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Old 04-06-2013, 02:08 PM   #1
ThaHooch
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Need advice on buying an e30...

My work is 5 minutes away, so driving my 6.2L Denali to and from work every day seems like a waste (wife drives the e46) and has given me an excuse to shop around for an E30 However, I don't have any experience with the, so I need OT's help.

I found one a couple hours away that seems like good option:

1986 325es E30
5-speed
262K miles
Serviced by a BMW technician for the last 12 years
Asking $3200 OBO

Nada Value
low. $3,125
ave. $4,300
high. $6,100







Does this seem like a good deal?
Any years or models I should avoid?
What are some common problems I should be looking for...questions I should ask the seller?

I appreciate any help!
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Old 04-06-2013, 02:38 PM   #2
So Lowww
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Wow pretty good shape and the price isn't bad.

I'd probably try to get it for 2,800$

Those motors run forever and are pretty good on gas.

Ask if there's rust. It should be in good mechanical shape if it was serviced by a tech for 12 years.
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Old 04-06-2013, 03:06 PM   #3
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ES for $3200 without the sport seats that it came with? GTFO.

I'd pay $1500-$2000 tops.

But if you can't resist and are going to buy it anyway- ask about rust, if the mileage is accurate (tachs stop working often- unfortunately you'll have to take his word for it) and a full list of what's been replaced.

It also looks like some interior trim pieces are missing. Has the dash been replaced? Is it cracked?

That's an early year and a relatively undesirable model, for the asking price of a later year, good condition desirable model (late 318/318is, late 325/325is).

Last edited by Grande D; 04-06-2013 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 04-07-2013, 02:42 AM   #4
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Not the most ideal but if you need a put put aside from Grande D's advice check the diff to make sure it's the eta 2.93 lsd and not the 2.93 open diff...At least from there you can do an I head swap and get a bit more oomph back in the car. But ditto on the comfort seats...strikes me as odd especially given how clean looking it is.

Definitely low ball it's worth maybe 1500.00 and that's really just for parts and the block assuming they're in good condition. I'd keep looking if you have your heart set on an e30.
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:45 AM   #5
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anytime you're willing to spend a few thousand, i don't think it hurts to hedge your investment with a hundred or so for a PPI...go to a BMW stealer and get it done properly, or even just talk to the foreman at the place where the person says it's been serviced by a BMW tech for 12 years.
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:20 AM   #6
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If you're 5min from work and looking to burn a few grand, you need one of these:

http://www.cannondale.com/2013/bikes...mpact-crankset




I hear the gas mileage is FANTASTIC

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Old 04-07-2013, 10:35 AM   #7
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That car looks really good. It's high miles, it's an e, and the comfort seats suck. Checking for rust is a really good suggestion, depending on where you're from.

$1500 is a bit excessive as far as a lowball, but if you could get him down to 2500 it would probably be a decent deal...at least based on pictures.
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:38 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by mcr_driver View Post
Not the most ideal but if you need a put put aside from Grande D's advice check the diff to make sure it's the eta 2.93 lsd and not the 2.93 open diff...At least from there you can do an I head swap and get a bit more oomph back in the car. But ditto on the comfort seats...strikes me as odd especially given how clean looking it is.

Definitely low ball it's worth maybe 1500.00 and that's really just for parts and the block assuming they're in good condition. I'd keep looking if you have your heart set on an e30.
The 88 etas are the only ones you can put an I head on without ending up with like 7.5:1 compression.
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:43 AM   #9
ThaHooch
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Thanks for all of the input gents! I don't have my heart set on that particular car and am in no hurry to buy one (although sooner would be better), but for a layman, it looked like a pretty clean car. I would never have noticed the seats being swapped, so I'll keep an eye out for that.

I'm hoping to find something a little closer to home, so I can have my mechanic check it out...they work on all German cars, but specialize in restoring them (http://gmtbend.com/).

Here are some that are about 2-3 hours away that seem to be in decent shape...rust would definitely be a concern with these, since they are in Eugene and Portland, OR.
http://eugene.craigslist.org/cto/3726729593.html
http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/3726767643.html

Local options
http://bend.craigslist.org/cto/3725667963.html
http://bend.craigslist.org/cto/3690061724.html

As far as desirable years, should I just be looking at 87 and later?

Thanks again for the input!
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:47 AM   #10
ThaHooch
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffro3000 View Post
If you're 5min from work and looking to burn a few grand, you need one of these:

http://www.cannondale.com/2013/bikes...mpact-crankset

I hear the gas mileage is FANTASTIC

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I actually might ride my mtn bike to work this summer...my house backs to a large canal that has dirt service road that runs straight to my work. I'd still like an e30 though...
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:51 AM   #11
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I'm really picky so take my words with a grain of salt...

