Junkyard Find: 1977 BMW 320i

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1977 bmw 320i
While I may be guilty of not photographing all — or even most — of the interesting BMWs I find in the car graveyards on my appointed rounds, I’m making an effort to get the complete set of discarded 20th-century 3 Series cars. In fact, once I remember to shoot the next junked E46 I find (which will be easy, as these cars have become plentiful in the yards I frequent), we’ll have the complete junkyard history of the 3 Series from 1977 through 2006.The first-ever 3 Series, the E21, has become something of a junkyard rarity in recent years, but I found this ’77 in Central California back in December.
As the successor to the much-beloved 02 Series BMWs, the 320i got a bit bigger and plusher, enabling BMW USA to start snarfing up sales that the spartan, cramped 2002 might have missed. I recall my childhood dentist, orthodontist, and optometrist all bought 320is soon after they became available.
Europeans had a much larger selection of engine choices in the E21, ranging from a tiny 1.5-liter four all the way up to a 2.3-liter straight-six, but all the American-market versions had either 2.0-liter (1977-1979) or 1.8-liter (1980-1983) M10 s. This car has the 109-horse 2.0, which was plenty of power for a small car in Malaise Era America.
For some reason, one of this car’s owners — presumably the final one — swapped an icky, rusty, orange hood onto a much-less-icky black car. Maybe this BMW was a parts car for another, nicer 320i, and the bad hood got switched to the donor car to keep the rain off the engine.
I would have pulled the cool-looking rectangular VDO clock for my collection, but I have a good one already.
The real gone cats all had four-wheel disc brakes by 1977, but not this car. The Volvo 242 carried a couple hundred additional pounds over the 320i in 1977 (and 13 fewer horses), but had discs all around.
Here’s a genuine 1990s Socially Hazardous sticker, straight out of the Orange County home of The Vandals, slapped on the quarter window next to the Hofmeister Kink.Want to check out 2,000+ more Junkyard Finds? You’ll find links every one of them at The Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.
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3 of 24 comments
  • Garak Garak on Mar 17, 2020

    109 horses? Jeez. Those early emissions control systems were a nightmare.

    • Jlc Jlc on Oct 02, 2020

      Which was I you pulled them off and plugged the hole in the exhaust manifold with a plug. Did it at a BMWCCA meeting with some friends.

  • Jlc Jlc on Oct 02, 2020

    I had a 77 I bought right out of college. I had rebuilt a 914 with my dad and the second day I drove it a lady pulled out in front of me and I t-boned her and total thePorsche. Bought the 320i and auto tossed it for years until I sold it 10 years later. Loved the car, could actually work on it myself. That was back in the day when Bimmer drivers flashed their headlights at each other; before they became Yuppiemobiles. Just bought an 85 CSi, the car I always wanted when it came out but couldn’t afford then.

  • Tassos This "Eldorado" is a sad caricature of the far more substantial Eldorado and esp "Biarritz"s of the late 50s and 60s.It belongs to the junkyard. I can see no reason why anybody would want to restore this loser.Instead, you can get a FLAGSHIP German Luxury Sedan from the Web auctions, such as this one that was just sold for a tiny fraction of its price new, and which is still eminently driveable with little or no improvements:https://carsandbids.com/auctions/3oeMDvJw/2011-audi-a8-42-quattro
  • Cprescott Yet Honduh can't even build a car with safe seatbelts.
  • Analoggrotto " If we look into who was leading in overall recalls for 2022, Ford had the most – followed by Volkswagen, Stellantis, Mercedes-Benz, and General Motors. Though Kia and Hyundai followed immediately after."Such great company to be within.
  • FreedMike Here's my question: Why, Dodge, did you wait 10+ years to introduce a vehicle like the Hornet - a compact CUV with some performance chops and "Dodge attitude"? I'm not crazy about the Hornet itself, but the concept itself is great, and if they'd done something like it - and at a lower price point - in 2012, they wouldn't be staring at the business abyss they are now. They might have even generated enough profit to keep the Challenger and Charger refreshed and up-to-date, as Ford did with the Mustang - which is sticking around, unlike the Dodge muscle cars.
  • 28-Cars-Later Staying in the Strip? Downtown? Elsewhere?