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1988 BMW E30 M3

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Details

Price: $74,800

Mileage: 134,000 Miles

Engine: 2.3-Liter S14B23 4-Cylinder Engine

Transmission: 5-Speed G265 Manual Transmission

Exterior color: Diamond Schwarz Metallic Exterior (181)

Interior: Natur Leather Interior (0295)

Additional features:

Upgraded Timing Tensioner

M Tech I Steering Wheel

Crack-Free Dashboard

Leather Shift Knob

Leather Sport Seats

Map Light Mirror

Continental VDO Stereo w/ Bluetooth

Premium Sound

Stainless Steel Brake Lines

13-Button On-Board Computer w/

LED Light Bar Conversion

H&R Sport Springs

Bilstein Sport Shocks

Aftermarket Exhaust

15-Inch Style 5 Basketweave Wheels

Kumho Ecsta PS31 205/55R15 Tires

Enthusiast Owned

Clean Carfax

Extensive Recent Maintenance:

Refinished Valve Cover and Intake Manifold

Valve Cover Gasket

Fuel Rail Lines

Front Control Arm Bushings/Strut Mounts

Odometer Gears

Seat Shocks

Lots of other Maintenance

Summary

 exterior photo

This Diamond Schwarz over Natur Beige leather 1988 BMW M3 is an outstanding example. Few colors accentuate the iconic lines of the E30 M3, like Diamond Schwarz, which is offset inside by warm Natur leather. With 133,800 miles on the odometer and a ton of significant recent maintenance, it strikes the perfect balance between being in exemplary condition and having proper maintenance updates giving it a broad swath of mission capability from a proud driver example to a collector. Stock options include the M Tech I steering wheel, Natur leather Sport seats, Premium Sound, the 13-Button On-Board Computer, and a Map Light Mirror. Aftermarket additions are a modern/classic Continental VDO stereo with Bluetooth, upgraded timing tensioner, H&R Sport springs, Bilstein Sport shocks, and an aftermarket exhaust—we don’t know what brand it is, but it sounds great! With a build date of December 1987, the service booklet shows an in-service date of February 17, 1988, in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The service booklet shows an Inspection I and an oil change, documenting the mileage at 19K in 1989 and 36K in 1990. From there, the Carfax picks up tagging regular mileage and registration intervals through the 1990s. The Carfax shows it changing hands in 2002 and again in 2016 when it moved to the Chicago area under the current owner (who we are selling it on consignment for).

We have spent nearly a year completing a light restoration to bring this M3 to its full potential. The end result is one of the nicest E30 M3s we’ve had at Glen Shelly. It has clearly been well-cared for in its previous life, being spared harsh winter conditions (lift shots are on our website if you are reading this elsewhere) and the UV exposure that nukes the interiors of western cars. Prior to being sold to the current owner, it was repainted in the original Diamond Schwarz; the majority of the car paint gauge averages 12-16 mils and is in exceptional condition. All VIN tags are in place except for the front fenders, which are painted over, and the hood, which was likely replaced at some point. The interior is exceptional, with a crack-free dashboard and nearly perfect Natur leather seats, the latter being recovered prior to the current owner’s purchase. The motor reportedly had been rebuilt by a previous owner at 70K miles, possibly with some upgraded parts, but we don’t have any documentation to support that. We know that it has an upgraded timing tensioner and is one of the more vigorous pulling 2.3 S14 engines we have driven. Records under the current owner show the expansion tank, rear brakes, oil filter housing gasket, and oil separator hoses being replaced at 132K miles in 2017. The clutch, slave cylinder, output shaft seal, shift selector seal were replaced in 2020 at 133.8K miles.

Our work included addressing some typical oil leaks, the valve cover gasket, refinishing the valve cover and intake plenum with fresh gaskets in the OEM wrinkle black, replacing the fuel rail fuel lines, replacing the brake lines with stainless steel brake lines, a brake fluid flush, and replacing all drive belts. We also replaced the front shock mounts and front control arm bushings. On the interior, we replaced a host of small trim pieces, the driver seat shocks and trim, rebuilt the on-board computer with a Garagistic LED light bar conversion, removed an older aftermarket stereo, and installed the modern period-correct Continental VDO stereo. We also rebuilt the odometer gears, replaced the window switches, rebuilt the driver’s door lock actuator, adjusted and lubricated the sunroof cables, and installed fresh cables and seals. Cosmetically, we paint corrected the exterior and had the stock 15-inch Style 5 wheels refinished and mounted fresh Kumho Ecsta PS31 tires.

The end result is a properly sorted E30 M3 that, as an overall package, is one of the nicest we’ve had at Glen Shelly. It isn’t perfect, but its flaws are few and far between, making it imperfect enough to drive and enjoy, but also being able to proudly stand its own in the Cars and Coffee/Concours scene. These are the best types of classic BMWs to own, and we are highly confident this one will bring endless smiles to its new owner. As it sits, it is a turn-key example ready to be driven across country. We invested considerable time and energy in bringing it up to our standard and look forward to finding its new owner.

