I bought this car in 2004 and drove it as daily driver until I switched over to a Porsche 993. Since then she is my backup, but I just can't part from her. She has been very reliable as a daily driver as well as on long multi-state drives in any weather conditions. This car is very practical as a convertible, it has a decent trunk space and can chauffeur 4 adults, for a BMW cheap to repair and (when washed/waxed) gets a lot of looks and questions. The car is very responsive, reacts quickly with a slight understeer. Get it as a manual with a manual top. This is a GREAT package of beauty, driving fun, high reliability and practicality and the convertible is guaranteed to become a classic.
Driving characteristics - Practicality - Reliability - Exterior design - Engine - Durability - The smile on your face when you drive it top down
Electrics can be finicky - gas mileage ( 18 - 25 mpg)
I have owned 11 cars in the past 10 years from VW Jetta, to Audi v8 quattro and Porsche 944, the 2 best being the Porsche 944 and 86 BMW 325e I have now. Only reason I liked the Porsche better is that there was no understeer during harsh cornering, the BMW 325e kinda feels like my '92 Subaru Legacy when pushed in corners but not as much understeer however very refined and still a great alternative to many new performance cars made today with an E36 M3 engine swap it should be even more devastating this car is still better in other ways than the 944 like reliability. With racing dynamics tower brace, bilstein shocks and H&R springs it helps me keep up with a Cayman S on twisties literally.
I love the old school styling, smooth and sufficient torque, the '86 325e for economy is not a slouch when mated with Jim Comforti chip, K&N cone filter intake and of course ME. I love the smooth but yet quick and precise steering response it has with the upgraded suspension components.
Production of this gem has passed but bmw should have given it a turbo like the 2008 135 for easier power increase regardless of it outperforming the M3 which it can anyway with available powergrades and its 2.7L engine vs the M3 2.3L with the same 170 ft.lb. torque available at higher revs.
I bought the 325is used with 170k for $2.5k and spent another $4k to recondition the BMW. Guess what? It worth every single penny! The 325is has great interior features, reliable German engine, excellent handling on highway and street.
It has to be the large power sunroof. Also, the racing style seat is not too bad either. Although the one I have is an automatic (being lazy and all), I would really recommend a stick shift (5sp). It just adds that much fun to driving.
The model could use some 16 inches deep dish BBS rims instead of the 14 inches they have on all the e30 bmw. I have no complaint for anything else.
This car handles better than my Mini cooper. If you love to drive, this is a really fun car, especially if you install an aftermarket sport suspension. With the right tires, this car is almost impossible to spin out of control. The downsides are: the cost of the replacement parts are twice a regular E30; fuel economy drops to about 20 city, 23 hwy, and its a bit heavier (3000 lbs) compared to a regular E30 (2840 lb), hince a little slower. The 1988 was the best year, had all the best options, fender flares, Recaro seats, power everything.
limited slip rear diff. Recaro seats. Great style. Handles like no other.