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:
I recently sold my E34 525i and replaced it with a W126 300SE. I’ll post a write up on my new car next week. I love it, but let’s just say I learned a few valuable lessons about buying cars sight unseen from the whole episode. As potential buyers came to view my BMW, a funny thing happened. The more I explained my ownership experience while they test drove it, the more I began to wonder why I was selling it. In fact, I concluded, if space and money had allowed, I would have preferred to keep it alongside the Benz. In one year of ownership, I put an unusually high number of miles on it while doing a mega commute. During that time, it never once failed to start or gave me any reason to worry. I replaced some suspension parts that were worn out. But other than that, all I did was drive it and feed it fuel and oil. It was remarkably fun to drive, which I credit to the 5-speed manual gearbox and sweet chassis setup. Sure, it wasn’t terribly powerful or fast, but it was certainly fast enough for me. And it made for a good commuter, getting 28 MPG on the highway. In all, I think the E34 525i is an under-appreciated gem. I’m sad I let it go.
The time has come for me to part ways with my E34, and I’m reluctantly putting it up for sale. As readers of my posts will know, I’ve been on the hunt for a W126 Benz for a while now. A lovely example has fallen into my lap, and living in DC without off-street parking makes keeping both cars impractical. Hence the sale. It would make me very happy if it went to a fellow enthusiast looking for a reliable and cheap commuter, so I’ve written it up for today’s post.
It’s Tuner Tuesday and like clockwork we have another BMW 3-series to take a look at. However, today’s feature is very different than the normal Alpina, Dinan or Hartge models that grace these pages. It’s very interesting that today’s build company isn’t more linked with the road going cars from Munich because since the 1970s AC Schnitzer was the go-to race development team for BMW. And since BMW likes to link its race-bred technology with prowess on the road, Schnitzer models for the general public would theoretically be a natural step. However, they’ve never proven as successful as the aforementioned alternatives and are fairly infrequently seen. Today’s example is somewhat of a treat to run across; a first-year E36 chassis converted to ACS3 Silhouette 3.0 specifications. That yielded 240 horsepower and a tightened up, lowered suspension along with some great wheels and aero bits that make this 3 look pretty special:
Here’s a delicious little E30 package. It looks perfectly stock right down to the 14-inch basketweaves, and the engine swap even shares the original displacement. Yet instead of the M20B25 it came with, it’s now the M50B25TU – the first update for the 2.5-liter inline-6s available in the E34 525i and E36 325i in the mid-90s. The addition of VANOS improved low-end torque, and even without a power bump it’s still producing E30 M3 levels of power. It may not be the racy swap we’re used to seeing in E30s, but in some ways that’s what makes it perfect. The car will maintain its standard composure, driving dynamics, and low-key appearance while providing plenty of power to keep up with modern cars and breed smiles like rabbits in the hills.
I find this car both exciting and perplexing. This comes in part from the nature of the car; well, honestly I find most of the BMW Individual ordered cars to be pretty cool. But this one had me scratching my head just a little bit. It wasn’t over the color; Daytona Violet is one pretty awesome color and suits the E36 pretty well overall, I think. The transmission is the right box, and the Dove Grey leather compliments the car well. No, the question comes down to one of price – and for once it’s not a complaint about EAG’s asking price but specifically the original purchase price. Why? Well, in order to spec your 328i as this one was, you’d be paying more than a M3 that was available for minimal charge in the same color to get it. Huh?
The BMW E30 3 series has become a kind of German 1950s Chevrolet in a sense. With a thriving aftermarket scene, plenty of enthusiasts have undertaken projects to reinvent this compact executive car in their own right. From M3 clones to V8 engined barnstormers, the sky is the limit. With many of the Touring models eligible for US import, this has given enthusiasts a whole new canvas with which to work, as well. It’s not too often that we see the convertible variants breathed upon, but this particular 1990 325i Convertible from our reader Chris in Northern Virginia has had an upgrade to the M50 inline-6 from the later E36 3 series, along with suspension, steering and brake upgrades to handle the increased power.
Our friends at Classic and Vintage BMW alerted me about this very impressive e30 for sale by one of their members.
1984 BMW e30 325e for sale on Classic and Vintage BMW
the description from the seller:
It’s time to sell my past project car. The car is done now and has been my daily driver ever since Jan 2010. Including a 4000km round trip down to Bimmerfest this year, it has never given me an issue.
1992 E34 M50NV Swap with 101k original KM (completed in Dec 2009)
– Seattle Circuits OBC Correction Chip
– Dinan Chip
– Mechanical fan delete with twin 12” pusher’s
– M42 Wiring harness covers
– ZF320 5 speed transmission with ~50k original km.
– New engine mounts
– New transmission mounts with AKG cups
– New shifter bushings
– New clutch
– All new vacuum and coolant hoses
– E30 iX booster with remote reservoir
– Super Sprint Replica Long headers
– Custom single 2.25” exhaust, Y pipe with O2 Bung
– Magnaflow dual Inline mufflers
– 2.93 LSD differential
– New O2 Sensor
New Zinno Paint as of Dec 2009
– Done by Trojan Collision in Nanaimo, B.C, Canada
– Full strip down including door jams, engine compartment, and trunk
– NEW OEM seals and body clips used all around on reassembly
Suspension overhaul as of Aug 2010
– Ground Control Coilovers
– Bilstien Sports
– AKG Diff bushing
– AKG trailing arm bushings
– AKG sub frame bushings
– AKG FCAB’s
– AKG RSM’s
– E30tech rear toe and camber correction kit
– New control arms
– E36 steering rack
– New OEM sway bar links front and rear
– New OEM sway bar bushings front and rear
– New parking brake cables
– New parking brakes
– Full alignment professionally done
Other features of the car include..
There seem to be an increasing amount of E30s with later I6 swaps circulating these days. Engine swaps are quick to elicit suspicion, but it’s just about as easy to find a nice 325is with a swap as one with the original M20. Today’s takes cleanliness to a new level, most notably the Cinnabarot illustrating why these cars were so desirable brand new. A little eurotuner flair with slammed coilovers and blocky Keskin wheels, this may be the greatest 325 I’ve ever seen.
From the seller:
Exterior: One professional repaint approximately 5 years ago to its original Cinnabar Red color. Repaint was done by one of the few authorized BMW certified painters in Michigan, exceptional quality, all exterior trim was replaced with new at the same time (notice in the pics the exceptional fit of the rubber bumper guards and miscellaneous trim, none of the typical warping and misalignment you typically see on these old e30s). Other exterior improvements include: DDM HID / projector headlights, shadow-line style trim blackout, rare euro grill. Also has red-out treatment to factory tail lenses (covers the factory amber portion) looks much cleaner. Vehicle has a very nice stance thanks to new JOM coilovers with approximately 2.5″ lower ride height. Sits nicely on Keskin 16×7 et20 wheels wrapped in new performance radials. Overall exterior appearance is exceptional, and turns heads everywhere it goes.
Interior: Factory black Recaro sport interior, M-tech sport wheel, high-end Alpine head unit with ipod adapter, subwoofer, and amp hookups in trunk, new Sony Xplod speakers mounted in rear package tray. Factory gauge cluster was replaced with a custom unit with aluminum rings and high-contrast needles (please note that the mileage on that is not correct, actual mileage on car is appx 157000).