Why is it so special?
The original E30 M3 was built in left-hand drive only, so a high-performance variant for homologation in Group N racing had to be engineered and built in South Africa. The South African specials that resulted, the 325iS (2.5-litre), the EvoII variant (2.7-litre), and 333i (3.2-litre), could be considered one hundred percent homegrown M3s. Body kits came from Germany and all engine developments were done by BMW SA and approved by Munich HQ. There was uprated suspension, a limited-slip diffy and aluminium doors and fenders were interchangeable between all three.
That classic cool feature: From road, to race, to spin
With this array of mechanical upgrades, and the fact the boxy E30 was already very light and small to begin with, giving it a potent power-to-weight ratio, the homegrown specials were incredibly agile and exhilarating to drive hard (ie. track racing, drifting and later in their life – spinning). For out-and-out circuit racing though, they needed to be setup correctly to tame their inherent tail-happiness. Figure out the dark art of the E30 and you had the greatest performance car of the era beneath you.
Can you get it today?
This proper, pukka homegrown M car of sorts – the 333i – saw the light of day from just 1985 to 1987, making use of the 3.2-litre engine from the 733i. It had 147 kW, accelerated to 100 km/h in 6.7 sec and topped out at 235 km/h. It distinguished itself from the Alpina 335i of that era, which had a 3.5-litre engine under its front-hinged bonnet, but BMW SA for the most part used bolt-on parts from Alpina to reduce tooling and cost. It also had a sweet dog-leg, first-gear gearbox. Its value comes in its rarity, and South Africa’s highly exclusive run of 333i and 325iS E30s are coveted the world over for their performance and craftsmanship. If you’re lucky to find one today – or someone who’ll sell you one – expect to pay a packet for it. Easily R1 million and beyond.