The BMW M3 E30 had its fair share of limited-run editions but none of them were offered in South Africa where the homologation special was not available. However, there was a potent variant assembled locally at the Plant Rosslyn where 210 units were built. The 333i was a joint effort between BMW, BMW Motorsport GmbH, and ALPINA.
The SA-exclusive 333i stars in a new video with its dogleg five-speed manual gearbox routing the straight-six’s power to the rear axle. That 3.2-liter unit produced a healthy 197 hp and 285 Nm (210 lb-ft) back in the day. BMW aficionados know the first M3 went on to receive several revisions bringing more power, including a Sport Evolution (aka EVO3) with as much as 235 hp.
One interesting fact about these 333i cars is that customers had to choose between air conditioning or power steering. Because of packaging constraints caused by the big engine, BMW couldn’t fit both. The ones without AC had fog lights while the ones with AC had air ducts instead. These M30-engined cars were produced between 1985-1987 and advertised with a 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) sprint in 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 142 mph (228 km/h).
The 333i wasn’t the only special E30 for South Africa as the local BMW division also had a 325iS introduced in the first half of 1990. It had an ALPINA-modified 2.7-liter M20 engine with 194 hp before an EVO 2 version bumped output to 208 hp. It is believed about 508 were ever made in total.
Lest we forget BMW South Africa also had the 745i, a first-generation 7 Series (E23) with the M1 supercar’s engine that was limited to 255 cars. All these cars are regional legends, along with the 530 Motorsport Limited Edition (MLE) acting as the first road-going BMW model to have an M-specific VIN plate. It was an E12 525i-based homologation special capped at 218 units with a stripped-out interior and a 3.0-liter M30 engine.
Source: Cars.co.za / YouTube