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Any advice in buying an e30?

Discussion in 'E30 (1984-1993)' started by 129794, May 12, 2009.

    • Member

    129794

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    Hello to all,
    My dad and I have decided to get serious in our search for a 325is. We aren't really that particular on color etc but did have a few questions. In beginning our search we have discovered that there is absolutely nothing in our area (SW Missouri). Have any of you bought cars from long distances? We would obviously rather buy a car locally but for the three+ years we've been casually looking there has not been a single 325is come up for sale within 100 miles of where we live. We are also somewhat torn as to what kind we should buy. A lower mileage higher cost example or a cheaper one with high mileage. We would rather not have to do a complete restoration on it but want one we can have fun working on and still be able to go out and drive.
    Thanks for any and all advice!!

    Autohaus guest

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    Welcome to the forums. The E30 325is with a 5-speed is getting harder and harder to come by and excluding the E30 M3, its probably the most desirable. How much is your budget? My advise is to get a rust free example with service records (especially with timing belt/water pump/tensioner pulley changes). Most likely you will have to travel to find the one you want. However, you will enjoy the drive back home. Again, it all depends on your budget.
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    granthr

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    I would suggest you spread your search to nation wide. I bought a car in Hawaii from Pennsylvania. I got the car I wanted that way, 1988 M3, Diamond Black on Black, 66K miles. Just be sure to do your home work. If you can't see it, have them take it to a local bmw mechanic for a once over and have the mechanic report to you what he/she finds.

    I would not be worried about high mileage cars, but watch out for rust and body damage. A bad motor or trans is easier to fix then bad rust or extensive body damage that may or may not have been repaired correctly.

    Keep an eye on craigslist, autotrader.com, cars.com, check Roundel classifieds, and even call some of the BMW dismantlers that advertise in Roundel. Some of them do sell cars. Chris from CR's BMW Wholesalers for instance. He sometimes gets them. You can call Chris at 1-866-925-6699. I know he might be getting a low mileage E30 cabrio.

    I would even put a wanted ad in Roundel, saying what you are looking for. Hey it is free, might as well put one in. Good luck.
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    EuroWerkz1

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    E30's

    You have decided on a great car and one that has hooked many of us including myself, and after reading the Roundel this month our fearless leader of the written word, Satch Carlson.

    Listen, you need to do one thing and one thing only to make this experience a great one. Buy the very best car you can afford ($5k minimum should be safe) from a seller or specialty dealer that knows and loves his/her E-30. Cars like I am describing are few and far between and bargains are an absolute fantasy. Avoid like a plaque cars that have serious body rust and/or damage history but most importantly buy from someone that makes you feel comfortable and that is an enthusiast.When you find the right car don't waste time buy it before it's gone as these cars sell quickly. Besides the 325is the 1991 318is may even be more popular and hard to come by but is already a very sought after model. KC MO is a hot-bed of BMW interest and I am sure some of there club members could keep an eye out for you.

    Good luck and happy hunting
    !

    vvurdsmyth guest

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    129... I'd say that Autohaus is correct regarding both budget & condition (mechanics are easier to fix than body work, unless you have expertise in auto body...). & unless you have a clear indication of when the timing belt was changed (every 60k max), I'd make that 'Job 1', because if the belt breaks, obviously, while running, you'll need a new engine. Usually ppl will unload a car on the cusp of a major, $400+ job, like that (and that is one reason mfgs have gone back to chain...) . When you do get one, http://www.bimmerdiy.com/dir/e30 ;http://bimmerboard.com/forums/e30/ ; http://www.dtmpower.net/forum/ ; & books like... http://twurl.nl/k2amux and manual.. http://www.repairmanualworld.com/19832004-bmw-325-325i-service-re.html ---- we are looking to hear from you...
    • Member

    CRKrieger

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    You know, if you are not afraid of some moderate mechanical work, I would not shy away from any good E30 six with a 5-speed*. The reason is simple: you can make any of them into the car you want with very little fuss.

    The 325i is missing a couple of body parts, a few interior pieces, and a few suspension parts, all of which are relatively simple bolt-ons.

    The 325eS was the S version only with an eta 2.7 engine. Converting this engine into a 2.7i is well-documented and relatively simple, if you're comfortable pulling the head and swapping the ECU. It also puts you a couple hundred ccs ahead of the 325's 2.5 liter.

    The 325e is as far from the 325iS as any 6-cylinder E30 gets, but it is still within all the bolt-ons above of being one. Plus, like the 325i, ... you could get a 4-door if you wanted. :D

    I would not be too shy about buying a car from across the country. [Of course not; I've bought several sight-unseen from Ebay and MyE28 contacts in places as far away as South Florida and Texas.] Do your homework. If you can satisfy yourself the seller is trustworthy, buy without much concern. If you can't, find a local contact you can trust who doesn't have anything at stake in the transaction - although a modest compensation for finding a really good car would not be out of line to someone going to look at it for you. If there's one near me, I'd be happy to go look at it critically. So would many of the others here. All you need to do is ask.


    * Purposely leaving out any consideration of differentials since they are mix-and-match. Relatively easy to find whatever you want in an E30, E28, E24, etc. ...
    • Member

    129794

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    To all,
    Thanks so much for your words of wisdom!! At this point we are leaning towards the more expensive examples (lower mileage etc) simply because we don't want to have to spend all of our time (and money) on it making it work properly. We could probably do much of the work ourselves but neither one of us have much time to do such things. We already know quite a bit about the e30 because my dad had one brand new back in '87 (black with red, we wish everyday we still had that car!!!) We also thought long and hard about an M3 but have pretty much decided against it as they are far!! more expensive.

