1983 BMW 3 Series Reviews

1983 BMW 3 Series 320i 1.8L 4 cylinder from North America

Model year1983
Year of manufacture1983
First year of ownership2010
Most recent year of ownership2013
Engine and transmission 1.8L 4 cylinder Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
9.0 / 10
Distance when acquired237000 miles
Most recent distance266000 miles

Summary:

Cheap, easy to work on, and a blast to drive

Faults:

Clutch slave and master cylinder went bad at 245000.

Heater core hose split.

A/C never worked (to be expected).

New muffler.

New Bilstein shocks and H&R sport springs.

New tires.

Thermostat replaced at 250000.

Replaced control arms and tie rods.

Replaced oil pan and gasket after hitting an obstacle in the road, and at 245000, the crank and block looked brand new.

Adjusted valves, and the top end looked brand new!

Original alternator still puts out the stated 55 amps.

General Comments:

We got this car for less than 500 USD; it needed a cap, rotor, plugs and wires. Other than routine maintenance, the car has needed nothing.

These motors are BULLETPROOF and quite peppy. I ran the car into a foot deep puddle with a cold air intake on it, the motor hydrolocked and wouldn't start. Cranked it over for a minute and it fired up and smoked white out the back. It had about 3 or 4 extra quarts of water in the motor, and still limped home! After replacing the plugs and flushing the motor, it stopped burning the little oil it did, and ran way better! THESE MOTORS NEVER DIE!!!

It had the common valve seal leak, but it didn't burn any oil.

It was my first car, and I drove it everywhere; long excursions, races, drove around the city, and car club events.

The seats are very comfortable, and if you get cloth, they breathe very well.

We never did the clutch, and the clutch still has a lot of life left in it.

This car is proof that if you maintain one, they will go forever.

Replacing the suspension is one of the hardest things to do, but even that was an easy job, and after that was done, this car handles VERY well and can out handle cars 20 years newer.

One of the easiest cars to work on, and one of the most rewarding cars to fix up!

Overall, VERY cheap, VERY reliable, and VERY fun!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th November, 2013

1983 BMW 3 Series 320i 1.8 from North America

Model year1983
Year of manufacture1983
First year of ownership2009
Most recent year of ownership2009
Engine and transmission 1.8 Manual
Performance marks 4 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
5.7 / 10
Distance when acquired212000 miles
Most recent distance213000 miles
Previous carHonda Civic

Summary:

The original tuner car

Faults:

About everything. Replaced all vacuum lines, rebuilt all brakes, complete tune up, replaced exhaust. This thing needs paint and seats.

General Comments:

I love this car. It's fun to drive, sticks to the road like glue, and sounds great.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th September, 2009

1983 BMW 3 Series 320i 1.8 K-jetronic from North America

Year of manufacture1983
First year of ownership1998
Most recent year of ownership2000
Engine and transmission 1.8 K-jetronic Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 6 / 10
Comfort marks 6 / 10
Dealer Service marks 4 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.0 / 10
Distance when acquired95088 miles
Most recent distance125050 miles
Previous carChevrolet C10

Summary:

Hot as a two dollar pistol

Faults:

The head gasket blew, requiring expensive replacement.

Water pump failed.

Starter died, then new starter had defective solenoid.

Pressure accumulator blew, requiring replacement.

Front end bushings needed replacement.

General Comments:

I really, really loved this very temperamental, moody machine. When it ran, it ran like a rocket. When it broke down, it left you with maniacal feelings of despair and anger. But what a rush it was!

The elegantly dated shape of the car is eye catching. I love the shark nosed front end, and the tall greenhouse so reminiscent of the groovy European sedans of that era.

The engine is incredible, taching up to a shrieking, banshee wail around 5000. Just loved that sound! Mechanically at least, the motor is bulletproof. I've seen 320i's with 200 and 300 thousand miles on the original block. And cornering was wild; it would rocket through the tightest turns. But the automatic transmission is not the right choice for this car; if I was looking for one, I'd find one with the Getrag 5 speed. You need to be able to wind this motor up for performance.

Build quality was very good, but there were lots of little "glitchy" things, like the plastic glove box straps that routinely break (lousy engineering), or the too-fragile door panels, and the less-than-supportive seats. And don't ever try to do hard driving on a hot day; BMW's just don't seem to handle the heat very well. Still, despite the many bruised knuckles, no-starts, and overheats, I would do it all again.

A final warning: the 320i is an old car now, requiring a lot of it's owner. Despite their great qualities, this is not a beginner's car. It reminds me of a guy who said that there are two kinds of people who own old Bimmers: BMW mechanics, and those who wish they were.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th July, 2001

13th Oct 2006, 11:22

I own an 1982 BMW 320i and I am 17 years old. I have a problem with the comment about this not being a beginners car. I received this car with one minor dent in the hood of the car and the rest of the body straight, excellent interior. I received this car for the price of $1,000 U.S. dollars and since owning it I have only had to replace the clutch with a stage II clutch, replaced the brakes/senors/hose lines all the way around, new tires, new head and rear lamps. I have had problems with the A/C failing to work along with the heat and living here in the NW the heat is a must have. The only real downside I see for the ownership of this car is the fact shes pushing almost 213K, and the front bushings are making sounds and I am going to have to make a stop to also get new struts and rebalanced, but other than that she still is pushing, which is a great sign.

Average review marks: 6.9 / 10, based on 3 reviews