Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Das 325i

Okay, all of you know that my wheels are always turning, dreaming and scheming of bringing new toys into my fleet. A few of you know that I've been playing around on the San Diego Craigslist, searching for interesting rides in the $2000 range. A usual search involves looking for GTIs, GLIs, Miatas, W124-body Mercedes Benzes and E30 BMWs.

Well, it turns out that a coworker (our CFO) has an unused and seemingly abandoned '89 325i 5-speed coupe sitting in his driveway, incidentally no more than a mile from my home. I spoke with him about it Friday afternoon, he told me to drive on by after work to check it out in person - even though he would not be home to open it up for me.
He's the second owner, having bought it in the early-90s as it came off of lease here in Southern California. It's been a SoCal car for it's entire life, and by the looks of the faded paint and weathered trim, it's spent a lot of time in the sun.
According to the owner, all maintenance has been done on schedule and it has a recent timing belt, water pump and strut inserts. Mileage is 190k - no big deal to the robust E30 chassis and M20 engine.
Price-point Pirelli P4000s have plenty of tread and sit on pitted chrome plated (ick) "bottlecap" wheels.
The interior is clean, with rip-free vinyl seats and as clean as I'd expect a 21 year-old car not owned by an OCD neat freak like myself. Plus it has The Club!
Underneath it's moderately-clean with the only visible rust being some surface rust on the exhaust system.
As I mentioned in the intro, the paint is faded. Really faded. In fact it's the biggest bone of contention I have with the car.
Matte pink with a grey grill. Hmm...
Add to that some flaking clearcoat on some seemingly-fresher rear quarter panels. I didn't ask, but it seems to me to be an indication of prior paintwork.
Who knows though, a couple of afternoons with a rotary buffer and some aggressive polishing compound might make a huge difference in the car's looks (aside from the chromed wheels - easily replaced with a set of BMW "basketweaves" from a 325ix or another seat of cheapo bottlecaps).
Overall it's a straight, rust-free car without the dings and dents you'd expect to see on a car that was built when I was in the second half of my freshman year in college.
And if it's as mechanically solid as the CFO says, it might be a solid runner that will also help me get some of this urge to tinker out of my system. Plus, it'd give me an excuse to visit area boneyards to pick up fresher badging and trim.

From my conversations, I think he's looking to get about $2k for it. I bet I could talk him down to closer to $1500 if I showed him some Craigslist ads. He's not particularly motivated to sell, but his wife would love to see it out of the driveway - and a guy has been dropping by every month or so, asking if he wants to sell.

Things that I'd have to do to it:
-restore the color, replace some of the trim
-swap out the CP wheels
-add a simple Yakima roof rack (I just need 1A raingutter towers and a faring)
-take care of any minor maintenance needs
-drive the piss out of it

Could be a fun little runner. Thoughts?