1989 BMW 325ix

I’ve been accused of ignoring the E30 325ix. True enough, I’ve flatly declared that I’m much more an Audi fan from the period. But the BMW was a pretty interesting development from Munich, and as these are still market darlings, it’s certainly worth taking a look.

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.

Then, of course, there was the power difference. Because of suspension and other changes between the front-drive and quattro Audis, the system added about 225 lbs to the curb weight, while BMW claimed the ix system added around 150 lbs. Since both cars made use of otherwise standard engines, the advantage was again with the BMW. The M20B25 cranked out nearly 170 horsepower, some 40 more than the NG 2.3 inline-5 shared in the 80/90 quattros. The only real external differences between the 325i and 325ix were the addition of the color-matched fender flares and rear spoiler, slightly higher ride height and 15″ BBS mesh wheels, and the simple addition of one “x” behind the normal designation. Weren’t times so much more simple?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 325ix on eBay

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1994 BMW 325iS M-Design

Another M-Design! I’ve featured a string of these ultra-limited ’94 325iS models built by BMW Individual recently. Today’s VIN ends in 478, produced 40 cars after the one I looked at last June. Visually equipped with most of what would become the M3 in ’95, the M-Design is an interesting footnote in United States E36 production.

Of course, “interesting”, “obscure” and “BMW 3-Series”, when combined in the right proportions, usually equate to dollar signs in seller’s eyes. Asks on these cars often rival or exceed M3 prices. Crazy, right? Who would pay more than they would for a M3 to have less than a M3? Well, some people do. Recently a ZHP E46 coupe traded for $26,000. Scoff all you want, but clearly there is a market for the limited edition 3-series. But since some trade for high numbers, many sellers equate their 3 as priceless. Not the case today, as we get a true market indicator of where a driver-quality 325iS M-Design is valued at:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 325iS M-Design on eBay

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1994 BMW 325iS M-Design

When I first came across this car, just like with Rob’s GT3 yesterday I was pretty sure I’d seen it before. The 1994 BMW 325iS M-Design was produced in very limited numbers, and this one was for sale after another I wrote up fairly recently with similar miles:

Diet M3: 1994 BMW 325is M-Design

However, a quick check of the VINs revealed they’re different chassis; this one is 386, produced 52 prior to the last one we looked at (438). So let’s refresh ourselves on what made the M-Design 3-series special.

Basically, this car was the precursor to the U.S.-spec M3. BMW teased its release with an American version of the Clubsport Coupe; you got the M-Tech body kit, mirrors, steering wheel and shift knob, along with the Anthracite M cloth (0506) and an Alpine White exterior. BMW equipped BBS RC 2-piece wheels with forged centers too. In all, it made for a pretty package even if it was no more potent than a standard E36. Fans claim only 150 were imported which seems about right, though BMW doesn’t have official importation numbers.

Last time around, though the condition was very good the general consensus was that an actual M3 was a better deal at the asking price. How about today?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 325iS M-Design on eBay

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1995 BMW 325iS

The takeaway from my recent E36 M3 Double Take was that many sellers were looking for strong money, but if you looked you could still find some deals on the third generation 3-series M. Some searching yielded a 70,000 mile Boston Green ’97 M3/4/5 Sedan. Clean and a desirable model on its own, it still sold for only $10,800. With asks for normal E30 325iS generally higher than that, where does the follow-up model lay?

That model is this E36 325. Launched in 1992 for U.S. shores, the third generation 3-series instantly cemented itself as the new benchmark. In fact, for all of the attention fawned on ‘God’s Chariot’, the reality is that the 3-series didn’t appear on notoriously BMW-leaning Car and Driver until the 1992 model year. Equipped with the M50 DOHC 189 horsepower inline-6, the modern yet still driver-oriented design would go on to become a regular thereafter. They were a sales success too, and like the E30 was for some time, they’re currently being largely ignored in the used market. After all, if you can get a clean M3 for $11,000, why would you buy a 325iS?

