For $3,600, It Depends On What Your Meaning Of IS Is

Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe E21 has a lot going for it, including being an IS and featuring a sweet set of Recaro seats. You'll have to decide if its price is worth standing up and cheering for.

Yesterday, mullets were sprouted and PBRs were cracked open in honor of our special guest, the 1980 Mercury Zephyr Z-7. That hair band on wheels had been customized to within an inch of its life, and in so personal a manner that 73% of you felt that it should never leave its creator's side. Today's candidate is far closer to stock, so perhaps you'll be okay with its moving on.

Hey, what's newer than Neue? And what perhaps is classier than Klasse? I'm sure you all answered in unison the BMW E21. That's right, when it was introduced back in 1975 BMW's new small car took the place of a line of cars that went back to 1962 and which had been dubbed the Neue Klasse.

For $3,600, It Depends On What Your Meaning Of IS Is

The new car was heavier than its predecessor, owing to the needs of meeting the newer requirements for safety and refinement, but it started out with the same batch of four cylinder engines. That of course made them slower than the sportiest of precedent 2002s.

While up on weight, the E21 dropped body styles like they were going out of style, eliminating the four-door and hatchback Touring for a single albeit iconically styled two-door. Karrosserie Baur would later add a convertible to compliment that coupe, but screw that, we already did a topless Volvo this week.

That means today's 1982 320is is of course the coupe not the Baur, but doesn't mean that its presentation is any less unique. Owing to the availability of only the SOHC M10 four in these cars here in the States, the only real yea or nay aspect of the car would be it being an I versus IS, and no that's not some sort of existential question, it's the difference between mediocre and hey, that's alright!

For $3,600, It Depends On What Your Meaning Of IS Is

This 320 is an IS, a model introduced in the 1981 model year. The differences over the standard car are 5.5x13" cross-spoke alloys, fatter front anti-roll bar and the addition of a rear bar, an LSD, dual operation sunroof, fog lights, deluxe tool kit , leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and shift knob, and, perhaps most importantly, a totally bitchin set of Recaro sport seats.

This 320is has most of all that, although the fog lights are AWOL as they were mounted to the continental shelf of a front bumper, and that has been removed. I think that the car looks all the better for it. Other aesthetic elements of note are the M-sport stripes that adorn the car's kitty-corners, and what I'm assuming is snow, and not coke on the hood.

For $3,600, It Depends On What Your Meaning Of IS Is

The driver's door and rocker have a healthy scar along the bottom but otherwise the exterior looks pretty sound. It's on the inside however where this car relay begins to shine. Those Recaro seats look magnificent, and the rest of the interior is equally well preserved. Usually by this age the vinyl and plastic bits of these interiors - dashboards, the tops of the rear seats, etc. - have all cracked and decayed. Not this one however, it's like Reagan's still president in there.

Mechanically, the ad notes that the car is a daily driver and there are a number of new parts in place to help keep it that way. The 1766-cc, 101-bhp M10 is a pretty reliable mill, and parts availability, should the shit go down, also shouldn't be a problem.

For $3,600, It Depends On What Your Meaning Of IS Is

Cheap cars from expensive brands are always a crap shoot and you can bet that if you're not spending it up front, nine times out of ten you'll be doing so down the road - like a block down. This 1982 E21 looks to be an exception to that rule and at $3,600 seems a reasonable point of entry into the BMW clan.

Of course that's not for me to say, it's up to you. What do you think about this 320IS for $3,600, is that a deal? Or, is that too much for a car that, while it IS, actually isn't?

You decide!

Cleveland Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to MadDogMike for the hookup!

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