Double Dose of Insanity: 1988 BMW M3 v. 1994 BMW 325i

In my usual searches I had an interesting dichotomous reaction to one number: $16,500.

The first I came across was a 1988 BMW M3 with a no reserve auction bid up to $16,500. “Wow! That’s actually pretty reasonable! I thought. Next, I saw a 1994 BMW 325i with a ‘Buy It Now’ of the exact same $16,500. “What the hell is the seller thinking?!? How absolutely ridiculous!” I scoffed.

Yet, neither car was as it originally seemed once the descriptions were opened, and suddenly a comparison was in order…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 on eBay

1989 BMW 325i AC Schnitzer

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Thanks to a Road & Track tuner feature, AC Schnitzer (along with Ruf, TechArt and HPA) was one of the first tuners to really catch my imagination. Big chunky 5-spokes and wings fore, aft, and midship were plenty to turn middle-school me into a daydreaming Autobahn master. In this day and age and much like the cars they tune or the pop stars we are force-fed, aftermarket design has become a caricature of hyper-stylized aggression. There was a time, however, when bodykits and wheels were subtly aggressive extensions of classic designs. This 325i sedan is exactly that, having received a bodykit, exhaust, wheels, and suspension that make it look more like an appetizing foreign model rather than a crazy tuner cartoon. Originally a Euro model that was imported to Japan and then Florida, it’s covered 43k miles on the road and nearly half that amount in shipping. The automatic is a bummer, but with so few miles and such beautifully restrained modifications it can be forgiven. The exhaust and suspension will help make the drive more exciting (as long as it doesn’t have the sad sound of good exhaust droning across an auto trans’ overly-smooth revs), and the bodykit and wheels will put a smile on any BMW fan’s face. Eventually a manual swap and some engine mods would help it keep up with its appearance, but for now it’s a very cool E30 that won’t break the bank.

Click for details: 1989 BMW 325i AC Schnitzer on eBay

1991 BMW 325i S52 Supercharged

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As the supply dwindles, I’ve been spending time looking at various clean, mostly original E30s. Today, however, we have a 1991 325i that has received the business under the hood, namely an S52 swap from an E36 M3 plus an Active Autowerk supercharger. That heady combination puts out 357 horsepower at the wheels and 411bhp at the crank, plenty to make this 2800-pound coupe punch well above its weight class. The mechanical build is too plentiful and thorough to fully recount here, but it has Raceland coilovers, Stoptech brakes, and just about all the bushings, mounts, and miscellaneous performance parts you can stuff under an E30 to help handle 250% of its original power. The interior looks ready to rumble too with black suede Recaros and NRG wheel and some other subtle racy bits, but this car is about go, not show. The exterior has a little clear coat peel and dents but the deeper front lip and M3-esque Zender spoiler should distract any passerby. It all adds up to a package that looks pretty standard-modded-E30 good but will smoke just about any non-exotic on the road.

Click for details: 1991 BMW 325i on eBay

1991 BMW 325i

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After the super, extremely, silly low mileage of the gold 325i I posted the other day, we now have a high-mileage black example, this time with the orders of magnitude-better 5-speed manual, that looks perfectly maintained. If you want a blank-slate E30 to perhaps eventually make your own choices on, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better middle ground than this. Nothing’s out of place or modified other than a couple minor 325is upgrades. The perfect daily driver, your first E30, and/or a car to gradually improve and modernize, this looks to be the Goldilocks of the breed.

