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Help! Looking to Purchase '87 325is

Discussion in 'E30 (1984-1993)' started by tachi1247, Apr 20, 2010.

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    tachi1247

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    A semi-local dealer has a '87 325is they took on trade at some point that I am looking to buy.

    The car supposedly was owned by a "friend" of one of the salesman who inherited it from his parents. The car has 39k miles on it. Original miles (supposedly). The ultra low mileage seems to be a red flag for me as the salesman told me that the car has only been driven about 100 miles each year for the last 10 years. While I would normally be really excited about such a low mileage cars, I am worried that every piece of rubber on this car is probably shot as I'm guessing that no maintenance was performed on a car that wasn't driven.

    Now here is the kicker, the dealer has the car listed at $10,900. Is it just me or does this seem very high for a 23 year old car? Even if the car is very clean, I see the low mileage as 60% positive and 40% negative due to all the potential problems from a car that has been mainly sitting for 10 years. KBB and NADA put the value of the car between $3800-4200 which I'll admit is lower than it is probably worth (at least to most BMW fans). I mentioned to the salesman today that I feel the sticker is way to high and asked him to look around on the internet for some comparables, but he probably isn't going to come back down into what I think the car is worth ($5500-6500).

    I'd like some opinions on who the crazy one is here. Am I way off and should be jumping at this low mileage car or is the dealer overvaluing the car?

    When a car is this old, I think a great maintenance history is worth far more than the fact this car has such little miles on it. IMO a car with 100,000 miles on it would be a better deal if it has been driven regularly and had the proper maintenance performed vs this car which has been sitting.

    Also, I've been trying to search for a "what to look for" when buying an E30, but can't seem to find the right keywords to hit what I'm sure has been posted on this site hundreds of times before me. Any help here would be appreciated.
    • Member

    tachi1247

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    I forgot to mention....the car isn't super close, but close enough that it would be taking a trip to look at assuming the salesman and I can get on the same planet for price. From the pics online it appears to be super clean for what that is worth...

    I forgot to ask, does anyone has a ball park cost on what a R-134 conversion would cost? I'd probably have to have this done professionally as I wouldn't attempt this myself.
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    bcweir

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    Some things to check for

    A car's age is not a strict jump off point for assessing a car's value. Low mileage is just one part of the formula. How is the overall condition of the car? For that amount of money, this car ought to be in like new condition, and that applies to every area of the car. For that amount of money, the engine room ought to be clean off to eat a meal from. Seriously.

    This car should also have a completely up to date service history, complete documentation, and all original items that it came with (owner's manual, all keys, etc.). Needless to say, if you don't think the car is worth ten grand, find evidence to support your argument -- not just because you can't afford it at that price. The dealer might have even high-balled the price just to see if someone was stupid enough to pay it. We don't know.

    The 1987 325is was a little less exclusive than E30 M3, however I don't have specific production numbers to back that up.

    Don't just assume that just because it's an old car it ought to be given away for cheap. Several owners of 2002tii's 2002 turbos, and E30 M3's would strongly disagree with such logic.

    I was recently shown a link to a 1992 BMW 750iL, completely clean and with all original accessories. The seller was asking for $30,000. For an 18 year old car. I can get you the link if you need it. I saw it. Its literally show room new
    • Member

    tachi1247

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    Thanks for the input. The car does look clean in the pictures I've seen, but I haven't made the drive to see it in person as I don't want to waste the time because the car isn't worth $10k to me. If I can get the price into the ballpark of what I am willing to pay I will go out there and look at it. If it's still a go after that I would probably find a place to get an inspection done.

    My basis for complaining about the price is not just that the car is old, but that it is old and has no (verifiable) history. I don't know of any used car salesman that doesn't tell the customer that the car was babied. If, when I see the car, it is show room new and he has detailed maintenance records showing the car is up to date then I would believe it is worth that price. But from my conversations thus far, that is not the case at all. The best I can tell (without see it of course) is that no maintenance has been performed in the last 10 years as the car was barely driven. I've voiced that to the dealer and he didn't have anything to refute my concern other than to tell me the ABS light is on and they didn't investigate as to why other than noting the "brakes are in good condition".

