Korman Turbo Equipped: 1982 BMW 320i

This 1982 BMW 320i is a U.S.-spec car that benefits from some very cool in-period modifications, including a Korman turbo kit and rear disc brake conversion courtesy of a Euro-spec 323i. The car retains a largely stock outside appearance aside from the Alpina-style wheels and larger front air dam, giving it a sleeper vibe of sorts. Korman Autoworks is a well-regarded name in BMW tuning and restoration, so seeing a car that’s been breathed on by their workshop is a very good thing, and the seller includes documentation that supports the history of modifications made to this E21-chassis 3-Series. Find it here on eBay with bids up to $8,100 and the reserve unmet.

The E21 3-Series has been enjoying a resurgence of late among enthusiasts after many years of being overlooked between the significant bookends of the 2002 and the E30 platform. The E21 is definitely a bridge between the two, feeling more refined than a 2002 but not nearly as polished as a later E30. The car has long been looked at as being unfairly impacted by U.S. safety and emissions requirements which impacted its looks and performance. However, turbocharging has been a long-time go to for performance shops looking to extract more go-go juice out of the standard powerplant, with Korman and Callaway among the household names of engine builders.

This example was apparently the only car Korman built with the turbo kit and Mikuni carburetors, and was said to be “brutal” back in the day. The E21 looks like a sport package car with the Recaro seats, deep front air dam, and three-spoke steering wheel, but those parts could have also easily been transplanted once the original owner realized this car was going to become a performance build. I’m not blown away by the outside appearance of the car – the wheels are undersized, the headlight guards out of place, and the “M” badge a careless add-on – but the cabin looks incredibly well preserved, and the seller notes the dash remains uncracked, a monumental achievement for any vintage BMW owner.

The seller includes a personal letter reflecting the work done by Korman at the time, likely addressed to the owner who oversaw the modifications. While there’s always an argument to be made that original, preserved cars are the most desirable, a car like this modified in-period and with parts that today remain near impossible to find will always command a fair amount of interest from enthusiasts. Bidding is strong at the moment, but I think landing north of $10K should be a reasonable place to clear the reserve, as this car could present even better with some slight cosmetic tweaks that would likely bring even more money down the road should the next owner decide to flip it.


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    I’m guessing this is a Pete Mchenry build. The timeline matches up and Pete worked for Ray at about this time. I was just starting out and worked either at a Brit shop or an Italian one as I switched places in 82. I knew Pete from the track and he was a quiet unassuming guy but really knew his stuff. Ray was the owner and promoter of the business and it worked well for a while and they built a lot of 320s and 2002s.
    At the time I really preferred the 320s as the chassis was much better and it came standard with a 5 speed and a nicer interior. Time has made the 2002 a classic and forgotten about the 320.

    Like 6
  2. Billy1

    I wonder what the writer’s definition of “brutal” back in the day was? Maybe a magazine editor did an article on this?

  3. JMB#7

    I worked for Ray Korman back in 1985. It is not spelled out in the article or in the ebay listing when this car was modified. At the time I was there, they used dual throat Webers for the blown through turbos. Two dual throats on the 4 cylinders and three dual throat Webers on the 6 cylinders.
    they almost exclusively used water to air intercoolers. We were also doing turbo kits on the electronic fuel injected engines. Ray had a lot of great people working with him over the years. Dan was the chief mechanic when I started, and he is still there today as far as I know. If you are interested in the car, give then a call there is a good chance that Ray or Dan would let you know a bit about this car.

    Like 2
  4. Geoff

    I bought the car in the eBay auction and have since picked it up. It shows better in person than in the photos. No intercooler, so that’s a item to be upgraded. It pulls hard, remain tight. Pleased with the purchase. Thanks Barn Finds

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