Federalized 1979 Euro BMW 323i for sale

The nice reader ride Aaron featured earlier this week was a very nice 323i, a car pleasantly unfettered by the rapidly increasing BMW numerical system. There was a 323i for the very first 3-series as well, but while the E46 323 was the base engine, in 1979 it was the top-of-the-line with an M20 pushing out a healthy 143 bhp. While the E21 320i’s shortcomings made the following E30 that much more awesome, the Euro-only 323i brought some fun party favors like Bosch fuel injection, 4-wheel discs, and an optional limited-slip differential. Today’s beautiful white example was imported from Germany and federalized at the beginning of its life in 1980 and is looking as good as new with tidy bumpers, great paint, and perfect Alpina open-lug wheels. We’ve had some steep E21s here with asking prices as high as $14k, so $4500 for this uber-ur-3-series with 125k miles seems like a solid deal.

1979 BMW 323i for sale on Craigslist Colorado

From the seller:

This is a great running and looking 1979 BMW 323i model for Germany. Imported and federalized in 1980. Have all records back to 1980 documenting extensive maintenance and low mileage of 125k (201,000 kilometers) Recent maintenance includes timing belt and water pump, wheels and tires, fuel pump, injectors, plugs, filters, distrubuter, coil. Has the 2.3l 6 cyl engine, 4 wheel disc brakes,and improved suspension compared to the 320i available in the US at the time. Air conditioning, 4 speed manual, Recaro cloth seats. $4500 obo.

I really dig this little car. The E21 will always be the underdog of BMWs, but with power and style, this one can hold its head high. I don’t really understand the long VW-esque pea shooters out the back, but that’s nothing a hacksaw couldn’t fix in about 5 minutes. Alpinas, small bumpers, and some bonus rarity make this low-mile import worth it.


1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0

When the R107 SL replaced the W113 SL in 1972, many enthusiasts derided the new car as more boulevard cruiser than “sport light,” as the SL moniker suggests. Mercedes sought to bring back a little bit of the sporting magic in 1977 with the introduction of an all aluminium 5.0 liter V8 in the hardtop SLC variant. Dubbed the 450SLC 5.0, this model was different than the standard SLC models in that the hood and doors were aluminium, as well as the trunklid, which came with a black lip spoiler. These were very limited production cars, as 1,636 450SLC 5.0 were produced, along with 1,133 500SLCs manufactured in 1980 and 1981. These luxury touring cars were even campaigned on the World Rally Circuit, winning the Ivory Coast Rally in 1979 and 1980. This example for sale in California was an early build, and was imported to the US early in its life.

1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 on eBay

Special, limited production cars are always exciting, more so when they are fast and have race or rally pedigrees. This 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 has all of that and more. A total production of this model is 1470, according to numerous sources, and the World Rally Championship history of the 450SLC 5.0 is well documented. This particular car #300, chassis number 107.026-12-000300 has all of the European specification horsepower, integrated bumpers, covered headlights etc, with NONE of the associated worldwide rust issues, due to early importation to California.

The car is equipped with 450SLC 5.0 specific front air dam and rear trunk spoiler. These aerodynamic aids were first used on this car and then subsequently carried over to the 1980 500SL/500SLC cars, and also later models. Beautiful Mercedes-Benz original alloy wheels remain in excellent condition, with tires that have substantial tread remaining. Brake and chassis maintenance are up to date, giving this car an extremely rewarding driving sensation. It is easily as fast as any SL/SLC we have owned, numbering in the hundreds. It definitely ranks in the top several cars owned/driven/tested for speed, agility, and overall driving feel.

The car was imported to California within the first year or so, as evidenced by it’s license plate nomenclature: this series of plates dates to approximately 1980. The condition of the car has some very important high points, including a rust free chassis and bodywork, as well as really beautiful original paint. The Euro velour interior is in 99% perfect condition, with only a thread or two showing at the absolutely highest wear point in the car: the seat bolster on the driver’s side–contacted every time one slides into the car.

Overall, the interior shows careful long term use with a perfect dashboard, above excellent wood, fully functioning gauges etc. The center of the rear seat has a bit of fraying on the strap (see photos), but that’s about it. The all important engine: up to date tuneup services, fluid maintenance, etc. The odometer reading of 83,000 + miles is accurate, and it all feels right. Alternator voltage, fuel pressure and various other parameters are all tested good. The car is ready to enjoy, right now. The previous long term care, the low miles, and our expert stewardship of the car will provide the next owner with a wonderful driving experience of a very limited production high performance car.

While these are rare cars, they aren’t the most high profile Mercedes-Benzes with collectors, so values have stayed rather reasonable to the point where ordinary enthusiasts can afford them. This is a good thing and a bad thing, as more people can enjoy the awesomeness of this car, but then, they may fall prey to less than careful owners. I’ve seen some SLC 5.0s sell as low as $6,000 to $8,000 in recent times, so if I had to peg a value on this car, it would probably be anywhere from $11,000 to $15,000 on the high side.


