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v12_engine 09-12-2011 11:11 PM

e30 project or a e36?
Hello bimmer fans! im kind of new to this forum.

i'm considering to buy a used car before next summer. although i'm still in school i want to do a project bmw. im thinking of getting a e30 they look pretty nice and classic. though is it worth it buying a e30 and restore it or should i buy a running e30 then from there fix it etc?

if not then should i get a e36 as my frist car? either way as long as i have a bmw i should be happy at the end of every day.

other the other hand, i have took the class auto shop in high school so i know the basic on car like oil change, change fuse, change tire, etc. i have a welder and some basic tools so im really all set for the time being.

what do you think? e30 or e36?

MaxBell 09-13-2011 12:20 AM

First post, nice. This question has been asked a million times before though. xD

E30 was my first. It's been great. I've learned a lot about cars, that's for sure. I don't have much experience with E36, but they're newer. (obviously) I've come to assume that the E30 will be a rarer, more interesting, fun car to drive, but it has less power, more issues. Hard to find a car that doesn't need an immediate couple thousand.

Roysneon 09-13-2011 01:21 AM


MaxBell 09-13-2011 10:08 AM


Originally Posted by roysneon (Post 1523272)

bmw or gtfo.

propr'one 09-13-2011 10:58 AM

e36 and e30 prices are so close to each other now, i'd pick whichever you like better. Remember e36's are newer, have more power, and are heavier/bigger.

karmatose 09-13-2011 03:20 PM

If I were buying, I'd go E30 because I prefer the looks. Sure the E36 is faster, etc. but anything can be made fast depending on how much you want to spend on it.

However, my advice after buying two E30's this summer... Be patient. I jumped at an E30 that was in quite poor shape because I got the itch to buy. This car, even though it looked very salvageable, ended up being far too rotten in the ass end to do anything with and I parted it out. The E30 I'm working on now is a complete project. It's not so much a basket case anymore as I've worked out a lot of the electrical kinks, but after 2 months of looking at and working on it I really want to drive it. I mean, it's in excellent shape and I've got all the parts lined up to finish it, I just have to get them in my possession and assemble. Hopefully a few weeks.

Anyway, moral of this story, if I were going to do it again, I'd have been more patient and bought something closer to "done" so I can enjoy it straight away (there's that patience thing again!). I'd also have the stones to field strip a car in the sellers driveway to see what's actually under the carpet and back seats.

Good luck in your quest!

DIY 09-13-2011 03:30 PM

get a cheap 318i E30 and a E36 engine, best of both worlds ;)...

the tricky part with E30's is just the condition you find them in as karmatose said, some look good and tend to be rotten, so don't get to hasty. its more the body work bushings and brake lines, if the engine in the E30 has less then 300000 you can be singin cause it will last another 150k (with some love but it will get there). My E30 came with almost no rust, but the bushings, brake lines, brakes were garbage, so another 2000$ later my car was certified :P .... you'll find lighter cars are more fun IMHO

E30M42cab 09-13-2011 06:09 PM

E36 LOL.

I thought they all rotted out a long time ago.

njansenv 09-13-2011 07:32 PM

I'd argue that a GOOD E36 makes the better daily driver - quieter, better on fuel (stock M20 for stock M50(2) ).

An E36 hooks up better, especially coming out of corners, largely due to the better rear suspension geometry.

A clean E36 is WAY easier to find.

Despite all that, I'm working on an E30...I just find them more entertaining, with a lot more character.

v12_engine 09-13-2011 11:14 PM

so technically its all up to me on whether to get a e30 or a e36. e30 looks like a fun car to get for a frist car and easier to maintain than the e36 am i correct? also! the e30 looks very classic and has it own character which i love.

im not going to winter drive most likely, but i will be using my car a lot during summer. repair and maintenance wont kill me because i have lots of free time on my hand. i want a really fun first car for the time being.

on other hand note i have some more questions i need to know before getting one. my goal is to get one before new year.
1) if you were me in this situation, what car would you get?
2) which car is easier and cost less to maintain or repair?
3) which will be cheaper on insurance?
4) if im considering buying an e30, what should i really look for?
5) if im considering buinng a e30 that was in accident is that a good idea? iof so, what types of damage will it not make a e30 fixable for the cost? ie - dented chassis.
6) where can i find a good and used bmw especially a e30 or e36 for cheap?'

karmatose 09-13-2011 11:57 PM

E30's are easy to wrench on. I've never wrenched on an E36, but logic dictates... newer car, more tech, a little trickier (someone please correct me if I'm wrong).

