That first E30

There’s always a first, right? My introduction to the now-legendary E30 was a service department loaner – maybe a ’91 sedan? I drove it once and I was hooked. I started hoping that the recall on Dad’s E34 would take more time. Fabulous little car, despite the automatic. It was unbelievably ‘tossable.’ Somehow, it was both lithe and buttoned-down at the same time.

But that’s not the car I’m speaking about. I found an ad for a “BMW 3-series” for $300. I called several times, received no answer, felt it was a dead end. A few weeks later I impulsively called again. Happily, the owner called me back. He was a great guy, but quite difficult to track down. He told me that it had a clean title, didn’t run, and was red. Very helpful, I’m sure you’ll agree. I went to take a look, and it got even worse. It had been mildly vandalized at the owner’s rental unit. Rear window was shattered. Rust had eaten through the frame just behind the driver’s door, among other critical places. It also wouldn’t run. Happily though, it was one of the best – an ’87 325iS with a 5-speed. It was equipped with the entire sport package except the rear spoiler, including a 3.73 limited slip differential. Well worth the investment just for the diff. My plan was to install the LSD into my E34 diff case. I was tired of parking the car at the top of my driveway for every potential snow day (since it wouldn’t make the climb unassisted if any ice ~at all~ was present), and the gearset was identical.


Then I found out it wasn’t even equipped with an LSD – it had been replaced at some point with a 3.73 open unit. What can I say? Due diligence is impossible in a muddy side yard. My plans took a final nose dive when my [beautiful] wife informed me that she wasn’t planning on driving the car anyway, improved traction or not. These things happen at The Iconic BMW. I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath, made a quick inventory, and got on with my hobby. When life gives you lemons, you should enjoy the tartness. My thoughts had begun to turn in a different direction.



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