2003 BMW 540i M-Sport Touring

I’m not really sure where the “wagons are cool” craze comes from. Back in Europe, estates tend to be regarded as a bit boring. But the longer I’ve lived in America, the more I can relate. Camping trips, afternoons spent chasing down furniture on Craigslist, and weekends spent helping friends move apartments in the city have all led me to appreciate the appeal of a good wagon.The highly competent 540i sedan is already well loved, combining a well-balanced chassis with a torquey 4.4 liter V8 that puts out about 290 hp. The Touring version offers all of this plus a load space nearly on par with that of a small pickup, once the seats are folded down. What’s even better than a 540i Touring? A 540i Touring M-Sport, which adds more aggressively styled, M5-like bumpers, firmer sport suspension, sport seats and shadowline trim (sedans also received M-Parallel wheels, although Tourings did not).

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 540i Touring M-Sport on Portland, OR Craigslist

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1993 BMW 316i Touring Design Edition

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Each year, more and more interesting non-US market vehicles become eligible for importation stateside. Recently, the BMW E30 Touring has crossed that threshold to where it is legally possible to bring one of these five-door E30s into the US. Most of the examples we’ve seen arrive on these shores have been packing the 2.5 liter inline-6, but this 1993 example for sale north east of Düsseldorf, Germany is a 316i, equipped with the single cam 1.6 liter M40 four-cylinder. It won’t set your world on fire, but it certainly looks sharp in Daytona Violet with the special Design Edition fabric sport seats.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW 316i Touring on Mobile.de

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2000 BMW 323i Touring

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Every now and then, I come across an interesting car which I slot into my weekly rotation at GCFSB last minute. This 2000 BMW 323i Touring is one of those cars. I was in Hingham, Massachusetts on holiday last week, spending a few days at the house of a childhood friend. He’s been a BMW guy ever since they days my 1988 325is convinced him to take the plunge on a 1992 325i 5-speed sedan. He has stayed true to BMW with his latest rig, a 2009 328i xDrive Touring equipped with a 6-speed manual. We discussed how great this car was, allowing you to have your family car cake and eat it too. But one question posed by my friend was what to do now that BMW no longer imports a 3 series Touring with a manual gearbox. Well, you could always dial back the clock and explore the other interesting Tourings from BMW’s past. This E46 323i Touring for sale in Minnesota belies it’s age and 146,000 miles on the clock thanks to some fastidious care. It also has some tasty bits included, such as M3 front seats, a ZHP shift knob and Alcantara trimmed M3 steering wheel to provide maximum driving pleasure behind the wheel.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 323i Touring on eBay

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2000 BMW 323i Touring

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A good friend of mine who lives on the coast in Massachusetts happens to drive an E91 328i xDrive Touring equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox. This Touring would be the last five-door estate BMW would offer in the US with a manual gearbox. We sat around discussing potential replacements for this machine once the time comes but the only answers seemed to be buy an old car to replace it or become an expatriate. Given he’s married with two kids, the latter option would not be all that convenient. Well, if we want to take the latter route, why not size up this 2000 323i Touring for sale in Florida with the all important third pedal?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 323i Touring on eBay

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2003 BMW 540i Touring M-Sport 6-Speed

540iT1Growing up, I never really understood the appeal of wagons, or “estates” as we called them in England. The triumph of sensibleness and practicality over style, they didn’t seem particularly cool or desirable. Instead, they were for posh people in the countryside who owned big dogs. But as I’ve gotten older, and particularly since I moved to America, something has changed. Not only do I find myself needing to carry around a lot more stuff these days, but wagons have become, well, cool. No longer the staple of the staid upper classes, they’re for the person who needs the extra space of an SUV or a minivan but says “f-that, I’m not ready to give up on life just yet.” And there are some seriously cool wagons around these days. On a recent trip home to London, the first sight greeting me in the car park at Heathrow was that of an F11 530d M-Sport, B8 S4 Avant and an E63 AMG estate, all lined up next to each other. It’s as if somebody was trying to make a point.

