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Old 04-07-2013, 11:37 PM   #21
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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!
No.

Stay away from any 4 cylinder e30 (the timing chains are great, but the chain guides blow up like the godfather and ruin the head). Plus, you have to rev the sh*t out of them to make power. Kinda negates the gas mileage advantage because you have your foot stuck in the firewall the entire time.

es = one testicle. Get an "i" or an "is" or go home. Stick with the later cars that have the wrap-around one-pice bumpers. They look 1000% better than the early diving board cars. The best e30 is any '90 or '91 325is. Most of them were highly optioned and had lsd/maplight mirrors/sport seats, etc. The later 318is e30's were merely a marketing ploy to get the price down enough to appeal to first-time buyers. The M42/M44 engines are great - if you're an airplane mechanic and you enjoy driving at redline 24/7. Stick with the M20 and enjoy the torque (comparatively speaking).

I've owned 8 of those cars (including an '84 318i, an '86 325es, a '91 325is, a '91 318ic convertible, an '87 Euro 325is convertible, a '91 318ic convertible that I swapped an M20 6-cylinder into, and a full-boat '91 325ic vert that even had a hardtop and heated seats. I have real-world experience with all of the e30's (not that it means anything to an e46 fan).
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:49 PM   #22
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No.

Stay away from any 4 cylinder e30 (the timing chains are great, but the chain guides blow up like the godfather and ruin the head). Plus, you have to rev the sh*t out of them to make power. Kinda negates the gas mileage advantage because you have your foot stuck in the firewall the entire time.

es = one testicle. Get an "i" or an "is" or go home. Stick with the later cars that have the wrap-around one-pice bumpers. They look 1000% better than the early diving board cars. The best e30 is any '90 or '91 325is. Most of them were highly optioned and had lsd/maplight mirrors/sport seats, etc. The later 318is e30's were merely a marketing ploy to get the price down enough to appeal to first-time buyers. The M42/M44 engines are great - if you're an airplane mechanic and you enjoy driving at redline 24/7. Stick with the M20 and enjoy the torque (comparatively speaking).

I've owned 8 of those cars (including an '84 318i, an '86 325es, a '91 325is, a '91 318ic convertible, an '87 Euro 325is convertible, a '91 318ic convertible that I swapped an M20 6-cylinder into, and a full-boat '91 325ic vert that even had a hardtop and heated seats. I have real-world experience with all of the e30's (not that it means anything to an e46 fan).
I don't really care about plastic bumpers or diving boards. Keeping mine 100% oem looking. and the E motor is more useful around town then the I motor.

With that said the best E30 is one that has been taken care of, has not been jerry rigged, no rust, original everything, and good interio tons of receipts. years, mileage is all irrelevant. Motor is irrelevant as well.

Hell I tuned my own 027 ECU to 93 octane and kept up with an almighty stock "i" just fine. And I haven't even tuned it with a knock sensor installed to maximize the tune.
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:51 PM   #23
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No.

Stay away from any 4 cylinder e30 (the timing chains are great, but the chain guides blow up like the godfather and ruin the head). Plus, you have to rev the sh*t out of them to make power. Kinda negates the gas mileage advantage because you have your foot stuck in the firewall the entire time.

es = one testicle. Get an "i" or an "is" or go home. Stick with the later cars that have the wrap-around one-pice bumpers. They look 1000% better than the early diving board cars. The best e30 is any '90 or '91 325is. Most of them were highly optioned and had lsd/maplight mirrors/sport seats, etc. The later 318is e30's were merely a marketing ploy to get the price down enough to appeal to first-time buyers. The M42/M44 engines are great - if you're an airplane mechanic and you enjoy driving at redline 24/7. Stick with the M20 and enjoy the torque (comparatively speaking).

I've owned 8 of those cars (including an '84 318i, an '86 325es, a '91 325is, a '91 318ic convertible, an '87 Euro 325is convertible, a '91 318ic convertible that I swapped an M20 6-cylinder into, and a full-boat '91 325ic vert that even had a hardtop and heated seats. I have real-world experience with all of the e30's (not that it means anything to an e46 fan).
I have to agree on this. I owned a 87 325e, 87 325ic, 89 325i and a 90 325is and drove friends' 318s, both m10 and m42. The 318s were absolutely gutless and my eta felt like it had a tractor motor. The m20b25 is the way to go.
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:51 PM   #24
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I have to agree on this. I owned a 87 325e, 87 325ic, 89 325i and a 90 325is and drove friends' 318s, both m10 and m42. The 318s were absolutely gutless and my eta felt like it had a tractor motor. The m20b25 is the way to go.
Again I disagree on that.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:06 AM   #25
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Again I disagree on that.
Have you driven an e30 325i? I thought my 325e was great until I drove an i. If you tuned the dme in a 325i, it would put buslengths on your e because it revs and can take advantage of gearing.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:19 AM   #26
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Hell I tuned my own 027 ECU to 93 octane and kept up with an almighty stock "i" just fine. And I haven't even tuned it with a knock sensor installed to maximize the tune.
That's cool, but is the OP capable of (or interested in) duplicating your work? Seems like a lot of work for low reward.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:41 AM   #27
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Well, If OP gets a 325e he could always get an i head and ecu and make a 2.7 stroker i.