    I'm certain that some older cars are worth way more than KBB or similar would suggest, and an E30 M3 would be a perfect example of that. I guess I didn't think a 325is would be in that class or would have that type of desirability. If this car had 160k miles on it I'm betting it would sell for $4000. The fact that it has 40k on it makes it more valuable, but only slightly more ($6000) since it is severely lacking in routine maintenance. I would probably have to spend $1500-2000 to get all the maintenance done and the ABS fixed before I could even start driving it. Granted I would probably have a buddy help me and do most of it myself (for less cost), but that doesn't affect my position with the dealership.
    • Member

    bcweir

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    Actually you don't need the dealer to verify a car's history

    You can have Carfax.com check a car's history for you. It will cost $25, but considering even if you were to only spend $1,000 on the car, it's still worth the money.

    While it's not 100 percent accurate, the purpose of a Carfax is to find out if the car has ever been in a serious accident -- an important fact if the car is as far away from you as you say it is. Carfax generally won't reveal a car that has had its title "sanitized" or "laundered": this process is defined as buying a car with a "salvage" title from a state that requires such documentation, to a state that does not. Dealer A buys car from a state that puts a salvage title on the car, the car is transported to a state that has no such law, then the car is retitled in that state with no mention of it being a salvage vehicle. Bingo! One laundered title, hot and fresh. Fortunately, if a car buyer is observant enough, a laundered title can be self-evident in the regard that if the car has changed hands quickly in a suspiciously brief period of time, that's one clue to possibly laundered title.

    The ABS light being on tells you absolutely nothing. It could mean anything from a loose wire to requiring a total brake overhaul, or anywhere in between. If this is a dealer, presumably this business would have a service department. For a car this dealer wants to make ten grand on, I surprised they can't give you a more specific answer on that. On this issue, I smell a rat.

    Personally, with that much of the car in question, I'd say skip it, especially if he can't produce something as basic as service history for the vehicle. BMW made plenty of the E30 325is cars. No need to drive yourself nuts over this overpriced vehicle with an apparently questionable history.
    • Member

    tachi1247

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    Again, thanks for the help.

    I don't know that the car has a questionable history, it's just that I don't think it has any history. I thought about getting a carfax, and will ask the dealer for one tomorrow, but if the history is as the salesman described to me (sitting for most of the last 10 years) i don't think the carfax report will tell me much.

    The only reason this car has my intrigue so much is that it is comparatively really close as I don't find too many clean (no rust) E30s in Chicago which means I can look at it and drive it without making any investment. If I keep looking for cars, I will always find another one that seems really good in Arizona or Florida, etc. Buying one of those requires an initial investment of a 3rd party inspection, then negotiating a price, then flying somewhere to do a final look over (at which point I've almost committed to buying), and then driving it back home and hoping that nothing breaks before I get back. I am willing to pay a tad more to avoid all of that, but certainly not several thousand dollars or more.
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    bcweir

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    Think about it like this....

    If I were in the market for an automobile, I'd rather be out $25, $50, even $250 than be out $1,000 or more on a car that turned out to be far less of a rose than was promised to me. Carfax will also inspect the car for you for around $150 to $200, performing about the same inspection that BMW performs on its cars offered for CPO resale.

    While you won't get an immediate return on that investment, it can spare you a far more expensive heartache buying a car sight unseen, then discovering you wish you'd hadn't. Even if a prepurchase inspection turns up things you'd have rather not known, best to learn all this BEFORE you buy the car.

    Ebay also offers a buyers protection plan. You might want to look into it in order to see if this is in your best interest also.

    Probably the best strategy is to buy a car from the Roundel classifieds. These are located in the back of the Roundel print magazine and in the Roundel online Forum (Members Community, then select Marketplace, then select Classifieds.

    These cars are probably priced higher than what you will find on craigslist, but nearly all of them have been babied by loving owners (BMWCCA members who genuinely love these vehicles, not just some stranger trying to unload a four wheeled problem onto an unsuspecting buyer) who want to see them go to caring homes like yours. The vast majority of them are carefully maintained and have verifiable service histories. That's more than worth the price premium, especially when a much cheaper but far more questionable vehicle can waste a lot more than just your time.

    By the way you don't have to go to the dealer for a carfax, and I am not sure I would trust one that came from a dealer (a dealer could try to doctor a carfax without your knowledge). Instead, get the VIN number from the car you want to check. It's all you need. You can order a carfax report directly on carfax.com's website.
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    az3579

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    Personally, I'd just drive up there and take a look at it. This would be a big purchase, so it would be worth my time and effort to personally take a look at it and make a decision, because, after all, YOU are the one who's going to be buying it.