Eugene car- It looks clean but I'm not a fan of the color. If you like it- who cares- but that is a very stigmatized E30 color.

Corvallis link doesn't work.

The Portland 318i looks very clean. However, that's an early 318 with the M10 motor- aka it's very slow. I don't know what your plans are- or your needs are regarding speed. Are you going to do a swap?

The Bend 318is looks decent. I'd go take a look and see what kind of mechanical shape it's in. It does look like it'll need some body work- which sucks. It might give you a feel for the M42 motor and it's power delivery (you have to rev it) to see if that's your cup of tea or not.

The Bend 325 is well- a nice normal 325. However those modifications would make me skeptical about the maintenance of the car. It's lowered- so inspect the under carriage.

I had my 318is shipped across the country from Portland and it had zero rust. Rust usually starts in the battery tray and bad rust can be seen around the tow hook on the rear valence on E30s. Rust also pops up on the fender wells, lower front fender behind the wheel and rocker panels. I'm sure I've missed some spots.

Which would I take? Dunno. the 84 318i looks the cleanest, but the motor... eh. It'd probably be between the two bend cars, but neither is ideal.

Take a look on R3vlimited, E30tech, and the BMWCCA/Roundel classifieds for other options.

What's your budget?

Last edited by Grande D; 04-07-2013 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 04-07-2013, 01:13 PM   #12
ThaHooch
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Originally Posted by Grande D View Post
I'm really picky so take my words with a grain of salt...

Eugene car- It looks clean but I'm not a fan of the color. If you like it- who cares- but that is a very stigmatized E30 color.

Corvallis link doesn't work.

The Portland 318i looks very clean. However, that's an early 318 with the M10 motor- aka it's very slow. I don't know what your plans are- or your needs are regarding speed. Are you going to do a swap?

The Bend 318is looks decent. I'd go take a look and see what kind of mechanical shape it's in. It does look like it'll need some body work- which sucks. It might give you a feel for the M42 motor and it's power delivery (you have to rev it) to see if that's your cup of tea or not.

The Bend 325 is well- a nice normal 325. However those modifications would make me skeptical about the maintenance of the car. It's lowered- so inspect the under carriage.

I had my 318is shipped across the country from Portland and it had zero rust. Rust usually starts in the battery tray and bad rust can be seen around the tow hook on the rear valence on E30s. Rust also pops up on the fender wells, lower front fender behind the wheel and rocker panels. I'm sure I've missed some spots.

Which would I take? Dunno. the 84 318i looks the cleanest, but the motor... eh. It'd probably be between the two bend cars, but neither is ideal.

Take a look on R3vlimited, E30tech, and the BMWCCA/Roundel classifieds for other options.

What's your budget?
I feel the same way about the four cars...

- I'm not thrilled about the color of the Eugene car, but it looks to be in pretty good shape. Another plus, my father-in-law lives in Eugene and is great with cars, so he could check it out for me, if I needed him to.

- It looks like the car in Corvallis sold

- The Portland car looks like it's in great shape, but I'm not a huge fan of that color either, although it is better than the gold. How slow is slow...can it keep up on the highway?

- The Bend 318 is the newest of the bunch, but like you said, it has some body damage, that I'd need someone else to fix for me.

- The Bend 325 has me a little concerned because it is lowered and the owner is young.

I have no intention of doing any motor swap or other major work to the car. Right now, I just want a cheap DD and grocery getter that is fun to drive and that I can work on in the future when the my kids get a little older. I prefer black, white or silver, but the color isn't a deal breaker....an automatic is though. Funny thing is, and I hate to admit this, but I haven't driven a manual in over 15 years, so I have a little angst about test driving

Thanks again for your input...it's much appreciated!

edit - budget is $4,000 or less, but I'd really like to find something in the $2,000-$3,000 range.
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Old 04-07-2013, 01:44 PM   #13
Grande D
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Originally Posted by ThaHooch View Post
I feel the same way about the four cars...

- I'm not thrilled about the color of the Eugene car, but it looks to be in pretty good shape. Another plus, my father-in-law lives in Eugene and is great with cars, so he could check it out for me, if I needed him to.

- It looks like the car in Corvallis sold

- The Portland car looks like it's in great shape, but I'm not a huge fan of that color either, although it is better than the gold. How slow is slow...can it keep up on the highway?

- The Bend 318 is the newest of the bunch, but like you said, it has some body damage, that I'd need someone else to fix for me.

