You Don’t Need An M3 To Appreciate BMW’s E30

The E30 generation of the BMW 3-Series is one of these models that have their own cult following and with good reason.

“The 1991 Coupe is the last Coupe they made in the E30”, says Delia Wolfe in the latest Petrolicious film. “The 318IS is the ‘baby’ M3; it doesn’t put out as much horsepower or torque, but it was the spiritual successor, if you will, to the 2002.”

The honest mechanical nature of the E30 combined with the beautiful handling character and serious durability is what makes this model so special for fans around the world. It’s a brilliant recipe that helped into making BMW the company it is today.

“People found that you could modify them with very little money, and that the cars were durable, and that there are all kinds of places to exercise your passion,” says Delia. “There’s lowered and ‘stanced’ E30s, then you’ve got E30 spec racing, there’s a rally series, people run drift cars—every facet of racing seems to have a place for the E30.”


  • Kaptnkauto

    I feel the same way about my 94 E36. Best and most durable and reliable car I’ve ever owned and to this day nothing feels as good as that car. It has 330,000 km’s on it and runs like a dream..

  • smartacus

    E30 is a far cry from the big jagunda F30.

    and the next one won’t even be made in Germany.

    if he holds onto it, it will go up in value obscenely.

    • Andrewthecarguy

      I’m not sure she will see that much increase in value. The times now are for these cars. Something else will be desirable in the future.

      • smartacus

        maybe, but have you seen their prices lately?
        They are only going to be commanding a lot more money as they get more rare.

        Nobody makes a small rwd German-made sedan anymore. Not even a bad one.
        E30 got the formula oh so right.

        Something else will be desirable in the future, sure. But steering with the throttle is never going down in value.

        • Andrewthecarguy

          You know I have been thinking about your comment, and watching the prices of 3 Series in general. My prediction is that the ‘special’ E46s are about to take center stage, because they have depreciated to a point of mass affordability. For example, a ZHP 330i is the bees knees right now (or soon to be.) I also notice the prices of the F30s are becoming irresistible. The 328 is a fantastic car if spec’d with al the right goods and they can be had for $20k now. The E9xs on the other hand are been ignored at the moment. The darlings of that body is the 335d and 330 me thinks. Anyhoo, let’s see how things unfold. But I think the E30s are bout to take a nose dive. Importations of the rare ones (stick shift wagons for example) are on the rise which means the market will get saturated.

          • smartacus

            oh i agree “special” E46 will indeed become more popular., followed by regular E46 just like what we’re seeing with E30

            E9X maaaybe will become iconic like the E30 is today.
            Reason i say maybe is because even though it’s still the last fun to drive 3-Series “before the Germans fell out of love with driving” as they put it.
            It’s still pretty big Eclipsing the size of some earlier 7-Series.

            Which is the reason why E30 prices will NEVER take a nose dive, much less ever go back down in price after this point.

          • Andrewthecarguy

            Yes, but…the same way the 2002 and other bimmers from it’s era (L7, shark nose CSi, Bavaria) eventually slowed and starting reversing in value, the same will happen to the E30.
            What drives value? The market and the people. If the people are not willing to pay the amounts the market is pushing, then you get nothing. The 2002tii is a great car, but it will never float my boat.
            Having owned an E30 and also having extensive seat time in the F30, the F30 is my choice all day any day. If you think the Germans have fallen out of love for driving, then I say you’ve subscribed to the propaganda. A bimmer is a bimmer, and will always be a bimmer…you just have to find the ‘sweet spot’ and it is different in every iteration. My E70 is not perfect around town, but on long road trips, WOW. My E39 M5 was a beast…as long as you have access to an Autobahn. My E66 was a delight on road trips too. The E30 was great around town but not highways. On and on…

          • smartacus

            2002, L7, shark nose CSI, Bavaria going down in value???

            uh, ok i won’t touch that, but E30 is not in the same group as those cars. Like i said; nobody else makes a small fuel-injected rwd German sedan. So it’s impossible for E30 to go down.

            it will only go up like full-auto machine guns since the 1986 ban. i didn’t get one a few years ago when it was only a few grand, Now you can’t get one for less than 10 grand. And the prices are following a hockey stick trajectory.

            2002tii does not float my boat either. The E21 320i commuter i had during the George H Bush presidency was a lot more modern with K-Jetronic, dual mirrors, Bosch Pilot foglights.

            i’m glad you like your E39 M5. My buddy got his 2000 in ’99 when they first came out. Good throttle response with the sport button!
            And a 6 to 4 downshift blip to 120 MPH is addictive.

            E70 feels just fine around town, but that’s just me,

            E30 was great for me on the highway, i took my second E30 M3 across i80 in 64 hours alone…food, fuel, sleep, speeding ticket, tolls, flat tire all included. With no GPS or cellphone.

            ***aaah now i see where you’re coming from. i didn’t know you owned an E66. OK so you’re into bigger bimmers. In that case, yes the F30 is a great car! it’s quiet, the steering feels smooth, great executive limousine.

          • Andrewthecarguy

            Ha! You owned an E30 M3??? I am not worthy of commenting then. I’ve never driven one and my E30 was the ’91 318is. I still want to drive a 325 E30 or the Italo M3. At this point I doubt I’ll get seat time in an E30 M3.

            Concerning value, maybe I need to follow up my last research but I have seen some insane valuations on some of those…but the real question is does it sell? It’s like EAG in Ohio. You can price it whatever you want but does it/will it sell?

            I love big bimmers and small ones alike. Being able to go fast very comfortably with a car full of family or friends is my speed. My next ride is the F02 B7 xDrive, special colors mit Alpina dekorstreifen, pre-LCI 🙂

          • smartacus

            if i had an F02 B7, i’d wear bummy clothes and flip-flops to look like a thief approaching some guy’s car :p

            yeah, EAG in Ohio got some speculative pricing.
            if you showed up with cash, you can probably chop then down a few grand.
            i dunno.

            Funny story about my M3: one time a girl preferred a Mazda 626 to my M3 in a parking lot.
            i was walking away so she didn’t know it was mine as she was saying how the fenders looked all bent…

  • Durable and BMW?

    • Andrewthecarguy

      Yes. Like any specially conjured device it requires special care and it will be good to you.

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