Talk about a car with a near impossible mission. The E21 replaced the legendary 2002. For the US market, BMW had to present a car that was entertaining enough appeal to 2002 drivers, but comfortable and civil enough for those who expected a certain amount of luxury in a car coming from a premium German brand. Amazingly, they pulled it off.
If there was one complaint about the US spec 4 cylinder E21, it was its lack of power. In the 1970s, BMW, like all car manufacturers, were struggling to meet US emissions regulations. The 320 we received here had a small 1.8 liter engine. That, combined with the extra weight of the US spec bumpers and safety equipment, made for a car that was not quite as fun to drive as its European counterparts. But, given that all manufacturers were facing the same issues, the E21 was a damn fine car by 1970s US standards.
The 320i is significant in Callaway history. The E21 was first car Reeves Callaway turbocharged and the first turbo kit he offered for sale. (This was around 1977. Calloway was offering turbos in kit form only. The owner had to install it. Rumor has it though that a few Callaway E21 BMWs were built in the Old Lyme, CT facility.)
This car had its turbo installed "early on". The seller says it the turbo "kicks in beautifully" and it is a smooth running car. The instrument cluster has been changed, so the car's mileage is unknown.
This car also features some visual upgrades, including European bumpers, headlights and the cool headlight wipers (which still need to be wired.)
Besides a few very minor exterior blemishes and a ripped drivers seat, this car is in overall nice condition.
Turbo technology has come a long way since this car was built. Don't expect it to be as smooth or fast as modern turbo. However, if you've ever though about owning an E21, but shied away because of the lack of power, this might be the car for you.
Located in Melrose, MA, click here to see the eBay listing.