Diet M3: 1988 BMW 320is

We often speak of sleepers on these pages, but in truth none of the cars we typically cover are truly sleepers. Cars like the E28 M5, 500E and Audi S4 all sported bigger wheels, special badges and fatter exhaust. Often you see flared fenders, special lights and in most cases you can see the lowered stance hinting at a stiffened suspension. Inside are special and unique interiors with heavy bolsters, badges and enough electronic gizmos to make a Brookstone blush. Sure, they generally wear the same clothes as a German airport taxi, but honestly unless you’re blind not going to mistake them for anything picking you up outside Frankfurt Flughafen. But there are some serious sleepers available if you like discrete performance and complete anonymity. I’d argue that likely the best is this particular car – the BMW 320is:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 320is on eBay

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1981 BMW 320is

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For years, the BMW E21 3 series sort of languished by the wayside. If there ever was an annals of unloved BMWs (admittedly a short list) you could have included this very car. However, with the popularity of this car’s replacement, the E30 3 series, taking off, those wanting to go their own way might be intrigued by the first 3 series. It’s not the fastest or most glamourous of Bimmers, but it represents a period of transition for the marque that would set up the company to go from strength to strength in the years to come. This mint 320is for sale in Spokane, Washington has just over 40,000 miles on the clock. Silver over black isn’t the most exciting of colors but it does little to date the look of this early 3er.

Click for details: 1981 BMW 320is on eBay

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1982 BMW 320is with 37,000 Miles

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 Then, I felt they looked outdated and undersized and really preferred the looks of the RS wheels he later placed on the CSi; but there’s a certain purity about the original design that I really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?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 320is on eBay

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1976 BMW 2002 Turbo Replica

This past weekend I wrote up a great looking 2002 Ti Touring Turbo-look, that unfortunately for most U.S. fans was a bit too far for most to contemplate. I loved the squat stance with fat tires over the Turbo flares, but where that car had taken the replica idea to towards the race track today’s replica follows the route of the original Turbo and is a bit more tame as a road car. Without a doubt the original featured one of the best graphics packages ever available from the factory, with reversed “obrut” to let the driver ahead know what was about to pass them. Take a look at this neat tribute:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1976 BMW 2002 Turbo Replica on eBay

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49k-mile 1982 BMW 320iS

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As ’80s Bimmers become recognized as more “vintage” and less “just old crapcans,” we’ve seen some impressive E21s come out of the woodwork. Today’s rare 320is has covered just 49k miles and was returned to showroom condition by the dealer that sold it – 28 years later! Bridging the gap between 2002 and E30, this sporty E21 has an LSD, big ol’ air dam, and sport suspension. If E21s are your thing, this is a great prospect for fun and long-term value.

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Year: 1982
Model: 320is
Engine: 1.8L inline four
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 49,159
Price: Reserve on at $11,780

Click for details: 1982 BMW 320is on eBay

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1982 BMW 320iS, Henna red with black cloth Recaros. 49,159 original miles, 5-speed manual transmission, S package contains: BBS light alloy rims, manual sunroof, Recaro seats, leather covered sport steering wheel and shift knob, limited slip differential, sport suspension, front air dam, deluxe tool kit, AM/FM cassette radio and fog lights.

This car was original sold by Savage BMW in Ontario California on 05/14/1982. In 2010 this car was traded back into Savage BMW and they decided to go through and replace anything that was worn or faded and then used it as a showroom piece. In August 2011 car was used by Bimmer Magazine for an article titled “THE FORGOTTEN 3.” See link: http://www.bimmer-mag.com/issues/100/articles/the-forgotten-3

Won Second Place in Clean Class @ West Coast Summer Concours in August 11, 2010. Original MSRP was $13,290 and $2,620 for Sport package in 1982 (only 1% of total 320i production where S package cars, making this a very rare car). This is a zero rust California car and I will let the pictures speak for themselves (if you don’t see a picture of something that you want to see just let me know, we have over 100). I think it would be fair to say that this is one of, if not the nicest Henna Red 320iS cars left on the road. Car comes with Bimmer article poster and stand as seen in photo that is signed by the author and photographer (makes for a great piece when showing the car).

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I love seeing cars that have been loved and well-maintained, even if they’re not the craziest, fastest model out there. The 320is laid the groundwork for the most revered line of everyday sports sedans in history and seeing one as pristine as this is a good reminder of where we’ve been. I much prefer seeing a car garnering love, status and attention than something new. Based on the other exceptional E21s we’ve had, this could reach up towards $14k and even eclipse it if someone really appreciate the low-mileage and care it has received.

-NR

Foreign 1988 BMW 320is with S14 swap for sale

As mentioned before on this site, the impending teens of this century bring exciting prospects for car enthusiasts. In 2013, any vehicle manufactured in 1988 “can be lawfully imported into the U.S. without regard to whether it complies with all applicable FMVSS.” For those of us who love all things motor from late-80s Europe, this is revolutionary. Imports will be significantly easier and rare European models infinitely more accessible (sorry RS2 enthusiasts, you’ll have to wait another 7 or so years).

Depending on the manufacture date, this 1988 320is could be nearing the golden period. But this is no normal 320is. Imported new from Italy to Slovakia, this slick 4-door wears an M Tech body kit and backs it up with the legendary S14 from the E30 M3. A 5 year-old repaint in lovely Delphin gray has it looking like new. If you’re looking for M3 fun a little further below the radar, this is your car.

1988 BMW 320is with S14 for sale on eBay in Slovakia


The appetizing headline of this car disguises some major questions, however. As if a Slovakian BMW weren’t sketchy enough, add a negligible description, salvage title, and claimed 254k miles leave way more questions than answers. If you have eastern European connections, this may be worth checking out, but with a $12,800 asking price it’s more of a fun though exercise in unique E30s. If unique E30s are your ultimate thing and you dig Slovakia, then maybe you can channel Steve Martin’s Czechoslovakian “Wild and Crazy Guy,” taking the time fully research and arrange shipping and guarantee the 25-year exemption, becoming the envy of all the other wild and crazy E30 guys.

-NR