SOTW: BMW 325i Touring

Two years ago, Aston Martin Works Service would charge you £13,250 plus VAT to convert a Vanquish S from its original paddleshift transmission to a traditionalmanual with three pedals.

Undoubtedly, the job provided by the Works Service is a flawless and professional one. This week's shed provides a slightly more risky option on another car that is arguably preferable with a manual 'box, but which came from the factory as a self-shifter.

It's a BMW E30 325i Touring with the conversion work undertaken "'by a previous owner." The advert is worryingly light on details around this major undertaking. Having said that, the interior photo doesn't show a clutch and gearlever sprouting out at bizarre angles, which is at least a positive start. And, apart from the (admittedly rather large) omission of gearbox change details, it appears a straight car for the price.

It has covered an average of just 5,500 miles a year in its 23-year life, and the owner lists a wide range of parts replaced very recently. These include new front discs, pads and fluid earlier this year, along with a new battery and propshaft bearing a couple of months later. This 325i was also treated to a fresh timing belt, tensioner pulley, water pump, auxiliary belts, distributor cap and rotor arm less than 10,000 miles ago. Of course, those of you with a cynical side may argue detail here is to draw attention away from concerning lack of information elsewhere...

OK, so it's not quite an original concours model (that gearbox conversion and some rust on the tailgate certainly attests to that). But E30s - particularly six-cylinder ones -once so plentiful within the confines of Shed's £1K budget, are now rare beasts indeed. And besides, the fact it isn't a saloon or coupe makes it distinctly cooler and desirable, even if the bootlid shape leaves a hopelessly narrow and high loading lip. PistonHeads: Practicality Matters...

Basically, it's 750 quid for a (seemingly) honest, manual straight-six BMW. It is being sold with seven months of MOT and also comes with a Raceland 6-2-1 stainless steel manifold and exhaust. Heck, it's even on original BBS alloys!

OK, it will need retaxing at the end of this month, the headlining is sagging, and there are some isolated patches of rust, but it's also the price of a television. The advert seems genuine and the car still looks great to these eyes and we're willing to bet it still sounds sweet, too. But perhaps throw in a few extra gearshifts on the test drive, just to be sure...

Advert is reproduced below

BMW 325i Touring (manual) in alpine white (£750)
1989 (G-reg) 325i Touring in Alpine White (manual). Full stainless exhaust system and manifold. BBS cross-spokes. Cambelt & water pump changed at 119k. Recent disc, pad and brake fluid change.

The car is a manual but was converted from auto by a previous owner.

The interior is in very good condition with no rips or tears in any of the seats, although the headlining has sagged (which only affects rear seat headroom). Electric front windows, door mirrors and sunroof all work.

There are a few small rust patches (bottom of both passenger side doors, driver's side wing at rear of the wheel arch, and tailgate) and a few small scratches on the roof, but nothing that is an mot advisory and no rust holes. The front firewall and bottom of the windscreen is fine, the door sills are fine and the rear arches are both fine. The underside of the car is in good condition too. I've had the car nearly 4 years - mostly as a daily driver - and in that time the rust has not changed massively.

The fuel tank was replaced in 2008 (the old one leaked).

The timing belt, tensioner pulley, water pump, auxiliary belts, distributor cap and rotor arm were all replaced at 119,000 miles.

I had a Raceland 6-2-1 S/S exhaust manifold and Longlife S/S exhaust system fitted in 2010, which sounds nice but is not intrusive on the motorway etc.

The rear pads and discs were changed in summer 2010 and still have plenty of life left.

I fitted new front pads and discs and fresh brake fluid in January.

I had the prop-shaft bush (doughnut) and bearing replaced in February.

I fitted a new battery in March.

The front tyres are about half worn, and the rears have about 2.5-3mm of tread left.

It has MOT until Jan 2013 and tax until end of June. I can re-tax it at buyer's expense if required.

The engine sounds lovely and it pulls well pretty much from idle. Economy is not too bad if you avoid town driving - I get around 30mpg when I commute to work in it.

The car is located in Bridgend, South Wales.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (138) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Munich 03 Jul 2012

    dbdb said:
    It is the mode switch for the automatic gearbox.
    OK. Thank you.

  • crofty1984 26 Jun 2012

    Captain Muppet said:
    Kawasicki said:
    semi trailing rear suspension....death on a stick
    Last E30 I bought had a welded diff too. One morning I died twice just from looking at it.
    Slow day at work so here's a rofl just for you.

  • dbdb 26 Jun 2012

    Cotty said:
    Some people think the other way round.
    I prefer the Touring, though I do like the saloon E30.

    I'm surprised by this car's mixed reception, I think it's a nice old thing provided it's not half dead with rust.

  • MadDog1962 26 Jun 2012

    I saw this in the classifieds myself. I actually quite like E30's and am toying with the idea of one as a useable hack instead of a boring (but more sensible) econobox.

    Really this ticks all the boxes for me as a classic bit of shedding. With a bit of TLC it could be much more than that.

    It's been for sale for quite a while though, which makes me wonder if there are gremlins to be found on closer inspection....

  • pSyCoSiS 26 Jun 2012

    Mustard said:
    Factory fit were 15" , look as far as I can see to be 15" but will stand corrected
    I believe bottle tops were factory fit, unless the 15" came as standard spec on the 'SE' models

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