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Tag: e21

Outrageous E21: 1979 BMW 320i Dinan 4.6

Edit 12/9/2017: With new photos, a new description and apparently a few things fixed, the current owner of this ‘346i’ that we looked almost exactly one year ago has it back up for sale in a reserve auction format. Last time it didn’t meet reserve at only $10,000. Will it clear the reserve this time around?

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

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Feature Listing: 1979 BMW 323i Baur TC1

When enthusiasts think of custom coachwork and Germany, one name usually springs to mind: Karmann. Most identifiable for their combination with Ghia’s designs for Volkswagen, Karmann produced not only their eponymous creation Karmann-Ghia in both Type 14 and Type 34 configuration, but also the Beetle convertible. Volkswagen’s association didn’t end there, though, as the first Rabbit Cabriolets, both versions of the original Scirocco and the later Corrado were all built by the firm. So, too, were some of the first Porsche 356, 911 and 912 models, along with the 914. BMW, too, turned to the firm for ‘Big Coupe’ production, from the 2000CS to the E24 6-series. But when it came time to take the top off of their small cars, BMW looked elsewhere.

From Osnabrück BMW headed into the heart of the enemy’s home to Stuttgart, where Karosserie Baur was located. Baur was the company that BMW turned to when plans with Lamborghini to produce the supercar M1 fell through. Baur would later be the home that the infamous Group B Sport Quattro and Porsche 959 were produced in. In short, Baur was responsible for some of the most significant designs in German motoring and has plenty of expertise in factory-quality experience. It should come as no surprise, then, that they were the company that BMW selected to produce the first 3-series convertibles.

Taking the roof off the car seems simple enough; just grab a saw and go, ‘How hard could it be?’ Well, not so fast, as structural rigidity rears its ugly head. Beyond that, in the 1970s government nannies were indicating that the idea of a topless car was going to be outlawed, leading many manufacturers – including all of the major U.S. brands – to abandon the idea. Baur’s solution to the problem was to create a roll hoop ‘Targa’ model, which as we know from Porsche models offered multiple roof positions while simultaneously solving the issue of structural rigidity and occupant safety. But Baur wasn’t able to utilize the ‘Targa’ nameplate, as Porsche owned the copywrite of the title. Baur instead called the new partially topless 3-series the Top Cabriolet, shortened to TC. BMW offered these as a full-factory option and maintained the warranty, as these cars were expensive in period – a 323i like this one hit the market at the equivalent of $18,000 in 1980 (about $53,500 today) and selecting the Baur TC1 option added some $6,000 (about $17,000 today) to the price.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 BMW 323i Baur TC1 on eBay

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1982 BMW 323i Baur TC1 Turbo

In a post I wrote for The Truth About Cars this past week, I covered a few E30 models that offer affordable and interesting visual and performance alternatives to the E30 M3. One of those models was the Baur TC2, the model which gave BMW a soft-top before BMW made its own in 1985. Of course, the E30 wasn’t Baur’s first foray into convertible 3-series models, though, as they had started with the E21 model. Baur only produced a little less than half the amount of E21s – 4,595 according to Petrolicious – as they did E30 models at over 11,000, but as importation of early 1980s cars was easier, it seems more common to see the E21 Baur than the E30 Baur. Though fitted as standard with no performance upgrades, this unique 1982 example remedies that with a turbocharged M20:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 323i Baur TC1 Turbo on eBay

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1982 BMW 323i

Feeling blue that all of the affordable classic options are quickly becoming, well, not so affordable? There are still bastions of value if you’re willing to overlook the flash of the big names and instead just focus on a clever, unappreciated car. The E21 might just be the most unappreciated BMW ever brought to the United States, but most of that reputation is thanks to a relatively soft M10 engine allocation and one of the worst applications of federally mandated crash bumpers. Move on up to the M20 and the associated European trim and the story changes quite a bit. Suddenly, you have a 7/8ths scale M635CSi on a very affordable budget:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 323i on eBay

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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

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