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82 E21 Auto-X Toy

Discussion in 'E21 (1977-1983)' started by sporkfan, Apr 24, 2008.

    sporkfan guest

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    Here's a few pics of my E21, it's an 82 model that I picked up mostly for auto-x. It's in the stock class this year, but the lack of options to firm up the roll is probably going to make me take it to a prepared class for next year. Here's a few pics of me playing with it around the track.

    These pictures are after I replaced the stock(!) shocks and struts with Bilstein HDs. Part of the FSP build will be to move to ground control coil-overs.

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    az3579

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    Nice toy. Looks like it's gonna tip over, though! :eek:

    BoostedE21 guest

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    They do that. E21's lean and lean and lean, but never give up grip. Pretty fantastic.

    77Rally320i guest

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    these e21s do tip alot, but i found for auto-x, it isnt as bad if you get a passenger to ride with you.
    i cant wait until i can auto-x my current e21
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    tex320

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    this is my 82

    This is the second year to race mine.
    First year was stock. I have made many changes for this year.

    lalo723 guest

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    nice car :)

    32002 guest

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    They all do that. This is my FSP car. It's a 81 320i with some light mods.
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    MGarrison

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    Unless you lift mid-turn. You can get them to oversteer dramatically, too. :rolleyes: However, since they demand smoothness, if you can drive a 320i quickly and well, you'll probably do well in most other bimmers too.

    Daryl LAne guest

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    My son and I have been enjoying my 80 320iS in Auto-x now for over three years. It is a blast - we always have a great time in San Diego & Californis speedway where we go.

    [IMG]

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    The mods include adjustable chamber chaster plates, adjustable coil overs, Billy sports, 15X7 wheels with Hankook RS4's, solid Ply filled rear subframe mounts, exhaust, big aluminum radiator and the iS package parts.

    Flieger guest

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    Here is my 1983 E21 320i 5 speed Alpinweiss

    osmarcolombia guest

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    Hi

    Nice car

    I have a 320/6

    BlueAngel M3 guest

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    Wheres the best place to buy suspension mods for a car like this? I need a fun car for auto-x or do u guys recommend the E30 instead?

    BoostedE21 guest

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    320i, 320iS, or 323i? What year? Those things would really help figure out what you have and what you need.

    Well, how serious of a track car do you want? Ground Controls sells coilovers with any spring rate you can dream up, and they go great with Bilstein Sport shocks, which are still available from bilstein or on E-bay, or on bavauto.com.

    In addition to shocks and springs, bigger swaybars (or the additino of a rear sway bar if you don't have an iS) makes a huge improvement. The 77-79's had a 23.5mm front sway bar, and the 80-83's had a 22mm sway bar. If yours is the latter, the earlier ones slip right in. You can also plop in a rear swaybar from an iS - direct fit, makes a huge difference.

    Another big big difference is a Limited Slip Diff. They came in iS models as well. It's also a direct swap with the open diff in the regular 320i.

    Chances are, your bushings are crap. You could replace them with OEM stuff, but I highly recommend polyurethane control arm bushings, front and rear.

    Brake upgrades help as well, you can retrofit Volvo 240 calipers to 77-79 rotors, and it's a nice upgrade (4 pot as opposed to the stock 2 pot).

    Actually, I just remembered - it's all already spelled out on bimmerforums.com. There's a big e21 gathering there. Here's the FAQ, with almost everything a beginner needs to know:

    http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1146050



    It really all depends on how much you're willing to spend. With a few hundred bucks you could have a great track car. But keep in mind that if you aren't willing to do the labor yourself, you'll pay a ton more. None of it is really hard, but it will take time and patience, because chances are you'll have to fight a lot of rust and grime.

    I recommend you join the e21 section of bimmerforums, lots of us have already done this stuff over there, so we can help you through any snags you get caught on.

    SOMETHING TO KEEP IN MIND: While there are still parts available for these cars, the e30 has a ton more. In my opinion, E21's are much much more fun - but there's a lot more suspension and performance parts readily available for the E30 for less. So if you just want a cheap track car, you might want to consider an E30 318iS or so. But if you don't mind spending a little money, you'll come out with a much more unique and fun car.

    BlueAngel M3 guest

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    Thanks for responding! =) I don't have the car yet just considering one. I was looking at an 83 323 and an E30 325. I'm planning on suspension mods as well as rims/tires. Just can't make up my mind between the E21, E30 and E36 325.

    BoostedE21 guest

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    If you want it to be easy, pick the e30 or e36. Parts for those things are everywhere.

    But if you want it to be unique (and in my opinion, much better looking), go with the 323i. Also, that M20 engine in there sounds AWESOME.
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    MGarrison

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    The E21 would certainly be a more unique car. Check bimmerforums, you'll probably find a more comprehensive comparo between it and later 3-series bimmers. Having had a 320i for 11 yrs, and E30 for 17, here's a few thoughts -

    After 11 yrs of Ohio winters, my 320i's floorboards were nearly rusted through - another year or so and the driver's-side footwell would have had open holes. You have to watch for rust on these cars compared to later 3's.

