More than one BMW 3-Series e21 with 1,000 hp

There is more than one BMW 3-Series E21 with more than 1,000 horsepower on the road in Europe

The BMW 3 Series is a compact executive car manufactured since 1975. Built as the successor to BMW’s segment busting 02 series, the first generation 3 series, the E21 was available only as a 2-door coupe.

Currently, in its sixth generation, the 3-Series have since been produced in 2-door convertible, four-door, five-door station wagon, 5-door hatchback and 3-door hatchback body styles. Since 2013, the coupe and convertible models have been marketed as the 4-Series. As a result, the current line of 3-Series is only offered in four-door, five-door hatchback, and five-door station wagon configurations.

The BMW E21

The first generation BMW 3-Series, the E21 was produced from 1975 through 1983. Available from the factory only as a 2-Door coupe, a cabriolet body style manufactured by Baur was available in Europe from 1978 through 1981.

The E21 was offered in Europe in several different engine configurations, the United States received the BMW 320i and 320iS. The 320i was a 2.0 liter M10 powered engine with fuel injection. It was sufficient to power the 320i from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 9.9 seconds all the way up to 113 miles per hour.

In Europe, the E21 was offered with the M10 (inline-4) and m20 (inline-6) engine in both carbureted and fuel injected form.

The top of the line E21 available in Europe was the 323i. It was powered by a fuel-injected version of the inline-6 M20 engine having a displacement of 2.3 liters. The 323i was able to accelerate from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 8.7 seconds all the way through to 124 miles per hour.

Modern derivations of the BMW E21

While BMW E21s are increasingly rare on American roads, this is not the case in Europe where they were sold in much larger numbers. A quick search of the Internet shows that there have recently been at least three different E21s lurking in the streets of Europe with engines producing over 1,000 horsepower!

Engines with over 1,000 horsepower in a chassis the size and weight of the BMW e21 should put out some insane performance. The first video below shows that this is indeed the case with a beater E21 going up against a $400,000 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4.

Racing in what looks to be a half-mile sprint, the all-wheel drive, software-equipped Aventador has no problem getting off the line faster than the old BMW. However, towards the end of the race, we see the BMW E21 pass the Lamborghini once it finds its groove subsequently winning the race.

A classic BMW E21 with a heart of a monster

Perhaps the most beautiful E21 was profiled by Speedhunters, a popular automotive blog six years ago. This particular BMW was built by its owner, Jorgen over a two- year period to actually race. In my mind, it is absolutely stunning.

Jorgen’s BMW E21 and in fact all of the ones I found were powered by BMW inline-6 S54 engines, albeit heavily modified and turbocharged engines.

The S54, the high performance version of BMWs M54 engine powered the E46 BMW M3 produced between 2000 and 2006 and M Roadster and M Coupes based on the Z3. Like many of BMW’s recent more recent inline-6 engines, the block of the S54 is a great base from which to produce engines that put out a tremendous amount of power.

Extensive modifications

As would be expected, it is not only the engine that is heavily modified. The rest of the vehicle and surrounding systems also need to be fortified. This especially includes the transmission and differential just to begin with.

The BMW E21 profiles by Speedhunters had the firewall moved back 30 cm to accommodate the larger S54. The transmission tunnel was also enlarged to house a much larger and stronger driveline. Along with larger brakes, two of the three E21s are fitted with competition roll cages.

My 1981 BMW E21 323i

The BMW E21 has a special place in my heart. Many years ago, when I was just 19, I had to opportunity to purchase a very nice customized 1981 BMW E21 323i. More surprisingly, was the fact that I had the resources to purchase the car at that age as I was putting myself through college while working full time.

Since it was a grey-market import, my 323i had the European chrome bumpers. It was grey in color and had a BBS body kit with front air dam and rear apron. The suspension was dropped about an inch with a BBS suspension kit and Bilstein shocks. Wheels were a set of staggered BBS sized 8.5 x 15 in back and 7.5 x 15 in front.

Custom touches extended to the inside of the vehicle as well in the form of a 2.7 M20 block with an E30 325i head. Converting power to motion was a five-speed short-ratio dogleg transmission. Exhaust gases were released through a custom 2-inch exhaust system that produced the most amazing sounds.

Within about a year’s time, reality eventually caught up with me as I had to choose between my academic aspirations and the car. Needless to say, school won. However, at least once every year I am filled with regret and think about the memories I made in that car.

What do you think about the BMW E21? Do you have any cool stories or know of any survivors? Let me in the comments below.



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