The 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.
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The E31 8-series (1989-1999) was available in 840Ci, 850Ci and 850CSi guises. The 840 came with a 4.0 liter V8 (later upgraded to 4.4 liters), while the 850 was powered by a 5.0 liter V12 motor. This engine was bored out to 5.6 liters for the range-topping CSi version. (The cousin of an abandoned project to build an M8, the CSi also came with a 6-speed manual gearbox, stiffer steering and suspension, and a model-specific bodykit.) Low slung and sleek, with pop up headlights, no B-pillars and a wedge-shaped profile, the 8-series was undeniably gorgeous. It was also incredibly expensive, both to buy and to repair, and a little underwhelming, particularly in entry level form, where the car’s performance never really matched the highly exotic exterior. That last criticism now seems a little unfair, since these cars were sold as grand tourers, not out-and-out sports cars. Still, the 8-series has remained somewhat under appreciated. As a result, entry level models can be found for a fraction of their original cost. This car is indeed a base model 840Ci, but it’s definitely not cheap. That’s because it carries a number of desirable features and upgrades, including some more usually found on the CSi model.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 840Ci on Bimmerforums
In a post I wrote for The Truth About Cars this past week, I covered a few E30 models that offer affordable and interesting visual and performance alternatives to the E30 M3. One of those models was the Baur TC2, the model which gave BMW a soft-top before BMW made its own in 1985. Of course, the E30 wasn’t Baur’s first foray into convertible 3-series models, though, as they had started with the E21 model. Baur only produced a little less than half the amount of E21s – 4,595 according to Petrolicious – as they did E30 models at over 11,000, but as importation of early 1980s cars was easier, it seems more common to see the E21 Baur than the E30 Baur. Though fitted as standard with no performance upgrades, this unique 1982 example remedies that with a turbocharged M20:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 323i Baur TC1 Turbo on eBay
I think that one day we’ll look back upon the E36 generation 3-series and regard it as a classic. The “dolphin” body shape continues to age well, and sits atop a finely balanced chassis that makes for a spritely and engaging drive. The six cylinder motors found in these are smooth, stout units that offer satisfying (if not blistering) performance and return decent fuel economy. When they do go wrong, they are quite simple to work on and spare parts are relatively cheap and plentiful. The M3 of this generation is already quite desirable and is a bit of a performance bargain, especially since it remains cheaper to pick up than the E30 and E46 versions that sit either side of it. But clean, low-mileage non-M cars often get overlooked, and I think this is a little unfair. Take this 328i for example. It’s a convertible and an automatic, both potential turn-offs for some. But a 3-series in this configuration is not supposed to be a track car or a street racer. It’s supposed to be a classy little boulevard cruiser. And on that score it’s a winner.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW 328i Convertible on eBay
Just the other day, Paul looked at a 1998 BMW 318ti in Oxford Green. An offbeat commuter, the condition of that car was great, but not so much was the near $7,000 price. Today I have another 318ti to look at, but this one ups the ante a bit. Again it is an original M44 car in great shape with well below average miles. The color is a little less 90s spectacular, but still looks nice in Alpine White. However, it’s the addition of the California roof and the M-Sport package which really helps this hatch stand out. Let’s take a look: