Lateral Gs are BMW E21’s Best Friend
Owner and Photographer: Bela Zsalakovics
Year, Make, and Model: 1980 BMW 320/6 (E21)
I was always a Petrolista. My father used to take me to some motorsports events, like motocross or rallye when I was young.
At first I didn’t even like BMWs. In my country mostly gangsters and gypsies buy BMWs and that gives these cars a bad reputation. My childhood best-of-the-best was the Lancia Delta HF Integrale, but it is kind of expensive. And also drift became so popular… When I first saw drifting I said, “Wow! That’s what I call driving skills!” I fell in love with sideways driving the first time I ever experienced it and started to look for a rear-wheel drive car, with good support in the second-hand parts market, easily swappable upgrade parts, two doors because sportscar, and availability here in Hungary.
I started to look for some Japanese cars at first, but they weren’t as popular those days, also sourcing parts was an issue. After all these logical decisions I started to look for a BMW. Then I saw some properly modded E21s on the internet and fell in love with the shape. The ideal choice was the E21.
Originally equipped with the legendary six-cylinder m20 code 2 liter engine from the factory. When I bought it, it was in terrible condition, but I was able to drive it home about 250km (~160miles). I went to buy it with a friend who, upon seeing it, said, “We should have a tow rope.” Funny thing is that when we got home, his car decided to break down.
Anyway, I started driving the 320/6, and I wanted more power. First, I swapped the engine (after welding the chassis) to an m20b23 (it’s BMWs old twelve valve 2.3 liter engine with 150hp) with L-jetronic, and used it about a year. After some time, I got lucky to buy a well priced 2.5 (170ish hp) so I swapped it in. After some use I discovered that the engine had a well ported cylinder head so it produce a little more power than the factory.
Actually, during the restoration I completely swapped the interior too. Bought some Recaros and a new headliner, steering wheel, rear seat, changed the suspension (Bilstein sport), front brakes from the 323i, five-speed gearbox, and Black Hellas.
I love that it’s RWD: it’s raw, it’s kinda lightweight, tail happy, and I love how it looks.
I was watching used cars ads for a while looking for a six cylinder E21, and that was the cheapest. I really like to travel anywhere on good quality B-roads, because I like fast cornering. Lateral G’s are my best friend.
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