There’s been plenty of discussion about how Bring a Trailer has changed the world of collecting.

The simplest example goes back to the early days of SCM. When we wrote about a Ferrari Dino selling at Barrett-Jackson, the magazine was the only place that sale would be covered in any detail, or even mentioned.

From the very beginning, we have employed VIN numbers in our reports, so at least market followers could be sure of what cars we were covering. But a little report in SCM was all the exposure the sale was going to get.

Today, when a Dino sells online, the news fires across the internet like lightning flashing in the night sky. Soon enough the sale with all its details is common knowledge.

But there’s more than just awareness going on.

My son Bradley, who has just turned 16, follows BaT like it was an old-time religion. Before we bought his 1982 Collector’s Edition Corvette, he was all over the site looking up past and current sales. He devoured the reader comments and used them to shape his opinion of the cars we were looking at.

Growing up, I used classifieds and swap meets as a way to find cars. Now, online auctions have a global reach and buyers and sellers — yes, even kids — are more fully informed than we could ever have hoped to be.

As I watch Bradley devour information, he is constantly popping from auctions to Instagram to YouTube, Hoovering up information. This generation has grown up surfing the internet and playing video games, so there is no learning curve here.

This brings us to the big question of the day.

Bradley has realized that a two-seat car is not ideal. The most important thing to a teenager is his friends, and the C3 is not the best solution to taking them with you to events.

This doesn’t mean his Corvette was a bad choice, it is just turning out not to be an ideal one. But as I have told him, you never know until you own something how it is going to fit into your life. I speak from experience.

We have room to keep the C3 while he sorts things out. And he enjoyed being the youngest owner at Saturday’s Corvette-themed Cars and Coffee here in Portland.

So, after a couple of days of poking around on the internet, he came back to me this morning and told me (didn’t ask me, told me) that he really wanted a car with four doors and a 5-speed. (Am I supposed to disagree with this?)

He has narrowed the field to a BMW E30 or a Volvo 240.

Not only has he assaulted the BaT database with his quest for knowledge on these BMWs and Volvos, he has joined the various forums and Googled the wide variety of buyer’s guides available online.

Once again, I am literally staggered by how fast he can inculcate and sift through the information available as his interest shifts from car to car.

I’ll keep you posted as his thoughts evolve. Just out of curiosity, which would you suggest – the BMW or Volvo?



  1. Get the BMW. They are built like tanks, parts are inexpensive, and there is a huge community of like-minded young people who own and work on them.

  2. Try to find Paul Newmans old Volvo wagon and see if it’s for sale again. I don’t remember if it was a manual, but it definitely had something special under the hood.

  3. Forrest F Schuck

    I’d say find the best example of an earlier E30 that you can afford. Having owned numerous examples of each, I can say that the Bricks, while interesting in their own ways, are generally uninspiring and a bit clunky. The BMW, if nothing else, will give a nice baseline for the more involving aspects of driving small sedans. (He already appreciates this from ALFA experiences, no doubt). Happy hunting!

    • I say the E30 is PERFECT for his lifestyle at this age. I suggest joining BMWCCA so he’s up on the latest news and events related to the marque.I image he’ll just LOVE participating in Autocross events and displaying his car at the annual O’Fest (held just this past weekend in Providence, RI), Legends of the Autobahn during Monterey Car Week, local Cars and Coffee events, and even a few road rallies and tours. It’s also a great date car and fits in more parking spaces than the Vette.

  4. If he is concerned about the cost of ownership I would highly recommend the Volvo. I owned four of them from about 1978-1999. All used. A 544 with a four speed was a great car and much more sporty than it looked. 145 wagon- great car for a family until destroyed in an accident- not my now ex-wives fault. 245 wagon- owned two weeks until destroyed in another accident- also not my ex’s fault.
    245 turbo wagon with a stick shift. Now there was a car! We called it the war wagon and it was wonderful.
    And then add safety. Doctor told my wife the first accident would have killed her had she been driving anything else.

