Rich Pearce, courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1991 BMW 325i Sport
Years Produced:1985–93
Number Produced:More than 100,000 325i coupes
Original List Price:$26,000
SCM Valuation:$28,455
Chassis Number Location:Engraved into the front of the firewall in the engine compartment, center of the windscreen
Engine Number Location:On driver’s side of engine block
Club Info:BMW Car Club of America
Alternatives:1991 BMW M3 coupe, 1988 BMW M6 coupe, 1991 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 204, sold for $65,555, including buyer’s premium, at Silverstone’s Birmingham, U.K., auction on November 9, 2019.

Collector-car publications here and abroad are abuzz over the “patently absurd” sale of a “pedestrian” BMW E30 in Birmingham, England.

Our subject car set a new non-M-spec E30 auction record and sold for a seemingly astounding $65,555. Has Mad Cow Disease taken over Birmingham, or is this a correct market outcome? Are we poised to see more sales like this one in the future? After much research, consideration and deliberation, the evidence suggests that the winning bidder should not check into an asylum.

An exceptional example

Let’s first contemplate our subject car. It’s perfect and pristine in every way. This E30 has no paintwork, no stories, and has had very limited use.

For almost 30 years, fastidious enthusiasts lovingly maintained this E30. This two-owner example has only 6,814 verifiable miles and is painted in fantastic, special-order BMW Granite Silver Metallic. As I have advocated on the pages of SCM many times before, a vehicle’s mileage, condition, rarity and color play a decisive role in outlier modern-classic auction outcomes.

Further contributing to this record sale is a tasteful combination of rare M-Tech options, including a factory body kit, rear spoiler, special headliner and factory suspension upgrades. While our subject car is not the highly desirable, bespoke and flared iconic M3 — it’s not exactly a humdrum, plain-Jane E30 either. Whoever originally ordered this car had taste and style — and he or she knew exactly what they wanted in this car.

Hagerty’s valuation editor, Andrew Newton, recently opined on this sale, stating, “Five years ago, that much money would have bought you pretty much the best E30 M3 in the world. 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.”

Eric Keller, founder of Ohio-based M-car expert Enthusiast Auto Group, also chimed in on the car: “This sale result is yet another clear indication of the growing divide between #1-condition survivor examples of the BMW analog All-Stars and the lion’s share of “used cars” that populate the market today. The great drivers’ cars, like E30s, were all so much fun to pilot and enjoy that they all have lots of miles, use and risk associated with their purchase today, now 30 years removed from new. The U.K.-only model, 325i Sport, is basically the equivalent of a North American-spec 325is with the optional M-Tech body kit, an Original BMW Accessory. The previous high-water mark sale for an NA 325is coupe was a 1987 one-owner example with 13k miles EAG sold in 2014 for $39,990.”

An emerging icon

Almost 30 years on, the aesthetics of this particular BMW artifact are uniquely appealing. E30s of this vintage and caliber will quietly grow into this valuation range during the coming years. The E30 is emerging as an analog, manual-shift, rear-drive BWM icon. Its styling represents the zenith of BMW design, and it is still powerful enough to be enjoyed on modern roads.

This particular E30’s overall persona is more attractive than average, and it certainly raised eyebrows and paddles at Silverstone.

There is a large and growing demographic that is interested in stunningly crisp and tight E30s — especially in the right color and equipped with special factory options and a desirable three-pedal manual gearbox.

Serious bidders at Silverstone who were genuinely in the market for an investment-grade E30 had to ask themselves a tough question: Where on earth could they find another? Given the result here, clearly, more than one bidder did not want this one to get away.

Comments are closed.