• The E30-generation 3-series was the brand-defining sports sedan for BMW in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
• This 1990 four-door was just listed on Bring a Trailer.
• The auction ends on Thursday, July 1.
Car enthusiasts might have been aware of BMW as far back as the days of the 2002, but the brand really entered the public consciousness in the 1980s with the emergence of yuppies. To save our younger readers the task of Googling: Yuppies were Young, Upwardly-mobile Urban Professionals and were typically derided for their materialistic outlook and acquisitive behavior. They were major purchasers of premium-priced European cars, most stereotypically BMWs. It turns out they were onto something, because the yuppie-favorite BMW 3-series of that era is pretty great.
We’ve called the E30-generation (1987–1993) 3-series “some of the purest driver’s cars of all time.” They’re so good to drive that most have been driven into the ground, which makes nice examples hard to find. That’s why this 1990 325i just listed on Bring a Trailer—which like Car and Driver is part of Hearst Autos—caught our eye.
First of all, you want the six-cylinder 325i, because the earlier four-cylinder cars were considerably slower. Secondly, this one is equipped with a five-speed manual, which is much preferable to the four-speed automatic, being far better for wringing out the rev-happy 168-hp straight-six. According to the seller, this one was sold new in the Bay Area and remained with its original owner until his passing in 2013. His surviving spouse eventually donated it to charity in 2021.
The seller acquired the car from the charity and proceeded to undertake a recommissioning that included replacement of the timing belt, oil pan, water pump, motor mounts, tires, hoses, and more. The body is presentable, although bumps and bruises are evident. The leather interior appears in equivalent condition, with wear on the driver’s seat upholstery but no cracks in the dash. The overall condition is about what you’d expect after 127,000 miles in a gentle climate.
At this writing, bidding is just getting started, so there’s still time to put in a lowball offer and hope this listing flies under the radar. But this 1989 325i sedan that sold for $19,000 back in December probably represents a reasonable barometer of the likely hammer price—it was the less-desirable automatic but had slightly lower mileage. Regardless of the selling price, the negative yuppie connotations have been consigned to history, leaving the winning bidder with a standout driving experience unencumbered by cultural baggage.
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