HomePick of the Day1986 BMW 325ES

1986 BMW 325ES


The BMW 325ES features a deep and dramatic front spoiler
The BMW 325ES features a deep and dramatic front spoiler

Something that is heard quite a lot lately in the classic car community is that all the good deals are gone. Many of us fondly remember when you could buy an early Porsche 911 for $10,000 and an E-type Jaguar for as little as $7,500.

Sadly, the days are over for buying those icons of the 1960s for that little money. It does not matter if there is ever a market correction, the cheap old days for those cars and others of that era are over.

But all is not lost as there is another era that has up until recently been largely ignored, and that era is the 1980s. That was a time when many landmark cars were created, and they now just are being noticed by collectors. One such example is the BMW E30 3-series.

The well-equipped interior looks to be a good condition
The well-equipped interior looks to be a good condition

The E30 3-series was possibly the most important car ever for the BMW brand. Sure, the M1 was amazing as was the long-ago 507. But it was the E30 3-series that became the “it” car for yuppies everywhere. The 3-series is still the most important car for BMW, largely because they have sold more of them than any other model.

The E30 firmly established the DNA of “The Ultimate Driving Machine” by becoming a car that was aspirational in price, was built with extraordinary quality and was, above all else, fun to drive.

That is all nice history, but the best part about the E30 3-series BMW is that it is currently very affordable.

The car we found for Pick of the Day is a 1986 BMW 325ES. The ES is the sporting model of the 325e with an uprated sports suspension, a great front spoiler and an interior featuring Recaro sport seats. And the asking price is only $2,995.

The inline-6 is known for its long-lived durability
The inline-6 is known for its long-lived durability

This example, located in Hailey, Idaho, looks to be in amazing condition with nice paint, an excellent interior and the dealer says in the ClassicCars.com listing that it is in perfect shape with all services up to date and a complete service history.

The mileage may sound high at just over 165,000 miles, but those who know the E30 cars will tell you they can easily double that mileage. This car is loaded with every available option including a 5-speed manual transmission, power everything, sunroof and leather.

The lesson here that there are still plenty of great deals out there. You just have to move forward a few eras.

Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.
  1. Andy, I’m not a BMW officionado. However, I am old enough to remember when the E30 was being sold new. In those days, the general consensus about the ES (which was not only applied to the 3 Series) was that it was a performance dud – having been designed for economy and emissions compliance. The iS was touted as the one to buy. Used car guides published in my country (Australia) usually advise against buying the ES to avoid an inevitable disappointment. Maybe that’s why they appear to be good buying – no demand.

  2. Thanks Mike and Max. I know Mike that they are not the fastest thing out there but they did get the suspension from the IS and they are also a lot cheaper than the IS in comparable condition. I like this car because it looked to be such a great value in a nice BMW, slow maybe but also remember that the ES also has the ability to get as much as 32 MPG and is still a great handling car with terrific build quality. The ETA engine is also one of the most reliable lumps BMW ever made so they are also cheap to run. All that made it a good pick for me.
    Thanks again for the comments!

  3. Having driven a 1986 325es for a decade (300km) and my wife’s use as a hand-me-down for the next decade, I can say this was a fine car. What is puzzling, is that everything but the front spoiler is authentic on the version pictured. However the front spoiler is definitely an IS mod, not the original set-up for an ’86

  4. Barb…I have a 1988 325I convertable in California with only 54,000 miles in gorgeous original condition that I’m asking $25,000 for. Its red with natural leather interior and a new top.

  5. I know it is a year later but that spoiler is the correct one for an ES,the IS had two more lower cooling ducts added.

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