We have 15 years of archives. Links older than a year may have been updated to point to similar cars available to bid on eBay.
As with the first 5-Series, the E21’s reputation has suffered in the wake of the models that replaced it and the legend which preceded it. The US-market models were long on bumpers and short on engine choices and while a lot of them sold here when new, they just never really grabbed the enthusiast following of either the ’02 models or the E30.
Yet there are good examples that pop up from time to time, especially when they’re presented in European guise and with the gutsier inline-6 under the hood. The model that often pops to mind is the 323i, one of which I looked at back in 2018. But there was also a carbureted version called the ‘320/6’, which used the M20 hooked to a single Solex. That’s what we’re looking at today, but this one not only has the more desirable look at motor, but also a host of period-style mods to go with it:
Calling Baur a tuner isn’t really very fair, but since we don’t have a separate category for semi-aftermarket carriage works, it will fit in. Baur worked in conjunction with a few manufacturers – most notably BMW, though a few Audi fans will remember that they were responsible for construction of the Sport Quattros too and they assisted in the assembly of the Porsche 959 as well. Much like Porsche originally started as, they were linked to the factory efforts due to their high level of unique production capability. That manifested itself in limited run models that required special construction – such as the Sport Quattro and 959 – but what most enthusiasts will remember are the multiple 3-series Cabriolet models produced through Baur. These were offered through dealers as an expensive option and to this day remain a very unique expression of Munich motoring:
I’ve recently been on a bit of a kick enjoying the looks of the BBS Mahle wheels. I’m not entirely sure why they appeal more to me today than they did last week, or last year, or even when my father had a set on his 1982 BMW 633CSi two decades ago. Then, I felt they looked outdated and undersized and really preferred the looks of the RS wheels he later placed on the CSi; but there’s a certain purity about the original design that I really like. Generally associated with the E9 and E24 models, the BBS Mahle wheels also made an appearance on the E21 320is. Today’s example is stunning in Henna Red with claimed original condition and lower mileage; but does that support the high asking price?
The E21 might have been the first BMW badged as a 3 series, but it is one of those rare instances where its successor became wildly more popular than the original. But, given that E30 prices are on the move, perhaps the E21 will become the new affordable BMW classic. This particular 320 is an early one, as production commenced in 1975. The E21 wasn’t the most visible BMW in motorsport, but it did make appearances in both the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft (DTM) and Group 5 racing, where it would succeed the 3.0CSL. The E21 was also active in IMSA, and this particular 1975 320 was the first of its kind to win a race in that series.
The BMW 2002 is a legendary car that defined the small sports sedan category by most accounts. Compact, rear wheel drive, and with enough power to have fun, you could drive the 2002 at 9/10ths most of the time without crashing at breakneck speed. Try pushing today’s cars to their limits; imagine if you could get a new M4 into a 4 wheel drift on an exit ramp – what speed would you have to be going? Probably faster than the original top speed of the 2002 is my guess, and the ability to drive a slow car fast is what makes some older cars so appealing. But for some people, that base small sedan just isn’t enough, and they go about upgrading the original car. I’m certainly not opposed to this, as it’s something I did with my Audi Coupe – take a later model, higher output motor that is in the same character as the original motor and Viola! Instant happiness. I can only imagine the smiles that this S14 motored 1968 1600 generates then: