THE SOUTH AFRICAN SPECIAL
In conjunction with BMW Motorsport Gmbh and Alpina, in 1985 BMW SA developed an Sa-only performance flagship to rival the European M3. Back when badges actual represented engine capacity, this E30 model featured a 3,2-litre, inline-six that pumped out 145 kw. Tested by CAR in 1985, the 333i could reel off the 0-100 km/h sprint in 7,23 seconds.
Back when I was a schoolboy, the 333i was my automotive Holy Grail and it was with a huge grin on my dial that I slipped behind the wheel. With just shy of 200 units made, who knows how many still exist and I honestly didn’t think I’d ever get to drive one.
Although the dog-leg first gear in the transmission takes some getting used to, it is an easy car to get a feel for, with a loping ride quality that adds to the ease of use.
Short gearing gives you immediate access to the 333i’s performance potential and a swell of 285 N.m of torque arrives at 4 300 r/min, which makes it feel really quick. The dog-leg gearbox has a beautiful mechanical action and the steering wheel constantly relays information through the palms. It’s a sensory delight in all aspects.