These days, the E30 M3 has a near-mythic status not just among BMW fans, but car enthusiasts as a whole. And that status means it and most other E30 3 Series models have appreciated significantly in value. But a few bargain E30s still exist, including some with special features of their own. One of these cars is up for sale this week on Bring a Trailer: a 1991 BMW 325iX.
The E30 BMW 325iX was the German automaker’s first AWD car
Today, BMW offers its xDrive all-wheel-drive system in a variety of models, including sedans. But xDrive didn’t exist in the early 1980s, nor did any of the AWD systems other automakers use today. Back then, 4WD and AWD were limited to off-road and military vehicles. It took the arrival of the Audi Ur-Quattro to spur the development of the first AWD road cars. And in BMW’s case, that first outing was the E30 325iX, Silodrome explains.
First shown in 1985 as the E30 BMW 325i ‘Allrad,’ the production 325iX debuted one year later. However, US buyers had to wait until 1988 to get their hands on one, Autoweek reports. And we only got the sedan, while European buyers could also get it as a wagon.
But while the US-market BMW 325iX was only available in one body style, it’s not identical to the standard E30. It has a wider track, taller ride height, modified front suspension setup, and model-specific wheels and fender flares. And while its 168-hp ‘M20’ 2.5-liter inline-six engine is roughly identical to the ones in other 325i models, the 325iX’s M20 has a slightly different oil pan and block, Hagerty explains.
These modifications are all to support what makes the BMW 325iX unique among E30 models: that AWD system. With a viscous limited-slip center differential it’s “pretty trick” even compared to the Audi Quattro’s system, Road & Track notes. And it lets the 325iX act almost like a RWD car, Autoweek explains. As a result, it’s both fun to drive and easy to drift.
There’s a 1991 BMW 325iX on Bring a Trailer
Even though the US didn’t get the BMW 325iX until 1988, it was only available until 1991. That makes the 325iX currently listed on Bring a Trailer a final-production-year car.
It’s also a fairly well-equipped car with just over 71,000 miles on the clock. From the factory, this 1991 BMW 325iX has A/C, a sunroof, cruise control, an M-Tech steering wheel, power windows, fog lamps, and side-skirt extensions. Plus, while the 325iX was available with an automatic, this car has a five-speed manual. That’s a desirable feature, as automatic 325iXs tend to develop transfer case leaks, Hagerty says.
In addition, this 1991 BMW 325iX has a few noteworthy modifications. It has a front strut bar, Scorpion cat-back exhaust, aluminum radiator, Bilstein shocks, H&R springs, and an aftermarket stereo system with a trunk-mounted subwoofer. Also, the standard seats were replaced with red-leather-upholstered sport seats.
Bring a Trailer notes that this 325iX was in an accident in June 2011. However, since then the damaged hood, front bumper, and front fenders were repaired and refinished. And the timing belt was replaced in July 2020. That’s important for E320 BMWs with M20 engines because they’re interference engines, R&T explains. If the timing belt and water pump aren’t changed regularly, the belt can snap and cause the pistons to damage the valves.
It’s a well-maintained E30 bargain worth buying
As of this writing, this 1991 BMW 325iX is listed on BaT at $10,250 with three days left in the auction. That’s below average for an E30 BMW, which typically costs around $15K on BaT these days.
In terms of reliability, the 325iX is fairly solid, Hagerty notes. Besides the timing belt, the only real issues are occasional part shortages and the need to replace the viscous center differential. However, the AWD is purely mechanical; no expensive or complicated electronics to break. And with some winter tires and extra rust protection, this 325iX could potentially be a year-round classic. Not to mention it’s a bargain way of getting into an E30.
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