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Discussion in 'E30 (1984-1993)' started by az3579, Apr 24, 2008.

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    az3579

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    This is a strange thing that's been bothering me for ages. I know there are different versions of the E30, such as 316, 318i, 325, 325e, 325i, etc. Well, in my boredom, I stared at my desk and saw my Bentley manual. On it listed the models:

    318i, 325, 325e, 325es, 325i, 325is. I know what each and every single one of these models are, but one question remains unanswered:

    What is the difference between a 325 and a 325e? Aren't they technically the same thing?My car's a 325 without the e. This is something I wonder about because the local parts store also has 325 and 325e listed as separate cars. They've got the same engine...


    I think I've seen somewhere on a forum on the internet that the 325 is the super eta. If that was the case, why is my car an '87 (build date of of 09/86)? Wasn't the super eta an '88 model? Also I believe the super eta had all the options; mine, stock, only came with the cloth seats (not even sport seats), basic headlights, and a manual crank sunroof...

    cj morgan guest

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    325i is fuel injected and the 325 is not im guessing
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    MGarrison

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    That's a logical guess from BMW's nomenclature CJ, but incorrect. I believe all the M20-engined E30's are fuel injected.

    The E30 bodystyle was brought out in Europe in 1983, but I can't tell you every engine variation that was available there - probably an engine smaller in displacement than the 1.8l, and possibly a 2.3l. The 2.3l was available eventually, if not initially. I think the 323i was the precursor to the 2.5l engines.

    In the U.S., the first E30 was the 318i (two-dr. sedan for sure, not sure when we got the 4 dr.- they might have been available concurrently. This car had the early 1.8l engine, which was probably a carryover from the 320i which had the 1.8l engine in '81 and '82 for sure, maybe '80 as well. Earlier 320i's had a slightly larger displacement engine with a different fuel injection system.

    BMW's marketing for '85 made great hoopla of stating that year the entire BMW model line was all 6-cylinder engines, the 1.8l was discontinued for the U.S. So, we got the 325e models. The 'e' designation was Greek, "eta", which was supposed to be the Greek word for 'efficiency' (I never bothered to research that, then or now). The engine was supposed to be an 'efficient' engine, designed to deliver high torque, and good gas mileage. These early M20 engines accomplished that through increased displacement due to a longer-stroke crankshaft, but they were low compression engines with a relatively low rev limit, something under 6k rpms, (5400 rpm?). A torque-y engine, but not a high-revver. I think at that point we had 2 & 4 dr. 325e models in varying levels of trim, and they introduced the 325es. I think the 325es cars had all the appointments the 325is' had, but their front spoiler was different - it lacks the two bottom center air ducts because the engine didn't have an oil cooler like the later 325i.

    In 1986, ABS brakes were made standard across the BMW line. Prior to '86, only 7's and maybe 6's may have had ABS (I don't think ABS was available on the 5er's until '86 - could be wrong tho)

    In 1987, BMW introduced the 325is, and the M5. The 325e base models I believe were kept, but the 325es was gone, replaced w/ the 325is. The engine in the 325i was a higher performance engine than the 'eta' M20. Higher compression ratio, higher 6400 rpm rev limit, a head w/ bigger displacement, but less overall displacement than the 'eta' engined cars. A 325 is the same as a 325e, BMW just decided to drop the 'e' designation on the trunk lid at that time. I believe all 325i cars in the U.S. would have 325i on the trunk.

    I'm not up on the specifics of what made the super-eta 'super', but I think that was the last year for the eta engine in E30's in the U.S. After that, it was all 325i in 2dr or 4dr variations.

    The 318is was introduced in 1990 with a 1.8l that I think was partially derived from the E30 M3 engines, with a heritage going back to the '84 models - someone else here I'm sure will know more of the specifics about the later 1.8l engines.

    That's a start on the basic info from memory, I'd have to go dig up the books and Roundels and brochures to get more specific, but all that info is available out there somewhere I'm sure.
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    BMWCCA1

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    You can check out Jeremy Walton's 3 Series guide for all the details on the U.S. models and differences between years and models, but basically the 325 (eta but non "e" designation) was a lower level of trim. At the same time the 325e was the loaded Eta model in the lineup and came in four-door only. . The Super Eta was a model-year '88-only that gave added power to the old eta engine with increased rev limit and different head and cam. I'm doing this from memory so some of it may be wrong, but I can check the details in the Walton book if you need them.
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    az3579

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    Exactly the things I was looking for. Everything else I was aware of, which is what made this particular observation annoying to me (difference between e/non-e).


    The problem with the second quote is that this doesn't make too much sense to me. Every single E30 that I see around here where I live (not many, but some) are 325e models and are all 2-door; how come they are designated 'e' and mine isn't? Doesn't that contradict that they came in 4-door only? Also, if the 'e' designation only went to the posh versions, how come mine had power windows, mirrors, locks, and a limited-slip diff? I know there were models that didn't have power everything like mine does (except for sunroof, which is manual)...


    Their designations have gotten really complicated since the 80's. Stop BS'ing around BMW, call them what they are. :p
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    MGarrison

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    Well, the 'e' was dropped after a certain year. So look at the other clues - later style taillights, or the earlier style taillights? Big bumpers? - has to be an 88 or earlier. I think 88 would be the only year where you'd have the larger later taillights, but big bumpers. Front valance panel style? There's a few things that indicate model year.

    I think the trunk badges were all single-piece moldings. Seems unlikely somebody would purposely remove the 'e' - unless it was repainted and a 325 (minus 'e') was stuck back on.
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    BMWCCA1

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    Okay, let's try and sort this out. I can't lay my hands on my Walton/Bentley 3-Series book right now. I know its information is correct . . . because I wrote that part of it. But I'll muddle along on memory.

    In 1985 the 3 Series USA-versions came in two and four door 318i and 325e models. In 1986 the 318i was dropped and all 3 Series had the 2.7L eta engine. The models were a base 325 (no e) in 2-dr and 4-dr, a 2-dr 325es with sport seats and front and rear spoilers, and a loaded luxury-version 4-door-only 325e that included leather, rear center armrest and rear headrests, and OBC standard. For 1987 the models were the same as '86 but later added the 325is and the four-door 325i, and also the convertible. The 325es and 325e were short-lived once the 325is and 325i became available, but they did exist for part of the '87 model year. For 1988 the "e" designation was no longer with us and the Super Eta became the standard engine in the 325 (no "e" Eta version) in both 2-dr and 4-dr. For 1989 all Eta-engined cars were discontinued, the 2-dr 325i became a base-model with standard equipment similar to that of the previous year's 325 (no "e"), and all but the convertibles got Euro-style smaller body-colored bumpers.

    It's a bit complicated. It took many pages in Walton's Bentley 3 Series book appendix to explain it all. I still have my original text files of those pages on an old Mac somewhere to refer to if necessary. I hope this makes sense.

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