Anyway; let's answer some of your questions.

1) I was in your situation and bought an E30. I wanted a Datsun 510, but they're getting up there in price and finding a good one for under $5K is impossible. E30 was a good substitute as they're close in looks, smallish, low tech and rwd.

2) From various trips to the wreckers, I've found several E30s and E36 wrecks available to pick parts from. Parts seem to be roughly the same in price from various trips to and the like. I can only imagine in the next few years that E30 parts will start to get harder to find, but E36es have a way to go before that happens as they're a newer car.

3) My E30 will $40/month to insure as a pleasure car according to my insurance broker. That's full coverage and agreed value. Again, not owning an E36, I can't tell you what that's going to be.

4)Look at the following:
-Lift the carpet and look at the floors. Take a ratchet and 17mm socket with you to pull out the seats. Surface rust is an indicator of things to come. Pay close attention around the dead pedal as that's where holes usually start. Also there's a dip under the seat, look there for rust as well.
-Look at the tail lights and make sure the seals are good. If you spot bubbling around the tail lights, the seals are bad and water has likely been getting into the trunk for a while.
-Look at the jack wells. If water has been getting into the trunk, that's where the rust is going to be. Also remove the spare tire and check out the well. My 318 had a bunch of rust there too.
-Look around the shock towers on all four corners. In the trunk, look for rust/rot on the inner wheel wells specifically up near the cabin. I've never seen an E30 with rust under the hood, so in the front look for stress around the shock mounts.
-Also, like with any used car, look for previous body work.

Mechanically, look for signs of leaks around gaskets, etc. typical wear stuff. When you go for a drive, listen for clunks from the steering rack and the diff. If you can get the car up on a hoist, check the guibo (or flex disc) mounting the driveshaft to the transmission. Also look at brake lines for signs of rust and rot. Chances are, the car will need a valve adjustment, so there's no way around that one.

(I can't think of anything else... anyone care to chime in on something I missed?)

5) If it was a major collision, Hell no! Unless they have receipts from a reputable body shop, and can prove the frame is straight, run. There's too many E30's out there to settle for one that's had extensive body work done to it (unless it was for restoration purposes). Minor bump or dent? Diving boards and good doors are plentiful and front fenders are cheap. Plastic bumpers as I've found out (unless you live or can get to the USofA easy) are stupid expensive.

6) Enthusiast forums like this one. Typically, enthusiasts care about their cars. Take Kijiji and Autotrader ads with a grain of salt and give them extra inspection. Also, southern US or BC cars are the way to go if you have the coin.

Hope this all helps.

v12_engine 09-15-2011 10:50 PM

^ HOLY $@#$ ! thanks for all that useful information! i appreciated it that you took the time and wrote all that! tons and tons of respect

although before buying an e30, how much should i set aside for a restore? like what is the price range you guys spent on restoring/fixing an e30 up?

DIY 09-15-2011 11:01 PM

I know you want to put wrench time in but there's an E30 goin for 3000 I think on the forumn and it had a E36 engine already swapped, you can put a new suspension on it and I think the heater core has some probs, but nomatter how much was done there's more to do... Ill try and send you a link, if I didn't already have one ied prob take a look at this one

DIY 09-15-2011 11:08 PM

Haha! I found it

This guys pretty much does the what's wrong/good with it for ya, go check it out, it looks like a sweet ride, also he's lowerd the price from the first thread. Considering the swap costs enough, I think the price is totally reasonable, as well if you have any questions he seems honest enough

karmatose 09-16-2011 12:17 AM


Originally Posted by v12_engine (Post 1523858)
although before buying an e30, how much should i set aside for a restore? like what is the price range you guys spent on restoring/fixing an e30 up?

I'm into mine for the purchase price + parts so far at around $2250 and I don't have a motor yet. Luckily I'm getting an extremely good deal on an entire drivetrain which should keep my costs to about $3500 to get it from a pretty much gutted shell (if you search the keywords "E30 Shell" on this forum, you'll find my car) to a drivable car. Had I not got several incredible deals, I'd be looking about $5K including purchase price of the shell to get it on the road using quality parts and not cutting corners. This also doesn't include high performance parts.

You can get a really nice E30 for that money that is completely turnkey. I'm just a sucker for punishment and like doing things the hard way.

But seriously, buy El Gato Liso's car. It looks like he's got all the hard work done and the price is more than reasonable.

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