1 Mar 1976
By CHRIS HARRIS
Replacing the cult 2002, the two-door only E21 3 Series started its journey as the definitive compact executive/sports sedan.
Initial critical reaction to the four-cylinder 320 was lukewarm, but fuel-injected power improved things.
In June ’79 the famous 323i debuted, but it wasn’t until late ’80 that a five-speed manual gearbox made the most of the smooth, sonorous six-cylinder engine.
Earlier that year the entry level 318i opened the marque to a whole new market. That’s identified by its two (rather than four) headlights.
From mid-’81 the 323i JPS racing specials appeared, followed by the Baur coach built 323i Cabriolet a year later.