Exterior

1988 BMW E30 M3 exterior photo

The Diamond Schwarz paint is in exceptional condition and truly one of the best colors for the E30 M3. It shows the cut lines of the fender flares and body lines without washing them out, as is typical of white or red. It was repainted before the current owner’s tenure, but it is a high-quality repaint. The paint gauge averages in the 12-18 mil range with light areas in the 6 mils and a few deeper areas in the lower 20 mil range (mainly in the left front and rear fenders). The paintwork is very nice, with minimal orange peel, no runs, and very little build-up on the panel edges. Close scrutiny does reveal slight imperfections, a few minor dings (the worse of which is under the driver’s side rear window), and very faint typical cracking on the upper surface of the rear spoiler. There are very light rock chips and a small spider crack on the passenger side of the front bumper cover. There is no notable rust (lift pictures are available on our website if you are reading this elsewhere), however, there is typical surface corrosion on the suspension and undercarriage components. The VIN stickers are all present, except for the front fenders, which have been painted over, and the hood, which was likely replaced. The front radiator support shows evidence of what could have been a light front-end impact, but the damage was superficial. The Carfax also does not report anything. All trim is present and accounted for. The windshield glass is crack-free, with virtually no pitting. The remaining glass is also exceptionally nice. The headlight lenses are crack-free with minor pitting; the front markers are very nice, with a tiny spider crack on the driver’s side. The foglights are perfect. The taillights are also functional and in exceptional condition. We refinished the Style 5 wheels and the center caps, and they are also exceptional with no curbrash. Then we mounted Kumho Ecsta PS31 summer tires, which only have a few hundred miles on them.

Interior

 interior photo

The Natur Beige interior is exceptionally well preserved, with no odors, stains, or serious damage. The nice thing about a northern car that was spared winter exposure is that the interiors are not subjected to Western cars’ dry climate and UV exposure. The leather in this example is very soft, the dashboard is crack-free, and the markings on the buttons and stalks are not UV faded. The anthracite headliner is in great shape, as are the door cards, with the latter showing only light wear. The steering wheel is in good condition, with light wear concentrated near the top. The dashboard is crack-free and in remarkable condition. The instrument cluster is fully functional; we rebuilt the odometer gears as the trip computer was starting to fail (a sign of impending failure). The Continental VDO stereo is a great upgrade adding modern functionality with a period-correct look; it sounds great through the premium sound speakers. We replaced the on-board computer with the Garagistic LED screen conversion; it has no blown-out pixels or failed backlighting. The heat blows warm, and the air conditioning blows cold, but it does have a slow leak that requires period re-charging. The shifter has light wear, and the rest of the center console is in excellent shape. We replaced both window switches. The front sport seats are in excellent condition, with minimal bolster wear. They were recovered prior to the current owner’s tenure, but the leather is a perfect match. We rebuilt the seat shocks on the driver’s seat. The rear seats are also in exceptional condition. All trunk trim is present, along with a complete tool kit, spare tire, jack, and wheel chock. The owners’ manual booklet is present, as is one key.

Mechanical

 engine photo

This E30 M3 is in exceptional mechanical condition. We spent the last year addressing squawks and sorting issues to bring it up to our standard. It is a turn-key M3, ready to be driven across the country. The engine reportedly was rebuilt at 70K miles under a previous owner purportedly with upgraded parts, but we have no documentation to prove that. It does have an upgraded timing tensioner and is one of the strongest pulling 2.3-liter S14s we’ve had. We addressed a few oil weeps and seeps, and replaced the valve cover and intake gasket sets when we refinished those items. It starts on command, idles smoothly, and pulls strongly. There is no excessive timing chain or valve train noise. It has some typical S14 seeps at the front cover and rear of the oil pan, but it does not actively leak or spot—it is a 30-year BMW, though, so it will eventually! The clutch, pilot bearing, clutch slave cylinder, transmission output and shift selector seals were replaced in 2017 at 132K miles. These areas are all dry. The G265 gearbox shifts smoothly, but it does have some slight 3rd-gear hop at 50 mph plus or minus 10 mph, but it is serviceable and does not need to be addressed at this time. The H&R Sport springs and Bilstein sports shocks are perfectly suited for the E30 M3, maintaining a comfortable ride, better than OEM handling, and a tasteful ride height. The brakes are strong. There are no driveline or wheel bearing vibrations. There is an aftermarket exhaust, which adds a little flare without sounding obtrusive. Overall, this has been one of our favorite E30 M3s; we have invested considerable time and energy in bringing it up to our standard, but the end result was worth it!

VIN Decode

 exterior photo

VIN: WBSAK0305J2197515

  • Production Date: December 1987
  • Type: M3
  • Series: E30
  • Body Type: 2 Doors
  • Steering: Left Hand Drive
  • Engine: S14
  • Displacement: 2.3
  • Power: 192hp
  • Drive: RWD
  • Transmission: Manual
  • Color: Diamond Schwarz Metallic (181)
  • Upholstery: Natur Leather (0295)

Options

  • 401 Sunroof
  • 410 Power Windows
  • 530 Air Conditioning
  • 540 Leather Covered Steering Wheel
  • 551 On-Board Computer w/ Remote Control
  • 675 Premium Sound