Wait, didn't we just have an old-school BMW as our Weekend Wallpaper? We did, but after reader Christian Bouchez sent me this photo of his E30 Touring, I couldn't resist.
We Americans never got the E30 3-Series wagon, and that'a a damn shame. They get imported over here occasionally, but seeing one in the wild is like finding a unicorn. Christian lives in Seattle but imported his 1990 model from Japan, a process he says took months and wasn't cheap, but was totally worth it. His car is certainly a pretty one, especially with those Alpina wheels. Very hot.
I even went ahead and included a little write-up he did on his car, because why the hell not?
The car was built in Germany in 1990, and then sent to Japan, where it spent most of its life in Tokyo. In July 2008, arrived in Vancouver, BC. I saw the car for sale in an online classified forum in 2011. I was instantly drawn to it. After contacting the seller and going back and forth with a series of emails, I decided to make an offer. It took a few months and a lot of phone calls and paperwork, but it seemed like everything was coming together.
A few modifications had to be done to comply with US standards, such as changing the cluster from kilometers to miles, and the addition of side reflectors. In July 2011 the car went to TC Motorsports for some long overdue maintenance. Not long after that, I sent it to the body shop to get a much needed full re-spray: the paint on the hood and roof was turning white, scratches, door dings, etc. All suspension components were replaced as well, including H&R race kit, bushings, tie rods, and control arms. I also fitted a set of 17” wheels.
The car has been very reliable, but in May 2012 the transmission was giving me some problems - “auto tragic” with the electronic “mode” transmission option. I started collecting the components needed to do a 5-speed conversion, as it was a perfect excuse to do it. While I was at it, I decided to do some additional improvements: Ireland Engineering headers, cat-back, 13 lb flywheel. I put the car on a trailer and took it down to Portland, Oregon, where Steven at Vintage European did an amazing job. She barely made it to the E30 Picnic - the swap was finished on Thursday and the show was on Sunday.
This car came with some really unique features, such as headlight adjusters, rear fog lights, electronic transmission, KM/hour cluster, Japanese car battery, labels in the engine bay in Japanese, and all paperwork from the previous maintenance and car brochure from dealer in Japanese. Also, there is a little antenna at the front of the car (OEM part). I’ve heard two different rumors about it: one says it’s a parking distance aid, and the other that it’s a warning aid for other drivers that you have a left hand drive car in a country with right hand cars. This car has a metal plate in the engine bay where BMW specifies that this vehicle can be sold in the Japanese market with a serial number.
What I love about this car is that there are probably fewer than 20 in the USA. People do not appreciate the rarity of this car unless they are BMW enthusiast. I drive my car everyday to work and love every minute I’m behind the wheel. I do not want it to be a garage queen, I want her to be on the road and be driven.
By the way, dear readers, this is exactly what I want for Weekend Wallpaper — your badass car photography. Keep sending me your good work!
Weekend Wallpapers are featured on Saturdays. Got one you'd like us to run? Send it to email@example.com with the subject "Weekend Wallpaper." Just make sure you have the rights to use it.