1994 BMW 325iS M-Design

Another M-Design! I’ve featured a string of these ultra-limited ’94 325iS models built by BMW Individual recently. Today’s VIN ends in 478, produced 40 cars after the one I looked at last June. Visually equipped with most of what would become the M3 in ’95, the M-Design is an interesting footnote in United States E36 production.

Of course, “interesting”, “obscure” and “BMW 3-Series”, when combined in the right proportions, usually equate to dollar signs in seller’s eyes. Asks on these cars often rival or exceed M3 prices. Crazy, right? Who would pay more than they would for a M3 to have less than a M3? Well, some people do. Recently a ZHP E46 coupe traded for $26,000. Scoff all you want, but clearly there is a market for the limited edition 3-series. But since some trade for high numbers, many sellers equate their 3 as priceless. Not the case today, as we get a true market indicator of where a driver-quality 325iS M-Design is valued at:

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1995 BMW 325iS

The takeaway from my recent E36 M3 Double Take was that many sellers were looking for strong money, but if you looked you could still find some deals on the third generation 3-series M. Some searching yielded a 70,000 mile Boston Green ’97 M3/4/5 Sedan. Clean and a desirable model on its own, it still sold for only $10,800. With asks for normal E30 325iS generally higher than that, where does the follow-up model lay?

That model is this E36 325. Launched in 1992 for U.S. shores, the third generation 3-series instantly cemented itself as the new benchmark. In fact, for all of the attention fawned on ‘God’s Chariot’, the reality is that the 3-series didn’t appear on notoriously BMW-leaning Car and Driver until the 1992 model year. Equipped with the M50 DOHC 189 horsepower inline-6, the modern yet still driver-oriented design would go on to become a regular thereafter. They were a sales success too, and like the E30 was for some time, they’re currently being largely ignored in the used market. After all, if you can get a clean M3 for $11,000, why would you buy a 325iS?

Because they’re a damn good car in their own right, and they’re also damn cheap – if you can find a clean one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 325iS on eBay

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Diet M3: 1994 BMW 325is M-Design

Just prior to the launch of the E36 M3 for North America, Canada got a special run of European-specification M3s. However, they weren’t alone in terms of custom E36s available. 1994 also saw the United States get a pretty unique, and quite limited, E36 model.

It was the 1994 325is M-Design. Fans call it the M-Tech, and it was very similar to the Clubsport Coupe that was available in Europe.

While underneath this was basically a stock 325, it was still pretty special. It included nearly all the items that the M3 would have outside of the motor and brakes. You got the M-Tech body kit, mirrors, steering wheel and shift knob, along with the Anthracite M cloth (0506). Many (if not all) were painted Germany’s racing color – Alpine White. Additionally, the M-Tech included a cool set of 17″ BBS 2-piece wheels. They were referred to as Style 29s, but were actually a multi-piece version of the forged BBS RG wheel. A limited run of only 150 (according to fans, BMW isn’t sure) were produced by BMW Individual with a $4,700 premium on the base price of the 325is.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 325is M-Design on eBay

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1988 BMW 325iS

1The E30 market is undoubtedly a little overheated. But it’s not hard to see why these cars are so beloved, especially in the configuration seen here. With a tight, sorted chassis, willing six-cylinder motor that sends power to the back wheels, and a snick-snick manual gearbox, it has all the vital ingredients of an 80s German sporting coupe. Simple, fun, unadulterated. The Ultimate Driving Machine. And with high miles, this one may even be relatively affordable.

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1987 BMW 325iS

2The 325iS is one of the more desirable versions of the E30 3-series, perhaps the third most desirable model after the M3 and the Euro-market 320iS (the “Italian M3”). Showcasing precisely the sorts of features that make the E30 a contender for the “definitive German sport sedan” title, it’s a simple and fun little car with a five speed manual gearbox, a sweet six cylinder motor, a nicely balanced chassis and firm, sporty suspension. The ’87 models also featured a unique and aggressive front spoiler, nicknamed the “cowcatcher” by E30 aficionados. They don’t come much nicer than this one – a low mileage example that appears to be in mint condition. It’s not cheap, but it’s certainly a lot cheaper than an M3.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 325iS on eBay

