BMW 333i E30 South Africa
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BMW 333i E30: The unexpected South African M3

With some 200 units made, this BMW 333i E30, which was made just for South Africa, is one of the strangest M3s ever, so much so that it's not even an M3!

Before we start talking about BMW M3 from South Africa, we need some context. During the 80s, trade with South Africa became increasingly difficult. International sanctions against the regime of apharteid made the import channel languish in a system that did not collapse until 1992. In this situation, some brands chose to leave or not to settle in the country, while others were unable to get some of their models easily into a market that was increasingly closed due to international pressure.

Curiously, in this very specific situation ... One of the rarest BMWs of the German brand was born, only marketed in the African country. Its about 333i E30, a model of which only around two hundred copies were manufactured. 200 units destined to the needs of a market where BMW planned to participate in the Group 1 races. At the time, due to the possible sanctions, the introduction of the M3E30. A whole series of carambola that ended up shaping the one that perhaps the most special series 3 sports car ever.


Although depending on the country the M3 E30 it was not released until 1986 or 1987, in 1985 this model had already been presented with which the Bavarian brand intended to participate in Group A competition. For this, the manufacture of at least 5.000 units was required. Thus, with an objective clearly set in the competition, the first M3 in history was born. One of the most acclaimed and desired sagas in the history of the brand, which classifies with the letter M the sports developments of its touring models.

Agile, with good aerodynamics and a furious behavior governed by its rear-wheel drive, the 3 M1986 produced around 200 CV thanks to its S14 engine of 2'3 liters, 4 cylinders online, 16 valves and double camshaft. An icon that, For many, it remains the most exciting generation of the M3. However… That excitement could not be enjoyed by South Africans.

Hen/Stag Group 1 standards - although this was replaced by the Group N in 1981, it still existed in South Africa - they were too specific, so it would take a long time to adapt the M3 E30 to their parameters. Not to mention that the export of the new model to South Africa became increasingly complex due to the unpredictable sanctions on trade with the country. In short… A situation that left the South African market orphaned of the M3 E30. Solution? Create your own version, which would be assembled right there to pass as a "local product".


The idea for the project, which came from the South African section of BMW, was coordinated by its director: Bernd Pitscheider. However, and despite the fact that the model would pass as a "South African" car as it was manufactured and marketed only to that market, the around 200 units They were designed in Germany. Specifically in the Alpina workshops, the legendary BMW model modification company. On this occasion, it had the advice of the company itself. Bmw motorsport to give a touch of "officiality" to the whole matter.

The result could not be more spectacular. On the lightweight chassis of a 3 series was mounted an engine known as "Big Six". A huge booster taken from the 733i with 6 cylinders in line, 3,2 liters and 20 1CV of power. It took up so much space under the compact 3-Series body that customers had to choose between having air conditioning or power steering. Without a doubt, the mixture of “Big Six” With the 3 series chassis, he created a sports car that yields excellent torque and weight/power, although some are sure that… He either scorched in the summer sun or ended up with a severe strain on his biceps.

Alpina It signed a new exhaust system, another intake, ventilated disc brakes, the radiator and the striking 16-inch wheels topped with the company symbol and designed exclusively for this 333i E30. A model that came to light in 1985 and that, to this day, is for many the most special and coveted M3 of the whole series...

Without actually being an M3!

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Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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