1989 BMW 325i Touring

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As E30 Touring imports pick up some steam, we get to see a wider variety of the wagon offerings the rest of the world has known about for over 25 years. We’ve seen the base-model 318i up to the rare all-wheel drive 325ix, each providing a sharp package with fun driving dynamics while enabling hauls that a standard trunk could never hope to handle. With many examples coming from the right-hand-drive UK, you have to decide if such a great overall package is worth the brain reorganization necessary to appropriately traverse our LHD roads.

This is one of those bassackwards drivers but brings a very distinct look thanks to a rare (especially on wagons) M-Tech body kit normally present only on the ix models, complementing the E30’s clean top lines with fender flares, exaggerated front and rear valences, and side skirts. 16″ Style 5 wheels help fill those enlarged fenders resulting in an overall package that looks both clean and aggressive. The automatic transmission is the other main detraction besides RHD, but we’ve forgiven autos on great-looking E34 wagons in favor of good looks and utility, so why not do the same here?

Click for details: 1989 BMW 325i Touring on eBay

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2012 BMW 328Xi Sports Wagon M-Sport 6-speed

I had this perhaps unrealistic hope that within the next year, a replacement for my Passat was going to become available from Volkswagen. But the promise of the new Golf Sportwagon Alltrack with a manual and TDi motor – even better, in GTD trim – has been slowly evaporating. First was the news that the Alltrack was delayed until 2017; well, I’ve waited this long since the Quantum Syncro, so okay, I’ll wait another few years. Then came the news that it would only arrive in 1.8T form with the DSG automatic. Like many other wagon hopefuls over the past few years, that was very disappointing to say the least. That doesn’t even begin to encompass the problems Volkswagen has encountered in the past week, as the promise of TDi becomes the new “unintended acceleration” for the brand. So where is a fan of 5-doors to look when considering a newer, all-wheel drive manual sport wagon? Audi? No, like Volkswagen, Audi has decided that the car should shift for you. Instead, it is BMW where you can most recently get your manual sport all-wheel drive wagon jollies in a package which even they have done away with; the classic inline-6, a 6-speed manual and all-wheel drive:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 BMW 328Xi SPortwagon M-Sport on eBay

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Clone Wars Fast Wagon-off: Audi S6 Avant v. BMW “M5” Touring

We’re all fans of fast wagons here at GCFSB; Andrew’s owned a S4 Avant 6-speed and I’m on my third sporty 5 door. There’s something wonderful about these versatile vehicles; they’re the automotive equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. You can literally throw everything including the kitchen sink at them, go blasting down back roads with lurid 4-wheel drifts, or simply tote the family along in smart style. It’s not that having a wagon makes you smug, in my mind, it’s that those who have opted for that route simply are a higher evolution of thought. It’s the difference between the Australopithecus SUV market and the Homo Sapiens; sure, “Sport Utilities” may be the rage now, but the reality is many are just heavily disguised wagons or are doomed to extinction in the near future. But for right now, it seems the other way around in the U.S.; though some are on the horizon, fast wagons are currently hard to come by and that makes us look towards the past for some evolutionary inspiration. Since we love looking at older cars anyway, that’s not a bad thing – so let’s consider these two utility vehicles that are actually sporty:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW “M5” Touring on eBay

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1992 BMW 525i Touring with 59k miles

If ever there was a company car for The Hamptons, it would be the luxury estate vehicle. No surprise, then, that this 1992 BMW 525i Touring finds itself not far from those beaches in Syosset, New York. The E34 Touring was BMW’s second attempt at an in-house estate car, following on the five-door version of the popular E30 3 series that was never sold new to US customers. With the dawn of a new decade, BMW decided to gift the US the 5 series Touring, which would become a hit for families looking for something a bit more dynamic for the school run. Sadly, one of the company’s tastiest offerings, the M5 Touring, would still be out of our reach. Nevertheless, BMW would continue to offer the 5 series Touring for two more generations of 5 series, but sadly, we are now stuck with the awkwardly proportioned 5 series Gran Turismo. This 525i Touring has under 60,000 miles on the odometer, a rarity these days as many of these long roof E34s have been run hard and put up wet.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 BMW 525i Touring on eBay

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Feature Listing: 2008 BMW 328xi Sports Wagon

Over the past few years, my wife and I have had an ongoing conversation about what would replace her 2006 Subaru Outback. It’s not that we don’t like the car; in fact, quite the opposite. Subaru really stepped up the quality and look of the fourth generation Legacy and made it close to comparable to the European counterparts. A svelte exterior was matched by a luxurious interior, a great all-wheel drive system, and the theory of Subaru reliability. But there are several places where the Legacy, despite it’s massive popularity, shows its budget origins. The ride is great as long as the roads aren’t rough and are reasonably straight; it doesn’t really like corners much and if there is a bump mid corner prepare for you and your passengers to look a bit like bobble head dolls. Then there’s the transmission; if you went with the Limited spec like my wife originally did, you got the nicer interior wood finish, climate control and leather seats – but the manual was opted out, making them automatic only. Couple that automatic to the 2.5 liter boxer 4 and saddle it with the best part of 4,000 lbs and the result is anemic. But the real thorn in the side has been the reality of fourth generation Subaru ownership; far from trouble free, the Outback has eaten its headgaskets, wheel bearings, batteries and brakes like it’s going out of style. I think when you purchase something like an Audi or BMW wagon, you expect that once it’s outside of warranty there will be a big occasional repair – that’s the trade off for the luxury and performance of the nicer marques. But in a Subaru? It’s then when the other shortcomings really begin to wear on your patience and you begin to think of alternatives. While my natural inclination has been to look at the benchmark for performance luxury all-wheel drive wagons – Audi’s Avants – ironically it’s been BMW who has offered more options in recent years, such as this lovely sport wagon E91 Sports Wagon:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 328xi Sports Wagon at Euro Werkz

