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Evanuel9 HalfDork
6/4/24 4:33 p.m.

Hi again everyone!

It's been a while. I disappeared for a bit due to some personal and health issues that put the whole car search on hold sadly. However, I finally got back to it a couple weeks ago and have finally got my first car.

Anyone who remembers my thread remembers how difficult I was, I wanted everything and had a bit of analysis paralysis. I had settled on a small, newer hatch and post 90s. But then, this popped up. 

Product photo of 1989 BMW 3 Series · 325i

A 1989 BMW 325i. Originally an auto car but was stick swapped, though it retains the 4.10 LSD. 214,000 miles on the ad (get to this later), and everything seemed functional.

Now I want to make a quick disclaimer. I could not have more respect for the people on this forum who took time out of their day to advise and help me, and recommended to get something from the oughts or newer. I promise I was not just paying lip service and i didn't intend to ignore the advice, but when this popped up for cheap it ticked every box - lightweight (sub 2800 lbs), RWD, driving fun (with that e30 suspension), 4 seats, modern enough to have ABS yet simple to work on., reliable, and stick.

I messaged the seller out of curiosity, had a conversation with him, and then life got difficult and coincidentally he disappeared as well. We slowly stayed in contact, and eventually when I got back into the car search game, I had the car PPI'd. The mechanic noted a few issues, but said that it would be a great driver with a bit of work, and that mechanically everything was very good. Though he did note a missing AC belt when the seller had told me it was functional. I talked to the seller about it and he told me it had snapped but that he was fixing it. Then he said the blower or resistor went out but he would have it fixed by the time I got there if I wanted it.

The car is a colorado car originally, the seller just moved to illinois. It had zero underbody rust or battery tray rust. It has a DSSR Selector Rod, 95A transmission mounts, a new flywheel, clutch disc, pressure plate, driveshaft center support bearing, transmission output shaft seal and shift selector seal. 

Seller was selling because he "just moved and needed the money." 

It took a couple of weeks of frustration, with the seller disappearing, then reappearing and saying he lost his phone, offering days to meet up, and then having my parents say they were unavailable to go. I almost gave up on this car. To the seller's credit though he did say that since I was the first to contact him, he would work with me ahead of the other 40 people that messaged him.

After weeks of frustration we finally found a time that worked with my work schedule, parent's schedule, and seller schedule. Last thursday evening (the 23rd) we decided to drive down, stay the night, and then drive back on friday. And then my dog got sick. We got a quick vet visit in who said he would be ok with some antibiotics, and so we set it up with the walker and got on the road 1.5 hours later than planned for a 6.5 hour drive from chicago to ellis grove illinois. 

We drove in a E36 M3ty rented nissan versa SV with some of the worst fake carbon fiber trim I've ever seen, and horrific seats. We stopped for dinner at a place we'd never seen before - smokey bones, which is apparently a chain barbecue restaurant. The barbecue was awesome, we got a sampler platter, but the wings were the best part of the barbecue. But the true star of the meal was the "bag o donuts" a bag of fresh-from-the-fryer cinnamon sugar donuts. We got back off the road and stopped for the night at a hotel about an hour away, with plans to get on the road by 8 and meet the seller by 9 ish.

The next morning, predictably with my family, we were running late. Seller was ok with it, which was nice, and we got on the road about an hour and 40 minutes later than planned. That worry all faded when we saw it in the garage and I heard it start up! The exhaust is pretty rusted and leaky so it was a bit loud, but still sounded great. 

We all took it for a test drive, and I was really impressed when my mom really got on it. She was taking it up to 5k rpm and quick shifting. She used to have a prelude that she drove to 210k miles in socal, so she knew what she was doing.

I managed not to stall - that 4.10 rear end really helped. We also made sure to check everything. We turned the AC up to full because it was really hot but later on when it cooled off a bit and the noise was bothering us. My parents weren't paying attention but when they turned it down the seller turned it back up. I just assumed he was warm and thought nothing else of it. Plus I was really excited.

We finally got the paperwork all filled out and headed off to the DMV while the seller went to cash the check. The seller's wife came out to help with the paperwork, and seemed quite impatient at all the papers we brought with. I wanted to make sure I had everything I might need having never bought a car private sale. She did not seem happy about it but we just chalked it up to personality types. 

