1989 BMW Z1

BMW took a big leap at the end of the 1980s and introduced some pretty extreme design language. First was the E31 8-series, a seeming quantum leap from the outgoing 6-series. That chassis pioneered, for better or worse, a tremendous amount of technical and electronic innovation for BMW. The 8s relied on a bevy of computers to control its chassis, electronic suite and engine. Side by side with the more famous Grand Tourer though was a diminutive roadster BMW produced based heavily on the E30 chassis. Instead of a heavy reliance on computer technology, the futuristic (hence Z for the German word for future – Zukunft) plastic bodied Z1 looked like a supercar even if it didn’t go like one. Park one next to a E30 convertible and you’d never know the two are related!

The Z1 was a complete departure for BMW; while they were not strangers to small cabriolets, their previous efforts were in the 1930s with the 315/1 and the 1960s with the 700. BMW went away from the idea of an integral body and frame to a separate chassis with removable, plastic body pieces. The idea was that the owners could replace the panels themselves to “repaint” the car with minimal effort. It was something the Smart car would be notable for – a car that launched a decade following the Z1. To get the paint to adhere to the bodywork, BMW had to partner with AZKO coatings to develop a flexible paint which they termed ‘Varioflex’, while the bodywork had to be attached using a unique elastic joint technique. The doors didn’t open out – they slid down into the supporting chassis structure. The underbody was flat, not only for aerodynamics, but the tray turned into a diffuser towards the back, assisting in sticking the rear to the ground as speeds rose. In front was nothing new: the venerable M20 from the E30 popped up here, too – but in the rear the Z1 was new with a multi-link rear axle of its own. This new design would later be incorporated into the E36. It’s interesting that with the Z3 BMW opted to go the opposite route and incorporate earlier E30 pieces into the rear of the /7 and /8. While performance was relatively leisurely, the Z1 nevertheless garnered praise for its innovation, unique design and great looks. They never made it to U.S. shores and only around 8,000 examples were ever produced, but a few have crossed the Atlantic now that they’re old enough to be more easily imported:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW Z1 on eBay

Continue reading

1991 BMW 325i M-Tech II Convertible

This 325i M-Tech sold on September 20, 2021 for $16,000.

Introduced towards the end of E30 production, the M Technic II package brought a lot of special revisions to the convertible version of the venerable benchmark. Option 771 included the M Technic body kit, special Sport Evo upholstery and M Technic badging, M Sport suspension, 15″ BBS wheels, and a few other treats. These were only available in Brilliant Red, Sterling Silver Metallic, or Macao Blue Metallic, and the claim is that perhaps less than 250 were made. A $4,700 option when new, it was a serious premium on top of your already quite dear E30.

As a result, there was a second M Technic II package – option code 770. This was the M Technic appearance package, and it offered most of the same look at a much more affordable $1,800. You got the M Technic body kit and painted 14″ BBS wheels, but you gave up the special suspension, special upholstery, and most of the special badging. These cars were available in either Alpine White with Lotus Nappa leather or Diamand Black Metallic with black Nappa leather, so if you see one of those two colors with the body kit, you’re looking at an appearance package car, as we are here today. However, as you can get the bulk of the special bits that made the full M Technic package super special, many of these cars have been modified to look like their more expensive siblings:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW 325i M-Tech II Convertible on eBay

Continue reading

1988 BMW 324d

Back in 2020 I took a look at an oddball – the 1990 Bertone Freeclimber – which was on this page solely because of the power plant. In that case, it was BMW’s relatively unloved M21 turbodiesel inline-six. That engine also found its way into the weirdly cool Vixen motor home and a Lincoln Continental, and when unloved there, the BMW 524td there. But in Europe, you had the option to install it on your E30, as well! Only in this case, it didn’t have the turbocharger. Dubbed the 324d, it was available from 1984 to 1990 and…you guessed it….relatively unpopular. Perhaps that’s because it was the least powerful E30 option, and it was only offered as a sedan. 0-60 times made the underpowered 320i seem sprightly; it took the 324d over 16 seconds to hit 60. BMW finally added a turbocharged 324td model for the end of production, but they still weren’t sold in big numbers. One of the late naturally aspirated examples has turned up for sale in California, though:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 324d on eBay

Continue reading

Winter Project: 1988 BMW M3

The E30 M3 has, for all intents and purposes, been driven out of the reach of most mortals with an average job. We all know that the market is a bit crazy on them, but you’re realistically looking at at least $40,000 for one with needs, and $50,000 to over $100,000 for a nice example. This drove me a few years ago to knock on a door when I saw a ratty example that was sitting under a tree down the road from me; alas, the owner ‘knew what he had’ and wasn’t going to part with it anytime soon.

Well, another ‘project’ M3 has popped up on eBay and it’s no reserve, so it was worth a look. Is this the way to save a few bucks and get into a legend?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 on eBay

Continue reading

1984 Alpina B6 2.8/1

Alpina E30s have exploded in popularity over the past year; I never remember seeing quite so many of these small tuned 3s for sale on a regular basis. In part I’m so incredulous because so few were produced; with this B6 model for example, a scant 259 were made between late 1983 and mid-1986, with just over 1,100 total E30s modified in all forms by the legendary company. The B6 2.8/1 wasn’t as wild as the later big-motored 3.5, but it was still much more than adequate with 210 horsepower from the M30 coupled with lower suspension, bigger wheels and brakes. Alpina, of course, added their personal flare of colors, stripes and awesome interiors, and the B6 is one attractive small sedan in such form. It’s easy to forget that there was a time before the M3, and in early 1984 this was the fastest small German 4-seater you could buy. That would change in mid ’84 with the introduction of the B6 3.5, but today it’s still a very desirable and rare to find package.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Alpina B6 2.8/1 on eBay

Continue reading

1990 BMW 320iS

80s M Mania continues with little abatement, and the spill-over effect has impacted the rest of the lineup. Manic pricing increases have rivaled the Porsche 911’s market stardom in a smaller audience. For the most part, outrageous bids have been limited in the general enthusiast world to the M3; but within the E30 sphere of influence, outstanding examples of each particular model have reached astonishing levels of pricing. How crazy has it gotten? How about consistent mid-to-high $20,000 pricing on 325s? Granted, that is reserved for the best examples, but it shows the massive swing in values of the highly desirable platform.

