For a certain generation of car lovers, the E30 is the epitome of BMW’s 3 Series. That ascribed high-point was a while back, meaning that we now come across cosmetically restored examples like today’s Nice Price or No Dice 325is. Could history and condition make the work worth its asking?
Based on the comments elicited by yesterday’s 2010 Jeep Wrangler Islander, and specifically, its side-curtained soft top, I’m going to augur that very few of you are looking forward to the impending winter weather. The potential for chilly willies from leaky tops and doors wasn’t that Jeep’s only drawback. Many of you complained about the four-door Wrangler generally being just too big for proper off-roading, while even more took issue with that special edition’s $15,700 price. The latter ended up with a 65 percent No Dice loss, despite the Jeep’s seemingly decent shape and its Jalop-approved manual gearbox.
In the automotive enthusiast world, being able to drive a stick is not just a badge of honor, it’s almost a rite of passage. That’s less the case today, because modern automatics have eclipsed manuals in both speed and efficiency. But if you’re going to go old school, three pedals and a swizzle stick will generally be the preferred path.
Today’s 1987 BMW 325is carries not just a five-speed stick, but as denoted by those two lowercase letters appended to the model name, a slew of other bits to ratchet up the handling and performance.
That “is” was, in fact, i with an S. All E30s sold in the U.S. were fuel-injected which was the reason for the i. The Sport package, which included a revised suspension, deep front air dam, limited-slip differential in back and interior upgrades, added the S. The Sport package trickled out from the six-cylinder 325 to the four-pot 318 and even to the larger E28 535. Today, these are among the most coveted of the era’s models.
This one has been shown some love. The ad is prefaced by the seller’s acknowledging the car to be a work in progress, meaning there’s still some love to give. An avowed BMW enthusiast and owner of the 325’s older sibling, the 2002, the seller says that health and personal issues are preventing the completion of this car.
Looking at the work that has been done as well as the to-dos the seller says are in process, it’s obvious that this isn’t a static project. It’s more a driver with weekend wrenching potential.
The big job that has already been completed is the respray. The ad shows a couple of shots of that job in-progress — a glass-out/trim off job — as well as the final result. That’s a serious dark gray metallic with new rubber and seals added all around during the reassembly.
Underneath that, the M20 straight-six has been imbued with a new timing belt and water pump. That 2494cc SOHC mill made 167 horsepower from the factory. Here it lets those ponies fart through an aftermarket exhaust. The ad notes that the brakes and CV joints have also been serviced, in each case by the prior owner. On that to-do list are new shocks and struts, and an E46 steering rack.
Befitting its flingable nature, the cabin of the “is” received sport seats and a three-spoke wheel to engender aggressive driving. Those appear to be in terrific shape here and are matched by the dash which is laudably crack-free.
There is some wear noted on the leather wrapping the tiller, as well as a bit of sag in the seat squabs. Despite that, the cabin comes across and complete and not needing anything serious.
There are a couple of things that come with the car that aren’t shown in the ad. In the pictures, it’s riding on silver steelies, and while those wheels look awesome on the car, the seller notes that the original 14-inch basket-weaves and a set of 15-inch BBS RZ 403s come with the sale. The front fog lights are also currently AWOL, owing to the recent paint job, but come as part of the package, too.
Is it all peaches and cream here? Well, no. If high mileage scares you off, this car’s 302,000 miles might make you fudge your Fruit of the Looms (EDIT, See below). The a/c — which is potentially still R12 — needs a recharge as well, and there is the minor wrenching that needs to be done.
On the flip side, the title is clean the owner looks like a cool cat (check out the W123 and Morris Minor, above), and, as noted at the outset, the “is” is the E30 to have short of an M3.
What might this Athenaeum portrait of an E30 cost? The asking price is $13,500 and yes, it’s not unusual for E30 prices to be in five-figures in this day and age. The question, of course, is whether this one, in its present state, is worth that much.
What do you think, could this 325is command that $13,500 asking? Or, does that price quell your enthusiasm?
UPDATE: The owner reached out to me to let me know that he had made a typo on the mileage listed in the Craigslist ad. The true mileage on this beauty is 188,200. Far less than what was originally advertised. The Craigslist ad has also been updated so I guess we served a valuable service.
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