Guest contributor: Michael Colby on his 1989 BMW 325i
We admit— seeing Michael Colby’s neat, spoiler-less 325i gave us pangs of nostalgia for our own E30. This simple (by its very nature as well as in the personal touches on display in Michael’s example) two-door sports sedan doesn’t necessarily scream ‘Best in Show’, but in its own subtle way, we find that the ratio of black, silver, and gold has seldom looked as good as they do on this particular car, E30 or otherwise. We invited Michael to chat with us about his 325i, which we suspect virtually any E30 enthusiast would be proud to call their own. We would know.
MCB: Why the E30?
MC: It’s great to drive, has that classic BMW styling, and is pretty uncommon in my area. There wasn’t much not to like about the E30, and the choice came naturally.
MCB: How did you find it, and how long was your search?
MC: Around eight months or so, after having searched Craigslist and the forums like crazy until I found a worthy candidate (ultimately through Craigslist). I looked at quite a few during that time but just couldn’t find one that was nice enough. The Midwest is horrible on cars— rust is very prevalent, and I didn’t want to settle for a rusty E30.
I eventually found this one on the Denver, CO Craigslist in the summer of 2009. After exchanging emails for a few weeks with the seller, I arranged to drive 800 miles each way to see the car, this after only receiving a grand total of three photos of it from the seller. I basically bought the car sight-unseen, which can be pretty tricky/scary in its own right. Luckily, the seller had accurately described the car and ended up being a stand-up guy. Best of all, the car ran well and was rust-free!
MCB: Were you looking for a 325i specifically or had you also considered the 318i/is?
MC: I was specifically looking for the 325i or 325is. I heard that the 318is was great as well, but I really wanted an inline-six.
MCB: What’s it like to own?
MC: It’s been amazing. Of course, like any E30 or any older car for that matter, you have your ups and downs with the car, but at the end of the day you can’t help but love it.
MCB: What’s it like to drive?
MC: It drives great— the classic balanced BMW handling that you often hear about is wonderful. Since I’ve owned the car I’ve done tons of maintenance as well as some performance modification, and it drives like a modern car but looks way better!
MCB: What makes you love this car?
MC: The looks mostly— I love the old school headlight setup, the boxy shape, as well as the interior. The sewing machine BMW M20 (for the uninitiated, this is a term of endearment —Ed.) is a great engine, super easy to work on, and dead-reliable. The E30 chassis is just a solid package all around— looks, interior, engine, handling. Everything just works well together on these cars.
MCB: We notice a number of changes you have made during your ownership of this car, from the black kidney (how you had acquired the car) ‘delete’, to Epsilons, to a MOMO Monte Carlo steering wheel. Describe your approach to modification as well as any inspiration in terms of your vision for this car.
MC: Only lately have I had enough extra cash to really make some aesthetic changes to the car. I didn’t really have a plan at first, just the random pieces that you mention, which I thought would be cool. Now I’m trying to get a clean, simple, Euro look to it, kind of an ‘OEM+’ look and feel. The BBS wheels are more classic BMW than the Epsilons, I personally prefer the wooden Nardi wheel to the Momo, and even the Corbeau seats fit well within the interior and are a huge improvement over the ripped and broken sport seats that had come with the car.
Future plans include different wheels (as I just love the dramatic effect a different set of wheels can have on a car), a repaint, some M-Tech II goodies, and an engine swap at some point. I take inspiration from a lot of the Norwegian-built E30s – those guys build some great cars – and there are also a number of folks on the E30 enthusiast forum r3vlimited.com who have some amazing cars.
MCB: You’re in Iowa, which is perhaps not the most populous state in terms of community for a European car enthusiast. Describe what it’s like to own this car there.
MC: Oh how could I forget about Iowa? In terms of the European car ‘scene’, it’s pretty slim. I tend to socialize more with a Euro car club based in Minnesota called Eurowerks, and they hold yearly events which I try my best to attend. Here in town there are only a few of us who are European car enthusiasts, and we’re definitely overshadowed by the lifted truck people, haha. As far as I’ve seen, I’m the only one out of the three E30s in town who has modified his car, and I really do enjoy the looks I get driving around in an old BMW lowered on some wide BBSes. Luckily, I haven’t really been hassled by the police, either, even though I openly flout the front plate law, haha. It ruins the classic E30 looks, and we can’t be having that!
MCB: What else have you owned? And what would you like to own in the future?
MC: My first car was an Oldsmobile Alero in high school – pretty run-of-the-mill transportation – after which I upgraded to a 2002 Volkswagen GTI with some mods, which was a pretty fun car but no E30. After I sold the GTI, I was car-less for about eight months while I searched for the E30. I now own the E30, a 1990 Volkswagen Jetta that I’m looking to sell, and a 1996 Jeep Cherokee for our terrible Midwest winters. I’d love to pick up an E46 M3 at some point, or maybe a new BMW 1-Series.
MCB: Do you see yourself keeping this car for awhile?
MC: Absolutely— I have no plans to sell this car if I can help it. I would never get back what I have invested; plus, I just like it way too much!
MCB: Any concluding thoughts?
MC: First off, thanks for the opportunity to be featured. Second, the car remains a work in progress and there are some changes coming soon, so stay tuned!
Images © Michael Colby