10k: 1980 BMW 320is E21 w/M20 I-6 swap; HellaFlushed

The 1975 E21 was the first of a long line of sporty luxury cars from BMW wearing the 3-series badge.  It replaced the aging 2002 and introduced a much more modern chassis with rack & pinion steering and sold extremely well when new.  Today, a well preserved E21 can be a fantastic bargain and offers the experience of a reliable classic that can be driven every day.  This 1980 BMW 320 E21 with M20 swap and hella-flush stance is for sale in Woodland Hills, CA, currently bidding on ebay for $10,000 with 4 days to go.

First, we need to get the elephant sized flares out in the open;  they are quite prominent and not really our style.  They would be great on a race car if you were trying to fit some 10 inch wide wheels with 315mm tires front and back…but on a street car where the only reason is so you can run some insane offset…it’s a bit silly.  Regardless, the paint/body quality on the car looks good and if you are into the ‘stance’ or ‘flush’ look, it looks to be a nice example free from oversized graphics and illest stickers.

The engine bay has a later model 2.7 liter M20B27 inline-6 swapped in from an e30 or e28.  The M20B27 was designated by BMW as the ETA engine joking referred to as the estimated time of arrival for its low power ratings, it is actually a reference to the greek letter η, which is commonly used in engineering language for efficiency.  The M20B27 would have produced 121 horsepower and 170 ft-lbs of torque stock, but could make a few more with the swapped head/cams indicated by the seller.

The interior of this BMW looks great for its 33 years of use – we expect it has either been thoroughly redone or spent most of its time covered.  Thankfully, we spy a manual shifter sitting between the seats and this car has been updated with a later model 5-spd.  It also has a swapped in Euro 323i rear subframe that includes a limited slip differential and disc brakes.

Now here is where the details get a bit conflicted; the seller states that the swap is BAR approved but that it has headers with custom exhaust all the way back — which isn’t going to be smog legal in California.  It also doesn’t have a license plate installed on the back of the car, but it’s got 1971 or 1972 issue California blue plate in the rear window – which would never have a legitimate reason to be on a 1980 vehicle.  There are probably acceptable reasons that can explain our observations, but we’d want everything cleared up before putting down any deposit on this car. 

See another clean E21…a bit more stock please!  email us: tips@dailyturismo.com