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Buying e30 M3

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  • Buying e30 M3

    Hey guys, ive been looking for an e30 for a long time and I found a sweet lookin m3 for $6500, quikc overview heres some pics

    Ill try to keep the server up but its on my home connection because my main server at work went down..


    The car has 206k on it, but the engine was rebuilt at 165k and the BMWCCA guy who did it said he was amazed at the conditoin of the engine and said it was better than new when he was done. The guy sounds very knowledgeable and changed all the fluids once a year. Sounds like he took REALLY good care of it. The car has 2 sets of wheels, one for summer, one for winter.

    Here what the problems are

    A/C is blown (he cut the belt for it)
    ONLY rust is a small dent that started to rust but was ground off and primed
    There is a small tranny leak at a top seal that leaks a couple drops after driving
    Front spolier needs a repaint

    So on to my questions, I know e30s pretty well, is there any special m3 things I should look for when buying? Also is 6500 a good price?

    I forgot to mention the steering rack was recently replaced


  • #2


    • #3
      Be ready to put at least 4-5 grand into it, with that many miles, you'll probably find yourself fixing a lot of issues that will come up. I found out the hard way.........I put 4-5 grand within 6 months of taking ownership. It was just one problem after another, sorting them out and finding the exact problem is the worst part. My car was in the shop for weeks with out being able to diagnose a problem. With the money I put into the car, I could of bought a "hassle free" one....


      • #4
        Is there such a thing as a hassle-free car of this age? Remember, our M3's are 12 to 18 years old now!
        Even a well looked after and maintained one is still going to produce odd niggles and problems as it gets used.

        The $15k rule that folk talk about is probably pretty spot-on. But it won't end there. You can't run an M3 (or any performance car for that matter) on a shoe-string budget, but they are pretty straight forward cars mechanically, and you can save a wad by doing some of the work yourself.

        What I do is get one service a year (alternating between inspection I and II) to keep the book stam-ped up. In between, I do all the things I find, and also oil & filter every 4 to 6 months (depending on the mileage I do).

        Admitedly, I do use mine alot - about 14,000 miles a year, but there's always some job that needs doing.

        Enjoy your M3 - remember it's a driver's car and should be driven.
        Scottish Cecotto


        • #5
          Wow, I didnt think it was that bad. Theres no way I can afford to put all that into a car. But at the same time how the hell could yu put that all in just to maintain it???? What can possibly go wrong to have to make me spend the cost of the car in repairs. Ive seen whole s14 engines with trannys got for like 5 grand that have uner 100k on them


          • #6
            I got my '88 last year with 170k miles on it. I paid about what you are considering. Cosmetically it was in decent shape with no rust. I think that the rust issue is key considering the mechanical stuff can just be replaced.

            Since October, I have put about $5000 into it. Some was maintenace and some were improvements. I did not, however, do any major engine work or rebuild the trans or other out of the ordinary course stuff.

            Parts are just expensive and needs to be replaced after awhile. I would not shy away from a car with 206k miles, just be prepared to drop some $$$ over the next year or two replacing stuff.

            A lot of guys prefer cheaper cars with higher mileage because they plan to build up a car by picking and choosing different components. Something to think about as well.


            • #7
              You really can't tell much about the condition of the car from those pics. If the engine was rebuilt then you shouldn't have to worry about the major problems that high mileage engines have like rod bearings. However, I'm almost positive this car was tracked because 1. the P/O was a BMWCCA member, 2. those are aftermarket 15" wheels, good for the track, and 3. 5-point harness. As you can imagine, tracking the car adds to the wear and tear of many other components like the sway bar links and bushings, control arm bushings, etc.

              Also the AFM looks like it has been removed but I'm not sure with what, maybe Split Second or Maxx.
              I'd have the car checked out by a mechanic who knows the cars because there is likely things that will be wrong with a 200,000mi car no matter what maintenance has been done.
              "It is needless to say that self-propelling vehicles, like other machines, will never do as much for one who does not understand them as for one who does."


