A funny thing happens when you go to the track often. People arrive with generally a slower car in stock form. The immediate experience most have, once hooked on heading to the track, is that their driving is not the limiting factor, but the speed of their car. So the story goes, with searches of the internet resulting in stiffer suspension, chips and exhaust, engine mapping and dyno runs, camber plates and coil-overs, sticky rubber and the lightest wheels possible – even if they’re ugly. Why? All in the quest of speed. However, once those drivers get towards the top, a few strange realizations occurs: first, there will always be someone with more money (often, a lot more) who will turn up at the track with a weapon capable of making your turned up and tuned up ride look positively slow. The second is more profound – the guys in the slow cars are coming off track with bigger smiles. It’s simply very satisfying to drive a slow car fast, and it turns out that those drivers get closer to the edge and experience a more pure driving experience. Anyone can plunk down $110,000 at your Nissan dealership and go and let the car set fast lap times. But it takes panache to take a step back and enjoy an older, slower car – to hone your skills and make yourself a better driver. While there are several cars from the 1980s that will afford you that opportunity, arguably the most popular in the German car realm is the venerable E30:
All posts tagged e30
Today’s E30 325i is a well maintained and lightly upgraded survivor that hardly shows its 26 years or 174k miles. It’s not an “is” model but it looks just as good sitting on E38 16″ basketweaves and a lower H&R/Bilstein combo. As is expected on BMWCCA classifieds, the clean appearance is backed up by well-documented care. Overall, it’s a great, driver-quality E30 with a clean look only available in the absence of a spoiler. The only real question here is do the nice upgrades and care justify $10k for 174k miles?
Click for details: 1991 BMW 325i on eBay
There’s something I can appreciate about the 320is versus the M3. On the surface, the M3 with its iconic boxflares and big wing is the DTM star you want, right? But if you’re a connoisseur and you’re looking for the driving experience, the narrow body 320is offered nearly the same experience. Sure, it was down a bit on power thanks to the destroked 2.0 S14 compared to its more illustrious brother. But it was lighter too, being a base model. The same thing happened in the Audi Coupe world in the 1980s; on paper, the Quattro was the model you wanted. However, if you were an enthusiast, the last of the 1987 Coupe GTs offered the same performance as the Quattro did thanks to their lighter weight and upgraded engine over earlier models. The result is that these narrow-body cars offer discrete performance in a less showy package for those in the know. aSo that means that the 320is is a lot cheaper than a normal M3, right? Not so fast….
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 320is on eBay
For those of you who read GCFSB daily, you are no doubt familiar with the E30 BMW M3. In the last few years, this DTM car for the street has seen a steep rise in price, especially in light of the fact that the M3 badge was retired for the two-door, 3 series M car. The first M3 was a very different beast from its 3 series brethren, with a race-bred 2.3 liter twin cam four cylinder engine, bespoke bodywork and upgraded brakes and suspension. While some prefer the power and torque of the six-cylinder E30s, there is something magical about driving a car that was strongly connected to its racing roots. This M3 for sale in Miami has slightly under 70,000 miles on the clock and had a respray a few years back.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 on eBay
Inexpensive, but not cheap. That’s how BMW marketed the 318is when it debuted in 1991 and I think that sentiment has stood the test of time, just look at the new 2-Series. Of course the E30 market has become anything but inexpensive thanks to the internet inflated bubble we’re all sitting on but there are still models that you can acquire for a reasonable price. While most sellers will be looking to squeeze every penny out of their car, in the end reality sets in and you see a-lot of E30 auctions end with a price that’s not so outrageous as one might assume. I would hope that this particular car will end up going for under well $8k, helping set the bar for what a very clean, very high mileage 318is will go for. It’s hard enough to swallow the 200,000 mile pill with any vehicle purchase, let alone one that comes with a $5k plus price tag but you see people do it all the time these days. Are E30s really such great little cars that they warrant all the fuss? Honestly I can’t say as I’ve only driven one and it was a heavily modified M3 that I would drain my hypothetical families’ savings to own. I don’t think that’s a very good barometer of what these cars should be worth but I think it is indicative of the market. People are really emotional when it comes to these cars and that’s no surprise as they were many folks first taste of German automotive culture. The E30 3 Series was the car that all the cash flush yuppies of the 80s went out and got for themselves and then handed down to their silver spoon sucking offspring when they stepped up to a 5 or 7 series. Of course I’m over simplifying this, lots of perfectly nice people bought these cars as well but it’s more fun to paint the picture of them being the weekend toy for Teddy Rothshound III and his wife Vivian.
Anyhow, the 318is has gotten a bad rap for years as being the “starter Bimmer” by those with their heads firmly planted up their posterior region. This is a car enjoyed by people in the know since day one and now (thanks to the power of the internet) is fawned over by a whole new generation of BMW fans, myself included. I know it’s underpowered and requires a whole lot of revving to really be enjoyed, I’m ok with that and you should be too. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again, more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. I mean really, unless you’re a track rat, how often do you get to enjoy all the horses stuffed under your hood? These cars feel quick where it counts, in the corners and I’ll take that over onramp racing supremacy any day.