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phaques 12-09-2003 10:54 AM

Best BMW starter track car?
I'm looking at buying an older beemer to begin modifying for track use, and I'd like to get your opinions on the best stock platform to begin with. So far, I've been considering late eighties or early nineties 325is (on the suggestion of a racing buddy), but I'm also fond of the look of the early 2002's...
Main restriction is budget. I'd like to get into a bone stock car for well under $10K (well under, like half that amount), and then have several K to put into performance mods.

Whaddya think? And why? If you know, what SCCA class would the car you recommend qualify for?


phaques 12-23-2003 05:42 PM

Too late. For $800, I couldn't pass up a chance to acquire a 1988 325 is.

1.2gees 01-04-2004 01:06 AM

I think you made the right choice w/that. You're not the only one doing it though! :)

phaques 01-05-2004 03:19 PM

Thanks! I expect stiff competition... Also Just bought a 1990 535i w/ 154K miles for $5,900, in vgc. not for track use.

ptg95m3 01-28-2004 09:50 AM


Originally posted by phaques
Too late. For $800, I couldn't pass up a chance to acquire a 1988 325 is.
$800 for a 325is sounds like a steal. Good luck with getting started on your racing hobby. :)

phaques 01-28-2004 01:03 PM

Thanks - drove it around today for the first time after doing quite a bit of catch up maintenance, and it ran great. Feels like the brake calipers might need some work (pull strongly to the right), but not much else. Oh, and new suspension - the car wallows up and down like an amusement ride over bumps.

ptg95m3 01-28-2004 03:52 PM


Originally posted by phaques
Thanks - drove it around today for the first time after doing quite a bit of catch up maintenance, and it ran great. Feels like the brake calipers might need some work (pull strongly to the right), but not much else. Oh, and new suspension - the car wallows up and down like an amusement ride over bumps.
That's okay because that's all stuff you'll work on/replace in race prepping the car anyway. I still can't get over the price you stole that car at :D
So many people out here in Ca. are looking for e30 325is cars, we're almost resorting to asking people that we see driving them if they'd want to sell.

What organization/class are you looking to run it in?

phaques 01-28-2004 04:41 PM

Funny you should say that, because that's exactly how I found my car. I'd looked at lots of ads, and was expecting to pay $3-$4K for a decent car. But I drove by a car parked down town, and when i parked I walked back and stuck a card in the window saying I'd been looking for that particular car, and that if he ever wanted to sell it, please call. In brief, he had just moved to town, lived close to work, and had just that week decided to sell one of the family's two cars.. the bimmer. He gave me a quick rundown of the car's condition, answered a few basic conditions, and then said, basically, "because the car is in pretty good condition, I'm going to ask $1,000 for it" I almost dropped the phone. I said "Okay, I'll buy it". He asked me if I didn't want to look at it first, and I said sure, but unless there was some huge problem I'd be buying the car. But I had to negotiate anyway, so we settled on eight.
I think this guy simply didn't appreciate what he had, and I suspect that that is the case more often with the owners of these older BMW's, in contrast with 911's (which I owned until recently) where everybody knows what they've got and thinks it is worth millions, no matter what.

So..I'd do just what you suggest - if you see one you like, ask them if they'll sell. I bet a pretty good portion of those folks have often thought of selling, and some even figured why bother because the car isn't worth anything. who knows. I think I just got very lucky. But again, I'll let you know in a year if it was really a good deal. So far, on parts for catch up maintenance, I've spend about $1K (Jared can verify this...): coolant hoses, thermostat, all fluids, brake lines, all filters, timing belt (this one had about 90K on it...I practically pushed the car home out of fear it would break), ignition harness, distributor, rotor, plugs, and more that I'm forgetting.
So far, I think I'm still ahead.

I'll probably do some FATT's at Summit Point, and some BMWCCA driver's schools, and look at running a race in '05 if I get my act together and actually get a license.

I'll post pictures soon...

olds350 03-04-2004 11:49 AM

My 2 cents on this.....

Either an e30 or e36 4 door. Why? According to the race folks I have spoke w/, the center post inbetween the doors actually stiffens up the frame. Stiffer car, more control. That's it.

rich22 03-05-2004 12:08 AM

2 or 4 door is not a big deal on e30's because the 2 door also has the B pillar. All e30's are sedans, there is no coupe.

SpecE30 04-23-2004 11:01 AM


Bilstein sports, HR race, ST bars, spec tires, safety gear and you have a race car.

Runs with NASA-VA (go to and find the virginia region). at VIR, Summit, CMP, Beaver run.

1987 SpecE30 325i

P.S. I got my car the same way. $750 with 75000 miles. Guy stopped driving it. Perfect for a race car!

Jared at Pelican Parts 05-14-2004 03:27 PM

E30 is the best choice in my opinion

RobertBMW 12-13-2004 06:55 PM

[thread hijack start]
phaques: I have wrecked 1991 BMW 535i automatic I am parting out. Let me know if you need any parts :)
[thread hijack end]

Sorry for posting off topic!

Dtrain325i 05-03-2005 02:41 PM

i got my 94 325i from my neighbor for 2500. 150000 miles on it though. I put in an aftermarket chip and it pulls nicely for a starting mod.

TerryBPP 05-26-2005 12:36 PM

If you guys are interested I have a 1985 318i for sale. Tight suspension, engine runs smooth, and shifts great. Would make an excellent Solo or DE car. $1300. Email me at

TerryBPP 05-26-2005 12:39 PM

and some pics:

I have more if you need them

KillerDynoSoar 07-01-2005 07:35 AM

Hey there from the Uk...

I wanted to race at the Nurburgring in Germany and try alot of the famous tracks out on open days or trackdays. What I didn't want to do is crash my 911 so I went about looking for the ideal track car. I had a few suggestions for Sx's and MR2's but I am a german car guy and like to keep it from the fatherland.
After a false start with looking at a 190E Mercedes Cosworth I went back across looking for the perfect track car.

BMW 325i E30 M-Sports coupe' (a classic)
Has same suspension as the M3
LSD axle!!! (Slippery when wet)
Great weight distribution. Beutiful 6 cylinder torquey motor.
138,000 miles with service stamps up to 136,000
It drives tight and solid.. no electric windows, electric sunroof or Air conditioning because its a track car and doesn't need the weight. No slidey leather seats (just grippy cloth) just standard M sports recaro's which are very supportive and not knackered from the lightweight lady who owned it before.
Its also stealth metalic black or original BBS crossspokes.

The guy that I was buying for in the first place got cold feet. More of a bench racer really so.. I bought it! I was smiling for ear to ear. Can't wait to learn how to power oversteer and stuff.

Nurburgring here I come

Some more shots of my bargin buy. :)

I love it..

merleperry 11-26-2005 04:32 AM

BMW starter Track Car
I've been doing track events for 10+ years and I just switched over to E30's. Wish I had years ago. Check out these links


If anyone is interested in getting into NASA Spec E30 Racing check out these links

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