It’s been a balmy couple of days in DC, with temperatures shooting up to around 60 degrees. One could be forgiven for wondering where the winter went. It will soon be here, I’m sure. And with it the snow and ice, the city-wide shutdown, and the terrible drivers causing pile-ups around the beltway. What would be the ideal winter warrior for times like these? The E30 325iX quickly comes to mind. A brief search on Craigslist throws up a number of tidy options (as well as the usual plethora of over-priced rust buckets). But one in particular stands out, a bit of a unicorn. AWD? Check. Manual? Check? Wagon? Check! Eye-watering price? Double check!
The E30 market is undoubtedly a little overheated. But it’s not hard to see why these cars are so beloved, especially in the configuration seen here. With a tight, sorted chassis, willing six-cylinder motor that sends power to the back wheels, and a snick-snick manual gearbox, it has all the vital ingredients of an 80s German sporting coupe. Simple, fun, unadulterated. The Ultimate Driving Machine. And with high miles, this one may even be relatively affordable.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 325iS on eBay
The 325iS is one of the more desirable versions of the E30 3-series, perhaps the third most desirable model after the M3 and the Euro-market 320iS (the “Italian M3”). Showcasing precisely the sorts of features that make the E30 a contender for the “definitive German sport sedan” title, it’s a simple and fun little car with a five speed manual gearbox, a sweet six cylinder motor, a nicely balanced chassis and firm, sporty suspension. The ’87 models also featured a unique and aggressive front spoiler, nicknamed the “cowcatcher” by E30 aficionados. They don’t come much nicer than this one – a low mileage example that appears to be in mint condition. It’s not cheap, but it’s certainly a lot cheaper than an M3.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 325iS on eBay
You can’t walk two steps into the E28 community without confronting someone looking for Euro bumpers and lights, selling them, or yelling about how much better they look than the diving boards. For many, the cost of sourcing the parts, hacking up the ends of their 5er, and welding in smaller bits is worth it. The more authentic route is to find a true Euro market car, like today’s ’84 520i. It has passed between serious enthusiasts for quite some time, and is now being sold in favor of an E30 M3 project. I’m typically a go before show car guy, but I enjoy seeing people who daily drive low, unique cars just like this one.
The slammed XYZ suspension and reproduction Hartge front spoiler indicate that this 520i is far from stock, with an M20B25 out of an E30 and a serious amount of effort put into redoing all the mounts and inner bits to make daily driving a reality as long as you don’t have to confront such mountains as a slightly inclined driveway, or perhaps a small speedbump. After the effort gone into making this a head-turning daily Euro, the seller is thinking he can get very strong E28 money.
Click for details: 1984 BMW 520i on eBay
Paul was right that the Tourings are coming. Perhaps some owners have been holding on to them as forbidden gems and are realizing that, as the importation restrictions are lifted, they will become more and more common and are looking to cash out now. Today’s is a clean little wagon with some eccentricities among the nice choices; one sport seat/one comfort belong to the prior, the M20B25 and 5-speed conversion well in the latter. Bidding is hot, so clearly people are still more interested in finding one here than bringing it in themselves.