1981 BMW 318i E21 – Today’s Tempter

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

BMW E21 today s tempter BMW E21 today s tempter

Restored, and fastidiously well-kept – this handsome little German won’t disappoint

Historically, the E21 has been deemed the ‘forgotten’ car in the iconic 3 Series lineage.

Overshadowed by its E30 contemporary, and the long line of world-class sports coupes since, the E21 holds a special place in automotive lore – as the evolution of the cult classic BMW 02, and as the first BMW 3 Series.

Classic three-box proportions, in a petite package; the E21 bears softer curves than the boxy E30, and the single headlights placed outwards of the nose provide a more classical looking and handsome snout. A hallmark for 80s BMWs, the E21 also bears the classic ‘sharknose’ front end.

Engine options originally consisted of a number of revvy M10 four-cylinders: a 1.6lt in the 316, a 1.8lt in the 318 and a 2.0lt unit in the 320.

With rack and pinion steering, MacPherson struts up front and semi trailing arms at the rear; and a Getrag four-speed manual (with a Getrag five-speed manual and a ZF three-speed auto as options), the E21 made for an attractive package for keen drivers.

Furthermore, brakes were power assisted at all four corners, with discs in front and drums behind.

This rare Henna Red BMW E21 is fitted with the 1.8lt M10 engine and the optional five-speed manual – the most desirable combination within BMW circles.

The handsome little German coupe is also reportedly in Concours condition! The seller reports an expert restoration, with the car having travelled a modest 180,000kms over its 37 years of life.

The car presents extremely well in photos, with a clean engine bay and boot well and faultless interior. The owner states that the previous owner refused to drive the car in the rain, and that he too has carried on that tradition.

Listed for $19,218, this car would well be worth investigating if you’re after a handsome classic BMW.

And even if you’re not, it certainly has those of us in the office tempted.

The car is based in Sydney, you can check out the full listing here!

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition