Modified to your conveniance. A good sticky. I recommend this thread to anyone in the search for an E30. Also, a List of sites for your upgrading Needs. Took Me a while, so enjoy
What to Look For when buying an E30
Check all body panels for damage or signs of repair. Look to see if all the VIN numbers match. Look for anything out of the ordinary. Aftermarket spoilers or bodykits can sometimes be used to hide dents or damage. Check the head and taillights for cracks or pits. Make sure that all the door locks work properly. Check all trim and moldings for signs of overspray from a possible paint job. The hood washers, bumper trim, side moldings, door locks, door handles, and wipers should all be a flat black. If these are painted the body color the car could have a cheap paint job. Ask the owner if it OK to place a piece of making tape on an inconspicuous spot. If the car has the OEM or quality aftermarket paint job the tape should come of with no drama. If the tape takes tape with it, the car has been to a cheap repair shop. Look at the tread life on the tires. Also inspect the rims for damage. I also suggest that you get down and look at the under side of the car. Check for rust on the floorpans, drivetrain, and exhaust.
Look closely at the seats. If the owner has seat covers ask to remove them. Reupholstering jobs run $ 500- $ 2,000 for the front seats alone, so make sure the interior is in satisfactory shape. Check the dashboard and console for cracks or signs of wear. The carpet should be in decent shape. Ask to pull back a section to inspect the floorpans for rust (The carpet easily pulls back in the rear of the cabin. Make sure all buttons work. See that all the lights on the instrument cluster light up when the key is turned to position 1 or 2, and go dark once the car is started. It is very common for people to disconnect or remove the light bulbs to hid problems. Be sure the radio, power mirrors, power locks, power sunroof, flashers, turn signals, brake lights, fog lights, headlights, interior lights and AC work.
Engine bay and Trunk
Inspect the engine compartment and the trunk for signs of repair (The carpet will need to be pulled back in the trunk). The VINS should be found on both front fenders. The rear fenders do not have VIN stickers. Inspect all shock towers for excessive weld lines as it could be a sign of repair due to an accident or collapsed shock tower. The engine should be relatively clean. Make sure there are no leaks coming from the headgasket. Inspect the dipstick for signs of coolant (this could mean a cracked block). Check the condition and color of all fluid containers.
Check for a rough idle, hesitation, and knocks. The engine should be pretty smooth unless it is modified by performance upgrades like camshafts. Make sure the car can pull to redline without drama. Make sure the shifting is smooth and swift (short shifters can feel notchy). Check for a hard brake pedal and smooth stops. The handling and ride should be up to usual BMW standards (stiff but sweet). Make sure the E-brake is tight and holds the car in place. Don't be afraid to drive it hard! BMW's are strong machines that can take tough love easily if well maintained.
*keep an eye out and stay away from any cars with rust or cracks on or around the strut towers in the engine bay
*broken odometers are pretty common in e30's. ask if the odometer has been replaced if you are suspicious of the mileage.
*check for water in the trunk, especially on the left side where the jack sits. many e30's have developed leaks around the tail lights
Additional Info Provided by E30Tech:
The Differences in E30's(Should cover most of your questions):
engine specs: 6 Cyl 2.5L SOHC, 6500 redline, engine code M20B25
Rear Deck Spoiler
iS front Lip(most of the time)
Different Steering Wheel(some of the time)
OBC(on board computer)
Leather Interior(most of the time)
325e engine specs: 2.7L SOHC, 4700 redline, engine code M20B27
More Torque then i engine
Has most of the same opitions as the 325i
as much HP as 325i/s
engine specs: same as 325e
Sport package like the iS
LSD standard like the iS
(early production) 318i engine specs: 1.8L SOHC, 6800 redline, Engine code M10
Limited opitions as it is a base model.
engine specs: 1.8L DOHC, 6800 redline, engine code M42
Same opitions as the 325i and iS
as much power as 325i/iS, but still has good top speed and acceleration for 4cyl 1.8L engine
1988 325(Super Eta) which is a mix of i and e and other new parts.
I exhaust system and intake system(thorttle body and boot and stuff like that)
new cylinder head shape more hp then e less then i
redline of 5500
some specs on engine's(smiles seperate some specs on cars still kinda hard 2 read i know)
1987-1990 325i,is,325i Convertible
No. of cylinders 4 6 6 6
Bore mm(in.) 89.0(3.504) 84.0(3.307) 84.0(3.307) 84.0(3.307)
Storke mm(in.) 71.0(2.795) 81.0(3.189) 81.0(3.189) 75.0(2953)
Displacement cc(cu in.) 1766(107.8) 2693(164) 2693(164) 2492(152)
Compression Ratio 9.0:1 9.0:1 8.5:1 8.8:1
Horsopower SAE net @rpm 101@5800 121@4250 127@4800 168@5800
Torque lbs.-ft. @rpm SAE net 103@4500 170@3250 170@3200 164@4300
Fuel Injection System Bosch L-Jetronic Bosch Motronic Bosch Motronic 1.1 Bosch Motronic 1.1
the 1.6 L, 4 cylinders in line, 90hp.
the 2.0 L, 6 cyl. in line, 125 to 128 hp (depends on the building years)
super ETA is 86
and later non lettered cars
Most of the E30 Upgrade Websites(I think i got most of them):
(dont recommend this, but its a good site for pictures)
Has A lot of Links:
I hope all this information is useful.
If you have any comments or would like to add anything, please be sure it hasnt already posted.
Before any of you post, i dont mean to be an asshole, but i dont want this thread to get hijacked..i dont think it will need to be locked(to prevent useless posts) but lets keep the random "thanks good post" comments to yourself.
"you gotta fix the nut behind the wheel before you start fixing the bolts on the cars"
So go to driving school:
your sweet google search:
Enjoy, Drive Hard, Drive Safe...United We Drive.