Low Mile 1979 Mercedes 240D converted to 300D Turbo Sedan

Knowing what we do about well maintained M617 engines, this car may have half a million miles of life left in it.

This super clean 24,00 mile 240D looks close to time capsule condition, minus a few changes by the owner that set it apart from factory original. This car has had the 18,000 mile 240D taken out and a 3.0 turbo diesel put in its place. These 5 cylinder diesels will provide steady, reliable, power for years. It is amazing that a car like this has survived for so long with such few miles as they aren’t exotic and were meant to be used hard. The new engine doubles the horsepower over the old and puts it somewhere in the 125 range.

This particular car has tens of thousands of upgrades, including that engine transplant. Also installed are a 5 speed manual and a new rear differential to accommodate the new gearing. Some upgraded interior wood components and some AMG rims also add to the look. The seller painted the car, even though the original probably didn’t need it, but used that opportunity to tidy up a few other things.

The ask price of this car is $25,000. While this is certainly a more useable car than the original 240D with the slushbox, it is hard to say if perhaps the car would bring the same value if it had been left all original at 18,000 miles as a collector vehicle. We have seen some surprisingly high prices on W123 Benzs with low mileage. So again, while the originality is gone, despite the low miles, the upgrades make this more of an enjoyable driver’s car and certainly make it more unique.  Bonus points for the owner’s custom plates that say “No Plugs”.

This car also allows me to point out one of the misnomers of these models despite having the 3.0 liter turbo engine this would not be called a 300TD, but just a 300D as the T in the Benz model designation is to indicate a wagon(touring) and not a turbo.



Impeccable 47k-mile 1979 BMW 320i for sale

Though deservedly overshadowed by the subsequent E30, the E21 first generation of the BMW 3-series has a lot of charm. They led the charge for a whole new paradigm of sports sedans, and helped solidify a design language for BMW that lasted more than a decade. One of my best friends in high school drove a gold example that, while pretty janky, had a lot of good vibes. At the end of the day, he was still driving a BMW!

Today’s example is the nicest I’ve ever seen. The seller is turning it around after buying it from the original owner, who had it in Hungary as his “home” car, only driven when he was visiting while attending college in the US. Eventually it came over here after what sounds like some extended sitting, and today it has covered only 47k miles. The seller says he invested $10k to get the mechanicals back to 100%, whereas the exterior and interior already look amazing. It’s truly an unrivaled E21, but the real question will come down to how much can an E21, regardless of condition, be worth?

1979 BMW 320i for sale

From the seller:

This may be one of the most preserved E21 sedans around. Ebay will not accept 1979 Vin so for you real collectors: 5455376. I purchased this 320i from its original owner in an estate sale. The owner was originally from Hungary and naturalized to the US after attending Columbia University. He purchased the BMW to have to drive when he visited his parents in Hungary for the summer. Because the country was under USSR rule at the time, nobody else could drive the car and it had to be “put up” when the owner wasn’t in the country. (Battery Disconnected and police tape on the doors!)

The sport edition has recaro seats (still in absolutely great shape-see pics. the gray and black are custom fit covers that come off for shows and go back on for the occasional ride), sport M steering wheel, sunroof and AC delete. A BMW stamped rear spoiler is dealer added. The original paint still shines and is 90%. I did re-spray the nose that had suffered a little road rash over the years of limited driving. On one or two pics you will see a BMW OEM NLA bra. I have no idea what that could be worth.

The interior is original and flawless. no dash cracks of imperfections. The original co-co mats (red ones on a pic) finally fell apart a few years ago and I replaced them (black and gray) from cocomats.com. All lights, switches, etc in perfect working order. Clock keeps perfect time and rear defroster working.–two items that tend to fail over the years. I have custom fit seat covers on the car to preserve the NLA black velour seats. no a rip or stain. I did have the recaro factory supply me with material to repair driver bolster that is 95 percent correct–weave is slightly off but you can not tell from a foot away. I also had upholstery shop put new recaro bottom straps in to make the seats firm again. I have the original am/fm cassette but upgraded to a business CD that looks perfect (see pics) and replaced speakers for better sound but used the original covers so it looks factory. The business CD was a popular upgrade and cost $1,000 from the dealer.

Mechanically, I have spent around $10,000 to make her 100% road worthy. While body wise she was pristine, sitting for many years required some expense to get her running as she did in 1979. I have all the receipts but basically did it all. Suspension, brakes, replaced all belts, water pump, radiator, tune up, etc. She drives unbelievable! she gets a little whine in excess of 80 mph because of the 4 speed tranny but will run there and more all day long and the temp gauge stays right in the middle–not always the case with the E21’s. You can eat off the engine bay. This is a show quality car that drives like it’s brand new!

