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Rough Sport Package Car: 1983 BMW 320i

What do you do with a rough survivor? In other words, a car that is “all there” but suffering from the ravages of time and use? That’s the dilemma for me when considering this 1983 BMW 320i with the factory sport package. It is honest to a fault, with no modifications and all of the parts that typically get stripped and sold off still attached. It is rusty and tired, and while I want it to be saved, it will take a sympathetic owner. Find the E21-chassis 320i here on eBay with a week left and bidding approaching $1K.

I own an E21 in Euro-spec form, and while this one is a slightly-less desirable U.S. model, it does come with the sport package option as equipped by the factory. BMW has used this packaging on almost all of its cars in the last 25-plus years to give owners a more sporting option if the pricey Motorsports variety was out of reach. It came with a deep front air dam, fog lights, Recaro bucket seats, basketweave mesh wheels, a three-spoke sport steering wheel and limited slip differential. All of those parts are still attached here, along with the rare accessory mudflaps.

The Recaro seats and steering wheel along will net you a tidy $1K or better, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see this car parted. That would be a shame, as it’s so damn honest, but the E21 hasn’t matured to the point of 2002s where you wouldn’t dare part one out if it was still worth restoring. Unlike the later E30 chassis cars which are still frequently converted to race use, the E21 operates in a sort of no man’s land where it doesn’t get restored nor do rust-free examples become track day cars. Consequently, so many have been junked or parted that there are relatively few left compared to the platforms that immediately preceded and followed it.

The shock towers are still sound, and most of the corrosion appears limited to rocker panels, door edges and the tail panel beneath the trunk – all common trouble spots. You can still source new panels from Europe (and possibly the dealer) so a straight-forward restoration is not out of the question. While I get that parting it out is more profitable, this behavior only drives the price of decent cars even higher. Hopefully, the tide will turn and those examples worth restoring will survive while the true moneypits will provide the bits they need to live on. This 320i strikes me as being firmly in the former category – anyone agree?


  1. Poppapork

    The air dam and fog lights make this a 320IS! Should be close ratio 5 speed (320i is 4 speed) with 3.9 diff ratio, LSD and suspension changes.

    I would love to build a street/track toy with the classic looks but the engine is a limiting factor…. i just looked up its 0-60 and its 11 seconds!

    I guess its time to put a 6 cyl in there like it was meant, also backdate the grill to a single headlight, and burn these bumpers!

  2. Steve R

    This one won’t be cheap. The owner is emotionally attached and car is being sold on consignment, so they need a cut too. The dealer has a lot of cars listed for auctiIon, but hardly any sell. Like you said, it’s probably not worth restoring and will probably be too expensive to part or be considered as a cheap beater.

    Steve R

  3. Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

    It’s not the amount of rust that you can see, it’s the amount that you can’t see! Scary stuff.

  4. Bob

    I’ll sell my perfect body ( no rust ) 83 and the buyer of this car can combine them both into a pretty nice package

  5. pat gill

    the boot lid is bent and looks to be full of filler, the bonnet looks to have been replaced as it is more faded than the rest of the car, looks a bit of a dog, very scabby under the bonnet, worth saving but a lot of work, it is a 5 speed, interior rough, lots of rust,

  6. Dan D

    The E21 is actually my favorite BMW. Love the styling and while the performance isn’t great in a straight line, the handling and solidity (albeit not of this one) are fantastic. This one will be close to the ‘money pit’ variety, though.

  7. BarnfindyCollins

    Wow, something like this would have been in the back of Roundel 30 years ago and now it’s an unloved about to be parted out E21. Sad. I’ll take an Alpina 333i for my tears.

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