    Thanks again guys!

    z31maniac guest

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    I'm in NE OK, so I know your pain on a lack of good E30s.

    I ended up buying one from FL and having it shipped up here. Shipping last March from Vero Beach, FL to Stillwater, OK was $800.

    I ran the costs on gas, hotel stay etc, and it was cheaper to have it shipped, not to mention you avoid the hassle of having a problem in the middle of the night on some deserted highway in the middle of nowhere.

    Like they have said, as long as it's a manual and 6cyl go for it.

    I'm in the process of a complete suspension and engine redo right now. Dropping in an OBD-I S52, E36 rack, just installed new springs, sways/reinforcements/adjustable links, new control arms and control arm bushings, etc etc etc
    • Member

    granthr

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    Currently there is a very nice 87 325is in the classified section of Roundel! I would jump on it right away! 55K miles!!! Or something like that. Silver on Black, I think they are asking $7,500.
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    az3579

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    Honestly, 7 times out of 10, the cars listed in the marketplace are way overpriced... :(
    CCA owners always take pride in their cars, and as a result always ask for more money for a similar car compared to someone who has maintined their vehicle the same but isn't a CCA member. Of the 3 or 4 pages of ads, I saw most of the ads having really high prices for what the cars really are.


    But, when you look in there, you're almost certain to find a car that's been taken care of. But still, that price sounds really steep... a 325is isn't all that rare of a car compared to, say, an M3.
    • Member

    129794

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    We actually wanted to get serious about THAT car but..... its been sold already.....
    • Member

    granthr

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    When I was looking to buy an E30 M3 I was watching all the online car sites daily. I jumped on the one I bought probably within an hour of it being posted. I was the first to respond and the seller gave me priority. The desirable E30s are falling into the hands of enthusiasts. So if you find a nice one, it is worth the money, and don't waste your time b/c someone else will snatch it up.
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    129794

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    Thanks again guys. We will certainly have our eyes open ready to pounce. Btw, that is a beautiful M3 you've got!!:)
    • Member

    granthr

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    Thanks, I got really lucky when I bought it. Basically a one owner. First owner had it less than a year. So technically I am the third owner. The woman I bought it from was a pilot and was moving back to the main land and didn't want to ship it. So she was just ready to get rid of it. She had owned if for about 13 years. I have had if for seven years now. I think I bought it at the bottom of the market it for M3s. It is now worth about three times what I paid for it. :D

    Here are couple more pics. I put the BBS RS rims on it. I am keeping it stock except for the rims, SS Exhaust and H4/H1 headlights. All of which can be returned to stock with no problem. I have a set of original wheels. The spare has never been on the ground. The car has 75K on it.
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    az3579

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    I <3 your M3, Grant. :(
    • Member

    granthr

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    Okay, showing my age here! Please define.

    I am guessing a compliment. No?

    If so, cheer up Botond, save the pennies and someday the dream will come true. Just keep driving the E30. :D E30s FTW!!!!!!!! :D
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    az3579

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    Look at <3 sideways (tilt head to the right) and you'll see that it's the shape of a heart. I LOVE your M3, is what I meant!

    Unfortunately, these will only get more expensive as time goes on and honestly, I don't think I'll ever get around to spending so much up front on an E30. I'd rather have a reeeeeally cool Euro-bumpered 325is with a Euro S50 swap and a 6-speed than an M3. It's much more unique!

    And as cool as M3's are, I would never buy an E30 one because if there is one to be bought, it's probably going to be in mint condition, and I would commit suicide if anything ever happened to it, so it's a headache I'm willing to live without.

    It's the same reason why I am not going to bother doing things like fixing rust or repainting anything (unless I can do it myself) on my current car, because it's not worth dumping money into such an old car that is so far to being restoration-quality, so any money spent on it is going to be 95% mechanical or something that I will actually be able to use for my investment. Repaint the part of the front under my divinb board because it's faded and rock-chipped? Nah, doesn't do me any good other than pure eye candy. But full tune-up? Bring it!


    I went to my mechanic and in his garage was a PRISTINE green 2002. His customer was restoring it and spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars just repainting it. Refurbished the bumpers to the point of it looking brand new (I mistook them for being new until my mech *corrected* me), and the interior was MINT and my mechanic was replacing EVERYTHING in the engine bay with brand new stuff, even if it didn't need replacing. And, to top it off, he told me that the owner was probably going to just drive it to another state and retire it, as in probably never drive it a distance again. What a waste of money, in my opinion.

    So, I have declared; my E30 is a fun car, and that it shall always be! And until it gets totaled, or rusts out, I shall drive it enthusiastically and will never give it up unless it's a big pile of scrap metal! So, S50, here I come for my fun!
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    granthr

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    Sounds like you have great plans! :D Yes the cars are there to enjoy. I certainly enjoy my M3, but it is mostly a garage queen. It gets spirited drives on back country roads and I enjoy every minute of it. But it never had daily use since I have owned it, nor will it ever again.

    That is where my other E30s come into play! :D Besides when you drive an 84 318i it makes your 200 hp (okay 192) M3 feel really fast! :D Twice the power!
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    az3579

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    Dude, at least the 318i revs to almost 7 grand! Even if it isn't faster, it would feel faster than my eta. I can't wait to rev 7 grand...

    Hey Grant -
    Do you think if I ever met up at an event and you were there with your M3, you think you could accept a $20 bill for a test drive? I've never driven an M car before and it'd be awesome if it would be an E30 to be the first. :D

    BIMMIR guest

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    Hey 129794...

    Check this out on autotrader. It's in Orlando. 90 325i "sport"

    Very nice looking for $5,000

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