1988 BMW 325i M50

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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.

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Feature Listing: 1988 BMW 325i Convertible

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It might not be the exact time of year one thinks of buying a convertible, but those of us living on the east coast of the United States experienced a bit of a warm snap in November. A welcome relief for those of us used to dealing with piles of snow. Time to buy a drop top, then? Maybe. If it’s a bit of the 1980s you’re looking to revisit, it doesn’t get much better than the iconic BMW E30 Convertible. This 1988 325i Convertible for sale in California is mostly original, looking sharp in the popular Zinnoberot over black leather, mated to what many consider to be one of the smoothest manual gearboxes in the business.

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Motorsports Monday: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo v. 1989 BMW 325is

A fan favorite symbol of the 1980s with a perfectly balanced chassis, great aftermarket support, capable of massive upgrades in power, brakes and suspension, and avid race series still today; both the BMW E30 and Porsche 944 fit this mold. Since new, many have been hitting race circuits and autocrosses and now going on 30 years later they remain staples of their respective marque racing club events as well as amateur race series. Today I have a showdown between two modded examples; who will outbrake the other into turn one?

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1989 BMW 325i Touring

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As E30 Touring imports pick up some steam, we get to see a wider variety of the wagon offerings the rest of the world has known about for over 25 years. We’ve seen the base-model 318i up to the rare all-wheel drive 325ix, each providing a sharp package with fun driving dynamics while enabling hauls that a standard trunk could never hope to handle. With many examples coming from the right-hand-drive UK, you have to decide if such a great overall package is worth the brain reorganization necessary to appropriately traverse our LHD roads.

This is one of those bassackwards drivers but brings a very distinct look thanks to a rare (especially on wagons) M-Tech body kit normally present only on the ix models, complementing the E30’s clean top lines with fender flares, exaggerated front and rear valences, and side skirts. 16″ Style 5 wheels help fill those enlarged fenders resulting in an overall package that looks both clean and aggressive. The automatic transmission is the other main detraction besides RHD, but we’ve forgiven autos on great-looking E34 wagons in favor of good looks and utility, so why not do the same here?

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1990 BMW 325i w/ S52 Swap

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As the decent E30s still out there reach for ever higher miles or higher prices, engine swaps make even more sense. No longer just a tuner’s choice, this can be a great way to keep a high-mileage car on the road while simultaneously boosting performance. This clean 325i received the M-built S52 from a Z3M a few years back and was given a new lease on life. With 240hp on tap out of the same silky inline-6 that many fell in love with in the E36 M3, this car should haul some serious butt while looking fairly subdued other than the lightweight but pleasantly right-sized wheels. The interior is in nice shape given the age and mileage with a few cracks but impressively tear-free bolsters. The seller sounds knowledgeable and thorough despite the brief description, the real question is if a 230k mile E30 chassis can command $11k.

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1990 BMW 325i Touring

Here we have a BMW 325i Touring imported from Japan to Canada with the intention of doing a full restoration. The seller states other projects have now taken over his time and he has to let the car go. Perhaps this is the case, it very often is but perhaps the seller also decided the juice was not worth the squeeze. The car needs a dash replacement due to it being cracked, the front passenger seat is badly ripped, one dent is mentioned and though I’m sure there are others and as you can see in the picture above there is a rust hole just in front of the drivers door. Now most of these issues are not major ones that’ll drain your wallet but those kinds of things will happen down the road.

The seller notes that the odometer has stopped working and the car has roughly 102,000 miles on it. That’s relatively low compared to most of the E30 Tourings I come across and yet many of those are in better condition. Makes me wonder what kind of life this car lived prior to arriving in Canada. Also the seller doesn’t mention inclusion of extensive service records or any kind of recent work which leads me to believe that that aforementioned bigger issues will indeed be popping up in the not so distant future. And yet, I’m still intrigued by this car because after all, it’s a Japan Spec E30 Touring in Lazurblau Metallic with a grey cloth interior!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW 325i Touring on eBay

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1990 BMW 325i M-Tech II

Right out of the gate I have to say there are a few things that I really don’t care for on this car. The M badge on the trunk is obnoxious, I do not like the current marketing gimmick of slapping the “fastest letter in the world” all over BMW models and it’s even tackier on a classic E30. I don’t know if the seller thinks it is a clever or what but with these classics I believe that only an M engine justifies an M badge. Also, AC Schnitzer wheels have never been my thing, not even as a winter set. In my opinion chubby little wheels are not a good look on any car but especially here. An E30 needs OEM basket weaves or some generation of M3 wheel to maintain the classic look. However those are both personal cosmetic dislikes, both easily remedied, so I find it easy to look past them and see the potential in this example of a unique E30.

After all, there is a whole lot to like here. The Recaro cloth seats look immaculate and I can tell you from personal experience that they’re very, very comfortable. The M-Tech II wheel is one of my favorite BMW wheels of all time, great thickness, perfectly cut out thumb rests and visually pleasing unlike the monster airbag wheels that followed. The M-Tech II tiller does come in two different sizes, 365mm and 385mm respectively. I’ve only gotten my hands on the smaller of the two but I can’t imagine the larger one being a better option. The seller doesn’t note which wheel he put in so that’s something I’d want to find out early on. Outside the car looks pretty darn clean for living up in the great white north. Again I’d need more information as far as the car’s life story is concerned but overall it looks like it has lived on easy street. Of course looks can be deceiving, especially with these cars so serious homework would have to be done to determine if this car is worth your time. As you’ll see in the gallery at the bottom of the page, the dash is cracked so that’s something that’ll need attention rather quickly and there’s also no A/C, a deal breaker for a Southern California resident like myself. However if you don’t need cold air on your face and couldn’t care less about a visible fault line in front of your eyes all the time, then perhaps this E30 is for you.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW 325i M-Tech II on Kijiji

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Motorsports Monday: E30-off – 1989 v. 1990 BMW 325i

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:

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1989 BMW 325i

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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?

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Tuner Tuesday: 1986 Hartge H26 SP

Well, GCFSB faithful, “ExoticCarsJapan” has provided us with a bit of a headscratcher today. I’m continually mystified by the seemingly endless amount of original and perfect condition Alpina, Hartge, AMG and Ruf cars that come out of Japan. It’s as if they were all bought and stuck in a storage container, awaiting their certain increase in value. And right now, it doesn’t get much hotter than the E30 market is in terms of number of people interested and number of cars coming to the market. Like some of the rare Alpina models we’ve previously covered, here’s a real-deal Hartge. The strange part, from what I can tell however, is the badge which matches the VIN plate – it reads H26 SP. What’s strange about that is that this car appears to be slightly different than most of the H26s – and I can’t find any actual information on the H26 SP:

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