Wikicars, a place to share your automotive knowledge


Jump to: navigation, search
aka BMW 3-Series
Production 1981–1994
Class Entry-Level Luxury Sports Sedan
Body Style 2-door coupe, 2-door convertible, 4-door sedan, 5-door station wagon,
Length 1988-89 Sedan, Wagon & Coupe: 175.2 in (4450 mm)

1988-89 Convertible: 175.6 in (4460 mm) 1990-91 Sedan, Wagon & Coupe: 170.3 in (4326 mm) 1990-93 Convertible: 170.2 in (4323 mm)

Width Sedan & Wagon: 64.8 in (1646 mm)

Coupe: 65.4 in (1661 mm)

Height Sedan & Wagon: 54.3 in (1379 mm)

Convertible: 53.9 in (1369 mm) Coupe: 55.1 in (1400 mm)

Wheelbase 101.2 in (2570 mm)
Weight 2,360 lb (1,070 kg) to 3,015 lb (1,368 kg)
Transmission Automatic/Manual
Engine I4, 1.6 - 1.8 L (66 - 100 kW)

I6, 2.0 - 2.5 L (92 - 126 kW)

Power N/A hp @ N/A rpm
N/A lb-ft of torque @ N/A rpm
Similar similar (competition)
Designer Designer (lead designer if it was a team effort)

The BMW E30 platform was the basis for the 1981 through 1991 BMW 3-Series entry-level luxury car / compact executive car. It was the successor of the BMW E21 in 1982 and was replaced by the BMW E36 in 1992. BMW continued to produce the cabriolet (convertible) E30 well into 1993. The Touring remained in production until 1994 when the E36 touring replaced it. The M3 cabriolet was never officially offered for sale in North America; it was offered only for the European market.

The famous BMW M3 was first introduced on the E30 platform. A widened version of the E30 front suspension and the drivetrain from the E30 325i were used in the BMW Z1 roadster.

The E30 3-Series was produced in four body styles, a four door saloon, a two door saloon, a five door estate (marketed as the "touring"), and a two door convertible. A Baur cabrio was also available. The 325ix was produced from 1988 to 1992, and featured all-wheel drive. It was available as a two-door (saloon) or a four-door (sedan) and as touring. The BMW M3 utilised a widened and heavily redesigned and restyled variation of the 2 door body style. The M3 shares few parts with other E30 models.

The primary distinctive feature of the BMW E30 models produced for the North American market in 1984-1987 are the elongated front/rear aluminum bumpers. These bumpers are commonly known as "diving boards." In 1988, the anodized aluminum bumpers were shortened by revising the cover/fillers and shortening the shocks. In 1989 the aluminum bumpers were replaced with shorter body-color plastic bumpers.

The cars were powered by a range of inline 4 cylinder (BMW M10 , BMW M40 , & BMW M42) and inline 6 cylinder (BMW M20 and BMW M21) engines, with both petrol and diesel power. Power output for the engines ranges from 140 N·m (100 lb·ft) torque for the 1.8 L (1766 cc) 4 cylinder engine, to 230 N·m (170 lb·ft) torque from the 2.7 L (2693 cc) 6 cylinder petrol engine. The E30 BMW M3 was fitted with a 4 cylinder engine (BMW S14) producing more power, but less torque. 0-60 mph times was around 6.4 seconds, very quick for a car in its time.

Mid-Cycle Changes


Early U.S.-spec E30s all had large metal bumpers, often referred to as "diving board" bumpers. European-spec models had smaller, lighter, and sleeker metal bumpers. Starting in late 86 production in the European market and 88 in the US market, all models except the convertible got plastic bumpers. The convertible retained metal bumpers albeit with shorter shocks for less of a "diving board effect." Convertibles had the larger metal bumpers until model year 1990 when they were facelifted to match the other models.


Early cars had small taillights. 1988 was a transition year with large taillights but still had diving board bumpers. All cars after 1988 had plastic bumpers except for convertibles, which made the change in 1991.

Bumper-mounted foglights were standard on most metal-bumper cars. Sport models with the revised metal-bumper valence as well as some early-model 318i's had integrated foglights. Plastic bumper and 1988 model cars had projector foglights.

American cars were universally equipped with sealed-beam headlights except for 1987-1989 models, which had the option of ellipsoid lighting. All cars after and including 1990 had sealed-beam lights

Early euro-spec cars got H1 lighting. Later cars have the very desirable "smiley" ellipsoids with city lights. These lights use H1 bulbs.

Body styling

Pre-facelift (metal bumper) cars had no rear valence and a bespoke front valence. "es" and "is" models had a sport bumper cover until 1988, when all cars got a new valence with integrated foglights and lip.

Early cars with metal bumpers also had higher rear wheel arches, which allow the fitment of wider tires, but are often seen as worse-looking.

