Too Nice for Winter: 1989 BMW 325IX

As I’ve mentioned on these pages, I got bitten by the car bug with an E30-chassis BMW. Specifically, a rear-wheel drive 1987 325is, which has the desirable Sport package. This 1989 BMW 325is is the four-wheel drive version, equipped with the rare manual transmission and looking to be well-preserved with the exception of a new paint job. Find it here on eBay with bidding over $6K and no reserve. 

Here’s the trouble with the car like this: the 325ix is, by all accounts, a snow machine. It’s meant to rip donuts in parking lots and storm up the mountainside. This car is too nice for that, with rust-free rocker panels and fresh paint. So if you don’t buy it for snowplowing, then you buy it for the handling, right? Well, not really – that’s what a tradition rear wheel drive model is for. Preserved snow machines like this always present a conundrum.

On top of that, it has beautifully restored sport seats, but is lacking the three-spoke sport steering wheel. Still, this isn’t the cabin to wear your slushy, muddy boots in. Plus, it has a crack-free dash and you don’t want the HVAC system cycling heat behind it on cold mornings, causing cold and brittle dash plastics to crack. The upshot is that if you’re looking to preserve a 325ix out of your enthusiasm for the brand and its lesser-seen models, this is the one to buy – but not to hoon.

Not much is offered about the 325ix’s maintenance history, and you at least want to inquire about the status of the timing belt. These are interference motors, so a tired timing belt can be a real headache. The seller does mention the E30 has been lowered with H&R Springs and Bilstein shocks, a tried-and-true combination if you wish to lower your E30. Overall, this looks like a nice driver and no reserve auction means someone could pull a great deal – just don’t drive it in snow.


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  1. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Holy schnikes, what a beautiful car! That’s a great find, Jeff. I wanted one of these pretty badly in the late-80s when I got a somewhat similar car, a black, rear-wheel-drive 318i with a 5-speed.

    I would love to drive this in the winter but I agree on not driving it where salt will eat it away to nothing, that’s always such a waste and a shame.

    Like 1
  2. Ralph

    I remember thinking these were cool, never saw them down here in FL, but I really liked the concept of a 4WD sport coupe. Looks very clean, it will probably go for decent money. It does really need that 3 spoke wheel, I forgot how fugly the regular wheel was on these.

    Like 1
  3. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I do not mind the wheel. I do have a 3 spoke M wheel on my Z3. Nice ride. I would like to take this rig for a ride. As a motorhead, the BMW cars confuse me with the number thing. Thanks Jeff, always enjoy learning, take care, Mike.

    Like 1
  4. XJSLord

    That car looks like it has the 1991 style bumpers (or euro) instead of the chrome ones found on the 1989

    Like 1
    • RexFox

      I think they went to the painted bumpers in ‘89. Very nice car.

      Like 1
    • Ed

      I also have an 89 with euro bumpers.

      Like 1
  5. Sparkster

    I dated a girl in the early 90’s that would borrow her parents 325 IX automatic. I had the chance to drive it once and proceeded to drive over some lose gravel road and smash the gas pedal to the floor to see how good the AWD system was on this BMW. I was REALLY impressed. Fast forward to 2017 and I find a 2005 model with awd and a manual transmission for $3500. Original owner and a 2 inch folder of records. Not one scarce or dent on this silver with grey leather BMW.. It had 191,000 miles but I didn’t care I had to have it. But I was late in calling and was second in line. The first gal changed her mind after looking at it. I didn’t change my mind and what a blast I have had with this BMW. I now know why folks that own / drive BMW’s gush over how fun their cars are to drive. Some cars you point to the corner and hope everything is transmitted into your steering wheel. In my BMW every corner is a blast. I just need more power. After 3 months of fun I sold her. On to my next BMW, what should I buy next time barn finds ?

    Like 3
  6. Daved

    While I realize paint jobs are expensive, I would have been very disappointed to pay $3k for a respray that looks like this. The orange peel is abhorrent and will require quite a bit of color sanding/buffing to correct. Don’t even get me started on the overspray in the jambs 😒

    Like 3
  7. Todd Zuercher

    Need to do the ‘jack test’ on these before purchase to make sure the awd system is still working correctly.

  8. tian647

    I put almost half-a-million miles on a 1991 325iX, until salt exposure reduced the chassis to mush. I still miss that car’s fantastic nasty-weather abilities and every time I see one for sale contemplate jumping back in. You point out the conundrum exactly – buy one nice enough to want to drive around in and I would feel terrible abusing such a clean and uncommon vehicle.
    Also, the plastic bumpers started in 1989 for all E30s save the cabriolets, this is correct. ’89 was the last year without a standard driver airbag also.


    I had a used E30 in the early 1990’s and loved it. Even then it was a timeless looking and fun car to have. Still look great now. They are a driving machine

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