At $38,500, Could this Custom 1989 BMW 325i Turbo Touring Make You Throw Caution to the Wind?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Yes, the price tag on today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe custom E30 could be considered eye watering, but could its custom build and fat turbo make it a real eye opener?

It may be considered quaint and perhaps even mystifying by today’s standards, but at one point in time cars didn’t all have the advanced technologies we enjoy today. At the time, those that did often advertised the fact through their names and/or badging. That gave us cars that touted things like cross-fire injection, ABS, and in the case of some Cadillacs the presence of the 8-6-4 engine. That last one served as a warning label as GM’s variable displacement engine was completely terrible.


That feature badging was the case with yesterday’s 1988 Toyota Corolla FX-16 GTS, a car that was named for its 16-valve four pot. That was a feature that, at the time, was relatively rare. Of course so were cell phones in 1988 but today everybody’s got one, even your Nana.

That obscurity through ubiquity—nobody cares once everybody joins in—made the once special Corolla seem less so today. That, and a general vibe of excess wear and tear made the car’s modest $2,500 price seem almost too highI say almost since it won an impossibly tight 51 percent Nice Price win.

So, the other day, Patrick and I were talking about all the old cars that are fairly ordinary, but which usomehow have developed a cult following. The prime example used was the E30 BMW, a model that el Jefe himself once owned, and which led him to the opinion that by modern standards they were not all that special.

In strong defense of my arguement in the opposition, I’d like to introduce you to an E30 that I think you will agree is, in fact, something pretty damn special.


This 1989 BMW 325i Touring is first and foremost what we in the U.S. generally refer to as ‘the wagon body.’ That model was unconscionably denied to American Bimmer lovers for reasons that have never been made quite clear.


The Touring is credibly the most handsome of the E30 models. Further, I think it can be argued that the E30 is also the most handsome of all 3-series editions, making this the best looking model of the whole bunch. According to the ad however, this particular E30 Touring is a whole lot more than just good looks.

The ad notes that the car has been gone-through down to just about every nut, bolt and bushing. That’s pretty recent work too, having been completed within just the last 20,000 miles. The car has 154,000 miles on the clock in total, but with every major mechanical and aesthetic element refreshed, how much do those miles really matter?


Under the hood lies a M20B25 that was professionally rebuilt by a BMW-centric shop in Southern California. To that has been bolted a custom intercooled turbo intake and Garret GT2971R turbo. A high-flow cat and three-inch exhaust ensure that fat turbo keeps spinning like Dead or Alive. all together and topping out at 14.5 PSI, the refreshed and pressurized straight six is said to be good for 300 horsepower at the wheels. My, my.


A new clutch and rebuild giubo along with a limited slip rear end round out the driveline updates. In between those sits a Getrag 260 five speed run by a Z3-sourced short shifter.


The suspension has likewise been thoroughly addressed with new bushings all around. Bilstein struts and lowering springs keep it all under control.

Aesthetically, I think we can all agree this is one clean car. The Hellrot Red paint is a respray, supposedly done over a to-the-metal base. All the trim, right down to the front airdam—a typical sacrifice to the curb gods—remains intact and in beautiful shape. The gold alloy wheels may be an acquired taste, but they are at least not overly garish nor inappropriately sized.


The interior looks even better, featuring custom upholstered sport buckets and custom stitched armrests on the doors. A crack-free dash faces those buckets and carries extra gauges down low in the center stack.


The seat and door card pattern is supposed to evoke an Alpina vibe and I think it does a pretty good job of it. Little details like the turbo badge on the sport steering wheel abound in here.

The load area is clean and tidy, but perhaps not quite as much so as is the engine bay. The car was imported from Canada and currently carries a clear Montana title, although it’s seemingly physically located in San Diego, California. From there it’s being advertised on the Craigslists far and wide.


Over all this one spectacular looking E30, and its spec sheet reads like a Bimmerphile’s erotic fantasy. What about the rest of us though. When Patrick and I were talking about the appeal of old car, and E30s in particular, this isn’t exactly what we had in mind.


In fact, this custom is something that I’ll bet few would envision. Looking at it now, I think it’s a good thing that at least one person did. The question now is whether any of you could see paying $38,500 for that vision’s realization.


What do you say, is this amazing, but amazingly pricey E30 worth that kind of cash? Or, is this a Touring that’s priced to stay at home?

You decide!


New York, NY Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Alec Siegel and Elcin Yildirim for the hookup.

Help me out with NPOCP. Hit me up at and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.