Have all the books, tools, warning triangles–even have the first aid kit but i’m sure the antibiotic salve has expired! haha! Let the pictures do the talking (they are not doctored taken from my casio camera) and email me with your questions. It has been stored in my air-conditioned/heated garage with my other collection. There is nothing to hide and this 320i needs a good home of a fellow collector that will display her proudly.

The BMW plant in SC rep told me that they rarely see 3 series sedans in this condition. If you are a BMW collector and want to add a E21 sedan to the collection, this in is it! Im selling this car for less than i have in it. This small business owner needs to free up some of the collection for some cash unfortunately. Happy Bidding.

Update: I have gotten numerous calls and want to address a few items: The rear spoiler is a Heckspoiler–manufactured by Zender GmbH serial # my apologies. It is correct year and is original rubber type material-not fiberglass reproduction. As stated, it was dealer installed accessory not factory. NOTE: I had the alloy wheels refinished due to long time brake dust accumulation–they were not bad but in the creases i couldnt get them 100% clean–the rest of the car was too pristine not to shine them up. They still had the original continental tires that I should have saved! They are the original wheels and the original color. I have the am/fm cassette with the microphone. I upgraded to a BMW Business CD and added an old school equilizer where the ashtray goes. I still have the ashtray and can go back in along with the cassette if you please. The color of the car is iberischrot 1872108. Absolutely NO RUST. All books, tools, etc. The pin stripe is BMW oem i had applied and to the best of my knowledge is no longer available part # 51149057070.

This car is beautiful, if a bit busy for my tastes. I’d prefer the E21 shape sans roof rack, fog lights, and Zender spoiler, but it really is a gorgeous example of the original 3-series. It’s been well loved by both the original owner and the seller, who sounds like a solid collector with his heart in the right place. I just don’t know if a 320i, even with 47k miles, can go for the $15k Buy-it-Now. Somewhere between that and $10k sounds a little more reasonable, but hey, if you want the nicest E21 out there, don’t let me stop you!


1975 Mercedes 450SEL 46k miles

On one hand I want to let people know that the prices of good w116 and w123 Mercedes have been steadily climbing. On the other hand the more we talk about it the less of a chance their is of me finding a bargain on what use to be an under appreciated classic, the w116.

This beautiful U.S. version 450SEL has covered a mere 46,000 miles. The car features a stunning red interior, with complementary subtle red pinstripe on the exterior, that is likely contributing to the bidding on this car.

Things look factory fresh with all the parts in the right places. Correct painted hubcaps and original Becker Grand Prix, have been saved rather than tossed for ugly aftermarket parts that are so common on these.

The engine bay is clean, the original tool kit complete, the A/C blows cold, the original manuals come with the car. These are all things that occasionally get over looked, combined together they paint a picture of good owner care and add to buyer interest.

Bidding is up to $9,000, with the reserve not met. I’ve said this before, 450SEL drivers could be had in the sub $2,000 range, some even into sub $1,000, not that long ago. We have seen several Benzs recently from the 70s and 80s show, still reasonable, but surprisingly strong prices. The w116 was a well crafted car and the appreciation monetarily and emotionally is growing. I can’t say it any better than what the seller writes: “these W116 chassis cars were made to be driven and clean low mileage examples like this one are getting very hard to find.”


Mercedes 6.9 powered Sbarro Gullwing

The seller has had this listed a couple times on eBay and it hasn’t sold. It is listed as a 1976, but while that may be how it was registered I’m certain this car was converted in the early 1980s. It is riding on the W126 500SEC based chassis, not as the seller states the 116.  The engine is the 6.9 liter out of the 116 based 450SEL 6.9, though. (edit: This model is on the W116 chassis, unlike the 5.0 liter versions that came on the W126.)

While this one is an automatic, these cars were available with a 5 speed manual and with a bi-turbo engine 5.0. When new these cars started at 250,000 German marks.

The Swiss based Franco Sbarro company still does business on high end vehicles.

The seller might want to go with more classic rims and include more information and pictures of the engine bay if they want to get anything close to the $90,000 ask price.


At first look this indeed looks like a W126 chassis vehicle. This has the W116 dash, something I easily recognize from my days of 6.9 ownership, and distinctive U.S. market 116 servo climate control center console, something my 6.9 didn’t have being grey market.

Two sources I used in digging up some info, Customizing and Tuning Mercedes by Heitz and Neff and Extraordinary Automobiles by Vann and Asaria both list Sbarro as using 500SEC W126 chassis as the basis for these conversions, calling it first the Shahin 1000 and then the 500 Portes Papillon Gullwing. It turns out they did use 116 chassis parts when using the 6.9 liter engine as opposed to the 5.0 or the 5.0 twin turbo option. Apparently the 6.9 motor was not available with the twin turbo option. It was one or the other, though who knows, money could lead companies like this to do strange things for customers.

There is also some wonderful additional photos and information available over at 1000sel.com and this Sbarro Shahin website which quotes directly from the Vann book and uses the same photos from that book.