1989 BMW 3 Series Reviews

1989 BMW 3 Series 320i Cabrio (Europe) M20B20 from Switzerland

Model year1989
Year of manufacture1989
First year of ownership2012
Most recent year of ownership2013
Engine and transmission M20B20 Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.8 / 10
Distance when acquired256000 kilometres
Most recent distance271000 kilometres
Previous carVolkswagen Golf

Summary:

Fantastic driving as well as maintaining experience. Rather easy to work on

Faults:

There was stuff to be done when I purchased it:

- Timing belt change.

- Some rust on the bottom part of the vehicle was fixed.

- Both front axle arms (including rubber bushing).

- Headlights had to be set. One of them is still a bit "foggy".

- The hood needed to be repaired on some spots.

Recently I experienced a small glitch with the brake light check light on the on-board computer check screen. The light goes on after some 5 - 10 minutes of driving. I checked the standard stuff, but do not know the reason.

Also, the front sport bucket seats are comfortable, however getting in and out of them is rather tricky. The thing I most hate about it is the accidental release of the height adjustment lever - then the seats hit the lowest position. If somebody sits in the back seat, their feet are seriously endangered.

General Comments:

Overall, the car is very reliable and cheap to maintain. A spare main headlight bulb (H1) is some $2 a pop, so it is not bad at all (even though I had to change them twice already).

Also, a self-made oil / filter change is rather very easy and straightforward.

The driving experience is fantastic - it is one of those basic driving, well handling cars. Even after some 23 years of existence (and not always 100% care) on this planet, there is no rattling noise or other disturbing stuff.

I am actually considering a purchase of another e30 - this time a sedan (4-door or maybe even 2-door).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th August, 2013

1989 BMW 3 Series 325i M20B25 2.5L In-line 6 from Australia and New Zealand

Model year1989
Year of manufacture1989
First year of ownership2012
Most recent year of ownership2012
Engine and transmission M20B25 2.5L In-line 6 Automatic
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired223000 kilometres
Most recent distance226000 kilometres
Previous carBMW 5 Series

Summary:

The good old days of light RWD cars

Faults:

Central locking has stopped working.

Disc rotors showing wear.

Small transmission oil leak.

General Comments:

I love these cars. This is my 3rd E30 BMW, and I plan to keep it for as long as I can.

This one was assembled in South Africa, and comes with nice leather sport seats, trip computer, Mtech steering wheel, basket weave wheels, cruise control, sump guard, and a long range fuel tank.

While I have only owned this car for a few months, it's already a lot more reliable than the E39 528i I just sold, and gets much better fuel economy.

It can still keep up with much newer cars on the open road and around town, without any real effort. Would be nice if it had a cup holder, but this wasn't common on cars back in 1989.

In the near future I plan to convert it to manual, so that it's more like my last E30.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th May, 2012

14th Sep 2012, 00:56

Since I posted this, I have converted my E30 to manual transmission. It's now about 10% more economical, and much more fun to drive.

9th Aug 2013, 09:14

Hi there.

Currently I have 1989 320i Cabrio with some 270K on the clock. As you have already experienced, it is a fantastic car and so much fun.

I am looking around to get a 4-door sedan, but the majority that are nice looking / reasonably priced are the automatic version. Hence my question here - how difficult it is to convert an automatic to a manual gearbox? Is there any "manual" on how to do it?

Finally - how much paperwork (afterwards) is required? Any certification needed?

Thank you very much for your advice, Jan.

30th Nov 2013, 20:17

Hi Jan,

It was quite straightforward to be honest, and it required no paperwork.

It cost me about $900 for all the parts and $600 for labour at my local mechanics.

1989 BMW 3 Series 325iX 2.5L turbo from North America

Model year1989
Year of manufacture1989
First year of ownership2011
Most recent year of ownership2011
Engine and transmission 2.5L turbo Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.8 / 10
Distance when acquired300000 miles
Most recent distance300000 miles
Previous carBMW 3 Series

Summary:

AMAZING!

Faults:

Odometer was broken at 269875 when I bought it.

Driver's side CV boots needed replacement.

Vacuum hose was coming off and needed to be re-affixed.

Spark plug harness needed replacement.

Needed new tires as soon as I bought it.

General Comments:

I've owned 3 E30's now, and this one is by far the most fun. The AWD system is spectacular. It absolutely does not give with the 215/65 R14 tires I have equipped on it. It turns like it's on rails. I can't comment on the stock performance figures of the car, as I've never driven a stock iX, but this car is just fantastic. It was turbocharged by the previous owner, and is putting down about 240HP. It's by far the fastest car I've owned.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th April, 2011

10th Apr 2011, 06:46

268,875 miles when bought. Comments said 300,000 miles when acquired. Why the inconsistency? AWD back in 1989? Wow I don't know much about beamers. Enjoy your car!

28th Mar 2013, 01:06

The "inconsistency" was because the odometer was broken and most likely stopped long before this owner purchased the car. And yes, there were vehicles back in 1989 with AWD. BMW's all-wheel-drive system on the iX models used three differentials to distribute power to the wheels, 37:63 split front to rear. The center and rear differentials use viscous couplings to split torque. The front differential is open. You can thank German engineering for that.

Average review marks: 7.5 / 10, based on 42 reviews