We went to the DMV to get the registration handled when my mom realized her license was expired. My dad would be driving the rental so she was the only other person who could help out and drive the car if I was struggling. You see, it had been a long time since I seriously drove stick, and I never really learned that well anyway.

We left my mom to get her license renewed while we went to pick up the car. 


I struggled quite a bit getting out of the seller's driveway because it was slightly uphill. I managed to stall at multiple stoplights, and gave up on trying to downshift for turns, instead putting it in neutral and shifting into second when i slowed down enough. I stalled during the left turn into the DMV and it took me over 2 minutes to make the turn, annoying the people behind me. Not the best start.


We got on the road and immediately had to fill up. My dad insisted on a picture of me getting my first fillup

We then stopped for coffee, and my mom became the designated cupholder.

We got on the road and went for about 1.5-2 hours before getting a call from my dad to get off at the next exit. We pulled into a classic car dealership and checked out a few of the cars. They had an e21, a horrifically modified e30 325e with a stupid, tiny, 90s tuner steering wheel, terrible body kit, and zero engine modes (why do that with an eta). but we also saw an AWESOME p1800es, which is smaller in real life than in photos.   

As we were leaving, it started to rain. No biggie, I've driven in rain before - in chicago no less. But it just kept getting worse. The rain intensified and got to a point where it was pretty hard to see in front of me. We eventually decided to pull over and try to wait it out. After waiting for probably an hour, we took a look at the radar screen in the rest stop and saw that hail was coming. We decided we'd rather chance the rain than the hail. However, along our route there was another hail storm coming it.

We needed to drive fast enough to outrun the hail coming in, and slow enough to miss the hail coming in. All while driving through driving rain. But, we survived. We avoided the hail, and made it through until the rain slowed down. We kept driving for quite a few hours, until i realized that I was slowly tiring. You see, we were many hours behind schedule, and I had not gotten sufficient sleep. 

I told my parents we needed to stop for coffee and food ASAP. We pulled into a truck stop diner, a type of establishment I've never visited before. It turned out to be awesome. We had the sweetest waitress who kept us topped off with diner coffee, I had an incredible rueben, and we had delicious tater tots and fries with cheese and bacon. ANd the waitress gave us some massive styrofoam cups of coffee for the road (mom became the cupholder again).

This left us with two hours of driving left. About an hour into that drive, I felt the caffeine fighting my heavy eyelids. I was really getting tired. We pulled off for our last fuel stop, and got back on the road - making it home at 12:40 AM. 

Partway through the drive we realized a couple of problems. 

  1. AC only blows on high - which means the blower and/or resistor probably weren't replaced. And I was so excited/stupid that I didn't ask for the receipt
  2. The odometer is stopped. We were stupid enough not to check it. My mom panicked about us being scammed and wondered if the woman's impatientness was an attempt to just get it done quickly before we noticed. The ODO is stopped at 216,628. 
  3. The 95A mounts and 4.10 rear end are LOUD on the highway turning over 3k rpm at 70 MPH
Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
6/4/24 4:37 p.m.

Congrats! I'm glad the Bimmer worked out for you, and I hope it brings you miles and miles of joy.

Evanuel9 HalfDork
6/4/24 4:40 p.m.

Over the past week, I've been driving and practicing with the trans, as well as discovering new problems. I've already put around 525ish miles on the car!

My second day of driving, I had a wonderful road range incident where, with my inexperience with stick, I had a slow start from a stop sign after stalling. A jeep went around and cut me off on a double yellow and after I beeped when he almost hit me, the wonderful gentleman exited his car and threatened to "beat my ass." This really scared me from driving my stick for a while, but I've gotten more practice and gotten better.

I've been practicing driving stick, and still can't properly downshift. However, I can do a good hill start, start from a stop, and upshift well. The shifter is not great - it's incredibly rubbery and vague, and I have to positively move horizontally to get into 5th. I have also noticed a weird clunking/noise when moving into the first shift of each vertical gate. 

I've also slowly accumulated a laundry list of small problems.

