10k: 1989 BMW 325i
The second generation (e30) BMW 3-series was sold in various forms from 1982 through 1993. Once a yuppy status symbol and always a benchmark in handling, the e30 was available with a number of inline 4 and 6 cylinder gasoline engines – all silky smooth and mated to a light & rigid chassis with rack and pinion steering. The only complaint about e30s you can make is that the non-M cars are a bit slow and the M3s are quite costly in todays market. A basic 325, however, is a fantastic car for the price of the nav system in a new 335i. Add a more powerful engine, like the seller of this 1989 325i located in Miami, and you have quite a performance bargain for $5k (on ebay at $4550 as of 8/1/12).
The early e30s had separate cow-killer style bumpers for the US market to meet some DC bureaucrat’s fantasy of saving us all from owning good looking cars (perhaps ugly cars crash less often?). By 1989 the bumpers were plastic and integrated with the front fascia — this particular car has an “MTech-2” body kit that doesn’t look out of place. The yellow ‘french’ fog lights and red/blue/navy BMW accent all work well with the alpinweiß paint color.
The original engine has been removed in this car and replaced with a M52 2.8 liter DOHC inline 6 from a 1998 325 – the 10 year newer technology pumping out 190 horsepower and 210 ft-lbs of torque. The silky smooth inline 6 is attached to a 5 speed transmission and should be perfect for pushing around the 2800 lb coupe.
Inside the 3 series has never been a particularly upmarket place to be – but this one has an “M-Tech 1” steering wheel, M3 seats wrapped in white leatherette and a roll cage that isn’t bolted in place. This shouldn’t be a problem unless you need to hit the brakes – as the 4 wheel discs will slow you down quickly and inertia will shove a roll bar into the back of your head. This would be one of the rare occasions that bringing a helmet to this test drive is acceptable.
The only reservations we’d have about this car is that the seller claims that he’s purchased the car recently and is only selling because he can’t get insurance – a dubious claim for sure based on current blue book value and what it typically costs to insure a 325 from 1989. This could legitimately be a good deal on a clean car or a chance to inherit someone’s headache – be sure to bring your helmet and an e30 expert for any inspection.
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~ bet this a blast to drive. $4550? good deal.