The E39 Touring, already a fairly handsome car, looks especially good when specified with the M-sport package, as here. This particular 540i represents the top of the range and not only has it been blessed with M exterior styling and sport suspension, as an added bonus the current owner has gone to the trouble of retrofitting a 6-speed manual transmission from an M5, turning this into a quick, capable and seriously cool longroof.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 540iT on BMW Car Club of America

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Mystic Fiver: 2006 BMW 530xi Touring

Well, it’s been a few weeks so I suppose that it’s time to introduce the newest addition to the GCFSB fleet. My wife and I spent months searching for a potential replacement to her Subaru Outback. She had bought the Subbie new in 2006, and under warranty it had been a great car. However, once out of warranty it had been problematic; unable to go much more than 10,000 miles without eating a wheel bearing, dumping oil all over the exhaust or any other number of various maladies. The “big one” was the timing belt service at 103,500 miles; already pricey on Subarus, it became obvious as we got close that the 2.5 liter boxer was suffering from the notorious head gasket failure. A $800 job soon became a $2,800 job. As my wife pointed out, those are the types of repairs you’d expect on a nicer German car, but not ones you’d associate with the stars of Pleiades. How Subaru has managed to maintain a reputation for quality is beyond me, and with prices of new Outbacks well into the $30,000 range, suddenly the gap to some of the German cars wasn’t so outrageous.

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1989 BMW 325i Touring

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I’ve talked a fair bit of trash about right-hand drive cars here, specifically some E30 325i Tourings. A lot of the E30 wagons we’ve seen imported now that their 25-year waiting period has ended have been base- or low-option Brits, bringing along the need to get comfortable hugging the fog line and rowing the gears with your left hand. This longroof has the rare factory M-Tech package as well as some show-stopping 17″ gold BBS rims to help you look like a gangster out of Run Lola Run. Inside, recovered M seats look outstanding, but the ubiquitous cracked dash strikes again, echoing a chipped front spoiler that looks fixable. Wrapped in Alpinweiss, the seller is pretty right as long as you can handle right hand drive – “this is the one you’ve been looking for!”

Click for details: 1989 BMW 325i Touring on eBay

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Unicorn Patrol: 2007 BMW 328xi Sport Wagon

Good news! I’ve found another “Unicorn” for your consideration. Now, truth told the E91 isn’t a particularly rare car. There are plenty up for sale every day of the week, since they are really just getting to the sweet spot where the first and (for early examples) second owners dump them. And of those that you can find for sale today, the all-wheel drive 328xi isn’t particularly rare, either. But what is not seen very often is the combination of those two factors plus a stick in the center console which can be articulated in 7 different positions. That’s right, we have a unicorn manual! Such is the unicorn status of this unicorn that “Unicorn” is even included in the sales title of the unicorn! You’d be forgiven for thinking that BMW dealers had a special option box that you could select for your unicorn badge.

Salesman: Now that you’ve selected all your other options, I’m going to tell you about one final “dealer special” option we can offer you – but it’s only for select, and discerning customers!
Rich Plebian: Uh, okay, what is it?
S: It’s the not offered to public “Unicorn” option
RP: “Unicorn”? Like, horned mythological beast?
S: Yes, exactly. The Unicorn Package is option code 785.
RP: Okay, what does it get me?
S: You get to tell everyone how unique your mass produced car is.
RP: Wait, it gives me special powers?
S: No, you just get to say that your car is more special than the other cars that are exactly like it.
RP: Well, people have always told me how special I am, so sign me up!

Thus, when it comes time to sell your unicorn package car, you too can tell everyone that this was the only one that’s like it! Except for the other ones that are like it. But don’t mind them. Let’s look at this one!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 BMW 328xi Sport Wagon on Philadelphia Craigslist

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1988 BMW 325ix Touring

For proof that automobile enthusiasts often don’t make much sense, one doesn’t need to look much farther than the E30 325ix Touring. Built on exactly the same formula as yesterday’s Passat 4Motion, while enthusiasts will look upon that car generally as an overpriced oddity, pop a clean ix Touring onto their computer screen and wallets begin to fly. Understandably, there’s a style difference between the Volkswagen/Audi products and the highly sought after E30 Touring, but honestly does this car do anything appreciably better than a S4 Avant? I can only think of one thing – it generates income for the seller:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 325ix Touring on eBay

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