1987 bmw E30

i came across an older bmw E30 I think it’s an '87. But it’s a very nice clean looking car… I was wondering how reliable these cars were? Are they expensive to fix like newer German cars? Think I read somewhere that the repairs on these cars weren’t really that $$ but I’m not sure. And feedback would be awesome :slight_smile:

Here’s a photo of the car

They were average on reliability, with higher-than-normal costs, as would be expected with a BMW. Now that it’s 28 years old, who knows? There are lots of parts that deteriorate with age on all cars, and BMWs are no exception. The cooling systems often need periodic parts replacement (radiator and thermostat). Any idea how it was maintained (documents, not claims)? Which engine? The 325e had a low-output 6, not really desirable.

As a play toy it might be all right. As a daily driver you will buy some mechanic a really nice boat.

These cars are iconic. It is one of the best of the early cars. Relatively simple to work on, few serious flaws (look on various BMW forums for issues to look out for) and BMW still supports the cars with parts as well as a thriving aftermarket. They are more expensive to fix than a Toyota but way more fun.

There is even an amateur racing series for these cars.

This is the first model year with the 4 cylinder M40 engine that uses a timing BELT, not a chain and the 6 cylinder inline is an M20B27 that uses a timing chain. The 4 is a bit on the slow side, especially with the automatic.

Expect another money pit. We have a wrecking yard that specializes in foreign car parts. When I drive by I always see several BMWs parked there, likely owners who either cannot afford new parts or they just are no longer available.

This is meant to be a fair warning as to what you are in for.

That’s a great looking car. Excellent styling. Me, styling-wise I’d lose the top hat on the roof and the little rise on the tail end of the trunk lid, but that’s quibbling. I think you already know that BMW repairs are going to cost considerably more than the same repair for a Toyota Corolla of the same vintage. Think how many more Corollas were sold compared to BMW’s, there’s a much bigger market for parts, so they cost less and be more easily obtained. And more mechanics that know how and are tooled up to service Corollas than BMW’'s. But I still think that’s a nice car and very much worth considering. The only actual experience I’ve had with fixing a car like that involved a repair the cooling system. I helped a friend of mine repair his BMW. On that car the cooling system components were attached by glue rather than clamped, which made the servicing more time consuming and complicated.

It’s impossible to say how a reliable a 28 year old anything is going to be.

It’s a nice looking car and they’re fun to drive but personally I like the GTI attached to texases more…

If you need reliable cheap to fix car get a much newer Corolla or Civic. This beemer looks like a well maintained car - interesting. Expect a bit higher labor costs and parts are available. Pretty solid car with no major issues in its day.

Since the car is in southern California, it’s probably rust-free . . . provided it spent its entire life there

That might also bring with it all the typical side-effects of the southwest . . . split/cracked leather, split dashboard, faded/burnt/peeling paint, etc.

I’ll go off-topic . . .

AFAIK, only the models for the North American market had those massive bumpers, which many consider ugly. But the good news is, since it has those bumpers, it’s quite likely the car is NOT a gray market import. And a gray market import can quite often be a bad deal, as many of these cars were 100% butchered, in an attempt to make them compliant

Theoretically, I believe the car shouldn’t be very difficult to work on. If it has one of the various Bosch K-Jetronic or KE-Jetronic fuel systems, that would make it slightly more exotic. Then again, several other european manufacturers used that system, so there’s a fair number of guys that should be familiar with the system. I know Benz was still using it in 1987, but BMW may have moved on to EFI by then. I’m not a BMW guy, so I don’t really know.

One thing I never really liked was BMW’s insistence on having the hood flip forward. Might be tempting to remove the hood, if you’re doing major engine work . . . ?

Gorgeous, and one of the good years. But not for the financially timid.

I’ve worked on a few of those BMWs and a lot of SAABs which have a “backwards” hood.

To me anyway, it makes underhood servicing a lot, lot easier.

What kind of mileage does it have on it? The exterior looks nice, but that’s typical of a California car. At that time BMW wasn’t yet a true luxury brand except for rare models. Models like this one also weren’t terribly sporty, either, though they handled better than what Americans were used to. It’s just a nice, upscale German family car, so it won’t be lavishly equipped or have as much to break. However, the mechanical bits will not be as reliable as on a newer car. A friend of mine had one of those a few years ago and had few significant problems, but it was low mileage for its age and had been very well maintained. If the price was right, the condition very good, and you won’t be depending on it as your daily driver, it could be nice to own.