Because they’re a damn good car in their own right, and they’re also damn cheap – if you can find a clean one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 325iS on eBay

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1995 BMW 525i

I recently sold my E34 525i and replaced it with a W126 300SE. I’ll post a write up on my new car next week. I love it, but let’s just say I learned a few valuable lessons about buying cars sight unseen from the whole episode. As potential buyers came to view my BMW, a funny thing happened. The more I explained my ownership experience while they test drove it, the more I began to wonder why I was selling it. In fact, I concluded, if space and money had allowed, I would have preferred to keep it alongside the Benz. In one year of ownership, I put an unusually high number of miles on it while doing a mega commute. During that time, it never once failed to start or gave me any reason to worry. I replaced some suspension parts that were worn out. But other than that, all I did was drive it and feed it fuel and oil. It was remarkably fun to drive, which I credit to the 5-speed manual gearbox and sweet chassis setup. Sure, it wasn’t terribly powerful or fast, but it was certainly fast enough for me. And it made for a good commuter, getting 28 MPG on the highway. In all, I think the E34 525i is an under-appreciated gem. I’m sad I let it go.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 525i on eBay

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Craig’s 1991 BMW 525i

The time has come for me to part ways with my E34, and I’m reluctantly putting it up for sale. As readers of my posts will know, I’ve been on the hunt for a W126 Benz for a while now. A lovely example has fallen into my lap, and living in DC without off-street parking makes keeping both cars impractical. Hence the sale. It would make me very happy if it went to a fellow enthusiast looking for a reliable and cheap commuter, so I’ve written it up for today’s post.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW 525i on Washington, DC Craigslist

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Tuner Tuesday: 1991AC Schnitzer ACS3 Silhouette 3.0

It’s Tuner Tuesday and like clockwork we have another BMW 3-series to take a look at. However, today’s feature is very different than the normal Alpina, Dinan or Hartge models that grace these pages. It’s very interesting that today’s build company isn’t more linked with the road going cars from Munich because since the 1970s AC Schnitzer was the go-to race development team for BMW. And since BMW likes to link its race-bred technology with prowess on the road, Schnitzer models for the general public would theoretically be a natural step. However, they’ve never proven as successful as the aforementioned alternatives and are fairly infrequently seen. Today’s example is somewhat of a treat to run across; a first-year E36 chassis converted to ACS3 Silhouette 3.0 specifications. That yielded 240 horsepower and a tightened up, lowered suspension along with some great wheels and aero bits that make this 3 look pretty special:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 AC Schnitzer ACS3 Silhouette 3.0 on eBay

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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.

Click for details: 1988 BMW 325i on eBay

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1996 BMW 328i Individual

I find this car both exciting and perplexing. This comes in part from the nature of the car; well, honestly I find most of the BMW Individual ordered cars to be pretty cool. But this one had me scratching my head just a little bit. It wasn’t over the color; Daytona Violet is one pretty awesome color and suits the E36 pretty well overall, I think. The transmission is the right box, and the Dove Grey leather compliments the car well. No, the question comes down to one of price – and for once it’s not a complaint about EAG’s asking price but specifically the original purchase price. Why? Well, in order to spec your 328i as this one was, you’d be paying more than a M3 that was available for minimal charge in the same color to get it. Huh?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 BMW 328i Individual on Enthusiast Auto Group

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Feature Listing – 1990 BMW 325i Convertible with M50 swap

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The BMW E30 3 series has become a kind of German 1950s Chevrolet in a sense. With a thriving aftermarket scene, plenty of enthusiasts have undertaken projects to reinvent this compact executive car in their own right. From M3 clones to V8 engined barnstormers, the sky is the limit. With many of the Touring models eligible for US import, this has given enthusiasts a whole new canvas with which to work, as well. It’s not too often that we see the convertible variants breathed upon, but this particular 1990 325i Convertible from our reader Chris in Northern Virginia has had an upgrade to the M50 inline-6 from the later E36 3 series, along with suspension, steering and brake upgrades to handle the increased power.

Click for details: 1990 BMW 325i Convertible with M50 swap on eBay

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