    Even if it's 300 miles away, do it. It's not a waste of time in any way, because if it's good, you might have a good potential buy. If it's bad, then you saved yourself thousands of dollars on a headache.
    • Member

    tachi1247

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    Thanks for the help guys.

    There is no doubt that I would check out the car in person before I buy, I'd probably bring a buddy who has experience in fixing up his E30 with me. I would also get an inspection before I buy too. If the dealer won't allow that then it would be a red flag for me to walk away.

    The car is relatively close too (~50 miles) but I don't want to head out there if we are so far off in price. The car could be fantastic, but it's not worth the trip if the dealer & I are off in price by $4000. Which leads me back to my original question...based on what I have described, is the car worth closer to the $10.9k the dealer wants or the $6k I'm thinking? If I'm crazy someone let me know & I'll stop wasting the dealer's time trying to prove an incorrect assessment of the car's value.
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    az3579

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    I wasn't being clear. What I wanted to get at was that if you go and inspect the car in person, then you'll have the power to point out problem areas in person to make it a point and use that to lower the asking price. If you could find some things that need work, that will automatically lower the value, because work would have to be done to it to get it to $10k standards. Personally, I don't think it's worth anywhere near that, perhaps the amount you're thinking, but people have bought E30's for insane amounts before (mint ones). So, if you go out there, you could potentially find faults that you could use to your advantage to bring that price right down.

    For $10k, it had better be showroom clean, and come with a minimum of three smoking hot babes, a year's worth of food, free hand washes for life, and a lifetime AAA Gold membership...
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    tachi1247

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    We're on the same page then. What you are saying is exactly what I intend to do. I just want to work with the salesman to be sure that they aren't going to stick to the $10k price before I go to the trouble of having an inspection and all of these other things. I have a feeling someone at the dealership screwed up and gave way too much for this car on trade and they are trying to get it back. If that is the case and they are going to stick to their guns then they will have to find some other sucker to buy this car at the asking price. If they are going to be reasonable and work with me to put a fair value on the car based on its condition and the multitude of maintenance items that I am guessing need to be performed then I'll pursue it further.

    The salesman is supposed to call me back today after he has researched some similar cars so we will see.
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    CRKrieger

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    The way to buy this car for your price is to decide what you'll pay absent full inspection* and make it a standing offer. Tell them to call when they're ready to drop to that number. Then politely thank them, leave your phone number and email address, and go home. If a sucker comes along who is willing to pay more than you are, that's life. If not, you'll get a nice E30 ... eventually.

    * Decide how many faults you'll put up with for your offer, but don't expect them to allow the sale to be contingent on inspections. This isn't a nearly-CPO car, it's an OLD car. They aren't going to fix anything for you; you'll buy it "as is".
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    tachi1247

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    That is a good idea to leave the standing offer.

    As for the inspection, I wouldn't expect the dealer to fix anything, but I would want the inspection to know what is wrong with it in order to arrive at my offer price. I'm a car enthusiast, but definitely not a mechanical or bodywork expert. Things might jump out at the inspector that I or my buddy may miss.
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    tachi1247

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    Have to love used car salesmen.

    I didn't talk to anyone at the dealership today, but I did have the internet manager send me the carfax report. As suspected it doesn't show much of anything. A few title updates and plate renewals, 1 oil change 9 years ago and "vehicle service" in 2003. The car had 6000 miles as of 1995, then jumped to 17000 by 1996. By 2001 it had 33,600 on it and was at 36,100 in 2003. It now has 39,500 on the odo. Sounds like very sporadic driving.

    The internet manager did mention that the car had belonged to his wife's boss (a VP for honeywell). I felt like passing on my condolences to his wife for losing her boss as the salesman I had been speaking with told me the car belonged to his friend's deceased parents. What a coincidence that the salesman's friend's parents happen to be the boss of the internet manager's wife. Have to love used car salesmen....

