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3-Series (E21, E30) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1975-1983 and 1984-1991 line. Specific models: BMW 315, BMW 316, BMW 318, BMW 318i, BMW 320/4, BMW 320i, BMW 320/6, BMW 323i, BMW 320i. E30 Family models include: BMW 325e, BMW 325i, BMW 325is, BMW 325ix.

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Old 09-12-2004, 11:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi everybody, I want to take the plunge but very scared of making an expensive mistake!!

Am looking to buy an e30 325 and this weekend, I went to visit an independent BMW garage I heard about nearby (I'm in the UK btw). They didn't have much in the way of e30s for sale, until I spotted one tucked away round the side which I asked about.

The owner of the garage said it wasn't really advertised for sale but for the right offer sure he'd sell it. Originally, it was a 1986 325 that came to them with a blown engine and they decided to use it for an engine conversion. As I understand it, it's a mixture of an ETA "e" engine and "i" head (or vice versa?) to give a "327" - though it's not massively tuned (chatty guy and he started to reel off a list of modifications needed to get some "big power" out of it). It's had about 10,000 miles since the engine rebuild (~100k on the bottom end and the rest of the car) and he assured me it's a "fairly common modification". They used it to demonstrate the conversion and now he and his brother use it as a runabout and don't mind selling it because they would like to do the conversion on a newer e30 as a showcase.

Now if you believe the story that it wasn't "prepared" for sale, I thought the engine bay looked clean (not steam cleaned but tidy nonetheless), it had 4 good tyres and the brake discs front and rear looked in very decent condition (not grooved and worn but not rusty as if unused). However the body wasn't "mint" - the bottom of the rear door had a thumb's worth of rust and the wheel arch too - not sure how major a problem this is. I only had time to do a fairly cursory inspection but am tempted to go back and take it further, as it looked like a candidate for "tidying up" over time..

Assuming I can check out underneath and ensure that the chassis is not a rust-bucket, it's the mechanicals that worry me:

How wary should I be of this engine mod (have you guys heard of it, is it risky)? Would it be impossible to service or find parts for (would I be tied to this garage since it's "their" engine?) and do you think the engine work makes it worth more or less than a stock 325?

Sorry for all the questions but very much obliged for any advice you can give me.

Thanks,
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Old 09-12-2004, 02:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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As far as I know all the 325e's were 2.7L engines. Also putting an "i" head on it sounds like a good idea but it actualy lowers the compression so you loose performance. If it was me I'd stay away from anything "e" based. I would take your time and find a decent E30 325i. The HP difference between an "e" and an "i" is huge, even if the #'s don't show it you definatly feel the huge difference. Now that I've owned a 325i for a while there is no way I'd ever own a 325e.
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Old 09-12-2004, 04:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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cheers for your reply!

hmm... the guy was implying that this was done to make it better engine than a stock 325i (a sort of 325i+), as a showcase for the mod, not for economy reasons - if it's effectively a 325i- then the guy is obviously trying to pull a fast one!

I don't think the 325e was ever sold in the UK, this was a model for the US market for better economy (from what I read it produced less power but more torque lower down the rev range). I think they're all "i"s here.. (I think)

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Old 09-12-2004, 09:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The 2.5 i is a much higher revving performance engine, and my personal preference
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Old 09-13-2004, 05:29 AM   #5 (permalink)
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theres alot of controversy over the 2.7 ie engine, some people say it cant be done others have done it succesfully. the thing about losing compression is all about how you do it. there are probly 10 different ways that ive heard of. you should really do some research about it then find out what the guy actually did. if done right, itll kick a 325i's ass. ive ridden in a done right completed one. do the research and you be the judge. heres a good tech article. read it through.
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Old 09-13-2004, 09:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for yr replies and thanks e30devo for that link!!

I'll ask the guy exactly what he's done to it, if it sounds like it's been "done right" then I guess it'd be worth a bit more than a 325i.. Was a bit worried that I wouldn't ever be able to get it looked at anywhere else, but from what I can see (apart from custom pistons) all the parts in the conversion are stock BMW.

And that also hopefully means it shouldn't be more problematics than a stock 325i.
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Old 09-13-2004, 10:41 PM   #7 (permalink)
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look for a 325is...or an m3 ...but he is right the m20 has tons and tons of possiblilites im going to get one and drop it in my 318is then do a 3ltr conv. ont he engine ill work the fukin streets :P
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