Junkyard Find: 1983 BMW 320i

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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junkyard find 1983 bmw 320i
Between the old-timey 2002 and the hugely influential E30, there was the E21. Over in Yurp, BMW shoppers could buy 315s and 316s and 323s and I don’t know what all, but here in North America we know the E21 almost exclusively via the good old 320i. The 2002 overlapped E21 production by a couple of years; likewise, BMW showrooms in 1983 held the final examples of the 320i side-by-side with the brand-new E30-platform 318i. Here’s an example of one of those end-times E21s, spotted last week in a Denver self-service wrecking yard.
Either somebody pried off the little “i” on this emblem without leaving a mark, or we’re looking at a European-market 320 trunk lid. Such are the mysteries of the junkyard.
Almost 220,000 miles on the clock, extremely respectable for a Late Malaise Era car that probably got hooned every day of its life.
This car is fairly straight, a bit of rust but nothing too terrible. Looks like somebody grabbed the seats right away, perhaps the same BMW aficionado that picked this nearby 2002 clean.
Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on May 21, 2012

    Ah, the car that sold me on BMW. I was a poor student, and commuted with a much better off friend. We'd carpool, my rusty 72 Nova being my contribution. He liked to go out late and party, which made driving to school @6 am leave time rough. We worked out a plan where he'd go party, and the next morning I'd drive....his car-the deal was I'd always drive...twist my arm. (we didn't go out together so I'd have a normal night's sleep) Daddy bought him a new 320i. (I later found out the 320i was to slow him down...he'd crashed out two new Vettes, but we all know life is not fair.) I'd pick him up, he'd sleep, and I'd have a great ride into and out of school. He slept pretty soundly too. I loved this car, it transmitted the BMW virus I still have today...the only thing is it was slow for a kid whose prior car was a 400 Firebird-euro teacup motor didn't really cut it, but the chassis was sweetness and light. We later bought a 325is, the later model, and it had the missing HP....now a 7 second 0-60 time is considered slow. BMW cars are very well built. You can bitch about I drive or the transmissions in the 5 series, but with a good owner, they run for a very long time. I had a salesman claim he was told by an engineer at BMW that the service life is 24 years or 400k miles. I cannot vouch for that but working on my 9 year old 3 is easier than my 4 year old Acura, and there is much less rust on the fittings of the BMW. With less to go wrong and simpler electrics, I'm not at all surprised that the car made it this far-and someone is enjoying those sport seats.

  • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on May 21, 2012

    At one point I was looking at old BMWs just for the build quality, I decided against one thanks to parts cost.

    • Speedlaw Speedlaw on May 21, 2012

      There is a huge aftermarket. Front control arm bushings, dealer, $250 a set. $90 aftermarket. Front brakes, fronts, $700 with pads. $200 aftermarket. Most BMW parts can be bought from the OE makers with equivalent markdowns. You can usually see where the BMW logo was ground off when the part comes in a "lemforder", "ATE" or "Bosch" box. IF you can DIY they are a lot of fun.

  • Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.
  • Carsofchaos The problem with congestion, dear friends, is not the cars per se. I drive into the city daily and the problem is this:Your average street in the area used to be 4 lanes. Now it is a bus lane, a bike lane (now you're down to two lanes), then you have delivery trucks double parking, along with the Uber and Lyft drivers also double parking. So your 4 lane avenue is now a 1.5 lane avenue. Do you now see the problem? Congestion pricing will fix none of these things....what it WILL do is fund persion plans.
  • FreedMike Many F150s I encounter are autonomously driven...and by that I mean they're driving themselves because the dips**ts at the wheel are paying attention to everything else but the road.
  • Tassos A "small car", TIM????????????This is the GLE. Have you even ever SEEN the huge thing at a dealer's??? NOT even the GLC,and Merc has TWO classes even SMALLER than the C (The A and the B, you guessed it? You must be a GENIUS!).THe E is a "MIDSIZED" crossover, NOT A SMALL ONE BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION, oh CLUELESS one.I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THE NONSENSE you post here every god damned day.And I BET you will never even CORRECT your NONSENSE, much less APOLOGIZE for your cluelessness and unprofessionalism.