Reader Submissions: This BMW E21 Is Inspirational

This BMW E21 Is Inspirational

By Petrolicious Productions
May 22, 2014

Owner: Sam Webber

Year, Make, and Model: 1983 BMW 320is (E21)

Location: West Brookfield, Massachusetts

Photographer: Caleb Vincent DesCognets

I became interested in cars after buying my first one, a Volkswagen GTI mk4. It was a fun car that left me wanting a faster car, then an older car, and then a more ‘stylish’ car. It was followed up by a BMW E28 5-series about a year later, but then I wanted to get back into something a bit smaller; at first, I thought of the classic, BMW E30. At a car show I met someone who longed for an E28, so we began talking about a potential trade. At that time, he was the owner of this E21 320is. Upon seeing it, I knew I wanted it. I was immediately drawn to the condition of the original paint, the driver oriented interior architecture, and the more simple body lines of the car’s exterior as compared to my E28. The trade didn’t go through and I said goodbye to this E21 for what I assumed would be forever.

Fast forward several months, the E21 was sold off, and I had sold my E28 too. We’re in June 2013 now and I’m still looking for a car, particularly S30s, when I get a random PM from someone on a car forum. It was addressed to a “Sam” but it was about an E21 for sale that I had supposedly had interest in. Turns out I was the wrong Sam, but since I was in the market, I figured I’d ask to see the car up for grabs. Sure enough, by some stupid luck or “fate” the E21 that had MISTAKENLY been shown to me was the same one I had seen months earlier, now for sale again! Having recently sold my car, I was ready to buy the 320. I told the guy that I’d be down the next day, as I knew it was a good looking, well performing car and I bought it!

Now that I’m the owner, I love the fact that since it’s an E21, I’ve never actually seen another one on the road. Perhaps that’s just due to my location, but it’s a pretty cool feeling. Best of all is the feeling I get when driving it on twisting backcountry roads with good, smooth pavement. Though the car is by no means fast, the M10 engine is peppy and enjoyable on a country road. In addition to being fun, the experience of building it to the current spec has inspired me to pursue Industrial Design as a career. Focusing on transportation design, I hope to work as an automotive designer in the future. [Editor’s Note: We look forward to featuring your work!]

Want to see your vintage car on Petrolicious? Click here for more information.

Join the Conversation
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Maurits Klein
Maurits Klein(@mauritsklein)
6 years ago

Looks stunning! What suspension, wheels and tyres are you running?

Alex Dimen
Alex Dimen(@fb_585862170)
7 years ago

Beautiful ride. if you’re looking to restore the chrome windscreen surrounds you can use 3m aluminum tape. Found that trick on the e28 forums. Good luck.

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram(@antony-ingram)
7 years ago

Great simple style to this one, and love the interior shot with the driving gloves. I considered buying an E21 about a year ago – this makes me wish I’d gone through with it.

Gary Groce
Gary Groce(@groceg)
7 years ago

It’s nice to see the forgotten BMW starting to get some attention lately. I have owned 5 E21’s including one I bought new in 78′. I prefer the softer lines to the E30’s. They are a joy to drive when maintained properly and in spite of around a million of them being produced, they are more rare to see today than the coveted 02. I should know, I also own a beautiful bone stock malaga 73′ TII in addition to the 83′ all original E21 s package I use as a daily driver. The 2 cars offer uniquely different driving experiences but are equally wonderful in their own respect. What’s really fun for me is that my 27 yr old daughter Bridget owns and drives an exact twin of my 83’s. It’s the same car she took her drivers test in at age 16. Both are Henna red and 100\% stock. How many dads can make that claim ?

Andrew Robertson
Andrew Robertson(@aus715)
7 years ago
Reply to  Gary Groce

Great article and Well done. My E21 323i is sitting in the carport awaiting a resto. It took me back to when I had a ’79 320i in silver, back in 1986. What a car. Kugelfischer injection, M10 high spec rebuilt motor, 4 speed, Simmons 3 piece Aussie wheels, Koni progressive lowered adjustable suspension, immaculate paint, front deep dish Kamei spoiler with soft rear bootlid lip as well. Interior in small check blue velour and That Smell. Too much happened in and with that car. Today a 323i sits ready to go but it is now a difficult proposition to do much with it. Most of the engine is sitting in the boot and a manual conversion is looming. It is rusty in spots and needs paint in many places, but it is 2014 and not 1984. Motivation to proceed with an E21 resto needs careful consideration as it is not a deemed classic yet, although I suspect that will change in years to come. A much unloved car in its time and when the M3 E30 turned up the 323i was relegated to the back blocks overnight. A manual and well presented 323i is still revered, even today but not well remembered enough to be worth much. Yet. Time will tell.

Bryan Reeves
Bryan Reeves
7 years ago

I own a schwarz 320is as well and love it. This car is tasteful and an inspiration to bring my front bumper in closer. Cheers, Sam.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle(@mosler)
7 years ago

I have always been sort of fan of BMW and this car is no exception to that rule. I really like the wheel combo of this car. Sometimes i think people seem to forget that a wheel combo can make or break a car. I personal believe it looks wonderful on this car.. thanks for showing it off

Ae Neuman
Ae Neuman(@fb_1293493178)
7 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Rittle

not a fan of the silly stretched tyre look, though some retraint appears to have been applied in this case.

Tsvetan Tsekov
Tsvetan Tsekov(@tsvetan)
7 years ago
Reply to  Ae Neuman

Me neither…also less comfort, less durability, doesn’t make the car faster..otherwise the car is great. I love how the E21 handles and even the beautifully restored 318i that I drove a couple of years ago didn’t have much power, it was still a great joy to drive and a reasonably quick little car. To me, the feeling in the E21 is much much better than in the E30. I still wish I had bought that one, but my “hobby fund” was completely dry. 😀