    It takes more skill to drive an E21 at its handling limits vs. an E30 or E36. This is a car that can *snap* into oversteer if you're not smooth, or careful, or don't know what you're doing. However, it is a great car for going through your learning curve at driver's schools, because you will have to do everything right to drive it well. It rewards proper driving technique in that regard, which makes it a fun-to-drive car - which means you'll be a better driver for anything else you drive. The suspension design of later cars is more forgiving, which means that, while you're learning to drive the car at a driver's school, the car will allow you to get away with mistakes that might well result in a loss of control, or nearly so, in a 320i. There is a school of thought that the smaller performance envelope of a 2002 or 320i or non-M E30 is more ideal for learning at driver's schools, because if something happens, it's likely going to happen at a lower speed than in an E36, E46, etc, where you have a higher margin for error than you will at the higher speeds it takes to get the later cars into their handling limits. You can't beat the road feel and responsiveness of the non-powered rack-&-pinion steering, however you'll wear your arms out if you have to parallel park it.

    The E30 is a more robust, solid chassis. A friend of mine tracks a 320i w/ an E30 M3 engine. For track use, there's more things that need reinforcing on a 320i - I think he tends to have problems w/ stub axle fractures, for instance. There's less issues of this type w/ E30's. His car is faster than mine on straights, but doesn't stick as well - my E30 is faster through turns. However, all later 3's are faster yet than my 325is.

    The air-conditioning on E21's is an afterthought - if you want one w/ a/c, the radio has to be mounted nearly vertically, which might or might not be a problem for a radio w/ a cd-player. But, if you're looking to be comfortable while transiting to/fro the track, the a/c system, even if all components are functioning perfectly, is only barely adequate to cool the interior on hot summer days, and that's using the older & more expensive R12 freon. An R134 conversion in an E21 would likely mean you'll get luke-cool air blowing, instead of cold. That might or might not be important to you, but if it's not a trailered, dedicated track-car, it might be a consideration.

    Stock seats in a 320i suck! You'll want some sort of aftermarket sport seat, aftermarket seat, or at a minimum, the sport seats that were in 320's, which I think were a basic Recaro model. Do your instructor a favor and put in a matching seat.

    Yes, brakes on a 320i would be undersized for track use - you'd likely end up wanting to upgrade those. Performance brake pad options are more limited vs later models. A limited slip differential is a must, (I would say, auto-x or not), for whatever you get, but they only came stock on sport-packaged 320i's, so that might not be as readily available compared to later 3's.

    As for E36's, they are abundant, cheap, and being more recent, have a huge variety of aftermarket performance mods and setups available, and at this point, any weaknesses for track usage, etc are well-documented, w/ fixes from a variety of vendors. E21, E30, E36 - they'll all be good for fun-to-drive quotient. The current abundance of E36 cars on the market (you can find early E36 M3's for less than $10k, for instance) makes them more easily replaceable. If you setup a 320i and then crash it, you'll have a harder time finding another to replace it, or throw together from what you already had done. Similar for E30, but not quite as rare - at the moment, that's not much of an issue for E36's. Good luck, whichever way you go!

    BoostedE21 guest

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    Mr. Garrison makes a good point. The E21 will train you to drive better than the others.

    For example, take the new Nissan GTR. With it's accelerometers and gyro's, if you make a mistake, the computer just says "No!" and corrects the car for you. I was talking to one of my friends who was telling me about a friend of his who brought a GTR and a 911 to a track day, and tried driving the GTR in the morning and the 911 in the afternoon. People watched him do things that in any other car, would cause a spin or a wreck, but the GTR corrected these problems for him - so he didn't know how to drive properly. Which makes sense, because when he tried to do the same things in the 911 in the afternoon, he flipped it.

    BlueAngel M3 guest

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    Thanks guys. I appreciate you guys taking the time explaining to me what i'm getting myself into. I don't need surprises. I want the E21 because I appreciate its classic lines and the fact that it is a nimble machine. I'm trying to avoid E36 cars. I had 3 already (street use) and currently driving a 98 M3 sedan. I love the E21 and still appreciate it sleek classic BMW look. I wanted a 2002ti/tii, but don't know where to look for suspension mods, engine, etc. I also avoided the car because the lack of powerstearing that will strain my hands. Looks like I have to do more homework and figure out what is best for me. I'm on a budget and need to be careful.
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    MGarrison

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    Glad to help - welcome to the forums, btw - forgot to mention that. One minor point on forum etiquette: no need to quote an entire message in your reply unless you're replying to specific points, or from an earlier message on a previous page that isn't a most recent reference. Tends to make the thread redundant and longer to wade through to get to what someone's actually saying. No biggie, just fyi.

    Fwiw, the non-power steering is really only an issue in parking maneuvers; I don't recall my 320i having any undue steering effort once rolling. If a E21 has rust, that can get pricy to repair, depending on location & extent. One minor plus for auto-x, an E21 is the smallest dimensionally of 3-series BMW's. It's ez to throw a lot of money at any of these for mods, but if you don't worry about trying to be competitive, any of them ought to be fun for auto-x in stock form. You'll just have a lot of body roll and tire squeal, which can be it's own kind of fun. :) In stock seats you'd be kinda holding on as well, but you could use a cg-lock to help snug-up the seatbelt. Another trick is to latch the belt, snug it up a bit less than max tight, hold the buckle in place, unlatch, then put several twists in the belt, enough turns so that when you re-latch it, it will be snug and helping to lock you into the seat.

    Anyway, point being - E21's and E30's are certainly very capable and fun in stock form, and only get better when appropriately modified. My 320i had a lsd, Recaro, lowered with Bilstein springs/shocks (non-progressive at that; talk about feeling _every_ single bump in the road!) and 15" BBS basketweaves. Was great fun to drive and handled great too. Stock 1.8l motor, so, momentum was the name of the game, and it wasn't really fast enough to need anything more than metalmaster pads, stainless brake lines, and ATE superblue brake fluid. :D

    BlueAngel M3 guest

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    Sorry about that. =)

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