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1994 BMW 530i Touring

I feel as though I’ve been on a kick of featuring performance variants lately and while a well maintained go-fast-machine is certainly attention grabbing, I think there is something to be said for solid basic transportation as well. This 1994 BMW 530iT lives only a few minutes away from me and I swear I’ve seen it out on local streets. E34 wagons always catch my eye, I’ve written up a number of them in the past, and while I usually look for rare ones with a 3rd pedal, I couldn’t pass over this example.

It appears to be quite clean overall and the seller mentions that $1,400 in service was recently performed. With an older BMW that could have easily been one minor part and a bunch of labor, but still, good to know it has recently been in the shop. I’d be sure to find out where he took it and touch base with the shop to see how well they know the car. The seller does mention that he has all the maintenance records from new, so either they’re the original owner or the records came with the car. Lots more to find out here, but I have to say this is one intriguing package.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 530i Touring on Craigslist Los Angeles

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1990 BMW 318i Touring

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The E30 Touring influx continues to flow, helping pull prices down and increasing the variety of available models. Having the fastest possible option is always a nice idea, but there is something extremely appealing about having a base model workhorse that wasn’t originally available here. This 318i won’t be a racer, but it will be useful! It’s right-hand drive, which immediately makes me think of using it as a small-town mail or newspaper delivery vehicle. With even US-spec E30s going for more money all the time, does rarity and a funny steering position rationalize dropping almost $10k on a base model?

Click for details: 1990 BMW 318i Touring on eBay

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1999 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Estate

In 1999, if you wanted a small German performance car capable of carrying several adults, you had a few options. First, you could select the BMW M3 – the benchmark for performance in the category, the E36 was nearing the end of it’s life cycle and the sedan had been dropped for the last model year. There was no M3 Touring model available, so if you wanted a wagon you needed to move over to the folks from Ingolstadt; Audi’s second generation S4. While unlike the M3 you couldn’t opt for a convertible, importantly if you wanted to carry your 2.2 children and dog in style they had the Avant available. While BMW’s neutered U.S. spec M3 made it by with only 240 horsepower, Audi’s twin turbocharged V6 offered less displacement but waves of torque and 250 horsepower. Those were the days when a 10 horsepower jump over your competition was a pretty big deal. So, you can imagine the shock when Mercedes-Benz introduced it’s new take on the small executive performance market with the introduction of the V8-engined C43 AMG. While the C36’s inline-6 had a 26 horsepower advantage over its nearest rival, the C43 broke through the 300 horsepower mark with the M113, with 306 horsepower, but staggeringly also 302 lb.ft of torque. That’s a lot, even by today’s standard, and it was not only available in sedan form, but also in Touring form. Though the Tourings never made it to these shores, one has popped up on eBay and is for sale in the Great White North:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Estate on eBay

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1990 BMW 325i Touring

Here we have a BMW 325i Touring imported from Japan to Canada with the intention of doing a full restoration. The seller states other projects have now taken over his time and he has to let the car go. Perhaps this is the case, it very often is but perhaps the seller also decided the juice was not worth the squeeze. The car needs a dash replacement due to it being cracked, the front passenger seat is badly ripped, one dent is mentioned and though I’m sure there are others and as you can see in the picture above there is a rust hole just in front of the drivers door. Now most of these issues are not major ones that’ll drain your wallet but those kinds of things will happen down the road.

The seller notes that the odometer has stopped working and the car has roughly 102,000 miles on it. That’s relatively low compared to most of the E30 Tourings I come across and yet many of those are in better condition. Makes me wonder what kind of life this car lived prior to arriving in Canada. Also the seller doesn’t mention inclusion of extensive service records or any kind of recent work which leads me to believe that that aforementioned bigger issues will indeed be popping up in the not so distant future. And yet, I’m still intrigued by this car because after all, it’s a Japan Spec E30 Touring in Lazurblau Metallic with a grey cloth interior!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW 325i Touring on eBay

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2002 BMW 540i Touring

Wagons are the GCFSB car of choice, if you haven’t noticed. Only our resident Volkswagen/Audi guru Carter is flying the five-door flag, however, with his 2002 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T Variant 5-speed manual. While I sit here and wait for the perfect 1995 Audi S6 Avant to come along, I’ll admire this 2002 BMW 540i Touring for sale in Portland, Oregon. It looks like a real beast, and with Dinan engine mods and a worked over suspension, it’s almost like the M5 Touring that never was.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW 540i Touring on eBay

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