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1993 BMW 325iS

1Time capsule cars are fascinating. It doesn’t matter whether they’re high-performance exotics or run of the mill, entry level econoboxes, there’s always something deeply weird and alluring about finding a car built decades ago that still looks brand new today. It’s even more interesting when that car is an E36. This generation of 3-series will, I think, one day be regarded as a classic, but you’d be forgiven for doubting it, since so many of them out there for sale today are such dogs. For every nice example on the market there are ten cars that have been driven hard and put away wet. This ’93 325iS however looks pretty much the same as I imagine it did the day it left the showroom, which is not too surprising since it only has 34k miles on the odometer.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW 325iS on eBay

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1990 BMW 325is

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I’ve featured some nice examples of the 325is recently, ranging from an extremely low-mile ’87 to a subtly modified M-Tech ’87, to a slammed ’89 ready for a feature in European Car. All of those cars were severely lacking in one important category: Brown. The 71k-mile ’87 was beige, which is close but no cigar. This ’90 325is was originally silver, but a previous owner made the outstanding choice to make it a nice, chocolatey brown. It’s the highest mileage we’ve seen in a while, with something like 206k miles on the chassis but being blessed with a rebuild and plenty of other new parts. It comes with absolutely classic Ronal Turbos and other nice bits like a Z3 steering rack (2.7 turns lock to lock instead of 3.5 should surprise your E30-driving buds) and a reupholstered interior. As you might expect of a double-century car, it could use a little love, but small things like fixing a cracked bumper, touching up some rock chips, and putting center caps in the Turbos would make a world of difference. Bidding is low for this high-mileage E30, but potential is high.

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1987 BMW 325is

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All of the 325is I’ve featured recently are in good shape for the mileage, which ranged from well-traveled to marathoner. Today’s a special day, with a low-mileage example of the E30 that is in (a distant) second place for most desirable behind the M3 unicorn. This bronzitbeige coupe with a 5-speed has 71k miles, a good half or third of the other recent 325is auctions. It wears the 1987-specific cowcatcher front spoiler, one of the more aggressive stock valences in this generation of BMWs, and while the aftermarket Fittipaldi 5-spokes aren’t anachronous or awful, they’re not more attractive than the stock rims. The crack-prone black interior looks solid and serviceable and the seats aren’t ripped, but I expected it to be a little more pristine considering the mileage. Just based on how many years it could have left in it compared to the high-mile examples, it could be enjoyed for years and still sold (likely at a premium) as a lower-mileage example. The seller knows that, and is asking at the top end of the non-M3 market to this point.

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1987 BMW 325is

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Here’s a sweet little 325is that is deceptively unique. With no trunk badges, a first glance at the side skirts may lead you to believe it’s a 325ix, but a closer look reveals an E30 that has been given quite a bit of attention. Under the 9 year-old repaint, the side skirts are actually BBS, and the front and rear M-Tech I valences have been integrated into chrome Euro bumpers. It’s also lacking the M-tech wheel arches, but I don’t miss them. Inside, E30 M3 seats in Natur are a nice touch (though I’ve never liked the bulbous M-Tech II steering wheel), and the mechanicals seem to have been thoroughly maintained and upgraded with nice bits like a Conforti chip and Dinan Stage 2 suspension. With no reserve, it’s time to let the eBay junkyard dogs feast.

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1989 BMW 325is

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It’s Sunday, and as we dig through the winter weekends watching the anticlimactic wrap-up to the NFL season we can start daydreaming again of spring Sundays filled with curvy dry roads, loud exhaust, and practicing our heel-toe. This 325is is well set up to be a weekend warrior, not overdone despite almost no stone unturned. It has a host of interior and exterior modifications that would probably look delightfully subtle were it not for the gold-centered wheels. The Shadowline and Euro bits highlight a monochromatic body while an Alcantara-heavy interior with recovered Corbeaus looks like a great place to be, both comfortable and functional. There’s no crazy performance gains here, just a mellow cocktail of chip, exhaust, and redone suspension to help this 325is really exploit its E30ness.

Click for details: 1989 BMW 325is on eBay

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