Perfect Winter Beater: 1989 BMW 325iX

My apologies to the seller of this 1989 BMW 325iX, it really isn’t a beater. In fact, it appears to be the exact opposite of that, it was just more of a general, casual term for an inexpensive winter vehicle for folks who live with snow during those months. Is that enough of a disclaimer? This very nice little AWD winter car can be found here on eBay in Aurora, Colorado and the current bid price is just over $4,000 and there is no reserve.

I’ve had winter vehicles for the last 15-20 years, where I’d change to an AWD vehicle in the winter and then switch back to my regular car in the spring. With something like this 325iX, a person could just drive it year-round and you’d have one of the coolest, most eye-catching vehicles around no matter what time of year it was. I drive a Cayenne Turbo now in the winter months and I refer to it as my winter beater so hopefully, the seller didn’t take offense to the title of this post. This looks and sounds like a really nice car. Even though it has 209,000 miles on it, it appears to have been well-maintained over the decades.

Is it perfect? No, but I like seeing a well-maintained vehicle with some road rash and some signs of actually being used. The next owner could elect to paint it and fix a little rust spot that’s starting behind the passenger rear wheel well, or not. Hagerty is at $9,720 for a #3 good condition car, including a 10% deduction for an automatic transmission. If this car sells for much under that price it will have been a good deal. The BMW E30, their second-generation 3-Series, was made between 1982 and 1994. The AWD version, the iX, was made from 1986 to 1991 but only sold in the US between 1988 and 1991. This car has had all new struts and CV boots under the seller’s ownership. They list it as being an “Original Owner” car in their heading but they don’t seem to mention that in the body of the listing so I can’t tell if the seller bought it new 30 years ago or not.

I had a black, 318i two-door version of this car – or an E30, I should say. It was rear-wheel-drive with a 5-speed and it was a great car that I traded in far too early and have never heard the end of that. It was a little hairy driving it in snowy, steep Duluth, Minnesota, though. The late-1980s seemed to be the beginning of the era when manual transmissions were falling off and people would pull right up behind you at a stoplight on a steep hill covered with snow and/or ice. It’s relentless and much worse today but even back then I sometimes wished that it would have had an automatic transmission as this car does.

The seller has done a lot of maintenance work on this beautiful car over the years that they have owned it. The seats have been covered in BMW sheepskin covers and the factory seats look like new. A cool feature that I remember from period advertising and commercials, is the factory ski bag that’s located in a little pass-thru between the rear seatbacks. The trunk is another area that BMW owners are usually fanatical about, as far as tracking down every single tool and piece of equipment that may be missing or may not have been available on US-based cars. I had a BMW 528iT wagon a few years ago and I looked online forever to find a couple of missing items for the trunk, including a foldable warning triangle that US cars apparently never received. This fold-down tool kit appears to be missing a couple of things but that’ll be part of the fun for the next owner since they most likely won’t have to worry about mechanical work to do for quite a while.

The engine is gorgeous, it looks almost like new under the clamshell hood, or maybe even better than new in spots. This 2.5L silky-smooth inline-six should have around 170 hp and this past summer, the seller had the whole top end rebuilt to cure a cooling issue. The entire head was rebuilt and new valves and seals were added, and as long as they had it apart, all of the water/coolant hoses were changed as was the expansion cap, the thermostat, water pump, and all belts including the AC belt and timing belt! That’s a lot of expensive work and incredible peace of mind for the next owner. If I didn’t already have a “winter beater” I would bid on this one, guaranteed. I would love to drive a 325iX in the winter and this is the nicest one that I have seen in a long time. Have any of you owned an E30 with AWD?


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  1. Stangalang

    Nice come back Scotty…nice Beemer too

    Like 3
  2. SusanOliver

    Bimmer parts are crazy expensive. Winter beater? Not for this poor girl.

    Like 7
    • Speedy Gonzalez

      Is that how much people are spending on winter beaters now?

      Like 6
      • Mountainwoodie

        You’re talking about Scottys’ PORSCHE Cayenne TURBO, right? lol

        Writing for BF must be a great paying gig :)

        Back to the car. Hardly a beater but is does have an extra set of doors and a slushbox……..which some people like. I hear.

        Like 2
      • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

        Ha, they sell used ones, Mountainwoodie. After 50+ years of living in a northern climate and 40+ years of working my rear end off, if I’m going to suffer through six months of winter every year, I’m going to drive a nice vehicle that I look forward to driving during that time otherwise I’ll be in a straight jacket.

        Like 2
  3. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Scotty, I cant believe you sold that 528iT wagon! I do know it was twice as long as most of your fun rigs. This is a nice rig but I think the mileage and auto will hurt the big money from coming out. A great rig, perhaps if it was closer I might bid. Hey, its in Colorado. Maybe Howard? Take care, Mike.

    Like 2
  4. davew833

    That’s no beater! Front diff/transfer cases tend to be a problem with these. I’d make sure that’s been addressed.

    Like 3
  5. Vudutu

    Nice car, these will go about forever if you keep up with the maintenance. At 200 k my guess is next big item is some more work on the drivetrain.

    Scotty, what year was your 5Tt, I love the E39s. I looked for months the last time for our unicorn, a T that was not silver or black, when we let go of our 2000 540iMsport. Settled on a 2011 328ix coupe.
    Beemers can be expensive to maintain but oh what a nice ride.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Vudutu, it was a 2000 528iT. I should have kept it, I don’t know what I was thinking.

      • Mountainwoodie

        Scotty – do what I did forty years ago- head for the West Coast :) Of course it aint what it used to be,,,, but what is.

        Beautiful 528iT. I feel you. You can get spun up on moving on and then wonder why you did it! I’m currently riding a 2001 5 speed 325iT. I kinda favor the smaller body of the E46’s but can understand the appeal of the E39’s. Every once in a while I start looking around for something else but I am handicapped by my exceedingly sui generis cheapness lol

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