"es" and "is" cars also got a small trunklid spoiler. Convertibles never got spoilers from the factory.


Convertible-model cars do not follow these guielines, and were produced up to 1993, with late models being sold as 1994 MY cars. Convertibles got plastic bumpers and large taillights in 1991.

Styles and Major Options

Certain vehicles come in different trim levels or body styles. Features and major options should be mentioned here.


Add more fields as necessary.

318i (M10b18) 325i/325is (M20b25) 325e/325es (M20b27) M3 (S14)
$Price1 $Price2 $Price3 $Price4
$Price1 $Price2 $Price3 $Price4

Gas Mileage

Add more fields as necessary.

As seen on the website, the City/Highway MPG averages are as follows:

Trim1 Trim2 Trim3 Trim4
c/h c/h c/h c/h

Engine and Transmission

Specifications, details, graphs, pictures and other information regarding the powertrain is placed in this section.


Please make sure to write information of the vehicle's performance in a third-person point of view. This section should include information about the car's acceleration figures, handling, braking, etc.

If using information gathered from Road Test articles from a reputable automotive source, then please make sure to cite the quote.


Warranty options and scheduled maintainance information should be mentioned here.


This section should reference points on safety ratings and features of the vehicle.


Add Photos of the vehicle here.

Please make sure not to use copyrighted photos.


List the colors that the particular <MODEL> is offered in.

Main Competitors

Create links to other <MAKE> <MODEL> pages in this section.

Hybrid Models

If there are hybrid versions of this vehicle manufactured, then please elaborate a little bit on it here.

Unique Attributes

If there are any features of this vehicle that sets it apart from other vehicles in its class, then mention those unique attributes here.


This section should include information on the interior's design, build quality, ergonomics, space (head and legroom, front and rear), features, stowage compartments and overall comfortability and livability. Add pictures wherever applicable and keep information in a third-person point of view.

Resale Values

Add more fields as necessary.

<MODEL> Year
Year X Year X-2 Year X-3 Year X-4
Resale Value
$ $ $ $


Please make sure to keep critiques in a third-person point of view. If using criticisms from a reputable automotive source, then please make sure to cite the quote.


If the vehicle is sold in other markets worldwide, then this is the section to mention that information. Also, mention if the <MODEL> goes by another name in these other markets.

Design quirks and oddities

Refer to any pop-culture tidbits about the vehicle in this section.


List out notable awards that the model has recieved while in production. Boldface the company or organization that gives out the award, and Italicize the name of the award.

See Also

image (between 170-190 pixels)

The BMW Group

BMW | Rolls-Royce | Mini

Current: 1 Series · 3 Series · 5 Series · 6 Series · 7 Series · Hydrogen 7 · Z4 · X1 · X3 · X5 · X6 · 5 Series GT · Megacity EV

M Cars: M1 · M3 · M5 · M6 · M Coupe · M Roadster · M535i · X5M · X6M

Historic: 507 ·Z8 · Z3 · Z1 · 503 · 328 · Isetta · 8 Series · E3 · · · · · · · · · ·

Racing: M3 GTR · V12 LMR · V12 LM98 · 320 Turbo · 3.0 CSL · 700 RS · F1.09 · Z4 GT3 · M3 GT2

Concept: Nazca M12 · Nazca C2 · Nazca C2 Spyder · Z11 · Z13 · Z18 · Z07 Concept · Z9 Gran Turismo Concept · Z9 Convertible Concept · X Coupe · CS1 Concept · xActivity Concept · H2R · Mille Miglia · M3 Concept · CS Concept · Just 4/2 Concept · Concept Z4 Coupe · Turbo Concept · X6 Sports Activity Coupe Concept · Concept X6 Active Hybrid · Concept 1-Series tii · M1 Homage Concept · GINA Light Visionary Concept · M8 Prototype · 750i ActiveHybrid Concept · X1 Concept · Hydrogen Powered Salt Flat Racer Concept · 5 Series Gran Turismo Concept · Z Vision Concept · E1 Concept · Vision EfficientDynamics Concept · SIMPLE Concept · Concept ActiveE · ActiveHybrid5 Concept · Concept Gran Coupé · Concept 6 Series Coupé

iDrive · DesignworksUSA · ConnectedDrive · BMW Welt · Franz Josef Popp · Max Friz

Karl Friedrich Rapp and Camillo Castiglioni Corporate website Independent

image (between 170-190 pixels)

The BMW Group

BMW | Rolls-Royce | Mini


E21 · E30 · E36 · E46 · E90 · E91 (Touring) · E92 (Coupe/Cabriolet) · F30

iDrive · DesignworksUSA · ConnectedDrive

Karl Friedrich Rapp and Camillo Castiglioni Corporate website Independent

External Links

Please include any external sites that were used in collaborating this data, including manufacturer sites, in this section.