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Price: SOLD | Visit the Bring a Trailer Auction
Mileage: 122,500 Miles
Engine: M10B18 1.8-Liter Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual Transmission
Exterior color: Alpine White Exterior (146)
Interior: Mocha Cloth Interior (122)
Momo Montecarlo 350mm Leather Steering Wheel
Original Steering Wheel Included
Hella H4 Headlights
Hella Euro Fog Lights w/ Covers
Ireland Engineering Lower Chassis Brace
H&R Sport Springs and Bilstein Shocks
UUC Stainless Steel Brake Lines
E21 Turbo Fan 13-Inch Wheels
Kumho Solus TA11 Tires
Carpet Factory Floor Mats
California / Colorado Car
All Maintenance Up to Date
The E21 was the first 3 Series, manufactured from 1977-1983. The E21 shared very similar design logic to its larger 5 Series sibling, yet retained the heart and soul of the iconic 2002 that cemented BMW’s entry-level sports sedan. The E21 added considerable refinement while sharing an evolved version of the 2002’s M10 four-cylinder engine (the six-cylinder M20 engine would have to wait a generation to make its first appearance in the U.S. market). The E21 was a model of firsts for the 3 Series including four individual headlights and dashboard controls angled toward the driver. Yet, after spending a little time behind the wheel of a 2002 and an E21 back-to-back, the evolutionary link between the two is undeniable. The E21 is larger, softer, and more comfortable, but the soul of the 2002 is always present. Despite being often overshadowed by the 3 Series that followed, this is what makes the E21 so good—a direct connection to the 2002. E21s are rare, too. BMW was still a rising star during the E21 years, so they sold considerably less than the E30 that followed. Rust-free, sorted, and well cared-for examples are very difficult to come by.
This Alpine White over Mocha cloth 1983 320i has only 122,500 miles. It is an exceptionally nice example. In all the years we’ve been in business at Glen Shelly, this is the nicest E21 we’ve come across. It was originally sold in Colorado and remained here aside from a short stint in California. It came to us via trade for an E30 318iS from a long-term enthusiast owner who spared no expense maintaining it, as well as adding a host of tasteful upgrades. These include a Momo Montecarlo 3-spoke leather steering wheel, Clarion stereo, Euro Hella fog lights, Hella H4 Headlights, Bilstein shocks, H&R springs, and an Ireland Engineering lower chassis brace. There are records and receipts dating back to 2015 that show extensive mechanical housekeeping including replacement of the brakes, clutch hydraulics, sway bar bushings, cooling system refreshment, rear subframe mounts and bushings, tie rod ends, control arms, distributor cap, fuel pump relay, fuel filter, fuel hoses, and fuel pump. There are records from the years before detailing regular maintenance. There are also lots of small cosmetic repairs like the body trim and clips, switches and bulbs, and the hood insulation. In May of 2018 Import Coachworks repainted and installed a replacement driver’s door due to superficial damage. We found little that needed attention on our pre-purchase inspection, no doubt the result of excellent care and stewardship by the previous owner. You just don’t see E21s like this—it is a fantastic example that we would like to find a new home for where it will be cared for and enjoyed.
The Alpine White paint is in very good condition and presents fantastically. Close inspection does reveal small imperfections. The worst are small rock chips on the hood and the leading edges, a few small door dings and light scratches. There is a notable scratch that caused a light crease on the hood, but it is tolerable. There is a white vinyl stripe running down the upper character line on the side of the car. There is no notable rust; common areas like the front fender seams, floorboards, and lower edges are clean. There is some superficial rust in the driver’s doorjamb. The body and panel gaps are good and the Carfax is clean. All black-work and trim are present and intact, with slight UV fade. The bumper chrome has some oxidation, but is presentable. The windshield is crack-free, but it does have some pitting. The headlights, fog lights, marker lights, and taillights are in good condition, with stress cracking in the rear markers and one small crack in the driver’s side taillight. The E21 turbine wheels have no glaring defects and the center caps are present. They are wearing Kumho Solus TAII all-season tires with 2016 DOT dates and 75% tread remaining.
The interior is also in very good condition. There are no odors and it has never been smoked in. The headliner does not sag and the sunroof operates correctly. The carpet is in good condition and is protected by floor mats. The cloth seats are in good shape, with the exception of a few tears in the driver’s seat bottom and a tear in the driver’s bolster. The dashboard has several cracks, but it is presentable. The 3-spoke Momo steering wheel is in perfect condition. The shift knob and boot are also in excellent condition. All instrument cluster functions, including the odometer, work correctly. The digital clock has one missing pixel. The previous owner replaced multiple interior switches, which all look excellent. The Clarion stereo sounds fantastic; it has a Bluetooth microphone. The heat blows warm and the air-conditioning blows… just as warm because it has been deleted (some of the original parts are included). The blower fan works at all speeds, but it does chirp slightly. All window and sunroof switches work, the trunk tool kit is complete, and the jack and spare tire iron are present. It comes with one key, the records binder, and the owner’s manual is also present. Several very cool period magazines featuring E21 reviews are also included.
This E21 has clearly always been correctly maintained, which is evident immediately when you drive it. Everything feels tight and crisp, a rare commodity on cars of this age. The engine bay is super clean and tidy. There are no significant leaks, but there is slight weeping from the back of the timing chain cover. It does not spot. The engine idles smoothly and pulls very strongly to redline. The plucky M10 does very well, even at Colorado altitudes. The clutch does not slip, the take-up is correct and the shifter is tight—not the spoon in a bowl of spaghetti that so many are. The transmission and driveline are quiet and free of vibrations. The suspension is firm, yet compliant, and the bushings are tight. The brakes are strong with plenty of life left. There is slight shimmy at around 50 miles per hour, but it is absolutely livable. In Colorado we pay for and ensure it passes emissions.
This is a properly sorted and properly cared for E21 320i. Like any vintage BMW, it will need continued care and maintenance, and it deserves to be well cared for by its new owner. We would like to find a new owner who will enjoy it for years to come.