  • The second day of having it, I put my rear driver's window down with my friends and it would not go back up. When I got home I was up until 3 am trying to fix it and eventually just disconnected the glass from the regulator and propped it up. The passenger window did a similar thing but after waiting a while and putting it all the way down and then back up we got it back up.

  • The carpet is wet on the passenger side. Pulled up an edge of it and didn't feel any wetness underneath so I don't think there's a hole in the floorboards but it may be water draining from elsewhere. So far I haven't had any wetness even when driving in the rain

  • AC only works on high. Seller told me he replaced the blower motor and resistor. I stupidly didn't ask for the receipts for the parts, and on the test drive we only put it on full and he put it back up when we put it down. Didn't think much of it until we were on the road home.

  • Heat only blow warm as low speeds. Blows cold/cool on the highway

  • Lots of drivetrain noise/gear whine/whirr. Especially noticeable in second or low rpms in 3rd. Sounds like diff. Also some whirring and resistance when going into second if I'm not at a specific speed. has dssr, 95A trans mounts from PO.

  • Rubbing sound when I park and let the clutch out in neutral (TOB?)

  • Humming sound when slow off the clutch in reverse to park. Sometimes a squeak at slow speeds.

  • Squeak/whine at slow speeds with full lock turning

  • Coolant, park brake, and check light on.

Evanuel9 HalfDork
6/4/24 4:40 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

Thank you!! I love it. It is so fun, engaging, loud, vibrate-y, and just a total experience.

Evanuel9 HalfDork
6/4/24 4:43 p.m.







Evanuel9 HalfDork
6/4/24 4:50 p.m.

I also ordered a bunch of new parts - a timing belt kit, odometer gears, new door handle to fix the interior broken one (ordered the wrong side), and a new intake boot because the old one was mostly tape.

Two days ago I decided to swap the boot because I figured it was easy and quick.


Out with the old:


In with the new:



However, when I started it up with would rev to 1k, and then drop to 500 and slowly stutter its way down until stalling out. I couldn't figure it out though I assumed vaccuum leak. After taking another look I realized I had knocked the brake booster fitting into the intake manifold out of place:

Seems like it's friction fit. Should I loctite it?

Evanuel9 HalfDork
6/4/24 4:57 p.m.

The next issue that I would love some advice on it some surface rust and paint issues. Both front fenders have weird deformation and lack of paint. The entire hood is rock chipped and surface rusty. I'm not worried about making it look pretty or properly fixing it - it will eventually need a full repaint and I want to fix the mechanicals before worrying about cosmetics. BUT I do want to protect it so it doesn't rust through. What would you guys do for this?



preach GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/4/24 5:16 p.m.

So. Much. YES!

Evanuel9 HalfDork
6/4/24 7:16 p.m.

In reply to preach :

Thank you! Once i sort the mechanical issues and the important stuff, depending on my funds situation, i plan to throw a z3 rack at it and bilsteins with lowering springs. 

But i really need to learn how to drive spiritedly lol

jgrewe Dork
6/4/24 7:29 p.m.

Nice find! Lose the urethane trans mounts and I'll bet you 5 forum bucks your gear noise and vibration will go away. Also check the area around the shifter, there is usually a lot of sound deadening stuff in there. I bet they didn't put anything there when they did the swap.

I bought a sheet of black vinyl to hide some bigger areas on my track car. Cheap spray can paint can be a pain in the butt when it comes time to sand it off.

If nobody taught you the parking brake trick when starting on a hill, here it is. Push and hold the release button on the lever and you can control any roll by pulling the lever up. That will give you time to get your foot to the gas pedal and find the friction point on the clutch. As the clutch engages and pulls the car forward, let the lever back down.

Check the AC drain, that could be your water source.

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/4/24 8:25 p.m.

Sweet ride!  I agree with using rubber on the trans mounts.  I've been there, done that, in an e30 as well.  

Evanuel9 HalfDork
6/4/24 9:16 p.m.

In reply to jgrewe :

Yeah that makes sense - they are pretty harsh. But honestly I don't mind it all that much. A little annoying when it drones on the highway but I love it when i'm actually changing speeds in the city. 

Are you thinking like the black sticky vinyl kind of thing? Will it damage the surrounding paint for when I got to properly fix it (though honestly, it all will probably need a repaint). Will it protect from rust? Should I wire brush the rusty areas first?

