1985 BMW 735i; Should I Purchase?


I am considering purchasing a german imported 1985 BMW 735i 5 Speed German Import
160,000 Miles

No Rust
No Mechanical Issues (for now)
Has been well maintained
No Accidents
No Cosmetic Issues
The Interior is in very good condition
Has title and service records

The asking Price is $8000 (but I can probably talk him down to $6000-$6500)
Sunroof sticks
A/C barley works
The Rear Passenger window motor is out
Driven in salt and snow

Should I Buy it? It would be my first project car

What is your budget for repairs?
With a 36 year old BMW, even without known issues such as the bad sunroof and the barely working A/C, I think you have to assume $2k-$3k per year for repairs.

1 Like

My biggest objection would be the fact that it was driven in the salt and snow that would tell me that there would have to be hidden rust after 36 years plus the issues VCDdriver brought up.

1 Like

I think the two questions I would be asking are:

  1. Is this going to be my daily driver?
  2. How much cash do you have on hand for repairs?

Both kind of go hand in hand. I wouldn’t expect this car to be terribly reliable, at least not immediately, and especially compared to a newer car. And the repair costs are likely going to be eye opening. Assuming you can even find parts, labor is going to be high too.

I’d seriously reconsider this as a “project” car…


I personally love the car and love the engine. Doesn’t matter if its been driven in the snow, as long as it is rust free. These are great cars… BUT… and it is a big but…

It is 36 years old… but BMW supports their older vehicles pretty well ($$) as does the aftermarket ($).
It is a Euro import which means it has parts not seen on cars in the US which might make parts a little harder ($$$) to obtain. Just budget accordingly ($$$$)

Join the BMW Car Club of America, look at the prices in their adds for 735’s. Hagerty says the car is worth $7800 average for a car in this condition.

If this is a second car, not a daily driver, a fun car, a project car, GREAT! Go for it.

1 Like

Nope, agree with both VDC & Renegade. Skip it.


The first and most important question you need to answer on any project car is, “What is the parts availability and costs?”

And your best source for an answer is your local BMW club

The water pump replacement cost is pretty reasonable on this vehicle, so you go that going for you.

$190 part + 2.5 hours labor

As a hobby car to sink a few thousand a year into on maintenance and repairs, sure. As a daily driver, no way.

1 Like

Even at 6500.00 that just seems like to much for a project vehicle . Espessialy the first one a person does. I don’t concider a 725 that desiable either. My nieghbor chose a kit kar as his first project.

Want to clarify that this would be a daily driver for about 8 months out of the year. The current owner says that is what he has been doing.

Would this be your only car? It’ll be out of action at times. A 37 year old anything is not something I’d want to depend on for getting to work. You obviously aren’t familiar with potential BMW problems, or you wouldn’t be asking. That’s a concern.

What is your mechanical skill level? How are you set for tools? If you had to replace the radiator the day after you bought the car, could you?

No it won’t be a daily driver .

How well do you know these cars? I have a relative who could do 300mi trips in his late 70’s Mercedes Diesel wagon but he’s his own mechanic and has been working on german cars for so long that he could keep the car running well with regular care. Wasn’t the only car though.

Unless it is fully restored first, this Bimmer should not be a daily driver. The cost of parts is high, and if it isn’t restored first, it will be out of service a lot more than a restored vehicle. I had a Porsche as a daily driver and it broke a lot. I needed a car, and had to rent something when the Porsche was in the shop. That makes it even more expensive. If you have a commuter car, the time between breakdowns on the 735i will be extended and it won’t cost as much per year to run.

Agree with the others… this car will NOT be a daily driver no matter how good a mechanic you are or have. The car will break and parts will take 3 days to 6 weeks to arrive while this car sits and waits.

This a fact of life for any car this age and moreso for a European car.


If you are not mechanically inclined this might be a bad idea. That would be true of any vehicle that is 36 years old and getting older by the day…

As for the A/C more than likely the compressor shaft seal is leaking. That’s a common problem with any aged automotive compressor.

You say it has no rust but also state that is has been driven in salt and snow. I tend to think maybe the exterior shows no rust but on a rack a look-see underneath may show some issues.

Would I give 6 grand for a 36 year old BMW with a salt/snow factor added in. No way on God’s Green Earth; and I’m a European car fan along with being a bit mechanically inclined.


The engine in this BMW is great, it’s all the rest of the car that will be more likely to be costly. Kind of like an old Jaguar with the straight 6. It’s a great engine, but iffy everything else. The BMW wouldn’t be that bad, of course.

Had an old 740 IL, very expensive to maintain. The former owner “gave” it to me because he was so desperate to sell it- price was $55- I just couldn’t resist at that price. the transmission had no reverse operation-dealers estimate was $12,000! After a while driving it creatively parking where I didn’t have to use reverse I found a warranted used one and went on with trying to get all the deferred maintenance fixed. Every issue was Expensive! They weren’t able to even get the cruise control fixed after many attempts and some factory ordered parts. It was eventually an insurance total after a relatively small accident! Strongly recommend against it. BMW’s are the lowest maintenance cost cars to own for the first 5 years, but most expensive maintenance cost cars after that add the likely unrepairable salt damage to the bottom of the car means we have to strongly recommend against it.