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BMW 3-Series (1975 - 1983)

Last updated 10 May 2017

 
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Buying Guide

Bodywork

  • Although rust-proofed, there are plenty of crusty examples around. Worst hit areas tend to be floorpans, jacking points, and door bottoms.
  • Front strut-top mounts can rot, as can the rear suspension towers. Worn boot seals also lead to the boot floor rotting.

Engine

  • Four- and six-cylinder engine are durable - a long as the oil is changed regularly to prevent camshaft wear.
  • Engines that have covered more than 100,000 miles will often need a top end rebuild.
  • The 323i featured a Bosch K-Jetronic which can be troublesome to set up and hard to fix if parts wear.

Transmission

  • All gearboxes are tough and can take 200,000 miles.
  • Metalastik couplings can wear, as can universal joints so listen for a klonking sound when drive is taken up.

Steering and suspension

  • All E21s got rack-and-pinion steering, but not all of them got power assistance. 
  • If the steering isn't as sharp as you'd expect, check for worn bushes.
  • It's the same for the handling - if it's wayward (and the tyres are good), check for worn suspension bushes.

Trim and electrics

  • Trim is hard wearing, but dashes can crack. Replacement items are difficult to find.
  • Electrics are reliable, but check everything works. 
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