1989 BMW M3 Convertible

1989 BMW M3 Convertible

I bet more than a few of you think I have it out for the E30. And, true enough, it’s not a chassis that gets nearly the press on this site that it does on others. Perhaps it is the culture which has emerged around the Cult of E30, maybe it’s just jealousy at the plethora of options and availability of parts that are both none existent in the E30 world.

Most likely, it’s because I like to be a little bit different than the crowd, and truth told that’s a hard thing to do in the E30 world.

But I have the potential solution for my problem right here.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW M3 Convertible on eBay

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

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

1992 BMW 316i Touring

1992 BMW 316i Touring

The US-market never received the touring (wagon) version of the E30 3-series. But these cars are now old enough to import under the 25 year rule, which means you can find a steady trickle of these popping up on eBay for sale over here, and various accounts of enthusiasts’ attempts to bring them over. And no wonder: the E30 estate is a handsome and utilitarian looking car, practical and quite stylish.

The E30 was offered in Europe with a wider range of engines than we received here, so there a variety of different longroof options to choose from.  There were two four cylinder models (a 1.6 liter and a 1.8 liter), two six cylinder models (a 2.0 liter and 2.5 liter, with the latter also being available in “iX,” all wheel drive spec), and a 2.4 liter naturally aspirated diesel inline six. This particular car is a 316i, the entry level model. While the car is currently located in Germany, it’s being advertised on US eBay to tempt American E30 fans with a taste for forbidden fruit.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 BMW 316i Touring on eBay

Real or Replica: 1988 BMW 320is v. 1991 BMW 318is S14

Real or Replica: 1988 BMW 320is v. 1991 BMW 318is S14

We’ve been witness to an interesting trend over the past few years in the E30 lineup, as manic pricing increases have rivaled the Porsche 911’s market stardom in a smaller audience. For the most part, outrageous bids have been limited in the general enthusiast world to the M3; but within the E30 sphere of influence, outstanding examples of each particular model have reached astonishing levels of pricing. Just the other day, a Hodge-podge of parts assembled on a 325i hit $19,000 on a no reserve auction. Granted, it was a good-looking example, but it shows the massive swing in values of the highly desirable platform.

Today I have an interesting comparison to consider. Like the $19,000 example linked above, one of the models I have here is admittedly not original. However, it’s the swap that is very interesting, as the builder managed to source and stuff a M3’s S14 power plant into a 318i, bringing with it the brake and wheel upgrades. Of course, BMW also did this themselves in the Portugal and Italian-market 320is – coincidentally, one of which is also on eBay at the same time. What does the market look like on these two shining examples of 4-cylinder fun?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 320is on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1985 Alpina C1 2.3/1

Tuner Tuesday: 1985 Alpina C1 2.3/1

Alpina mania continues unabated on these pages. And why not? Rather than hastily assembled montages of aftermarket accessories or tasteless timepieces of a bygone era, Alpinas were artfully crafted bits of perfection. They were intended to be, and often were, as good as a BMW could get. The market has recognized this in their value, which when correctly presented far outstrips that of a normal – or even special – model from Munich. But that’s led to a variety of half-baked, poorly presented or just plain questionable examples that pop up on a regular basis. Is today’s ultra-rare C1 2.3/1 a case of the former, or the latter?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Alpina C1 2.3/1 on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1987 Alpina C2 2.5

Tuner Tuesday: 1987 Alpina C2 2.5

Alpina values might be as hard to follow as those in the 911 world. As with all proper marque-specific tuners in the German world, there’s a fair amount of attention being levied upon the Buchloe firm, and some models are demanding outrageous premiums; for example, recently one of the ultra-rare B6 3.5S models sold for a simply staggering 200,000 Euros.

Does it follow, then, that all E30 Alpinas are outrageous money? Some asking prices would seem to equate that, but the asking prices have often failed to be recognized. Take, for example, the 1984 C1 2.3/1 current for sale on eBay. I looked at this car the best part of a year ago when the asking price was an eye-watering $99,000. I suggested that if you were willing to pay that amount for that example, men in white coats may be locking you up. It seems that most agreed with me, as the car has moved to a new dealer and is still languishing, now with a more reasonable still insane $67,500 asking price.

So, when a more potent version of the Alpina C series pops up with an actually realistic price, we should take note. But should we click the Buy It Now immediately?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Alpina C2 2.5 on eBay

1989 BMW 325iX Touring

1989 BMW 325iX Touring

It’s been a balmy couple of days in DC, with temperatures shooting up to around 60 degrees. One could be forgiven for wondering where the winter went. It will soon be here, I’m sure. And with it the snow and ice, the city-wide shutdown, and the terrible drivers causing pile-ups around the beltway. What would be the ideal winter warrior for times like these? The E30 325iX quickly comes to mind. A brief search on Craigslist throws up a number of tidy options (as well as the usual plethora of over-priced rust buckets). But one in particular stands out, a bit of a unicorn. AWD? Check. Manual? Check? Wagon? Check! Eye-watering price? Double check!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 325iX Touring on Columbus, OH Craigslist

Labor of Love: 1991 BMW 318iS

Labor of Love: 1991 BMW 318iS

You don’t have to cast a very wide net to find a modified E30 BMW. Though they’ve been out of production for the U.S. market for some 25 years, they’re still a massively popular choice for enthusiasts – so much so, that they’re a bit ubiquitous and border on cliché.

