BMW E21 Economy

E21 Art Car




The E21 does not have a very good cw-figure. Indeed the 0.452 given for the production 318i rates it in the same league as the VW Beetle. Several after market suppliers have sought of different spoilers to improve this mark. Utilizing front and rear spoilers a value of 0.42 can be achieved without seriously distorting the car's appearance. Yet, this still doesn't make the E21 a very economic car.

In 1981 Shell and the German car magazine 'auto motor & sport' set up an economy competition. Tuners from across Europe were called upon to determine the most economic, albeit modified, production car. All aerodynamic and technical gimmicks were allowed - resulting in some ungainly cars. 

ALPINA entered a 318i into the race which had undergone the following modifications:

  • Only two cylinders were running - the other two were deactivated by boring through the pistons and removing the corresponding rockers.
  • The compression rate was raised to a high level.
  • The mixture was set to extreme lean.
  • A new computer-controlled ignition system determined the perfect ignition time.
  • The fan belt was very slack
  • The right rear axle was removed.
  • The tires were set to a higher pressure.
  • An enormous plastic bow was affixed to the front of the car.





All these modifications, which were begun only 6 weeks before the contest, resulted in a clear victory for ALPINA. The 318i burned only 2.672 litres per 100km (~ 89.32 mpg) finishing first in its class.