recovered to match)

This car checks all the right boxes for me. As the previous owner of an E30, I love how the originality of this car has been preserved, down to the period correct alloy wheels. So many older, historically significant cars have been chopped up these days, with wild spoilers and wheels, ruining what are otherwise decent vehicles. No telling what the reserve may be, but if this wound up selling for over $10k, it wouldn’t surprise me. E21s in this condition and with tasteful modifications like these don’t come around often enough.



  1. ac
    ac June 16, 2010

    Milk toast haha. I think you mean milquetoast.

  2. paul
    paul June 16, 2010

    Thanks, edited away just now…

  3. Dan Crouch
    Dan Crouch June 16, 2010

    This car rocks, and I agree, it’s totally period correct making it even more appealing. Hope the seller gets a good price!


  4. Edward Furlong
    Edward Furlong June 16, 2010

    sick x10…

    PROF RIDAS SMAIL December 27, 2010

    I have bmw 1978 323i, hevy motor with foll power , the car was in the garage for 17 year s,,did i change may miend and drive it back,, thanks

  6. Prof RIDAS
    Prof RIDAS January 16, 2011

    Bmw 323i 1978 was 911 porshe, verry rare car ,and hevy car,alu + sicret metal, motor from airgraft , vERy RaRe,,Good LUCK.

  7. Rick
    Rick July 2, 2011

    Is car still for sale???

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