At $3,800, Is This Rieger-Bodied 1983 BMW 320 A Project With Provenance?

Illustration for article titled At $3,800, Is This Rieger-Bodied 1983 BMW 320 A Project With Provenance?
Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

There’s no doubt that today’s Nice Price or No Dice BMW E30 is rough, but with its Rieger bodywork it’s also appreciably rare. What might you pay to dig into this odd ’80s icon?

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, a coprolite is a fossilized turd, typically from some long-extinct animal. The fact that valuable information can be gleaned from excrement that’s turned to rock makes the thought of tripping over one in the field an exciting proposition for paleontologists and poop-lovers alike.

I bring this up to point out that, given a respectable amount of time, damn near anything will increase in value, if only as an anomaly. That was the case the seller of yesterday’s 1987 Plymouth Reliant wagon was trying to make. With its incredibly low miles and an astonishingly like-new appearance, that wagon’s $4,800 asking price attempted to gloss over the fact that the car was, in fact, a Plymouth Reliant, a marque and model conscripted to impermanence. Many of you complained in the comments to have once been burned by a K-car, while others suggested that historical value weighted by the sheer quirkiness of its survival made it worth paying a little extra. In the end, the naysayers won out as the Plymouth rocked its way to a harrowingly narrow 51 percent No Dice loss.

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The 1980s were a crazy time. Our Plymouth showed that at least for Chrysler, it was an era of rebuilding and re-envisioning. For BMW, it was the beginning of an ascent into being one of the most aspirational automotive brands on the planet.

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Photo: Craigslist

Any aspirational brand has to have a path to attainment, and in the ’80s the first rung on BMW’s ladder was the E30 3 Series. This model succeeded the somewhat unremarkable E21 series, adding three body styles to the line. This created a platform more broadly accessible to tuners and body kit builders alike, working to help owners get even more out of their little “ultimate driving machines.”

This 1983 BMW 320 is just such a car, though one that has seen better days. Presented in dilapidated, nonrunning condition, this one may seem a more likely candidate for the scrap heap — or maybe a parts car — than for restoration. That’s not necessarily the case, however, since the car wears a fairly rare Rieger body kit. And despite its Superfund condition, you can see hints that it’s actually a Euro edition rather than one built for the American market.

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Photo: Craigslist

We don’t get much information about the car from the ad. The description, in fact, is limited to a single, somewhat cryptic line:

This is a Reiger Bmw race car been sitting awhile very rare car located in Tuscaloosa Alabama price is firm probably would run call me for info.

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The ad also notes that the car’s title is missing, so you’d need to get a bill of sale as you trailer off with the spider farm likely hiding in the car’s every nook and cranny. But why would you want the car at all? After all, there are plenty of E30s out there, right? Well, yes there are, but as noted, few of them come with the crazy Ferrari Testarossa-aping Rieger bodywork. It seems that you can still buy the Reiger pieces today. To assemble all the pieces this car wears, however, would set you back half its asking price. And, that’s before installation.

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Photo: Craigslist
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That also doesn’t get you all the wonderful stickers that come with this car, nor its amazingly deep-dished wire wheels. Along with those you get the seller’s affirmation that this is a “race car.” By appearances, that seems to be a somewhat loose interpretation of the term. It does come with cloth-covered sport seats and a sport steering wheel, though. Additionally, it rocks a five-speed manual, which we all know implies sportiness.

The interior where those bits live doesn’t seem to be as bad as it looks. There’s a bit of missing trim inside, but the dash appears remarkably solid, and the interior rust seems to be limited to the stalks and ignition switch bezel.

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The ad lists the car as a 320, but there are the remnants of a decal reading 325 ESS on the boot lid calling that into question. In these topsy-turvy times, it’s hard to decide whether to believe the ad copy or the peeling decals you see with your own two eyes. Either way, the engine is likely some version of BMW’s iconic M20 straight-six. Parts availability for that or any other element of an E30 are still readily available, making this car’s potential rejuvenation a not unheard-of possibility.

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Photo: Craigslist
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That restoration will, however, require some investment. The seller of this lawn ornament … oops, I mean “racecar” ... asks $3,800 to get it out of the driveway.

What do you think, could this crazy ’80s project E30 be worth that? Or, is this Bimmer too far gone to ask for that much upfront?

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You decide!

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Atlanta, Georgia, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Carl B. for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.

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DISCUSSION

old-king-cole
OldKingCole

I really tried to see promise in this thing. When looking through my magic “what a project could be” glasses, the end product is pretty fantastic. But I just can’t get beyond the sheer magnitude of work to be done on this thing. The exterior doesn’t appear to be too bad. A good cleaning, sticker removal, and repaint. But there are quite a few trim pieces missing, and I’m scared of the damage associated with the detached and cracked rear bumper cover. But that’s not even the problem.

The interior, described by this article as “not as bad as it looks,” will get a ‘much worse than it looks” rating from me. Every single piece of wood trim seems to be shot. Every piece of plastic is oxidized, if not also broken.  Couple that with rusted interior bits and I have to wonder what the hell actually happened to the interior here. It looks like the windows were left down for about two years, then rolled up and left to stagnate.  What is that little moldy electronics box in the cubby?  The switches look like they were prized out and glued back in.  Who knows what kind of electrical gremlins are running rampant in there.  The button to release the parking brake is missing. The doorcards are shot.  The carpet is some of the nastiest I’ve seen, along with the seats.  Not only are the seat covers nasty and need to be replaced, but the adjustable thigh support seems to be broken.  I just don’t see any value here. At all.