I have a soft spot for red plastic-bumpered e30s. My cousin had a vert and put an s50 in it
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:51 AM   #28
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Well, If OP gets a 325e he could always get an i head and ecu and make a 2.7 stroker i.

I have a soft spot for red plastic-bumpered e30s. My cousin had a vert and put an s50 in it
Has to be an 88 325e to do the i head swap or he will need custom pistons.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:00 AM   #29
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Have you driven an e30 325i? I thought my 325e was great until I drove an i. If you tuned the dme in a 325i, it would put buslengths on your e because it revs and can take advantage of gearing.
yes, I owned one. I don't agree.

My E30 is built for autox which makes the B27 torque curve ideal. Tuning a 173 ecu doesn't make a big difference as tuning a 027 ecu.

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That's cool, but is the OP capable of (or interested in) duplicating your work? Seems like a lot of work for low reward.
probably not. It wasn't a lot of work, for me anyway. I wouldn't call being side to side up to 60-80 mph against a I motor a low reward. If anything saved myself the time and hassle of swapping in a M20B25.

it is still a slow car. Can I build a fast car yea, but do I care to or need it. nope. I'm happy with what I have at the moment.
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:38 AM   #30
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yes, I owned one. I don't agree.

My E30 is built for autox which makes the B27 torque curve ideal. Tuning a 173 ecu doesn't make a big difference as tuning a 027 ecu.



probably not. It wasn't a lot of work, for me anyway. I wouldn't call being side to side up to 60-80 mph against a I motor a low reward. If anything saved myself the time and hassle of swapping in a M20B25.

it is still a slow car. Can I build a fast car yea, but do I care to or need it. nope. I'm happy with what I have at the moment.
I have nothing against diving board es's. My first BMW was a loaded 325es that i bought in 1992. The car had been vandalized, and I bought it from a salvage yard and spent a few grand getting it back to a 100 point car. It only had 52K on it when i picked it up, and was a great car. It started a 20+ year love affair with the 3 series. I've had 14 or 15 of them, ranging all the way up to an e90. I even bought a brand new ti silver sport package 328i when the e46 made its debut in '99.

Any BMW is good, but some of them are better/faster/eaiser to own than others. I'm just trying to save the OP some grief and get him into an e30 that he'll really enjoy with minimal effort.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:07 AM   #31
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The 88 etas are the only ones you can put an I head on without ending up with like 7.5:1 compression.
Wrong, you can swap any I head onto an eta bottom. The most ideal is that super eta bottom to make the most power but even a 86 engine will definitely get more grunt compared to a standard i motor.

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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?
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he 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.
As much as the e30's are fun cars to daily around with a budget of 4k have you looked at e36 sedans or to a stretch e39 wagons? Especially given your hesitation towards a manual. E30 manuals are really easy to live with and I've been daily driving them for over 6 years if not longer. It all becomes a blur with e30's But i'd keep looking period there will be better one's out there then that batch.

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Has to be an 88 325e to do the i head swap or he will need custom pistons.
Wrong, Any eta bottom will work with an i head, the most ideal is the super eta bottom end from the 88's. Truth be told however comparing a standard eta to a super eta and compression ratio's if you're sticking to an N/A build you won't lose or gain much between them both. Now if you are going to be adding boost ( ) down the line then you really would want to be patient and find an 88 super eta bottom end.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:11 AM   #32
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The M42 debate vs M20 debate will go nowhere as always. The 318is handles slightly better. The 325is has more torque. Everyone who bought a 318is could have bought a 325is and vice versa, and we have all made our choices.

The efficiency is a good deal higher lair- just head on over to fuelly and take a look. Not having to timing belts or do valve adjustments makes the M42 less work on a year to year basis- your statement about needing to be a mechanic to own an M42 is the furthest thing from an objective statement.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:55 AM   #33
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I still want to buy an old E30 and do a built S52 swap.
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:09 AM   #34
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I still want to buy an old E30 and do a built S52/S54/LS3 swap.


