1986 BMW 325es

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Here’s a chance at an affordable E30 that should be a pretty decent driver. It has the 2.7-liter eta engine which may only return low-20s gas mileage but is definitely a cruiser, as the 2000rpm highway speed noted by the seller confirms. He’s apparently put quite a bit of effort into making the car quite strong, with lots of newly replaced parts and no mechanical issues to note. There are a few cosmetic bits, but they can be forgiven in favor of that sweet early cowcatcher underneath the bumper. The interior looks quite nice other than the typical dash crack. Altogether it’s a tidy E30 that could be a good value.

Click for details: 1986 BMW 325s on eBay

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High mileage BMW E30s: 325is vs. 325es

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A new hunt of mine is finding affordable E30s with solid potential. The cleanest of the quintessential sports sedan have become quite valuable, but there are still some reasonable examples lurking out there. The “s” models, in both “eta” and standard “i” form, provide outstanding handling with varying levels of power. One path for finding inexpensive classics is being open to high-mileage survivors, of which we have two today. Both have well above 200k miles and the “s” package, but one has the venerable 2.5 liter inline-6 while the other comes with the larger-and-slower 2.7l of the 325e. E30s are ripe for many engine swaps, from stock to extreme, so buying a low-price, high-mileage example provides a great foundation for a project.

Click for details: 1990 BMW 325is on eBay

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1986 BMW 325es with M20 Swap

The E30 craze is in full swing. There’s no denying it. From $40,000 M3s to ever rising 325is values, these compact Germans have somehow struck a chord with enthusiasts seeking simple motoring pleasures The Ultimate Driving Machine was known for back in the 1980s. Luckily, there are still E30s out there of all kinds for all budgets, like this 1986 325es with an M20 engine swap. This es model used to have the higher torque, more economical 2.7 liter eta six cylinder, but that has been exchanged for the higher horsepower 2.5 liter engine from the 325is. So what we have here is a hybrid of a different kind.

Year: 1986
Model: 325es
Engine: 2.5 liter inline-6 (M20 swap)
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 250,000 mi
Price: $6,700 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 BMW 325es on eBay

This car came in to my hands in March of this year after spending the last few years being passed around by a couple friends of friends. Both of the owners loved the car but treated it poorly by putting on some serious miles with no supporting necessary maintenance. When I saw this car pop up for sale I knew I had to save it! What I originally thought was only going to be a rebuilt head and possibly some shocks/struts ended up turning in to a full blown project! As you can see by the list of modifications and maintenance below, no stone was left un-turned. I had every intention to keep this car for myself but with 6 cars I really need to let a couple things go! As you can see the modifications to the car are mild and tasteful. My motto during this build has been to make it The Ultimate Daily Driver E30.

The body, paint, and interior of this car are NOT perfect. It does have dings, scratches and chips here and there. The car still cleans up and presents itself well for being 27 years old! We all know daily driving can take its toll on a car. Trust me you DON’T want something with a perfect body and fresh paint! You’ll be afraid to drive it, ask me how I know! I do believe the car has been repainted at one point in its life but it was most definitely Alpine White from the factory as well. All modifications and maintenance on this car have no more than 500 miles on them! I simply have not had time to drive it much!

::::::::::MODIFICATIONS::::::::::
130k M20B25 engine swap
BimmerHeads port/polish 885 head
BimmerHeads 274 performance cam
Ireland Engineering HD rocker arms
Ireland Engineering spark plug wires
M50 17lb injectors
SSsquid performance tune
173 Motronic 1.3 ECU
Late model 325i 7k cluster
Complete M20B25 exhaust system
3.73 limited slip differential
Aluminum late model radiator
E60 545i short shift lever
Ireland Engineering street subframe bushings
Ireland Engineering trailing arm bushings
M3 offset front control arm bushings
E30 M3 OEM springs
15×7 iX weaves (with matching spare)
225/50/15 Toyo Proxes tires
15mm H&R wheel spacers
H&R extended lug bolts
Late model front valance
Fog delete panels
Oil cooler filler panel
Late model i front lip
US ellipsoid headlights
European headlight grilles
European rear license plate filler
Tucked front/rear bumpers
Power steering and AC removed

::::::::::MAINTENANCE::::::::::
Rear main seal, rear cover gasket, oil pan gasket, Contitech timing belt, timing belt tensioner, Graf water pump, Goetze head gasket, head bolts, intake manifold gaskets, OEM BMW fan clutch, thermostat housing gasket, thermostat, thermostat o-ring, coolant pipe gasket, oil drain tube o-rings, OEM BMW crank position sensor, coolant sensor (gauge), coolant sensor (ECU), oil pressure switch, oxygen sensor, alternator belt, spark plugs, distributor cap, ignition rotor, valve adjustment, valve cover gasket, rocker shaft plugs, exhaust manifold gaskets, all coolant hoses, throttle body gasket, pilot bearing, fuel filter, engine mounts, oil drain plug, oil filler cap, breather hose, injector o-rings, fuel pressure regulator o-ring, engine fuel lines, throwout bearing, trans input shaft seal, trans output shaft seal, trans mounts, selector rod joint, shift carrier bushing, shift lever bushing, selector rod clips, selector rod washers, lower shift boot, upper shift boot, Meyle complete tierods, Moog ball joints, front wheel hubs/bearings, rear wheel bearings, front brakes, KYB struts/shocks, front strut mounts, rear strut mounts, fuel tank filler hose, antenna grommet, new windshield, wiper blades, new shift knob, hood shock, new Bosch battery, Redline diff fluid, fresh trans fluid, fresh coolant, and fresh Valvoline VR1 20w50 oil change. (And possibly a few things I can’t remember!)

Clean CA Title & Current Smog!

I like this car. Maybe it reminds me of my Alpinweiss 1988 325is, or maybe it’s the fact that it isn’t the most perfect E30 in terms of cosmetics. But these ’80s 3 series are the kind of cars that will love you if you love them back. They have an endearing quality about them that I just don’t find in modern day BMWs.

-Paul

Exceptional 1986 BMW 325es for sale

The same friend mentioned in the ’74 911 post drove a 325e in college. Though disadvantaged with the “efficient” 2.7L M20 (producing 21 fewer horses than the 318is and 47 less than the 325is), it was a great look at how fun even slow E30s can be. The 1986-only 325es mixed the weakest engine with the best suspension, which isn’t a bad choice for an E30 enthusiast who does a lot of miles. Today’s example is about as clean as 80s Bimmers come and uses a Turner Motorsports chip and H&R springs to make this a truly exceptional “efficiency” model.

Popular but surely taking a price hit because it’s “is” has an “e” in it, 19 bids have it at just $3,750 with 3 days left. This could be the perfect E30 daily driver: 120k miles, fun in the twisties, good on the highway, and one-more-look gorgeous. I love the immaculately redone interior, clean respray, and aggressive stance from the 16″ BBS and H&R. Anything less than $6k and this is a steal.
-NR