- The Bend 325 has me a little concerned because it is lowered and the owner is young.

I have no intention of doing any motor swap or other major work to the car. Right now, I just want a cheap DD and grocery getter that is fun to drive and that I can work on in the future when the my kids get a little older. I prefer black, white or silver, but the color isn't a deal breaker....an automatic is though. Funny thing is, and I hate to admit this, but I haven't driven a manual in over 15 years, so I have a little angst about test driving

Thanks again for your input...it's much appreciated!

edit - budget is $4,000 or less, but I'd really like to find something in the $2,000-$3,000 range.
No problem. Well- for a DD actually that eta doesn't look too bad. It's overpriced- but E30s are awesome and if you're comfortable with what you pay who cares. It's a clean body- and it'll get decent gas mileage.

Take a look at the 318is also. From the pictures it could go either way- could be a diamond in the rough or could be beat.

If it's not rusting- find a PDR guy and before you buy it ask how much he can do with the body damage. You may be able to touch it up after PDR and escape major body work- not everyone needs a show car. The M42 cars are better on gas than the high revving M20s- but all are relatively efficient. I average between 23-28mpg in my 318is. I average 19.5 in my E46 for reference.

M10 318- 0-60 11s, top speed 113mph, 1/4 mile 18.3s. So it's actually not terrible- but it depends on what you consider too slow. Honestly I've driven all of the E30s except the old M10 powered 318i.

I think the M10 E30s weigh around 2400lbs. The later 318is with the M42 (more horsepower) weighs 2600lbs and the 325 weighs 2800lbs. For reference the M42 powered E30s were only made in 1990-1991. they have a timing chain instead of a belt (M20) and can easily be switched to coil on plug ignition. I'm biased and like M42s. Neil and a couple of others like the M20 (6 cylinder in the 325s) better. It has more torque, more grunt, and needs valve adjustments and timing belts.

1990-1991 cars have tucked bumpers versus protuded diving boards. Some like diving boards- many don't. 1990-1991 325s and 318s also came with airbags, which earlier years didn't. Some 89s may also have an airbag- but I'm not sure. I want the airbag- most E30 owners hate it.

I actually kinda like deep red cars- but I know that most people don't. Here's some M10 information:

http://www.e30tech.com/forum/showthread.php?t=41910
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:44 PM   #14
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Ive said it before, the M42 is one of the most underrated engines this side of Jupiter. It revs like a street bike.

One would be very hard pressed to find a better 1.8L production 4-cyl engine.

-Forged internals stock, check
-LSD, check
-Indestructible Timing chain made of kryptonite, check

Take every similar engine of its time (ie the DOHC Honda engines) and the M42 makes it look trivial. Also out of all the BMW engines I have ever experienced the M42 can take the most abuse with the least consequence.
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:22 PM   #15
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M20 or bust. Get a 6 cyl in the first place, or you'll end up wishing you'd swapped one.

The 2.7 "e" engine has a really fun powerband for kicking around town, but it's hard to sugarcoat the fact that it's still 120hp.
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:57 PM   #16
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M20 or bust. Get a 6 cyl in the first place, or you'll end up wishing you'd swapped one.
Not really true. I wouldn't take an M20 over my M42. I'd probably take an M52 (alloy) or M54 powered E30 over it, but not an M20.

M42 or M20 are both fine. OP drive both to see which you like better.
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:51 PM   #17
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Same here. I was really reluctant to jump over to the 4cyl camp but damn the M42 is bad fvcking ass. Definitely try it out, you will be pleasantly surprised.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:56 PM   #18
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Not to Hijack this thread, but I emailed this guy a week ago, and he finally emailed me back. I am going to take it for a test drive this week hopefully.
The price is real high though...

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-s...ngId=342291007
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:09 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by lcoleman View Post
M20 or bust. Get a 6 cyl in the first place, or you'll end up wishing you'd swapped one.

The 2.7 "e" engine has a really fun powerband for kicking around town, but it's hard to sugarcoat the fact that it's still 120hp.
idk, my "e" engine kept up with an I engine up to 80 just fine. Granted I'm running my own tune.

I see absolutely no reason to swap an I engine in my E30. The power band for autox (torque) isn't there. Waiting to swap a S54 once this engine hits 300k miles and it is burning oil past the piston rings which may never happen the way I take care of these things.
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:12 PM   #20
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Not to Hijack this thread, but I emailed this guy a week ago, and he finally emailed me back. I am going to take it for a test drive this week hopefully.
The price is real high though...

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-s...ngId=342291007
You're definitely paying what it's worth and not getting a deal. But you will get what you pay for.
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