The m42 is such a bastard child it is a nice engine but most people just prefer the m20 as seen here in this thread

I forget how hard is it to swap an M44 in from the E36 generation? They do carry a bit more oomph that put it closer to the M20 engine power#'s. Not sure how they respond to aftermarket treatments though or what their aftermarket community looks like.
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:39 AM   #35
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Wrong, you can swap any I head onto an eta bottom. The most ideal is that super eta bottom to make the most power but even a 86 engine will definitely get more grunt compared to a standard i motor.


As much as the e30's are fun cars to daily around with a budget of 4k have you looked at e36 sedans or to a stretch e39 wagons? Especially given your hesitation towards a manual. E30 manuals are really easy to live with and I've been daily driving them for over 6 years if not longer. It all becomes a blur with e30's But i'd keep looking period there will be better one's out there then that batch.



Wrong, Any eta bottom will work with an i head, the most ideal is the super eta bottom end from the 88's. Truth be told however comparing a standard eta to a super eta and compression ratio's if you're sticking to an N/A build you won't lose or gain much between them both. Now if you are going to be adding boost ( ) down the line then you really would want to be patient and find an 88 super eta bottom end.
Of course you can bolt a b25 head onto any eta block, but you will have an extremely low CR with any eta block other than the 88 SETA. An i head on an SETA block will yield 10-15 crank hp over a m20b25. An i head on any other year eta bottom end will produce less hp than a stock b25 and be a very sluggish motor due to an Extremely low compression ratio.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:01 PM   #36
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Is that a indesputable fact?


I'd hate to prove you wrong I really would...But we've done several 2.7 swaps and all have produced more horespower and torque than a stock I motor, even a straight bolt on with no tuning will produce results.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:15 PM   #37
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The m42 is such a bastard child it is a nice engine but most people just prefer the m20 as seen here in this thread

I forget how hard is it to swap an M44 in from the E36 generation? They do carry a bit more oomph that put it closer to the M20 engine power#'s. Not sure how they respond to aftermarket treatments though or what their aftermarket community looks like.
The M44 has 6 more horsepower and 7 more foot pounds of torque. I owned an M44 318ti also- the motors are hardly distinguishable. The M42 with a Mark D chip and a COP kit gets to 150-160hp.

The M42 was designed as a new engine with newer technology- it isn't a bastard child.

Aftermarket support- Metric Mechanic engines (up to 205hp)- COP Kit, D'Sylva chips, just look on M42club.com

Both engines have their proponents. The M20 owners are WAY more insistent on proving their side of the argument- just scroll through this thread and take a look. M20 or death. M42 owners are wannabes. Okay.

It's like an iOS vs Android debate.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:19 PM   #38
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:25 PM   #39
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The M44 has 6 more horsepower and 7 more foot pounds of torque. I owned an M44 318ti also- the motors are hardly distinguishable. The M42 with a Mark D chip and a COP kit gets to 150-160hp.

The M42 was designed as a new engine with newer technology- it isn't a bastard child.

Aftermarket support- Metric Mechanic engines (up to 205hp)- COP Kit, D'Sylva chips, just look on M42club.com

Both engines have their proponents. The M20 owners are WAY more insistent on proving their side of the argument- just scroll through this thread and take a look. M20 or death. M42 owners are wannabes. Okay.

It's like an iOS vs Android debate.
Huh didn't know it was that little I thought it was a good 10 HP gap between the 42 and 44. I knoew the COP and a tune added a nice chunk to the m42 just like an m50 intake manifold onto an M/S52 engine.

How was the Ti? did you ever drive it aggressively? Or strickly a commuter car?
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:50 PM   #40
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Huh didn't know it was that little I thought it was a good 10 HP gap between the 42 and 44. I knoew the COP and a tune added a nice chunk to the m42 just like an m50 intake manifold onto an M/S52 engine.

How was the Ti? did you ever drive it aggressively? Or strickly a commuter car?
Well, it was DASC supercharged one when all was set and done. So it was as fast as an E36 M3 if not a little faster. I drove it quite hard a couple of times. So easy to push it. It was a very talkative chassis. Honestly I didn't drive it much and sold it. Only now do I really realize that I shouldn't have. Drives WAY differently than other E36s.

On balance I prefer the E30s looks though. And they were close enough that I prefer the E30 overall because of that. The different door panels/dash design of the ti was very cool though. It was like an update of E30 design, I really liked it.

Here are a couple of pictures:



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