Sounds can be misleading. So can engine symptoms. For example, if you replace your plug wires and then your car won't start, it's natural to assume you have defective wires or you installed them wrong, when in fact your fuel pump might have picked that day to die.
With that in mind, is your fuel pump working? It's a common problem in all cars, not just e30's. Later models have one pump inside the fuel tank, while earlier models have 2 pumps: a "lift" pump inside the tank and an high pressure inline pump. If you're not getting fuel, the car won't start. The noise you're hearing from the engine might indicate a problem but it isn't necessarily the reason it isn't starting.