              • #8
                ive seen that car driving around east bloomington

                i dont know man, choose your battles carefully. but as some encouragement, i got the same scary speech from the members here when i was thinking of buying my car, and i have spent no where near 4k on maintenance. ive had my car a year now, and havent had to replace anything real out of the ordinary (spark plugs, cap, rotor, wires, o2 sensor, one wheel bearing, tie rods, brake pads, timing chain tensioner and lots of little putsy stuff that didnt neccessarily HAVE to be replaced.) im not super mechanical, and ive done most of the work myself...

                i believe as long as you have no major leaks, your head gasket is in good conditon, and your genuinely serious about taking care of the car, you should manage just fine.

                take the car to Orr autoservice in st louis park, the technician matt, knows e30 m3's inside and out!!

                pm me if you want my phone number, and i could come look at it with you good luck, -aaron

                P.S. my car was allegedly "a problem car" and i only have a part time job... so its doable, dont be scared away.
                Last edited by aaronmjr; 05-26-2004, 04:11 AM.
                1990 M3/1998 M3 Sedan


                • #9
                  Originally posted by equate
                  But at the same time how the hell could yu put that all in just to maintain it???? What can possibly go wrong to have to make me spend the cost of the car in repairs. Ive seen whole s14 engines with trannys got for like 5 grand that have uner 100k on them
                  Hey equate,

                  This car looks ok for the price, but it helps to know exactly what you're getting yourself into: Just replacing the motor doesn't "equate" to maintaining the car. :p

                  1) This car has been tracked, but that's not a bad thing necessarily. Specific M3 things are the sway bar attachments on the front struts, the control arm bushings and the arms themselves, motor mounts and all brackets inside the engine bay (the S14 likes to shed whatever is attached to it), throttle body gaskets, and exhaust manifold studs.

                  2) There looks like a Split Second MAF kit installed on the car replacing the AFM. Not sure if you noticed it, but read up on it if you're unfamiliar with the setup.

                  3) You WILL have mileage related issues with stuff you never thought about like gauges, steering components, TB gaskets, exhaust leaks, etc.

                  Bottom line: the more knowledgeable you are about what can go wrong, the better you can predict what your costs will be. If you get a car in good shape, the maintainence costs can be very manageable. I learned a ton of stuff after I bought my car w/ 155k miles on it that I wish I knew ahead of time. Good luck!

                  Last edited by blyguy; 05-26-2004, 06:46 AM.


                  • #10
                    I talked to the owned of this car a few weeks ago..before I bought my car. He said that the head had been rebuilt only..not the entire engine. He stated that the cylinder walls looked good when the head was off.

                    just a bit of added info



                    • #11
                      Yeah, Well he said hes put about $200 into it from the last year and its running fine. He always keeps telling me he has never raced it. Yes you are correct he did have a top end rebuild. But its not leaking and it sounds like he took really good care of it again. He sounds like a good guy and knows that hes talking about and I dont think he is trying to screw me. I did notice the afm looked different, I guess I just assumed that it was a new version or something, I will ask him about that one. This is what he told me btw

                      I have never raced it. I had it at Brainerd International Raceway for a drivers school, but never racing.
                      The four point harness came from my 1988 VW Jetta. The seatbelt latch on the drivers seatbelt didn't work that great when I bought the car, so I just transferred the four point harness to the M3. Once you get used to a four point harness, it is hard to be in a car with a normal seatbelt.

                      As for mileage maintenance yeah Im doing that stuff on my current e30 (replacing gauges and whatnot) and thats not a big deal to me. Those kind of parts are not hard to put in usually.

                      Im pretty good with e30s in general for maintenance so I think I can handle a m3 for the most part. I am just REALLY worried about the body condition, up here in MN rust is a huge deal, one of the reasons im selling my e30 now.

                      THANKS A BUNCH for the help guys, you really know your stuff and you were a big help, im going up tomorrow (Thursday) to look at it.


                      • #12
                        Oh yeah, what all goes into a compression test? Whats the compression for a e30 m3 supposed to be? Thanks


                        • #13
                          Where can Equate look for rust? I don't know but I know others do. It sounds like this info could be very helpful.
                          "It is needless to say that self-propelling vehicles, like other machines, will never do as much for one who does not understand them as for one who does."


                          • #14
                            I know where, under doors and edges of wheel wells, edges of trunk and by the license plate lights. Theres where all mine is now.


                            • #15
                              If you ever hope to have the air conditioning working again be prepared to spend a couple grand on that alone.