The BMW E30 3 Series has a special place in the hearts of many enthusiasts, not necessarily only BMW fanboys. In the range of the second-generation 3 Series, the most adored is, without a doubt, the M3 model, which was also the first of its kind. However, there is one limited-edition model out there that might be even more desirable. That would be the BMW E30 333i.
This was, as surprisingly as it may sound, South Africa’s answer to the M3. That’s because, even though the Rosslyn plant had been operational for quite some time when the original M3 had came out, the M car was never officially offered in the country. That stirred up some feathers, of course, and prompted the local branch to work out a plant to make up for this lack of understanding. That’s how the BMW 333i was born.
It was the end result of the collective efforts of BMW South Africa, ALPINA and BMW Motorsport. What they did was to take the M30 engine that was otherwise used in the BMW 733i and stick it in the engine bay of the E30 3 Series model. The straight-six 3.2-liter mill also received some improvements from ALPINA, developing around 200 HP in the 333i application, a figure that was lower than the one of the M3 but with considerably more down-low torque to play around with.
Only 210 of them were ever made and one of them can be seen in the video below, courtesy of Cars.co.za, and it goes into some details about it. One very interesting tidbit is that, when it was delivered, brand new, the original 333i came with a manual that covered all the differences compared to a regular 3 Series.
But leaving all those details aside, this car was all about the driving experience and this video covers that aspect as well.