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.