I had one of the early BMW 320is that is before the first lot of suspension changes to improve its road-holding were made. I think the one you tested in February 1977 must have been the later version and your comments in the February 1978 issue of Motor Sport, page 176, that you could describe it as neither very predictable nor very safe, is borne-out by my experience.
Twicee at speeds of about 40 m.p.h., when accelerating on slippery but fortunately straight, wide roads, it produced what seemed an innocent bit of wheel spin, but attempts at correction by easing-off and steering into the skid produced a tail wag the other way and a build-up of oscillations. On the first occasion I nearly lost it and, on the second I did: after three swings each way each worse than the one before all on my own with a three-lane carriageway, I went off the road sideways and backwards under a semi-trailer; to write off the car. Could this be the sort of lack of predictability and safety which you comment on?
BMW have no records of similar events. Has anything similar happened to a reader of Motor Sport?
Oxted DR. G. R. FRYERS
P.S. I attach a more detailed account of the accident in the hope that C.R. may be able to shed more light on the mechanism involved.
(I had a couple of nasty moments in the road test 320i which too was an early version without the later suspension revisions. One particular incident in the wet, on Dartmoor, referred to in my road test, showed similar symptoms to those described by Dr. Fryer though I managed to “collect” it. The later 320i was much improved in the suspension department and the latest six-cylinder 320 is better still. – C.R)