  5. Go for the VOlvo it has much more room for friends and like luggages in case of road trip and it is much more inspiring than the E30. Also a C3 and the Volvo is the perfect pair…

  6. Regardless of his choice (though I have my ‘correct’ opinion below!) your decision to deftly include him in this fabulous hobby is clearly already paying dividends. That young man needs his own YouTube or IG channel to be the flag waver for the Zellenials et al.

    Far as the E30 or Volvo, many wizened comments already made. Reliability and safety: Volvo. Having owned and driven many, they are a bit likened to driving a file drawer.

    Yet for a little more spark to keep his youthful enthusiasm aglow: BMW. Specifically, if he can land a 325 iS, with the more sporting edge (very mild) of suspension tweaks, nicer wheels, sports seats and probably something else I’m forgetting, it’s like its already been mildly factory tuned and may open his eyes to a safer and more reliable version of the Alfas of your youth.

    Henna Red with Beige leather and a 5 speed sounds just about right. No matter what, enjoy the Journey~

  7. My experience with the Bricks in the past six years has been all about replacing steering racks with Chinese approximations that don’t work and serial burned-out blower motors that are among the worst situated maintenance parts in automotive history. I’d suggest the BMW. They’re lovely to look, are more entertaining to drive, and everything about their interiors except the rare cloth upholstery is of better quality than what you’ll find in a Volvo interior.

    • Volvo! Volvo!! Volvo!!!
      One of the big factors…
      You happen to live in the same city as IPD. The premier tuner and place for aftermarket parts for Volvo enthusiasts…
      The other factor is COST!!!
      I’m willing to bet the cost of Volvo ownership (with up-grades along the way) will be far lower then BMW ownership…
      Oh… What about the Insurance cost difference between the two?

      • I used to date a girl who was on the cover of an IPD catalog, but that doesn’t make the 240 an enthusiast’s car. I had a mildly tuned ’88 325 and she had a 240GLT, and the appeal of her car was lost on me. That was before I ran a shop that worked on them, and now their appeal is a much larger mystery.

  8. I vote for a semi beater(he’s only 16) E30 that he can improve while still driving. That way he can learn first hand all the car lessons he has watched his dad give over his whole lifetime, and enjoy the satisfaction of making the car his own.

  9. In my opinion, the E30s are the best cars BMW has ever built for many reasons, quality of build, dependability, aversion to rust ( I live in NE), and drivability. I loved my 2002 but usually defaulted to my E30 for a drive. I enjoy my E46 but it is needy. The 240s are excellent cars, boring to drive but a a safer environment for teenage boys.

  10. I was looking for Volvo 240s on Craigslist for years, so hard to find an affordable one that’s manual in good condition near me. I ended up randomly finding a 325ix in my search and now have had an e30 for 5 years. I still want a 240 but not sure if sell the e30 for it. A 240 with a turbo however is a dream of mine, I’d take that over a turbo e30.

  11. i had a 528i in high school and it was not a positive experience and 35+ years later i have never owned another BMW. (partially b/c i can’t afford to buy alpina’s… but that’s another story). Conversely I just rolled my 4th volvo, my 945T, over to 200,000 on the way to wagon fest up in tacoma this year. now it’s officially broken in. With IPD right in the young man’s back yard… and such a huge volvo enthusiast crowd here in the PNW i would go for the 240 every day. all day. besides. someone will convince him to LS swap the bimmer and ain’t nobody got time for that…

  12. I’ve owned several of both. My favorite car ever was a 1987 Volvo 240 wagon. Bought it for $700. It was rusted to hell but ran beautifully. As such, I could just drive it and never worry about it. I’m surprised to see these two cars even mentioned in the same breath. You can’t go wrong with either but they are both so different. Both are incredible. The e30 is, well, an e30. The 240, as an ex gf who knew nothing about the 240 and I’m pretty sure thought I was insane for buying it, described it is “a happy car.” If your son decides to go 240, there is a very well restored 240 turbo wagon on Craigslist in Seattle. The asking price is high at $20k but my interactions with the seller as a fellow Avants member have been good and I can’t speak to the 240 turbo but a wagon is definitely the way to go!

  13. How about an Alfa 164? Or a Subaru with a stick? Or even a Pontiac G8 with a stick?