Click for details: 1991 BMW 325i on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1986 BMW 325i Koenig Specials Widebody

Far, far on the other end of the tuning spectrum from the Dinan M5 of this morning are the ‘all show, no go’ scene cars. Built to resemble wildly flared racers, cars from manufacturers like DP Motorsports, Gemballa and Strosek are at best polarizing cars. At worst, they’re like the plot line to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex; kill your father, marry your mother and have your sister-daughters, then stab your eyes out and live in a cave. But the Rex himself must certainly be defined as Walter Koenig, with his widebody, Testarossa-straked creations. While usually we see Mercedes-Benz and Porsche versions of Koenig modified cars, today we get a rare glimpse of what he’d do to a E30. And, only a glimpse…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 BMW 325i Koenig Specials on eBay

1989 BMW 325i Touring

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More wagons! Longroof E30s are popping up regularly these days, with quite a few in right hand drive configuration. They’re ending all up over the place in terms of price, but overall it seems like the relative glut of Tourings is creating a buyers market where the patient can get what they want.

This 325i isn’t the nicest we’ve seen, with a shredded drivers seat soiling an otherwise decent interior. The exterior is nice in Delphin Gray and lowered on H&Rs over some middling aftermarket wheels. It has just 125k miles, but almost no real details from the seller. The automatic is a bummer but seems to be the more common option on these wagons. We’ve seen them go from $4k to over $10k; can this one get off the ground with its $7,500 starting bid?

Click for details: 1989 BMW 325i Touring on eBay

1988 BMW 325i M50

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Here’s a delicious little E30 package. It looks perfectly stock right down to the 14-inch basketweaves, and the engine swap even shares the original displacement. Yet instead of the M20B25 it came with, it’s now the M50B25TU – the first update for the 2.5-liter inline-6s available in the E34 525i and E36 325i in the mid-90s. The addition of VANOS improved low-end torque, and even without a power bump it’s still producing E30 M3 levels of power. It may not be the racy swap we’re used to seeing in E30s, but in some ways that’s what makes it perfect. The car will maintain its standard composure, driving dynamics, and low-key appearance while providing plenty of power to keep up with modern cars and breed smiles like rabbits in the hills.

Click for details: 1988 BMW 325i on eBay

Feature Listing: 1988 BMW 325i Convertible

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It might not be the exact time of year one thinks of buying a convertible, but those of us living on the east coast of the United States experienced a bit of a warm snap in November. A welcome relief for those of us used to dealing with piles of snow. Time to buy a drop top, then? Maybe. If it’s a bit of the 1980s you’re looking to revisit, it doesn’t get much better than the iconic BMW E30 Convertible. This 1988 325i Convertible for sale in California is mostly original, looking sharp in the popular Zinnoberot over black leather, mated to what many consider to be one of the smoothest manual gearboxes in the business.

Click for details: 1988 BMW 325i Convertible on eBay

Motorsports Monday: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo v. 1989 BMW 325is

A fan favorite symbol of the 1980s with a perfectly balanced chassis, great aftermarket support, capable of massive upgrades in power, brakes and suspension, and avid race series still today; both the BMW E30 and Porsche 944 fit this mold. Since new, many have been hitting race circuits and autocrosses and now going on 30 years later they remain staples of their respective marque racing club events as well as amateur race series. Today I have a showdown between two modded examples; who will outbrake the other into turn one?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 325is on eBay

1989 BMW 325i Touring

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As E30 Touring imports pick up some steam, we get to see a wider variety of the wagon offerings the rest of the world has known about for over 25 years. We’ve seen the base-model 318i up to the rare all-wheel drive 325ix, each providing a sharp package with fun driving dynamics while enabling hauls that a standard trunk could never hope to handle. With many examples coming from the right-hand-drive UK, you have to decide if such a great overall package is worth the brain reorganization necessary to appropriately traverse our LHD roads.

This is one of those bassackwards drivers but brings a very distinct look thanks to a rare (especially on wagons) M-Tech body kit normally present only on the ix models, complementing the E30’s clean top lines with fender flares, exaggerated front and rear valences, and side skirts. 16″ Style 5 wheels help fill those enlarged fenders resulting in an overall package that looks both clean and aggressive. The automatic transmission is the other main detraction besides RHD, but we’ve forgiven autos on great-looking E34 wagons in favor of good looks and utility, so why not do the same here?

Click for details: 1989 BMW 325i Touring on eBay