1990 BMW 3 Series Reviews

1990 BMW 3 Series 325i from North America

Model year1990
Year of manufacture1990
First year of ownership2010
Most recent year of ownership2012
Engine and transmission Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired247000 miles
Most recent distance280000 miles

Summary:

Absolutely amazing. Talk about the most BANG for your buck

Faults:

A couple of vacuum lines gave out at 250k. Looked to be original.

Fuel pressure regulator failed at 260k.

Paint on roof and hood was oxidized pretty badly by the time I purchased her.

Throttle body coolant passage needed a new gasket at 270k.

Coil failed at 275k.

General Comments:

$1600 from a previous owner who had spent a ton of money maintaining her for years.

Even at 247k (time of purchase), I was stunned at how tight she drove. Just felt really solid.

Original motor was super dry. No seepage around any of the gaskets.

By far one of the easiest cars to work on yourself. Really straightforward quality engineering. I leaked coolant for months from the throttle body... months! Never overheated.

Even drove a few thousand miles with a bad O2 sensor (not advisable), and still caused no detrimental effects. Just a noticeable decrease in MPG, and failed a smog test.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th March, 2012

1990 BMW 3 Series 320i 2.0 petrol from Australia and New Zealand

Year of manufacture1990
First year of ownership2000
Most recent year of ownership2005
Engine and transmission 2.0 petrol Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.4 / 10
Distance when acquired70000 kilometres
Most recent distance130000 kilometres
Previous carAlfa Romeo 33

Summary:

Fun, quick, reliable, cheap to repair car, with cool styling

Faults:

Only thing that went wrong was the interior lamp died, but was cheap to repair. This was the year I sold the vehicle.

General Comments:

It was a very fun, quick car. Comfortable and cheap to fix. I highly recommend this vehicle.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th June, 2011

1990 BMW 3 Series 318iS 1.8 16v from UK and Ireland

Model year1990
Year of manufacture1990
First year of ownership1997
Most recent year of ownership2006
Engine and transmission 1.8 16v Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 7 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.8 / 10
Distance when acquired108000 miles
Most recent distance184000 miles
Previous carRover - Austin 200

Summary:

Awesome! The baby M3

Faults:

Faults that previous owner left the car with, that became known soon after the car was bought i.e.

1) Fuel tank leaking - a common E30 problem, only became apparent when putting over £20 of fuel in!

2) Timing chain/guides/sprockets etc. worn. (Car still drove 20k miles/2 years prior to me replacing the chain.)

3) Clutch slave cylinder failing.

Coolant hose burst - engine cooling system unaffected.

And 9 years later - driver's seat broken on one side!

General Comments:

Utterly fantastic!

Must be one of the quickest (and fastest) 1.8 naturally aspirated motors that I have ever come across!

Performance difference between this and the 325i (E30) is not as great as you might think (I've driven 2x 325i's)

Handling is nicely balanced, although a little tail happy in the wet.

Interior build quality is beyond excellent, for a 2 door car, superior to the E36 coupe (no rattles unlike it's successor)

Passenger legroom and bootspace are limited, which compromises its practicality by today's standards.

On the exterior side, once you fit a M-Tech 2 bodykit, you've created a classic thing of beauty. Otherwise, they tend to look a bit spartan.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th May, 2010

1990 BMW 3 Series iS 318 / 325 (conversion/transplant) from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1990
First year of ownership2008
Most recent year of ownership2008
Engine and transmission 318 / 325 (conversion/transplant) Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 7 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 4 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.8 / 10
Distance when acquired107000 miles
Most recent distance110000 miles
Previous carNissan Primera

Summary:

A timeless classic with an immensely involving drive...!

Faults:

Firstly, clutch was slipping etc and a rattly noise appeared also - bearing in mind this was an 18 year old car I decided to get it checked out... but it got worse in the interim.

The oil pump failed and ruined my 1.8 4cly M42 engine... Rebuild was £1-£1.5k, another engine the same would be about £500 fitted...

I have since had a conversion done for £600 (very good price) to a 2.5 6 cyl litre M20 engine - including clutch, gearbox, exhaust etc...

Electronics issues - minor - electric mirrors not working when I bought it, brake pad sensor light always on.

General Comments:

The 1.8 16V chain-driven engine I had was very revvy but torque left a little to be desired.

The 2.5 12V belt-driven engine I have is still fairly revvy (esp running on the older 4.10 open diff) but much torquier...

Instant boost from 137bhp to 168bhp and 129 ft lbs torque to 166 ft lbs iirc.

Feels it too. Goes like stink now!

Handling is sublime. The steering is precise and well weighted, the M-Technik suspension is beautifully composed and the original 318is state it was in meant it had the disc brakes all round anyway, so it copes with the 2.5's power well (someone pulled out in front of me recently and I stopped in time, in the wet!)

Traction in rain is a bit messy sometimes, but respect the car's limits and it will respect you.

It's a RWD car which means I will need to learn it better to understand it and control it in case of mishaps - I will also be taking on track days to really get to know the car.

The engine conversion is a great move, even though fuel costs have increased this can be subdued by resisting the temptation to floor it, as it gives good highway miles (same as the 1.8 imho) and it's only stop start traffic and revving hard when tempted by the thrill of the engine that leads too bad MPG.

What can I say about the look of the car? It's faultless. My particular car has a Zender body kit on it which gives it a subtle upgrade to a meaner, lower look. It is not garish, just gorgeous.

Even in standard guise the car looks good, but I am very happy with my purchase because the kit sets it off beautifully. It's stunning.

I also bought it with leather sports Recaro seats as opposed to the cloth Recaros you get with the 318is, and this is one thing I am stupidly glad about - I knew I'd miss the leather from my Primera if I bought a 318is and this came along and sold itself to me.

The seats are comfy and although the leather is somewhat worn, they are still pretty neat looking.

The interior is brilliant in that it is driver-orientated. The heater and stereo control console is facing the driver, the steering wheel I have is the 325i Sport M-Tech 2 steering wheel - comfy in the hands, leather and a joy to behold. Roomy up front but not so much in the back behind my tall 6ft 2 frame, but it can accommodate enough for my needs!

The boot is spacious and came with (most of) the original toolkit, the jack etc and would easily fit a great sub and amp install if one were so inclined. I enjoy the space as three people can take a decent sized bag for a weekend away without too much effort, so may avoid such ICE installs.

I think that covers it.

I basically have a 325i Sport without some of the luxuries, so it is a lighter car, and it cost me a lot less than a proper 325 Sport would cost - and is cheaper to insure! I cannot complain. I wouldn't suggest you do the same unless you had no alternative - I couldn't find another GOOD 1.8 M42 engine in time and this was a last resort, backed by a great deal on the conversion - a price hard to find again, ever.

Note that the weight balance on the 1.8 is better than that of the 325 and it is a higher revving engine with a similar top speed... Each has its benefits, but the torquier 6cyl is said to be the choice of the lot... And the sound the 6cyl makes is incredible ;)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th June, 2008

Average review marks: 7.3 / 10, based on 31 reviews