1984 BMW 325e Coupe

Murilee Martin of The Truth About Cars posted a Junkyard Find on a BMW 325e recently, so I’ve updated this two-year old post.

“High technology dedicated to heightening your pulse rate.”

I see BMW’s 325e as a rare misstep for BMW in the eighties, a decade where BMW generally could do no wrong.

The e stood for efficiency and the engine was BMW’s torque-optimized M20B27 2.7 liter inline 6 with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, making 121 bhp and 170 lb-ft of torque with a fairly low 4,700 rpm redline. Mileage by the standards of the day was pretty good: 21 city/28 highway (18/26 by 2016 standards) with the standard five-speed manual transmission. Proud new owners of a 325e could expect about 320 miles of range with a 10% reserve.

0-60 mph with the five-speed manual took between 8.5 and 9 seconds and the top speed was 116 mph—not exactly the kind of numbers one would expect from the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” As Car and Driver wrote, “the 325e is less of a goer than you would imagine.”

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $19,700 325e (about $47,700 in 2016 dollars) included power four-wheel disk brakes, bumper-mounted fog lights, and 195/60R14 tires (the same size as those on the Isuzu Impulse). Inside, the 325e came well-equipped: power steering, cloth or leatherette manual sport seats, a power sunroof, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, cruise control, air conditioning, a three spoke leather sport steering wheel, and a BMW/Alpine four-speaker AM/FM stereo with cassette and power antenna were all included.

Available options for the 325e were relatively few: a four-speed automatic transmission, leather seats, many choices of metallic paint, and a limited slip differential.

BMW did their best to present the 325e as a legitimate part of their overall product line.

BMW would continue with the 325e as the top of the line 3 series until 1987, when the 325i and 325is were released with the 2.5 liter M20B25 inline 6 featuring a much more sporting 168 bhp. Horsepower for the 325e would climb just a little in 1988, but by 1989 it would be gone, replaced completely in the 3-series model line by the 325i.

Hagerty does not follow 325e values and the 325e is rarely seen in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds. Examples do show up on eBay Motors—as I update this post in August 2016, there is a Bronzit Beige 1984 with a tan leatherette interior, an automatic transmission, a sunroof, and 49,000 miles available for $9,850.

1988 BMW 750iL

“Enter into a new world.”

After a year in production with just the straight 6, the second generation of BMW’s top of the line 7-series sedan got a V12 option in 1988. This engine, BMW’s first production V12, made a fairly effortless 296 bhp from its 5.0 liters and was designated M70.

BMW’s M70 V12, courtesy of Sv650k4 from the Wikimedia Commons.

This was, of course, back when BMW number and letter designations still meant something, so the breakout of the 7-series with the V12 was this:

7 – series

50 – 5.0 liters

i – fuel injected

L – long wheelbase

Of course, at the eye-popping base price of $69,000 (a little over $140,000 in 2013 dollars) the purchaser also got almost every piece of equipment BMW could put in the car. Anti-lock brakes, ZF’s Servotronic power steering, driver’s side airbag, trip computer, and a leather interior were all standard.

Beyond this, there were a few options available such as a limited slip differential. In addition, the buyer of a 750iL was paying the dreaded $1,850 gas guzzler tax—the original EPA estimate was 12 city/17 highway (the modern equivalent would be 11 city/16 highway).

I remember being in one of these cars when it was new and I felt it accelerated like a LearJet: weighing in at about 4,250 pounds, it still could do 0-60 mph in about 7.5 seconds and hit 155 mph—respectable sports car numbers in the late 1980s. At the time Car and Driver called it “the sedan of choice when money is no object”.