1992 BMW 316i Touring

The US-market never received the touring (wagon) version of the E30 3-series. But these cars are now old enough to import under the 25 year rule, which means you can find a steady trickle of these popping up on eBay for sale over here, and various accounts of enthusiasts’ attempts to bring them over. And no wonder: the E30 estate is a handsome and utilitarian looking car, practical and quite stylish.

The E30 was offered in Europe with a wider range of engines than we received here, so there a variety of different longroof options to choose from.  There were two four cylinder models (a 1.6 liter and a 1.8 liter), two six cylinder models (a 2.0 liter and 2.5 liter, with the latter also being available in “iX,” all wheel drive spec), and a 2.4 liter naturally aspirated diesel inline six. This particular car is a 316i, the entry level model. While the car is currently located in Germany, it’s being advertised on US eBay to tempt American E30 fans with a taste for forbidden fruit.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 BMW 316i Touring on eBay

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Déjà vu? 2010 BMW 535xi Touring M-Sport

Just the other day, I wondered what kind of large wagon you could still buy. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class and recently introduced Volvo V90 seem to be the last two holdouts in what was once a robust market of longroof models. Back up a decade, and you could add the Audi A6 Avant and 5-series Touring/Sport Wagon to the mix, and both are still quite desirable in their last form.

With forced induction and plenty of technology as well as a sport ride, both the Audi and BMW entrants into the marketplace were expensive alternatives to the rest of the now traditional “Sport Utility” lineups. And both sold in very small numbers, giving enthusiasts precious few options to choose from when it comes to the used market. In the case of the BMW, the most desirable models are the M-Sport models offered late in the run, and they’re not frequently seen. So much so, that when this one popped up I was certain it was the same 2010 I looked at recently. The color combination of Tiefseeblau Metallic and Natural Brown Dakota combined with the M-Sport package seemed too unlikely to immediately come across again; yet, here we are, with a VIN only about 100 after the recent example. Is this one a winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 BMW 535xi Touring on Seattle Craigstlist

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2010 BMW 535xi Touring M-Sport

It’s been a while since I last updated you on the trials and tribulations of E61 ownership. And, there have been a few exciting events which pertain to this car. Some of that comes down to learning about the quirks of ownership. For example, the iDrive system has a habit of notifying you of problems well after they’ve occurred. Like the E46, the E61 utilized the ABS speed sensors to calculate rotation of the wheels to determine if you’ve got a flat tire. So, if you..say…swap wheels and forget to notify the car that you’ve done so, it gets very unhappy (but, not immediately – only a few miles down the road will it tell you something occurred). Navigating the menus to find specific items can be laborious, but with time it gets better and you start to figure it out. But the electronic nannies don’t end there; the “IBS” – Intelligent Battery Sensor – proved to be anything but intelligent, as it malfunctioned and decided that the car shouldn’t start. It took a lot of internet diving to determine that simply unplugging the connector would fix the problem. Of course, that sensor is directly under the drains for the sunroof, which unfortunately seem to have a habit of randomly leaking (and, according to the never-wrong internet, are almost always the cause of the woes with the IBS).

Then there’s the service warning.

Say your 11 year old car uses (read: leaks) a little oil. Fine, no problem, top it up. But the E6x FREAKS OUT that you’ve lost a little oil and basically tells you you’re about to grenade the motor. Except, it doesn’t do this when you first start the car. No, because the N52 carries some 7 quarts of synthetic it waits for the oil to warm up prior to notifying you there’s a problem. And there is no dipstick. So, you have to wait for the car to determine if it has oil, which it will do ONCE YOU REACH YOUR DESTINATION AND DON’T HAVE OIL IN HAND. And then you finally get home, pop open the special BMW oil and it only takes 1/4 of a quart. You’re telling me at 6.75 liters of oil you think the level is “CRITICAL“, car?!?! And there are the parking sensors, which don’t notify you of how close you are to the thing you’re about to hit when you’re pulling up, but when you engage reverse it then, once again, FREAKS OUT that you’re about to roll into something (even if you’re in reverse). And God forbid there be ice or snow covering those sensors, because then the car erupts in what sounds like a nuclear test warning. DUCK AND COVER. DUCK AND COVER!!!!!!

Who the hell designed these systems?

I don’t paint a pretty picture of E6x ownership, but the reality is these are coming-to-terms things. The solutions are simple once you’ve figured them out (which, admittedly can be difficult), and then you’re left to enjoy the great aspects of the car. And great it is. Dynamically, the E61 seems to defy physics. The steering is outstanding, the motor sounds great and the 6-speed automatic is almost always on point. The all-wheel drive is seamless, the seats are hugely comfortable, and the car is quiet, composed and comfortable in almost every situation. It has an awesome cruise control system – by far the best I’ve ever experienced. And it returns a shocking 30+ mpg at 80 m.p.h. average on the highway. Pop it into Sport mode, and suddenly the car is transformed, feeling light, agile and quick on its feet despite the 4,000+ lb curb weight. The brakes are awesome, confidence inspiring and yet not too aggressive, and it was able to swallow an entire bathtub basin with no difficulty. As do-it-all cars go, it’s a compelling option. So let’s take a look at one of the end-of-the-run E61s, turned up a bit over my 530xiT. This is the twin-turbocharged N54 powered 535xi Touring, and this one has the optional (and rare) M-Sport package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 BMW 535xi Touring M-Sport on eBay

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1989 BMW 325iX Touring

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!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 325iX Touring on Columbus, OH Craigslist

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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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