Estate Sale Find: 1,576 Mile BMW 325ES

1986 325ES

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As anyone who reads these pages knows, I’m a big fan of ’80s BMWs. I own two of them – a 1987 325is and an ’87 535is. This car here on craigslist is a 1986 325ES with only 1,576 miles and it is being sold this weekend as part of an estate clean-out. Though it’s not a desirable 5-speed model, these are very easy cars to perform transmission swaps on and this one will likely find a new home before the day is over.

1576 Miles

I’d love to know the story behind this 3-Series’ epically low mileage. Was it the wife’s car and she didn’t like to drive? Or was it seen as a frivolous purchase that was just nice to have around for when the owners felt like mixing it up between the Bimmer and the 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix it has shared the dusty garage with? No matter what the story is, an early E30 with metal bumpers and the sport package features all still installed (this included a front air dam with integrated fog lights, sport suspension, rear spoiler and sport seats) will always be a desirable car among the BMW faithful.

I can tell you the fresh interior is one of the best features of the mint E30 3-Series. The factory sport seats – which came standard in the ES and IS package cars – are usually destroyed by the time the cars reach this age. The bolsters will at least show some signs of wear. These seats, on the other hand, are flawless. The interior color is called Pearl Beige, which is a very light tan – but not the “white leather” the seller has listed it as. You can also spot the factory 3-spoke sport steering wheel, another standard feature as part of the ES package.

1969 Pontiac Grand Prix

What a combination this is – the lithe, sporty 3-Series parked next to the land-barge Pontiac. This Grand Prix has only covered 140,000 miles and is said to be all original. Like the BMW, the Pontiact has enjoyed what looks like dry, clean storage, just leaving some dust prints to clean before you start driving it. While not the most desirable Pontiac, it at least looks like a clean survivor.

Grand Prix Interior

The interior on the Pontiac is also quite nice, making this listing 2-for-2 in the preservation category. The auction begins tomorrow in Smithtown, New York, so any local Barn Finds readers should definitely check it out. While the automatic is a bummer on the 325ES, it likely means it was never abused in its short stint as a daily driver. The saddest part of this sale will be separating the garage mates, which sound as if they’ve been together for a while. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Avinaash for the find!

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Donnie

    Jeff I think you should buy both cars /you keep the BEAMER and give me the Pontiac .

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  2. randy

    The “eS” is a far cry from an iS. Timing chain vs belt for one. Less power, etc. The E30 “e” cars were and are turds. The same goes for the 5 Srs BMW’s. Lot’s of issues on all of the E-30’s though. I sold hundreds of A/C evaps for these cars.
    Before I started specializing on European cars, I had NEVER sold an Evaporator core.

    Idle control valve and control brain, the list is endless.

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  3. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    Is anyone else getting the Chinese version of CL? When I click on these links the right car comes up, but the text etc. seems to be in Chinese.

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  4. Tom

    Randy is right. BMW everything but engine. Designed for MPGs. The “i” and “is’s” were a blast to drive. The “e’s” were low revving and every time it felt like it was coming on the rev limited cut out. A far cry from the Ultimate Driving Machine.

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  5. Keith Matheny

    Chinese, ah- ya, I did yesterday also. Again, on a CL ad.

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  6. JamestownMike

    I got an email response from the selling stating that they SOLD the BMW for $10,100!

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  7. krash

    …worked in an Esso Station when I was twelve…learned to drive in the twin of the Grand Prix (which the owner of the station used to pick up parts)…I’d be thrown the keys and told to go pick up an exhaust, lunch, whatever
    ….fun car ….just remember looking down that long nose and burying the gas pedal….short delay and the wheels would start spinnin’…

    …..definitely beat the driving lessons @ 4yrs later in my parents 67 Dodge Coronet w/ the slant six (and my Dad watching me like a hawk)..My Dad proudly stating after my first lesson that it was as though I’d been driving for many years….
    …if he only knew…

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  8. DolphinMember

    Definitely agree with the comments on the 325es. That model was designated ‘e’ for eta (efficiency) because it had a long stroke engine that produced more torque at lower RPMs than the ‘i’ / ‘is’ models. But it was dull. I test drove a 1987 325is and a 325es the same week and it was no contest. I owned the ‘is’ for 10 years. Great car. This ‘es’ isn’t worth much even with only 1600 miles.

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  9. Bmwe30

    I’m the new owner of this car. I’m not worried about the speed so the es is fine for me.

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    • randy

      Enjoy it, it is probably safe to assume the timing belt has never been replaced, that should be job #1!

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  10. Bmwe30

    Yes. I’m gonna go through everything. Were gonna just use it for car shows.

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    • Jesse JesseStaff

      That’s awesome news Bmwe30! Please send in more photos once you get it cleaned up.

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    • randy

      I imagine you’ll have the nicest 325eS at the shows.

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    • JeffAuthor

      We would love to see photos of it cleaned up. Heck, I would just like to use photos to verify how mine should be set up (not that I think much is left to correct…God, I hope not).

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  11. dj

    Enjoy the E30. The ES was sold as the Economy version. So they weren’t the street racer, super handling cars the is was. They were an entry level 3 series economy version. I’ve had 3 1987 325is cars. They all were great and I didn’t have any of the problems stated above. You do have maint that is required on these cars. They’re not a car you can jump in and drive 300k without doing something. They weren’t that way new.

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  12. CeeJay

    forget the naysayers that have not done homework…. Great purchase on the e. It displaces 2.7 not 2.5 litres and now you have the chance to build a real good stroker without butchering the car…. You can use the 325e bottom end – 235i head and internals from a 328 if memory serves me correct. you end up with A BETTER ENGINE THAN EITHER SETUP. And the car look factory fresh, and keeps the AC not like when lousy builders add the newer engines(from the E36) for more power/drivability, and say the A/C delete is for extra power (riiight.. the fabrication would cost a fortune to re-run A/C its never about the power)
    I have a Ceramic coated Downturned Turbo manifold from TCD if you decide on a mild Factory-Look upgrade… Again congrats

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  13. Rob garbarino

    I would second the opinion to please post photos of your ES ,I have one as well low miles and attempting to rectify all of the small changes that have been made over the years thanks .

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