10K Friday: BMW 3-series Showdown

Rightly so, I’ve been accused of comparing everything to BMWs – so for today’s 10K Friday, I thought why not compare BMWs to BMWs? Part of the reason I compare various cars I write up to the alternative BMW products is because for some time they have been considered the benchmark, and their popularity from new to the used classic market means that they set the pricing trends against which others can be judged. That’s especially true of the 3 series; for some time, the go-to performance product from Germany, increasingly many earlier generations of the 3 are being viewed as not only collectable, but indeed as investments. So, what does your $10,000 budget buy these days? I’ve rounded up five examples from the first five generations, covering nearly every configuration the small executive platform has been available in. Which is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW 320is on eBay

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1991 BMW 325ix

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This 325ix looks like a complete time capsule, but digging deeper reveals an E30 that has been subtly enhanced and revamped at no small cost to the previous owner. The whole drivetrain has just 60k miles, and the interior and exterior have been updated to look even better than stock. In addition to a high-quality repaint, the door moldings have been shaved to provide a clean contrast to the ix’s standard M-Tech body kit. No badges or spoilers here, just a very sharp 4-door sedan hiding all-wheel drive and a smooth inline-6. The interior has been updated with some leather/cloth Recaros to continue the slightly-better-than-stock theme. The biggest detractions are the overall mileage (236k) and the autobox, but the pristine condition and overall package still have the seller asking for strong (but reasonable) E30 money.

Click for details: 1991 BMW 325ix on eBay

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1989 BMW 325ix Touring

Manual, all-wheel drive station wagon. Magic words almost for those in the northern climates or for those seeking the cure for the common SUV. BMW passed up the chance to offer one of their most versatile cars to US customers in the late 1980s. Now, 25 years on, we see just how popular it could have been with enthusiasts importing E30 Touring at a rapid clip. The E30 Touring was offered in “ix” trim, giving an added all-weather dimension to this compact hauler. This 325ix for sale in Florida has got the goods. Reasonable miles, 5-speed manual and left-hand drive.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 325ix Touring on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1989 BMW 325ix

When it rains, it pours. The BMW E30 325ix was not a huge seller during its lifetime and of course fewer examples exists today. Over 2.3 million E30s were produced, of which less than 30,000 had the “ix” suffix on their decklid. We’ve seen several clean examples over the last two weeks, both in sedan and coupe form. This 1989 325ix sedan comes to us from our reader Mike. This was originally an automatic car but received a 5-speed manual swap. For a car with just over 170,000 miles, it is a real minter and wears its original paint. This is one you surely won’t miss as it tears its way through the snow drifts.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 325ix on Craigslist Omaha

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1989 BMW 325ix

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Last Friday, we featured a four door version of the car you see before you, a 1989 BMW 325ix. Like that car we featured last week, this one is equipped with the automatic gearbox option. Enthusiasts will certainly cringe, but as one astute commenter pointed out in our last post, perhaps those cars equipped with a manual gearbox were run a bit more ragged, which is why you see few in good shape come up for sale. This example has over 100,000 miles, but presents very well for its age. In popular Alpine White, it would match the white stuff on the ground a lot of us are struggling to get through this season.

Click for details: 1989 BMW 325ix on eBay

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1989 BMW 325ix

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It’s winters like these when I don’t miss living in New England. We’ve seen a little bit of snow here in the Mid Atlantic, but generally this winter has been bearable for someone like myself used to dealing with worse precipitation. Of course every time the white stuff begins to fall my mind wanders towards the thought of a vehicle with power routed to all four wheels. While my MINI Cooper S with its 6-speed manual is much more capable in the snow than my last car, a rear-drive Mercedes-Benz C-class, it’s still not the greatest in the snow, mainly due to the low ground clearance. I always thought it would have been cool if MINI offered all-wheel drive on the Cooper S with about a half-inch more ground clearance. I don’t need a full on crossover to do my bidding. Just a few mods would be good enough for me.

This E30 BMW 325ix got the formula of what I’m talking about above just right. You have to look closely to differentiate the 325ix from the rear-drive 3 series. The added ground clearance is barely perceptible, rather, the fender flares would be your first tip off if you didn’t approach the car from the rear and see the “ix” badge. There’s not too many of these all-wheel drive E30s knocking around anymore, but this sedan for sale in Idaho is one of the best I’ve seen as of late.

Click for details: 1989 BMW 325ix on eBay

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1989 BMW 325ix

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This 325ix was rebuilt as a present for the seller’s father, but apparently Dad wanted an SUV instead. I’m guessing it was a sort of homespun “Pimp My Ride” judging by the looks of it – take the old E30 and pretty much redo it top to bottom, with some extra flair added for good measure. I already know the flair is going to be polarizing, but there’s enough good stuff in here to keep it out of the “Friday Fail” column for me. Wherever you think it lands on the taste scale, there’s no question that a lot of effort was put into giving this 325ix a new life.

Click for details: 1989 BMW 325ix on eBay

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1988 BMW 325ix Touring

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The E30 Touring influx is reaching critical mass, and where they used to come up once every few months, they are available in various levels of trim on eBay and craigslist around the country. The black on black one we recently featured was very tempting, but pretty spendy. Today’s receives negative points for the automatic transmission, but overall is looking outstanding in Royal Blue and some shiny BBS wheels. 167k miles is nothing to sneeze at, but the bids are starting much lower than the black edition’s $12,500 asking price. If you’re third pedal-averse but live in an area with actual seasons, this is the E30 touring for you!

Click for details: 1988 BMW 325ix Touring on eBay

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Wagon Week: 1990 BMW 325ix Touring

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E30 Tourings are coming across with greater regularity, and we’ve been documenting the increase in immigration. No longer are they subject to endless hoops and finagling involving Canada, a European relative, and several thousand dollars. No, the glory days of the E30 wagon are nigh, and today we have an exciting rarity. The 325ix sedan is a cool car in its own right, but an E30 wagon with all-wheel drive and the flared arches is ice cold. I’ve seen good examples of these in Germany, but this one has made the transatlantic voyage and is in my hometown of Seattle, WA, making it that much more tempting. With few listed issues and low miles, this is a very hot wagon.

Click for details: 1989 BMW 325ix Touring on Craigslist Seattle

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