I did have the parking brake trick explained to me, but not in that way. The way it was explained to me was to pull it up and leave it locked. Then press the gas a bit and loosen off the clutch, and then when the car is vibrating put it down. Your way seems like a hand operated brake pedal and better than this way.

Is the handbrake trick "better" than justbeing fast on the gas and clutch?

Where is the AC drain? 

Evanuel9 HalfDork
6/4/24 9:16 p.m.

In reply to Lof8 - Andy :

Thank you! Yeah it will probably make a huge difference. Don't mind it too much though honestly!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/4/24 9:19 p.m.

Much congratulations and very cool find. 

TurnerX19 UberDork
6/4/24 9:47 p.m.

Great find. Peak small car dynamic. Still plenty of knowledge and parts. Easy enough to fix. Congats!!

Apexcarver MegaDork
6/4/24 9:58 p.m.

Regarding the windows, I had a 86 325e in college, that and many other ills were cured cleaning electrical connectors and applying dielectric grease. Cleaning with bits of sandpaper or tiny files mechanically removing oxidation from contacts. I specifically remember removing and taking apart the window switches on mine and giving it that treatment.

trumant GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/4/24 10:02 p.m.

Wonderful first car. Looking forward to updates

jgrewe Dork
6/4/24 10:03 p.m.

I've been driving a stick for about 40 years and I still occasionally use the parking brake trick. I live in Florida so not a lot of hills around, lol.  I used to use it when I owned a few concrete trucks but they had a lever on the dash for trailer brakes that would hit the rear air brakes.

What ever you are comfortable with in the situation. Perfect example would be when someone comes up behind you close, at a light, on a hill.

I don't know where the drain is on an E30 Bimmer, look wherever the air box is. Probably on top of the tunnel.

Here, you'll like this site. https://www.realoem.com/ A lot of parts are NLA but you can see where things are.



iansane GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
6/5/24 11:53 a.m.

Nice first car! Sounds like it was an amazing adventure getting it back as well. That always adds to the bond you form with the car. I enjoy e30s too much(I have 4 of them right now and looking for a 5th).

The A/C drain is usually called the elephant trunk. On the passenger side of the firewall right near the back of the valve cover. Also check your sunroof drains. The front one drains to the rocker just behind where the fender bolts to and can get clogged by improperly jacking up the car as well as with debris.

Like jgrewe said, I'd bet almost all the noises you're speaking of would disappear with softer trans mounts. They're probably not detrimental if you're okay with the mounts.

In regards to the booster fitting, I'd use a strong 2part epoxy to glue it back in.

Get an 'IS' front lip on there, stat. The $100 ebay ones are fine because you'll probably knock it off. Unless you want to spent $500 on an OEM one. Usually you have to do some filing/trimming to the mounts points to get the clips to work. You'll need new clips (I use pt#51711945568, I think 10 of them?)

bbbbRASS Reader
6/5/24 12:27 p.m.

Glad you found one you like! You will learn a ton having an older BMW, and it is such a great driving experience. I would find a nice parking lot, put it in 2nd gear, and just practice slowly lifting up the clutch until the car just starts to creep forward. Learn to hold that position, and that is where you will start getting fast on the clutch.

jamesclay GRM+ Memberand New Reader
6/5/24 3:13 p.m.

Love the car!  We have a few E30 people on staff that are pretty capable on these things.  Reach out if you need us, and congrats!!

Slippery GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
6/5/24 3:18 p.m.

In reply to jamesclay :

That would be www.bimmerworld.com

Always great to deal with. 

Slippery GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
6/5/24 3:21 p.m.

Nice car, I have an '87. 

I rushed through the thread, but agree the transmission mounts have to go back to stock. 

I might have a brand new set that I can donate to your project. I will look this weekend. 

EchoTreeSix New Reader
6/6/24 8:29 p.m.

Sweet find! I wanted an e30 before landing in my e36

Evanuel9 HalfDork
6/9/24 5:51 p.m.

Hey everybody. Sorry I disappeared - I've got a nasty dog bite (anyone want a gnarly picture :D?) and been quite busy. I'm going to respond to everyone soon! Thanks for all the support and love

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