    BIMMIR guest

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    All great points.
    The difficult thing is, a car this old, with this low amount of miles, you throw out the books. This car is worth whatever someone is willing to pay. Tht's exactly what the dealer is hoping for, and he's hoping it's you. :)
    If you look at ebay and cars.com, their price on your car is not out of line (by comparison)
    Is the car you are looking at is the black one at Bocker Chevy in Freeport Il?
    I agree with the here's what I'd give and go home plan, assuming you are comfortable with the idea that this could be the one that got away. If you can live with losing it, I'd try that, I like that idea. Unfortunately, I'm not blessed with the patience or self control for that startegy, If you'd regret it if it gets sold out from under you, dicker away!
    I don't think $8,000 would be too much money at all for this car if it is as genuine as it appears. You are correct, it's an old car and will need maintenance, no matter what you spend. How much of that work you want to, or can do yourself certainly plays into your decision making.
    Good luck with your decision!
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    tachi1247

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    It is the car in Freeport. There is no doubt that whatever I buy will need some maintenance, it's just with this car the major attraction is the low miles, but the complete lack of a maintenance history is a huge turn-off. I'd be just as well off getting a car with 150k miles on it since it seems like it's going to need the same amount of maintenance as this car will. That is pretty much my basis for the argument that the car isn't worth $10k. If the car had 39,000 miles and was completely current on maintenance then it would be a great value at $8000, but without the history it's really iffy. I'm not certain how carfax gathers their data and what percentage of mechanic's report to them, but only 1 oil change in the last 9 years and 1 "service" since 2003 doesn't give me warm fuzzies. While the body and interior may be in great shape, the mechanical aspects of the car could be big trouble. It's a gamble. I'm going to try and head out there to look at the car next week so I'll have a better feel for what kind of shape it's in.

    Patience is definitely nice at this point since if someone buys the car at $9000 I won't be upset. If they don't and I can get it at my price great. Otherwise I can keep looking to find a better deal (albeit on a much higher mileage car in all likelihood). It's actually a bad time for me to buy a car anyway since I have a wedding to pay for in 6 weeks....
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    bcweir

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    Without a maintenance history, you have no idea what maintenance has been done

    You could have a professional inspection done for around $150 to $200 through Carfax.

    But all that will tell you is what maintenance has NOT been done on the car. That could get to be very expensive on a car with a lot of neglect.

    Let me show you what I went ahead and did here:

    I went to three leading car websites: cars.com, ebaymotors.com, and the results of one link on Yahoo search for E30 325is.

    This is what I found:

    http://www.r3vlimited.com/board/archive/index.php?f-142.html = quite a few E30 'is cars listed.

    http://motors.shop.ebay.com/Cars-Trucks-/6001/i.html?Condition=Certified%2520pre%252Downed|Used|!&Make=BMW&Model=3%252DSeries&Model%2520Year=1991|1990|1989|1988|1987&LH_BIN=1&_dmpt=US_Cars_Trucks&_fln=1&_flso=0&_fpos=61032&_fspt=0&_myi=1987-1991&_qfkw=1&_sop=7&_trksid=p4506.c0.m283

    http://www.cars.com/for-sale/searchresults.action?sf1Dir=DESC&mkId=20005&mdId=20439&mdId=20443&mdId=20444&mdId=20409&mdId=20445&mdId=21392&crSrtFlds=stkTypId-feedSegId-mkId-mdId-yrId&rd=100000&zc=61032&PMmt=1-6-0&stkTypId=28881&sf2Dir=ASC&sf1Nm=price&sf2Nm=miles&rpp=50&feedSegId=28705&yrId=20192&yrId=20135&searchSource=GN_REFINEMENT&pgId=2102

    If you're not sure about it and you don't want to risk disappointment by going all the way out there, skip it. $8,000, $9,000, $10,000 is way too much to pay for a car with such a questionable history and even more questionable representation by the dealer. I've just demonstrated with the links above there are too many better alternatives than to waste your time and money on this one.

    I might also add this dealer sells cars for a living. That business OUGHT to have known that if you're going ask such a high price, any knowledgeable buyer is going to INSIST on documentation and a verifiable service history. Without those, you're relying on the word of a salesperson who practically confesses to not doing their own homework on the car. The dealership has even less excuse because presumably, with the resources of a service bay, they could have easily inspected this vehicle mechanically.
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    eam3

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    For 39,000 miles those seats look rough. I sold my 325is with 120K miles and the seats looked brand new compared to the ones on this car. Maybe it's because the leather is black (mine were tan) and they are more likely to crack?
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    John in VA

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    Black is more likely to show the cracks or wear in the surface dye than a lighter color.
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    az3579

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    What are you referring to? I don't see any pictures whatsoever posted of said car...

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