Used Cars

Published on May 29th, 2017 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Have you heard of the BMW 333i?

There is no mistake in the badge. This E30 was actually built, sold and raced. This E30 333i is a very rare and special BMW. It was developed by BMW South Africa, BMW Motorsport & Alpina, and it was produced between 1985 & 1987. Vic Doolan and Bernd Pischetsrieder of BMW South Africa are credited for coming up with the original idea for the 333i. At that point in time, the E12 M535i (not the lightest of cars) was BMW’s most competitive car in South African motorsports. Even though BMW Germany was already developing the E30 M3, BMW SA chose the more traditional 6-cylinder route to produce its own potent 3-series. The 333i was originally conceived for competition in Group One, but the car was left without a formula when Group One racing was cancelled at the end of 1985.

BMW 333i Performance Figures

  • 0-80km/h 5.19 seconds
  • 0-100km/h 7.23 seconds
  • Top speed 231km/h

The selected engine for the 333i came from the 197hp E23 733i, which was chosen due to its free-revving characteristics. In many ways, the 333i is considered to be a smaller version of BMW SA’s 745i, which was powered by the engine from the BMW M1. The design specification was intended to be similar to the Alpina B6. In fact, to help offset production costs, the 333i used as many Alpina components as possible. The 7×16″ Alpina 20 spoke alloy wheels were the most obvious. A few of the not so noticeable Alpina components were the car’s intake manifold, instrument panel, grille mounted auxiliary digital meters, three-spoke sport steering wheel, and gear shift knob.

Other upgrades from the standard E30 were the Recaro sport seats. A Bilstein-tuned suspension. A larger, more effective, braking system consisted of perforated rotors with eight-piston calipers on the front and six-piston calipers on the rear. To avoid cooling problems, the standard E30 radiator was replaced with a larger unit. Since there wasn’t enough room to accommodate both power steering and air conditioning, owners of the 333i were given the option of having either one or the other.

All 204 examples of the 333i were RHD and they were made between May of 1985 and October of 1987. Word has it that most of these cars had been entered into South African motorsport competition, but there’s no way of determining which cars and exactly how many. The 333i was available in 4 colors; Charcoal Black, Henna Red, Ice White and Aero Silver.

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