When it rains, it pours. The BMW E30 325ix was not a huge seller during its lifetime and of course fewer examples exists today. Over 2.3 million E30s were produced, of which less than 30,000 had the “ix” suffix on their decklid. We’ve seen several clean examples over the last two weeks, both in sedan and coupe form. This 1989 325ix sedan comes to us from our reader Mike. This was originally an automatic car but received a 5-speed manual swap. For a car with just over 170,000 miles, it is a real minter and wears its original paint. This is one you surely won’t miss as it tears its way through the snow drifts.
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Recently I was reminiscing while looking through old magazine photos and came across the Car and Driver comparison of the Mercedes-Benz 500E, the BMW M5, and the then new Audi S4. I still remember reading that article; the Audi placed last and seemed seriously outclassed in terms of horsepower, acceleration even curb appeal. If you wanted the race car dressed as a sedan, the M5 was the natural choice. If you wanted a muscle car with room for four executives, then the 500E couldn’t be beaten. And on paper, the S4 was really a poor comparison to those cars. C&D did point out that the Audi was technically more advanced than the other two; it was the only turbocharged one, and the all-wheel drive system was already legendary even in 1992. But people that opted to buy the S4 were doing so not for the technology, but for the capability of the understated Audi. Several generations of each model on, these are still the cars that many longingly remember as the height of their respective marque’s build quality and driver involvement – and certainly that’s the case for the Audi. While it was underpowered out of the box compared to its countrymen, the stout drivetrain and engine easily accepted higher levels of boost. It was the first Audi that really got aftermarket support – a group of enthusiasts who still boast that this is the best car that Audi ever made. The workhorses of the ski-set, few have led pampered lives and not many remain in good shape – making it a treat to find a clean one. Despite growing acknowledgement that this car was one of the great sport sedans, prices on even very clean examples of the C4 S4 remain much more affordable than the BMW and Mercedes-Benz competition today:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi S4 on Craigslist.org
The E36 M3 is the first M car that I can remember obsessing over. Ever since I got a die cast model of an E36 coupe race car in 6th grade, I’ve dreamt of flying around a track in one of these legendary machines, S52 wailing away at the top of the rev range. While it may be a bit longer before I can fully realize that dream, it seems fate decided to throw me a bone because I finally got some seat time in an E36 and it just so happens to be this very car. That’s right, the M3 which you see before you hath been driven by yours truly. The current custodian of this vehicle lives about 5 minutes away from me so naturally I had to lay eyes and hands on this vehicle if I was to write about it.
Honestly I was a little worried that the car wouldn’t live up to my lofty expectations. I have done my best to quiet the inner child in me that sees these vehicles as something extraordinary and instead look at them as the elevated daily driver that they are. After all if you think about the lineage of the M3, it’s kinda crazy that BMW decided to build a 4-door version. Then again, this was the 1990s, a glorious time for sport sedans, when crossovers were but a tickle in a designers finger and car design was, restrained.
Click for details: 1998 BMW M3 on Los Angeles’ Craigslist
I think it’s fair to say that there are quite a few of our readership that came of age in the 1980s, and the cars from that era hold a special appreciation in our minds; this author included. As we work our way through our celebration of “Coupe Week”, I went bank into my memory banks a bit. Growing up flipping through car magazines every month, I studied and memorized the horsepower figures, the 0-60 times and scrutinized the driving impressions of every single car, but there were some that caught my attention. Admittedly, in the early 1980s I had a predisposition to the Porsche 928. It looked so futuristic, and with its big aluminum V8 the performance figures seemed otherworldly to someone who grew up with Toyota Tercels and learned to drive on a early ’60s Beetle with no clutch. But towards the late 1980s, a car came to my attention that I had largely ignored up to that point; the E24 BMW. Sure, they were good looking 2-doors, but to a young man power was everything and the 928 was top trump. But then my father sold his RT1100 BMW motorcycle and bought something the family could enjoy; a 1982 633CSi. My appreciation for the BMW instantly grew. The long hood and delicate A and C pillars were a symphony of design; the sharply angled nose and BBS Mahle wheels hinted at a connection to motorsports. Inside, I still remember the smell of the luxurious leather and the sound of the M30 heading its way up the tach. Solidly in “Camp 6″ now, my new favorite car was the fastest version of the E24 that was available to U.S. customers – the M6.
Later on, my father’s priorities changed slightly and heading to the track more, he opted to get into a 1988 BMW M5. But as much as I respected and liked that car, the M6 still had my fascination. I still remember the first time I got to drive one; I detailed the car for a friend of the family. It was not my car to drive with reckless abandon, but still I was able to revel in the growl of the S38, the directness of the steering, the way the transmission seemed to perfectly slot into each gear. It was driving bliss and I felt invincible. Unfortunately, at that time M6s commanded a strong premium over the M5 and M3, and all were far outside of my income bracket. Fast forward to today, and the M6 has become perhaps the best performance bargain from BMW in the 1980s; find a good example, and they’re sure not to disappoint still:
Click for details: 1988 BMW 635CSi at Sun Valley Auto Club
The BMW E30 3 series has become a kind of German 1950s Chevrolet in a sense. With a thriving aftermarket scene, plenty of enthusiasts have undertaken projects to reinvent this compact executive car in their own right. From M3 clones to V8 engined barnstormers, the sky is the limit. With many of the Touring models eligible for US import, this has given enthusiasts a whole new canvas with which to work, as well. It’s not too often that we see the convertible variants breathed upon, but this particular 1990 325i Convertible from our reader Chris in Northern Virginia has had an upgrade to the M50 inline-6 from the later E36 3 series, along with suspension, steering and brake upgrades to handle the increased power.