Every BMW owner needs to own a diagnostic scan tool or two. Even the most basic setup, including a cheap OBD-II scanner like this one and a cheap airbag tool will save you hundreds if not thousands over the years of your Bavarian ownership. There’s really nothing more satisfying than scanning a car for friends and family when they’re in trouble, and saving them from paying a $100 diagnostic fee to some repair shop.
The time has come to sell my Delphin Metallic 1987 325is. I started driving E30’s back in 2003 after purchasing my first 325i for $700. It was arguably the coolest cheap car you could buy back then. These days, a 325is in original form commands more dollars and more respect after many years of flying under the radar. The secret is out: the E30 is a bonafide cult classic.
The 1973 2002 was the last year of the round tail lights and arguably one of the best years. This desirable Tii model was one of the early fuel injection cars from BMW though it does not sport an original Tii motor. It’s hard to say which is more desirable, a Metric Mechanic built S14 engine from an E30 M3 or an all original Tii motor. This tastefully modified engine-swapped car boasts 275 horsepower with a 2.5 liter stroked S14.
Today’s Craigslist find brings us to Ventura, California. A 1987 325is with automatic transmission is listed for only $5400 which seems to be well priced for the condition. Of course, the automatic transmission detracts from the value a bit compared to an original factory 5 speed model.
Hartge was a third party tuning company founded in Germany in the early 1970’s. They modified new BMW models for customers, much like Alpina, Racing Dynamics and AC Schnitzer. One of the earliest Hartge models was the H23 based on the euro 323i which was produced from 1983 to 1985 in Germany. They modified the engine with custom forged pistons that yielded a high compression ratio of 10:1 along with a new camshaft, exhaust and chip tuning. To top off all of the engine work, it was finished with a custom cast valve cover. Very few Hartge and Alpina cars were produced, and as a result the vintage tuning parts are now very sought after.
We have seen this 1991 M5 for sale for the last few months, and it is in beautiful condition considering it’s high mileage. This M is one of the last of the hand built cars coming out of Germany and has seen 245,000 miles. The car has a long list of repairs, though some areas still need attention.
While browsing for E30’s this morning I came across a beautifully maintained 1991 318i sedan. Grab a fresh cup of your favorite coffee and dig into your E30 search. This five speed sedan located in Baltimore has beautiful paint and interior, and is listed for only $7500. You’ll find it here on Craigslist until the listing is deleted. The VIN is WBAAJ931XMEJ00140
Searching for an E30 M3 in 2016 is no easy task. The classic German car bubble has been inflating since 2010 and has yet to lose any momentum. The days of ratty $10,000 range E30 M3 finds are long gone, now just old legends that we will reminisce about for years to come. These days, even a heavily road worn M3 can command big dollars. That brings us to today’s eBay find, a 1988 model with 325,000 hard earned miles.
Keeping your E30 in good running order doesn’t have to be costly. If you’re a BMW enthusiast, chances are you’re also a DIY enthusiast. Let’s be honest, not many people can afford to run to their indie mechanic every time they need a repair on a car that’s over twenty years old. For example, something as simple as a clutch slave cylinder replacement can cost nearly $400 with parts, labor and tax at a local garage. This is something the weekend mechanic can repair in a few hours with around $60 in parts.
Learning how to correctly adjust the valves on your M20 engine is an essential part of E30 ownership. Howling sewing machine sounds are to the E30 as air cooled flat six sounds are to the Porsche 911. Just how much sewing machine you get is up to you and your valve adjusting skills.