1991 BMW 325i Sport sells for a record $66K, putting all eyes on the E30 market

1991 BMW 325i (E30) Sport

Now we’ve seen everything. Following in the seemingly ordinary—but obviously extraordinary—tire tracks of a twin-turbo 1994 Toyota Supra and a 1998 Acura Integra Type R, which both sold for jaw-dropping sums earlier this year, a 1991 BMW 325i (E30) Sport found a new home for the unheard of price of £51,188 (nearly $66,000) at Silverstone Auctions’ sale in Birmingham, England, on November 9. That established a new auction record for a non-M3 E30 BMW.

“Five years ago, that much money would have bought you pretty much the best E30 M3 in the world,” saying Hagerty valuation editor Andrew Newton. “It’s a staggering price for this car today. But E30s, in general, have come a long way, and it seems to have bought a pretty special car.”

Similar surprise and analysis were expressed when the ’94 Supra sold for $121,000 and the ’98 Type-R fetched $65,500. They were special cars, however, and so too is the 325i (E30) Sport that sold at Birmingham.

As Silverstone writes, “Compact, rear-wheel-drive saloons were in short supply in the 1980s, and consequently, the E30 quickly stood out as something special, being lightweight, refined, and offering unparalleled driving pleasure.”

1991 BMW 325i (E30) Sport
1991 BMW 325i (E30) Sport
1991 BMW 325i (E30) Sport
Silverstone Auctions

The BMW 325i Sport, a highly desirable two-door-only car with numerous M-Tech upgrades from BMW’s Motorsport Division, has only 6814 miles on the odometer (as pictured in the auction catalog). It is powered by BMW’s legendary 2.5-liter, 170-horsepower M20 six-cylinder engine, which delivers a top speed 132 mph and acceleration of 0-60 mph in 9.9 seconds.

The car’s motorsports upgrades include an M Technic 2 body-kit and rear spoiler, Anthracite headlining (unique to the 325i Sport), limited-slip differential, M Technic suspension (15 mm lower springs and Boge M Technic shock absorbers), and a five-speed ZF close-ratio gearbox. The car wears its correct, original, and immaculate BMW cross-spoke alloy wheels, but the sale also included a set of now extremely rare and sought after in-period Alpina alloys, which the first owner specified and preferred.

The exceedingly original BMW (chassis #WBAAA12030EG23149) wears 1991-only special-order Granite Silver Metallic paint. The right-hand-drive 325i was sold by Millcars (BMW) of Hampstead. Since 2007 it has been in the possession of a private vendor, who has maintained and serviced it regularly while adding fewer than 1600 miles in 12 years of ownership.

1991 BMW 325i (E30) Sport
Silverstone Auctions

Hagerty senior data specialist John Wiley says, “Among stock BMW examples—and putting aside the M3—only the E30 325i convertible has come close to this value.” In July 2019, also in the UK, a 1990 325i convertible sold for £42,188 ($54,201). [In contrast—and the reason Wiley excluded M3s—a 1988 M3 in #1 (Concours) condition has an average value nearly three times that, $142,000.]

The top 325i sale in the U.S. was $32,000 for a gorgeous red-over-tan 1992 325i convertible with a five-speed and 51,000 miles. That price was well below the big UK sales mentioned above.

“So the question is,” Wiley asks, “will the momentum from the two Silverstone sales cross the pond to the U.S.?” Considering that the $121K Supra and $65.5K Type-R were both auctioned here, we wouldn’t be surprised to see an American spend big money on the right BMW 325i (E30) Sport as well.