1989 BMW 3 Series 325i 2.5 gas six from North America


Still my daily driver after 21 years


Timing chain replaced at 60K and 120K miles.

Fuel pump replaced at 160K miles.

General Comments:

I have owned this car since new. It has proven reliable and given excellent performance. Although I bought it in the US, we took it to Germany and France for 10 years -- I can confirm that the car can travel at 135mph all day long.

Have made some changes, including a Dinan-like performance chip (+20HP, +20 ft/lb torque), low-restriction air intake, swapped out the 2.92 rear end for a 3.43 rear end (Dinan's recommendation), great Bilstein shocks and better tires (but same 14" wheels). Added a leather steering wheel and great stereo system. Otherwise stock.

The seats and interior look as good as when new. The paint job is still good (nearly always garaged). The car is a daily joy to drive.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th May, 2010

1989 BMW 3 Series 325is Coupe 2.5L inline 6 from North America


The best of the E30's


At 211882 miles, I started having problems with the car idling rough, having no power, and starting hard.

At 212179 miles, I replaced the spark coil for $60 and the car started running fine again. At the same time I changed the spark wire harness, fuel filter and all the lines around it and the spark plugs. This was just preventative maintenance, and wasn't necessary at the time it was done.

At 214789 miles, I replaced the driver side low beam for less than $10.

At 216033 miles, I had a professional tune up my fuel flow for $20.

At 216398 miles, I replaced the seals for both of my rear tail lights for $16; hasn't leaked since.

At 217387 miles, I replaced my radiator, this was by far my most expensive replacement. Cost me about $300 with labor, it should last me 10 years or more.

At 217423 miles, I installed a Dinan Performance Chip in my car computer. It increased my redline, horsepower and slightly increased my fuel economy. Cost me $45.

At 217785 miles, the odometer started working only intermittently... every other day or two I drive the car. This will cost me roughly $90 to fix myself, or $175 to get fixed for me. Not sure when I'll get around to that.

General Comments:

This is hands down the best car I've ever owned! My previous car was a 2006 Mazda MX-5. The MX-5 cost me over $20,000 out the door... this one cost me $4400 in perfect mechanical condition and very good cosmetic condition, and I like this car better.

It handles just as well as the MX-5, it accelerates at least as well, and it has just TONS more torque! The interior is more comfortable, the in-dash computer is light years more advanced than what was in my MX-5, and the original sound system in my 325is blows the socks off the one in my MX-5.

It's also easier to control in the wet. The short wheelbase of the MX-5 tended to spin you around if you pushed it too hard. The 325is gently slides out, and it is very controllable in a sideways drift.

The 325is also manages to have a stiffer suspension, while still riding smoother than the MX-5. In fast sweeping corners the stock MX-5 suspension would start to tuck under... and suddenly pop up on the outside corner if you were going too fast. The 325is remains fairly solid, and only slides out if you push it too far... again, very controllable and predictable versus the MX-5.

In my opinion, this is THE ultimate driving machine. If I didn't believe that I would have bought something else newer. I've driven my cousins 1997 540i with sport suspension and 6-speed manual transmission, and yes it's fast, yes it handles well, but it just doesn't compare to the E30.

Granted, my car had every option available on it when new. But it has held up so well over time. The car is still solid, with no squeaks or annoying rattles. The doors still close with a solid THUD! that you would expect from a high end premium car. The engine runs like it's brand new, with the power curve and smoothness only available from an inline 6 engine. With the Dinan performance chip, it's pushing 183 HP with nearly as much torque out of a 4.11 LSD rear end. This means FAST acceleration and a setup in which no hill or mountain is a challenge.

The interior is still in very good shape, with only minor wear on the front seats, and virtually no wear on the rear seats. My particular car has been maintained very well, and it shows. No other 21 year old car looks so good after being daily driven its entire life. Few other cars from that era would be worth maintaining so well for so long.

My only real complaint is that they don't still make these cars, and I will never have the opportunity of owning one new. I miss the remote door locks from my 2006 MX-5... but it will only cost me $80 to get some installed into this car. Everything else you would find in a new car you'll find in my car.

I'm a car enthusiast, so I will own other cars, that much is for sure. But I don't plan on ever selling this car. It is a survivor of a dying breed, has certainly hit the bottom of the depreciation curve, and will only go up in value and rarity from here on out. I had an E30 325e before this car, and it was really nice too. But if you want a classic, get the 325is. It is the best of the best.

My only recommendation is to NEVER bring it to a BMW dealership for maintenance. These are simple cars, you're best learning how to work on them yourself, or for the big jobs, find a trustworthy independent mechanic who won't overcharge you just because the badge is BMW. If you do that, the maintenance is no more than any other common sports car would cost.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th May, 2010