Euro cars always hold a special appreciation for me, especially from the 1970s and 1980s. First off, they were much better looking, generally with slimmer bumpers and larger, more clear class lights. There were colors and interiors that we didn’t get in the U.S. as well, helping to set yourself apart. Sometimes there were low-spec engines not imported, but usually the output of the motors that were similar to U.S. cars was higher, giving more performance to enthusiasts. Sometimes that gulf was huge; while usually around 10% higher, a great example is the Quattro which was a full 25% more powerful in Europe than the U.S. restricted version. But as we got towards the late ’80s, the gap inbetween both the looks and performance of the Euro models versus the U.S. models closed steadily. True, in some cases we still didn’t get the full-fat versions of cars like the M3 until the E46 chassis. But for most models, there was a negligible difference. When it came to the BMW E31, in fact, there were almost no differences between the U.S. models and European models; styling was exactly the same, as were the wheels, most of the colors and interiors, and the basic suspension and engine. So, it’s just not nearly as exciting to see a European-spec newer model like this ’91 850i pop up for sale, though it is a bit odd:
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Provenance is something very important to many consumer goods; slap a brand name on any good and it increases the value of an otherwise ordinary product exponentially even if it’s the same formula as the budget no-name product. People are attracted to names that they recognize, and of course therefore more likely to buy those products even if they are more expensive. And in the BMW world, if 1980s BMWs were increasing in value that takes a backseat to the microscope on Alpina models. Yet, as with many tuners of the 1980s, not only is it possible to buy replica parts today, but even in period you could buy all of the pieces and slap them on just about any car. In those cases, though outwardly they look identical at times to the “real” cars that were assembled at the factories, they don’t tend to hold the same value. That’s why today’s European-spec 1982 320i is an interesting case – is it an Alpina?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 320i Alpina on eBay
Unless there was a surprising flaw in the engine, I’m not sure why you’d pull it and rebuild on a 76k-mile E30 M3 other than the fact that it’s likely to take a car that’s in the top 10% of the market and make it a little more elite. Probably not going to lose you money, as it’s hard to top an M3 this clean with a brand-new engine in a seller’s market. Along the lines of the rebuild, it’s not entirely original with BBS RKs, an Evo lip, and a Momo steering wheel. It’s all nice, though I think it’d be even better without them. It doesn’t matter what I think, however; the enthusiast with this kind of cash can make whatever choices they want.
Click for details: 1988 BMW E30 M3 on eBay
At first glance this may appear to be nothing more than a very clean E34 525i, but look inside and you find out that this car is quite unique. It’s not the pristine cloth interior that I bet still smells good or the OEM tape deck. No, what makes this ultra low mileage E34 so unique is that it’s a import from the Land Of The Rising Sun. That’s right, this is a LHD BMW Japan E34 525i. I’m not an expert on BMW interior history but from what I’ve been able to find, the steering wheel in this vehicle is also unique to foreign markets as is the leather surrounding the shifter. Someone please correct me if I am wrong but so far as I can tell all the U.S. spec E34 5 series had a hard shifter surround, not padded leather which I think is a very nice touch.
Aside from those things the interior is the same low key environment you’ll find in any E34, simple ergonomic design that is focused on the driver. It’s always such a pleasure to see vehicles of this era with such sharp interiors because it really exemplifies how on point they were. I’ve been in a bunch of E34’s and never really appreciated the cabin as most of them had been well worn, sticky surfaces from spilled coffee, cracked leather, that stale smell of two decades worth of shutting people around. I hope that the person that takes this thing home realizes how special it is to break in 26 year old car and really enjoys the process of doing just that. It’s great that this 525i has such low mileage but I’d say it’s time for it to be somebody’s daily driver.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 525i on eBay
I have a bit of a lukewarm relationship with the BMW E30 as of late. As a former owner, I have an attachment to the breed, but there’s a bit of a scene around the car these days, leading to some chopped up examples or drift machines that tend to put me off. With exception of the Touring models we were never offered, one of my favorite E30s was the 1991 318is. This mashup between old and new pretty much hit the sweet spot for me. New engine plus classic body was the perfect combination. This example for sale in Kansas could be one of the lowest mileage examples left.