The E30 is the definitive 3-series. It was unlike the E21 that came before and especially the E36 after. It also helped solidify the brand's status in the United States as a maker of great automobiles, and gave rival Mercedes-Benz some real competition against their W201 190. It's a New Classic.
These were produced from 1982-1993, otherwise known as the Reagan-Bush era. Sure, the E30 is the original yuppie mobile, but for all the right reasons: they were extremely solid, fun to drive and reliable. In fact, so well-built and relatively simple to fix were the E30 that Kiplinger's named them one of the top 10 Cars that Refuse to Die.
The body was designed by Claus Luthe and is an exercise in incredible restraint and detail. It's not quite boxy but definitely not round, the lines all laser-straight chiseled and crisp, and yet up close, the corners are softly rounded, like they were gently sanded and buffed by hand. The greenhouse is proportionally huge, making the windows look large and the space inside inviting, not to mention providing excellent visibility inside and out.
Inside, the interior is an all-business, no-nonsense, hyper-functional, driver-oriented paradise. The gauges are crystal clear white-over-black. The center console is angled towards the driver. Above the rearview mirror is an onboard service indicator that displays the status of vital systems through a red LED bargraph.
Underneath the hood is the timeless 2.5-litre inline six-cylinder engine providing a decent 168 horsepower to the rear wheels. This particular example is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.
Since they were commuter cars for the upwardly mobile, they were often driven hard then quickly traded in for the next flashy car, before they fell into multiple hands and eventually rusted away. As such, clean, low mileage examples are very, very difficult to find. The E30 M3 is already a collectible classic, so it's likely the regular coupes and sedans may follow.
This particular survivor defies the odds. The seller says this '87 325i has just 81,574 miles on the clock. Cosmetically, it looks amazing. It helps the grey/black color combination is perfect and flatters the exterior and interior shapes. The seller also says the body has no rust, a huge plus. They even say the paint is shiny and not faded.
Mechanically, they say it was regularly serviced, taken good care of and now "runs and drives great".
I want this car. As long as there is no rust and the seller can provide some proof of prior maintenance, the next owner (should it not be me), has my sincere envy. This puppy is good looking, fun to drive, relatively fuel efficient, simple to fix and reliable. It could very well see 181k miles without major problems, if the oil is changed regularly and it's driven carefully.
Available here on ebay in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for $8,495.