Stepping up to the M3 will cost you a lot more – even if it’s not as nice an example. Of course, there’s an alternative if you really desire M DNA in the form of the screaming S14. BMW slotted a de-stroked 2.0-liter version into the Portugal and Italian-market 320is – and as luck would have it, one popped up on eBay recently:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW 320is on eBay

Continue reading

1986 BMW 325iX with 300 Miles

While BMW wouldn’t launch the U.S.-spec iX until 1988, Europeans were introduced to the concept in 1986. Unlike Audi’s quattro system which utilized a rearward driveshaft tacked on to a front-wheel drive transmission output shaft, BMW mated a transfer case and two viscous couplings, which effectively were front and rear limited-slips. This was very different from Audi’s contemporaneous system, which relied on the driver to lock the rear and center differentials that were otherwise open. The 325iX was able to be mated to an automatic transmission long before Audi would do so in the small chassis. BMW’s system was also more rearward biased, with 67% of the power being sent to the back wheels. While still more prone to understeer than a standard 325i, it was less so than the Audi.

But outside, there was little fanfare to celebrate the massive change in drivetrain technology. The iX just got a simple lower body kit similar to the Scirocco 16V kit and a single “X” after the 325i designation on the trunk. That’s it. European examples could even be more stealthy, like this ’86 that sports wheel covers. And this one in particular is quite special, as it’s never been road registered and has traveled just 500km since new. Pricing? The ‘E30 Tax’ is strong, my friends.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 BMW 325iX on SuperVettura.com

Continue reading

Easter Egg: 1988 Alpina B6 3.5S

While I’m certainly not a particularly religious person, it’s hard not to accept the joy of an Easter egg hunt witnessed through the eyes of a child. Even in these trying times, its some semblance of normality lacking in the rest of our existence. But limiting such an egg hunt to children only seems unfair. And our reader John supplied us with quite the egg find today!

This purple Porsche eater comes from the hallowed halls of Buchloe and the storied company of Alpina. Normally Alpina takes ‘ordinary’ BMWs and transforms them in extraordinary performance machines. But in one case, they took a very special BMW and made it very….specialerer. Such is the case with the B6 3.5S. The 3.5S took all of the important bits of that made the 3.5 very unique and stuck them into an M3 chassis. That meant upgraded brakes, heavy-duty front springs, and the signature Alpina wheels coupled with the 3.5-liter M30 with high compression pistons, a special head and cam, and Alpina exhaust resulting in 254 horsepower. While just 219 B6s were produced, only 62 B6Ss were made. And this one is Daytona Violet!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Alpina B6 3.5S on Classic Auto Restor

Continue reading

1986 Hartge H28

Though not as familiar as Alpina, Hartge was another tuner who took BMWs to a higher level. Starting in the early 1970s, they similarly modified cars with higher output motors, special suspension and body kits, and even eventually their own wheel line. In 1985 Hartge was granted special production status in Germany, but their volume never approached that of their rivals. As a result, it’s a bit of a special treat anytime a fully modified Hartge turns up.

The E30 Hartge range was fairly similar to Alpina’s C and B range, with designations associated with their engine displacement. From the 170 horsepower H23 to the 210 horsepower H27, tuned versions of the M20 were employed – some with unique individual throttle bodies, bespoke exhaust manifolds and camshafts, and other trick items. But Hartge also stuck the M30 in the chassis, creating this car – the H28 – and an even more potent H35. The H28 was rated at 210 horsepower – a 70 horsepower upgrade from the stock 323i on which the car was based – and also was met with upgraded suspension, differential, wheels and tires, brakes and body kit. Like Alpina, you could buy many of these parts piecemeal from authorized sellers, making fully modified factory Hartges quite rare:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Hartge H28 on eBay

Continue reading

High Mileage Hero: 1988 BMW 325iX

Continuing on my all-wheel ‘driveatribe’, I’d be remiss to not discuss BMW’s take on moving power around to all four wheels. While BMW wouldn’t launch the U.S.-spec iX until 1988, Europeans were introduced to the concept in 1986 – the same year as the Golf syncro. Unlike Audi’s quattro system which utilized a rearward driveshaft tacked on to a front-wheel drive transmission output shaft, BMW mated a transfer case and two viscous couplings, which effectively were front and rear limited-slips. This was very different from Audi’s contemporaneous system, which relied on the driver to lock the rear and center differentials that were otherwise open. The 325iX was able to be mated to an automatic transmission long before Audi would do so in the small chassis. BMW’s system was also more rearward biased, with 67% of the power being sent to the back wheels. While still more prone to understeer than a standard 325i, it was less so than the Audi.

Compared to other E30 models, the 325iX was a slow seller – BMW moved just 6,346 over the four production years between 1988 and 1991, putting these on just about equal footing with the M3 in terms of rarity. But two factors make finding clean ixs even harder; where they were used, and how they were used both result in rust being a big concern and it’s hard to find low-mileage examples. But while the odometer reading is stratospheric on today’s first-year ’88 2-door, it’s undergone a never-seen full restoration to return it to unbelievable condition. Also unbelievable? The price…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 325iX on eBay

Continue reading