- 1989 BMW E30 320i Touring

Living with an E30 BMW

Having owned my E30 Touring for around a year now, I decided to share my thoughts on what it's actually like to live with.

39w ago

The E30 3 series may just be one of the most recognisable BMW's ever produced. It's fair to say that in it's time on this Earth, it really has become a true icon of the automotive world, influencing a staggering amount of people across the world. With around 2 million E30's being produced between 1982 and 1994, there's no doubt this thing is a real legend in many people's minds.

As I mention, I have owned my E30 for around about a year now and I have absolutely loved every minute with it. Above anything else, it is a true driver's car - but yet it does this in a totally different fashion to the driver's cars of the 21st century. That's right, there are no fancy engines or gearboxes, no expensive suspension systems and certainly no carbon ceramic brakes. This is truly a raw driver's car. My car features the M20B20 engine putting out around 129hp and 120ft-lbs of torque, both coming in at the upper rev range, like a good naturally aspirated engine should. The 320i's are often slated a little bit in the E30 world for being the 'slow' 6 cylinder model that lives in the shadow of the 325i. However it's fair to say that the 325i is hardly a rocket ship, and I find the 320i delivers the perfect amount of power to enjoy everywhere on the public road. E30's are not fast cars, nor are they trying to be. It is about purely enjoying the drive and being connected to the car, on a different level to most driving experiences.

Before I go any further, you can check out the video version of this write-up here:

Now many people might be scared of buying a 30 year old BMW for fear it could be the dreaded occurrence that is a 'money pit'. Fear not however. BMW in the 1980's was a totally different brand to what it is now. There are no high-tech computers around complicating every last thing the car does, but rather just enough technology to make the car reliable and capable. Function over form, some may say. The E30's could actually come with a decent amount of mod cons for their time, including things such as a 'check control' system that monitors oil level, coolant levels as well as checking whether certain bulbs were working amongst an array of other things. We even have electrically adjustable wing mirrors. This really has to be one of the most useable modern classics around. If you get yourself something that is well maintained and not an utter rust pit, it could easily be used on the daily with very few reliability issues. The 6 cylinder M20 engines have to be some of the most reliable BMW engines ever made when they've had their service intervals attended to and it is a truly rewarding driving experience, offering a soundtrack that is so beautifully Bavarian.

A standout feature of owning an E30 BMW for me is just their simplicity. This is a car you really can work on yourself without major problems. BMW engineered this car to do a job and do it very well - nothing is overcomplicated. In addition to this parts are readily available all across the world and at a reasonable price overall too.

It's fair to say that for me I am totally in love with the E30 ownership experience. BMW in the 1980's is a period we will sadly never see again and if you're a true petrolhead I have no doubt you will like the the experience just as much yourself. So why not get out there and buy an E30 3 series while you still can?

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Comments (17)

  • E30s are definitely one of the best BMWs ever.

      9 months ago
  • In 2007 I purchased a well used 87 325E for $700. It was rough. It needed tires, a window regulator, and I immediately changed the timing belt, as I had no history. I might of had $1500 in it when I had it ready to drive. It was my daily driver for 5 years. I sold it for $1200. It was by far the lowest cost per mile car I have ever owned, and a blast to drive. It was very reliable. Very few repairs, and easy maintenance. And, it was a blast to drive.

      8 months ago
    • This is the kind of thing I like to hear! Awesome story man. I can totally imagine an E30 being a genuinely reliable daily too, and always plenty of fun as you say!

        8 months ago
  • Great article man! Love the E30, in the market for one myself

      8 months ago
    • Thanks Daniel! Yeah they're awesome little things, highly recommend making the purchase!

        8 months ago
  • When I used to walk home from school, I would always walk past a red e30 and I was in love with it. All my friends though I was weird for liking an old car but I know now they were the weird ones...

      8 months ago
    • Yeah true petrolheads will know some of the best driving experiences are had in old cars! Nothing like an E30 out on the road being pushed to its limits

        8 months ago
    • 8 months ago