As a result, we’ve seen our share of modified E30s on these pages with varying results. But today’s example really is something special. It’s not the first time I’ve heard an E30 be referred to as the cleanest, best built car in the country. I clicked the link with my normal base-level of E30 skepticism.

It’ll be way, way overpriced for what it is. Lipstick on a pig. I’d prefer a stock one” rolled through my head.

You see, if I told you the value on a 318iS was such that it justified a full disassembly and restoration, you’d likely laugh. There could not possibly be a return on that investment, right? And on top of that, a resto-mod in a non-original color in a market which has highly prized only completely original, low mileage and stock examples to date?

Naysayers, bear witness.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW 318iS on eBay

1988 BMW 325iS

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.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 325iS on eBay

1987 BMW 325iS

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

Tuner Tuesday: 1986 Alpina B6 2.7

Tuner Tuesday: 1986 Alpina B6 2.7

$65,000 for an E36?Bullsh*t!“, most of you are probably saying. That money should be reserved for true classics or brand new models. Heck, you can get a perfect condition, lightly used M4 for $65,000 even in a cool color. But anyone can walk down to a dealer and get a brand new car. You’re an enthusiast, which means you enjoy the purgatory of older car ownership. Few of your non-automobile related friends understand why you like old, smelly, slow, uncomfortable, often in need of repair hunks of metal and plastic. “It’s just a car”, they say. But it’s not just a car to you – it’s an identity, a feeling, a Joie de vivre those who don’t know will never have. It doesn’t matter that they don’t understand, because you understand. So you take that $65,000 that you could have spent on a brand new, ultra-flash and ultra-fast M4 but you don’t spend it on an ultra-obscure two decade-old E36, because they’re not worth that much – obviously. No, you instead spend it on a sure thing, a car that isn’t a flash in the pan, a recession-proof investment-grade BMW like….an E30?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Alpina B6 2.7 on eBay

1993 BMW 316i Touring Design Edition

1993 BMW 316i Touring Design Edition

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Each year, more and more interesting non-US market vehicles become eligible for importation stateside. Recently, the BMW E30 Touring has crossed that threshold to where it is legally possible to bring one of these five-door E30s into the US. Most of the examples we’ve seen arrive on these shores have been packing the 2.5 liter inline-6, but this 1993 example for sale north east of Düsseldorf, Germany is a 316i, equipped with the single cam 1.6 liter M40 four-cylinder. It won’t set your world on fire, but it certainly looks sharp in Daytona Violet with the special Design Edition fabric sport seats.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW 316i Touring on Mobile.de

1991 BMW 318i

1991 BMW 318i

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As I scour the ads each week for noteworthy vehicles to feature here on GCFSB, I come across a fair amount of E30 BMW M3s on the market. These original M3s are now the darling of the collector set. I was a bit intrigued by them when I was running my E30 325is two decades ago. Nowadays, they don’t do much for me. This is party due to my preference for the 2.5 liter inline-6 that powered my 325is and partly because their collectability has made them all but impractical for use as a daily driver. If you still want some E30 four cylinder goodness, why not check out this 318i for sale in Maryland? This car has undergone a partial restoration and is a non-sunroof model with a 5-speed manual, a combination suited for the purists out there.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW 318i on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1988 BMW M3 AC Schnitzer S3 Sport 2.5

Tuner Tuesday: 1988 BMW M3 AC Schnitzer S3 Sport 2.5

Though ultimately not as well known as Alpina, AC Schnitzer replaced the more famous brand a the defacto factory race team in the late 1970s and 1980s. To capitalize on their success at the race track (including the successful campaigns in the DTM), in 1987 AC Schnitzer launched their first brand-specific model based upon the new E32. That was followed by a more sporty E30-based model, dubbed the ACS3 Sport in 1989. It was available based upon either a normal 3-series, or those with a bunch of dough could opt to allow Schnitzer to modify their prized M3. And modify it did; subtle changes outside included revised mirrors, a light change to the rear end and a single-wiper conversion to really channel the DTM spirit. Wheels were either 17″ multi-piece Schnitzer design, or the ever-popular BBS RS model in 16″x8 or 9. As Alpina did, Schnitzer included their own steering wheel (4 options available), a numbered plaque, bespoke suspension 20mm lower than the standard ride height, and a unique rectangular-tipped exhaust. However, the real treat was the full 2.5 conversion, which really packed some extra power in the S14. Schnitzer brought the total displacement to 2,431 cc – just shy of the 2,467 BMW themselves would produce in the 1990 Sport Evolution. Coupled with a revised DME, the S3 Sport 2.5 produced an impressive 245 horsepower. They are exceedingly rare to come across, but our reader Daniel spotted this fully converted 1988 example for sale:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 AC Schnitzer S3 2.5 at Garage Current

1990 BMW Z1

1990 BMW Z1

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As it has aged, the BMW Z3 (with exception of the M Coupe) has become a bit of an unwanted step child amongst pre-owned BMWs. They aren’t new enough to be considered cool and aren’t old enough to be considered classic. Most of those in the states would be forgiven if they thought this was BMW’s first crack at the roadster format, but it wasn’t. Dial back to the late 1980s and you’ll find this rather strange convertible called the Z1. Built in limited numbers from 1989 through 1991, it was a bit of a test bed for new technologies, such as removable plastic body panels, a “Z” axle rear suspension and underbody aerodynamic tray. There were only 8,000 of these funky roadsters ever made and a few have started making their way to the US as they have now breached 25 years of age. This example is for sale in Texas.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW Z1 on eBay