Impressive Survivor: 1977 BMW 320i

Obviously, I’m a bit partial towards E21-series BMWs, but this one just blew me away. Said to be a low-mileage survivor locked away in a suburban garage until just recently, it sports a one-year only color and remains in completely stock condition. Find it here on with no price listed. 

From the original steel wheels to the stainless steel exhaust tip, not much has changed on this 320i since it left the factory in the late 70s. It’s rare to find one that hasn’t at least been lowered slightly, and although my preference is for cars to have a bit of a drop, this one does look great at stock height. Though originality is what you’re paying for, the seller has left some issues unaddressed, like a cracked original windshield.

The tiny four-cylinder was never a rocket ship, but it delivers decent performance in a light-weight package like this 320i. A compression test revealed excellent numbers, and the seller has done some basic servicing to ensure it runs as reliably as it did when new. A new fuel pump and filters, water pump, radiator hoses, clutch master and slave cylinder round out the list of recent maintenance items.

As you would expect, the interior looks fantastic. The bus-like steering wheel would be quickly replaced with a three-spoke unit from a sport package car if this example were mine, but otherwise, I wouldn’t change a thing. The dash is un-cracked, which is hard to find in cars this age. Though the price isn’t listed, I suspect this preserved 320i won’t go cheaply. When’s the last time you saw an E21 this nice?


  1. Paulbz3

    It is a remarkable survivor. The wheels and color are just perfect. There can’t be many left like this in unmodified original condition. I’d leave the windshield alone too if not daily driven since the crack is out of the sight line, change the radio to something that fits without mod to provide connectivity, upgrade the speakers, again, without modifying the OEM configuration and then drive the snot out of it on nice spring, summer and fall weekends. Made an inquiry about pricing. That’s how much I like it. Thanks for the find. Will post if purchased…

  2. DRV

    Your insurance should replace with the original windshield, but if it’s dated,that’s a problem.

  3. rando

    My favorite color for these. One of my favorite BMWs. The LAST BMW I really cared anything for. Nice car.

  4. Jeff V

    This was my very first car out of the Navy into corporate America at 21 (’77), mine unfortunately was auto but prob one of the most reliable cars ever I owned. Got sideswiped by a semi in Dallas doing 55, spun around a few times stopping on the side, minor damage & made it back to WI in one piece! Mine was a golden bronzit color (factory). It had the 2L engine which was downgraded to I believe 1.8L later???

    • Tirefriar

      Originally the 2.0l was the largest engine offered in the e21 but the decision to offer it here as the only choice was due mainly to its ability to meet u.s. smog requirements. The 1.8l was introduced starting in 1980. The e21 were often looked down upon by the market. Just a few years ago, an example like this would have trouble finding a buyer at $5k. These are still relatively cheap today, with clean ones hovering at $3-$5k.

      These are not fast or quick cars and do stay away from automatics unless all you are after is a commuter car with classic car lineage. A/C on these were horrible, but just like most of the middle market German hardware from those days. 1977-1979 are the cars to get and upgrade to a 5 speed or go with a 320iS.

      I had an e21 back in the early 90’s. I loved the fighter jet interior of it, but certainly not one of the cars I miss. BTW, I sold it to a co-worker who promptly cut the springs, threw on some aftermarket crap wheels, matched the white paint on EVERYTHING, in short he ruined the car within a month…

  5. Jesper

    Shame its not a 6 cyl 320i

    • Jeff V

      Yeah, I saw my very first 340i the other day here in Madison, WI. Nice!

  6. alan

    It would then have to be either a 320/6 carb or 323i fuel injected. 320i with a six did not appear until the E30 chassis.

  7. alan

    Looks like Henna Red to me but they list it as orange.

    • Mike W H

      might be signal orange. Hennarot is pretty close though.

      • Brian

        Difficult to say with certainty but me thinks Inka.

  8. SSPBill

    U.S. spec. bumpers ruin everything. OK – that’s an overstatement but the Euro-spec 70’s – 80’s vintage BMW’s look so much sweeter.

  9. Dolphin Member

    If you read the details, some of which are missing, Carsforsale turns out to be a useless website other than maybe being able to contact the seller to find out more.

    As for the car, I have driven them and these are smooth and refined for a small 1970s car, but if you spend the (probably) big money the seller wants, the value starts to go away as you drive it. And these will never be very collectible.

    An E30 325is with low miles, or at least in good condition, would be much more worth paying up for because they have a bigger following than these E21 cars, and will likely keep appreciating. And with the E30-based M3 out of sight, the 325is is appreciating now. My guess is that the seller might want 325is money for this E21.

  10. Francisco

    I don’t know about you other car guys, but when I look at an ad, the first thing I look for is the price. If it’s not there, it tells me the buyer wants too much, and probably is not willing to negotiate. I move on to the next ad.

  11. curt

    I dont know much about bmw,but to me it looks like the exhaust pipe doesnt line up with the rear valance.

    • Brian

      They usually line up pretty well. My guess is that a rubber exhaust hanger (doughnut) or two has given up the ghost.

  12. healeydays

    Just got a note from the seller.

    Price is $22,000

    It’s nice, but gonna pass at that price…

    • SSPBill

      Granted this is a rare find give the condition but $22k is over E36 and E46 M3 money. Just my preference.

      • Dolphin Member

        My thoughts exactly. $22K is more than the cost of a lot of desirable cars, including Euro/Japanese E36 M3s.

      • JRATT1956

        My son purchased a 2009 M3 with 66K for 28K in May 2016. The launch control is awesome. I may have to pick up a 2013 M3 when I start getting my SS check @ 62 in 2018. Very impressed with the build quality. Original price of the car was 72K – used market is the only way to buy a BMW. Many people think the car is much newer than 2009.

        I like the 1977, but 15K would be the top I would pay, at that price I could almost talk the wife into it.

    • Brian

      Beautiful car. Maybe because I learned to drive in my dad’s ’77 (Polaris silver), but I will always have a soft spot for the E21. That said, $22K is waaaaay off the mark. The seller either doesn’t know the market or is hoping for a miracle.

  13. redwagon

    trop chère pour moi.

    last time i saw one this nice would have been circa 1979 or ’80. would love to test drive it but i reckon the old adage of be happy you don’t get too meet your hero’s applies here.

  14. Tom hetrick

    i had one of these that had a weber due to injection failure. car had a harmonic vibration at 57 mph. talked to BMW employee friend back then and the answer was go 58. it was true but annoying. 22k????? get a 2002.

  15. Rolf Poncho 455

    burned orange!!

  16. Woodie Man

    Back in the late seventies we used to call these E21’s “Iranian warwagons. After the Shah fled Iran, many of his supporters washed up in Southern cClifornia. They all seemed to drive these. They were thick as flies around La Jolla..

    Nice car though.

  17. Pete

    I could see 12k but 22K. Pffft yeah right. I had a 76 320 I paid a Captain $500 for. I drove that car all over germany. Not a lot of power but it would get you there. I was actually looking at buying another one when gas had jumped up to 4.00 per gallon a few years back. Ended up with something else instead.

  18. Jeff Staff

    $22K would buy a very nice 323i with Euro goodies still attached. Food for thought, to the seller.

  19. RicK

    Hate orange cars

    • Brian

      Fair enough, that leaves more for me!

  20. JRATT1956

    Not as much as I hate green cars. lol.

  21. Mark-A

    Looks like it also has the rare OFF ROAD suspension fitted too or is it just the angle of the photos?

  22. Melvin Burwell

    I’ll take a 74-76 2002 over these cars any day. Had a 74.

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