No Reserve Driver: 1979 BMW 320i

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The E21-chassis 3-Series has found its way into my own garage, with a 1980 320/6 Euro-spec car that I discovered as a “farm find” some years ago. This car is a U.S.-model, made obvious by its bulbous safety bumpers along with the standard 1.8L M10 motor, and remains a nicely preserved specimen equipped with its original radio and a manual transmission. Find it here on eBay with an opening bid of $4,500 and no action yet. 

I would love to confirm the original color of this 320i, as it looks like it could be Bahama Beige, one of my all-time favorite vintage BMW colors. It looks a touch too dark, however, so I’m not sure what the actual paint code is. The seller says this example is original barring the addition of a period-correct Ansa exhaust at some point, which is one of the few mufflers that isn’t stock but still looks OK on the 320i.

The interior remains highly original, right down to the factory Blaupunkt stereo. The seller doesn’t label this as a Sport Package car, so someone must have added the front air dam at some point. Other tell-tale signs would be a three-spoke steering wheel, mesh wheels, a limited-slip and Recaro sport seats, none of which are optioned on this survivor-spec example.

E21s will have their day soon, as 2002s are increasingly priced out of reach for many and the later E30s fall short on delivering the full assortment of charms the older cars are known for. The seller recommends inspecting the E21 in person, even tough it looks quite sound, and you’ll find the 320i living in Charlotte, NC if you’re looking for a shop to perform a PPI.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Mr. Bond

    Must be a fast car if it has a parachute on the back!

    Like 15
  2. leiniedude leiniedudeMember

    Hi Jeff, as a new member to the Bimmer clan, this is nice. The bumpers have to go. Still learning on the BMW stuff. Always had American rigs so I am in a learning curve now. Got some new boots for my Z3 2 days ago. New tricks, old dog eh, take care, Mike.

    Like 5
  3. Francisco

    Shucks. If only I could see the licence number on this car, I could steal the car and the owner’s identity.

    Like 11
  4. Neal

    I had a crush on these when I was a kid/teenager and these were new.
    Would be a cool classic to own.

    Like 5
    • Johnny

      My brother had one in burnt orange. It was a blast to drive.

      Like 1
  5. local_sheriff

    First thing that strikes me is how HORRIBLE those diving board bumpers look on that trick body! Reminds me of Jeep winch bumpers,ugh!
    I’ve driven e21 alot, as my best friend in high school had an 81 318i.With a sport suspension it had great road handling for its day though not the fastest – that I-4 sounded like a Lada engine. The I-6 e21’s were considerably stronger, not to mention they had BMW’s signature grunt!
    These are sexy, nimble 70s performers that will shine after a six transplant.

    Like 3
  6. Fiete T.

    Lived most of my formative years in Germany. The “Home country” offerings were much better looking and could be had in 6-cylinder version. The 4-cylinders were always slow…

    Like 3
  7. KevinR

    It looks more gold than beige to me. I always liked the E21 and the US spec bumpers don’t really bother me much.

    That being said, it’s hard to tell much of anything about this car from the pictures or the ad. Between the exterior pictures taken in the rain, the one poorly angled interior shot and the scant ad copy, there’s nothing to encourage me to investigate further.

    Like 0
  8. Allen Thornton

    I would love one of these. I have 1984 528e, 1986 528e, 1986 535i and a recent barn find of a 1972 4spd 3.0 Bavarian but no 2 doors! I love the color as well.

    Like 0

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