1990 BMW 325i

E30 Saloon 2.5 L

Vehicle values by condition

Condition 4
#4 cars are daily drivers, with flaws visible to the naked eye. The chrome might have pitting or scratches, the windshield might be chipped.
Condition 3
#3 cars could possess some, but not all of the issues of a #4 car, but they will be balanced by other factors such as a fresh paint job or a new, correct interior.
Condition 2
#2 cars could win a local or regional show. They can be former #1 cars that have been driven or have aged. Seasoned observers will have to look closely for flaws.
Condition 1
#1 vehicles are the best in the world. The visual image is of the best car, unmodified, in the right colours, driving onto the lawn at the finest concours.
Insurance premium for a
1990 BMW 325i E30 Saloon 2494
valued at £13,900
£283.29 / year*

History of the 1986 - 1991 BMW 325i

BMW E30 325I (Saloon), 1985-1991

The BMW E30 325I was in production from 1985 until 1991. Styled in house by Claus Luthe, it is a front-engine, rear wheel drive saloon, convertible and estate range seating five adults.

The first car to wear the 325i badge, the E30 325i was a replacement for the smaller engined 323i which had been introduced as part of the previous E21 range and continued into the E30 faily. It offered a larger engine – a 2.5 litre derivative of the M20 developing 170bhp. Four bodystyles were available – the two and four door saloons were supplemented by a lifestyle estate dubbed the Touring, and a convertible. There was also a Baur-designed cabriolet with fixed side window frames, which is worth slightly less but equally desirable. All were available with bright window frames or the “shadowline” pack, popular today, which replaced these with black items.

The fearsome reputation these cars once enjoyed can largely be offset today with a mixture of modern tyre technology and care when driving. It’s true that a paving slab was once a desirable extra to increase weight over the back axle, and in the wet they can be a little light at the rear. But a good driving position and clear dials make it a nice place to be, good suspension and sharp steering make it an enjoyable car to drive, and if you’re careful you shouldn’t come a cropper. By 1980s standards this was a rapid car, but today it’s more of a pleasantly quick one. An entertaining classic that’s well up to everyday use.

Make sure the sunroof slides if fitted, as rot in the frame can be expensive to repair. Likewise on convertibles, make sure the roof mechanism all works for much the same reason – and make sure there are no tears. Sills, wheelarches, valances, and the base of the windscreen are also well known rot spots, as is the leading edge of the bonnet which attracts stonechips. Check the battery tray in the boot too, as these rot out for fun. When was the cambelt last changed? These need a fresh one every 36000 miles, so if it’s overdue use that as a haggling point. Check that the heat shield attached to the firewall isn’t trapping water, as this will lead to rotten floorpans. Autos should have cherry red fluid, brown needs a change and black means a dead box. Check for ATF leaks where the transfer case meets the gearbox. Suspension strut cups have drain holes which block, this leads to rusting out.

These days cars with Shadowline window frames are more desirable, as are cars with alloy wheels, leather and air conditioning. Good colours for resale are typically dark metallics, though a Shadowline car in Cinnabar with the cross spoke alloys will always find a good home. BMW never fitted TRX tyres to the E30 325i, so you don’t need to worry unduly on this front. Aftermarket modifications typically devalue cars, though if they appeared in the original sales brochures they can have the opposite effect.

The strongest period alternative was the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6, with similar power from its straight six engine, and a surprisingly good chassis. The Audi 90 2.3 might not have been as quick, but was an interesting and good value alternative, and the Ford Sierra XR4x4 offered greater performance without the strong badge. The MG Montego Turbo was blisteringly quick, but lacked the image, while a secondhand Porsche 924 would ahve said just as many positive things about you as the BM in period. An earlier 323i might be a worthwhile alternative as a classic.

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