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Thread: Worth it? 1988 325i Automatic

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Provo, Utah
    Posts
    4
    My Cars
    1988 325i Convertible

    Worth it? 1988 325i Automatic

    This is my first post but I am a huge fan of this forum! I've been a long time fan of the E30'a and there is one nearby for $1000. It's a 1988 325i with "131,000 miles". My main concern is that it is an automatic. My big question is, is the transmission going to spoil the cars experience? I am wondering if it's worth the time/money to invest. It is running but needs work. Since this would be my first project car I am trying to be open minded as possible. I will include the know repairs needed and hopefully some of you pros can come up with a ballpark for repair costs. I know that it depends on parts and availability but I just a rough estimate would help make the decision more manageable. Thanks in advance for any and all input!

    Needed Repairs
    • Valve adjustment
    • Rear corner damage (cracks above bumper)
    • New soft cover, roof frame is in decent shape
    • General interior work, rear seats replaced
    • Hood release, currently using a screwdriver to open
    • Radiator fan clutch
    • Repaint


    https://ibb.co/iHXVhw
    https://ibb.co/dmWO2w
    https://ibb.co/ctHwNw



    PS I will try to attach pictures but we'll see how it goes!
    Last edited by Brigon; 12-04-2017 at 10:13 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    San Jose
    Posts
    89
    My Cars
    E30 1992 325ic
    Hood release, radiator fan clutch - are really easy things to replace.

    Valve adjustment is "easy" but some prefer to spend 60-100 to get a professional to do it just to get it exactly right.

    The main deal breaker on this car is the bodywork. The rear bump is going to cost you at least 500 to repair. A replacement fender will need to be sourced for cheap and would cost around 300 to paint that.

    furthermore, you need to think about the timing belt, ignition coil, spark plugs, cap and rotor, brakes etc. (common maintenance items that are overlooked)

    As for your dilemma with the auto trans - my first e30 was automatic and I enjoyed it. However, if you see yourself manual swapping the car in the future - you might as well wait until you find a good manual car. Manual swap kits in my area (Bay area California) range from 500 - 800

    The so-called deal breakers for this car - bottlecaps, bodywork, fat american bumpers, cracked dash. - you can argue that the bumpers need to be resourced, missing the valence, cracked dash (around 400 for used uncracked)

    Dont forget to check the heater and ac on your car - if the ac doesnt work you can mention that it runs on r12 and in the future will need r134 conversion.

    Also, check the convertible top - go to a gas station and get the wiper and wipe the top to see if it leaks. When I bought my first car, seller said it was new and it looked new. Once It started raining, it leaked along the seems.

    Overall, for 1000 I would say its a fair/good price (if you can knock down for more that would be awesome)

    Odometers have a reputation for going bad on these cars because of the brittle plastic gears so make sure yours is working. Make sure you check the spare tire well to see if there is any more damage. Check for rust

    In terms of value on the car
    engine 400-600
    interior 300-500
    Wheels 50-100
    Everything else 300-600

    If you plan on driving it long term - I would recommend something else. but if you plan on getting a taste of the e30 driving experience, this car is not a bad place to start. At the end of the day, once you fix it up mechanically, you can pretty much sell for 1k-2k so you won't lose out.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Siebenthal; 12-05-2017 at 12:53 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Grandview, MO
    Posts
    84
    My Cars
    1989 Bmw325IC
    You will notice that most convertibles are automatics! Just the way it is. Nothing wrong with an automatic as far as durability goes - most last a long time and many miles. The 6 cyl engines in these cars are noisy as they have mechanical lifters. As they age it is difficult to set exact valve clearance - no big deal as long as you don't eliminate the noise by setting the valves too tight. As always you need to find out when the timing belt was changed. Does car run good? There is no cool like an e30 325 convertible. One of the best looking cars ever made!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Provo, Utah
    Posts
    4
    My Cars
    1988 325i Convertible
    It runs pretty hot right now, and there is a LOT of play in the steering. The timing belt, battery and water pump have recently been replaced. I will most likely wait to see if they will go lower on the price. The breakdown from Siebenthal helps put the value in context (thanks a lot for that!) and I feel like 800 or so would seal the deal.
    Last edited by Brigon; 12-05-2017 at 04:26 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    San Jose
    Posts
    89
    My Cars
    E30 1992 325ic
    No worries!

    Also, these cars don't like to be hot/overheat - it's not unheard of for having a bad head gasket as a result of overheating. At my local mechanic, I was quoted 1k to repair this. There is a lot of DIY for head gaskets for e30 and it is considered an "easy" job.

    However, that also depends on your mechanical skill and confidence. Just make sure you look out for symptoms of a bad head gasket.

    If the water pump has been replaced - then look into the thermostat and the radiator.

    When you mention play in the steering - are you talking about stationary or driving? Does it shake when you drive or when you apply pressure on the brakes?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Provo, Utah
    Posts
    4
    My Cars
    1988 325i Convertible
    The issues with the steering was a large deadzone. I could turn the steering wheel almost a quarter turn either way before the tire would start to match it. Once it did reach the point the steering was sharp. And when braking it was very smooth. As far as the overheating, if it is a bad head gasket that would most likely steer me away. The project itself wouldn't be too intimidating, but added to the other issues makes it really hard to justify rather than spending more on something in better shape. I didn't see any white smoke while driving it but that about as far as I went for diagnosing that issues.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    corpus christi texas
    Posts
    3,409
    My Cars
    86 325e, 87 325 (x2)
    I would look else where now that there is a possible temp issue, unless they are going to give you a super duper price. but personally, I would look else where (coming from someone who buys e30s not running and fixes them on the weekends)
    Still in the game

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Grandview, MO
    Posts
    84
    My Cars
    1989 Bmw325IC
    I'd look for another one too. Time you get through fixing, if you do or it's possible, you would be better off getting something like this. May seem like a lot more money but by the time you get that one fixed, it will look like a bargain.
    BMW325ic

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Provo, Utah
    Posts
    4
    My Cars
    1988 325i Convertible
    Alright, thanks for all the advice. I'll keep an eye out for something a little more functional. That one linked definitely looks like a deal after labor/parts involved. Unfortunately for every one of those it seems like are a 100 with cut springs or missing motors for around the same price. Again, thanks for all the help! I feel more confident going forward getting something that'll work better for me.

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