I had a 325i '87 and I loved it I had it in a small town, red dirt roads and all it was great when it snowed I had one close call due to black ice. I ran that car a 135-150 for two hours non-stop and it didn't hurt it I have 167000 miles I am looking at buying the same thing I miss my bmw oh and the 5-speed is touchy if you can't drive stick Don't LEARN IN THIS CAR!!!
You evidently bought an old neglected car. The problems you described are pretty much to be expected on a 20 year old high mileage car that wasn't properly maintained. Firstly, it should be stressed that these old German cars in general are seldom good "beaters" and are sensitive to proper maintenance which not only avoids breakdowns and increases vehicle life, but spreads out the repair costs over a longer time horizon. Maintain them properly and they'll last longer than anything on the road. One only needs to read reviews of a few old Benzes and BMs on this site to see this. Sadly the newer versions have fallen victim to cost-cutting and quality is not what it could be. I appeal to owners of nice examples of these wonderful old cars to cherish them for it shall never pass this way again.
I have a 1987 BMW 325I Convertible in red with a black leather interior and 5 speed. Great car, fast and sleek looking. It's touchy but runs strong. The timing went, then I fixed it and it's been running strong ever since. So believe me that it's a nice car. I just hit 150000 and it's still strong.
Most likely you bought it off some stupid ppl that don't know anything other than gas n' go, so no surprises there, I recently bought a 85 325 and I was impressed on how solid this baby still is, over 200k miles and going for 300k.
I've been driving a 86 325e 5 speed for the last 9 years. The heat and sun in Texas has taken its toll on the paint and leather, I have done all the regular maintenance myself, including replacing the clutch and the drive shaft (the U joint started to make some noise). It is a great car and still runs strong, 280,000 miles and runs up to 115 m/h, I'll keep it another 20 years, great experience on this car. A mechanic told me this engine it is one of the best quality ever made.
I have owned a 1987 325i with only 104,351 actual miles (via CarFax and previous owner's service records) for the past 8 months. It is one of the best cars I've ever owned (1974 MB 300SD, 1972 MB 300D, 1967 MB 250 S, Miata (1991 and 1992) and a 1968 MGB-GT). Just getting it broken in by replacing the timing belt and water pump (second time for each since it was born). Replaced based on mileage, not malfunction.
Fun to drive and fairly easy to work on. Keep it maintained, cool, clean and lubricated and it will run forever. Gas mileage is so-so in town and OK on the highway, but the joy and fun are worth the little extra expense. I'm 67 and this will be the last car I ever own. It is a keeper!