WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

EN­GINE WOES

Reg­u­lar cam­belt changes are im­per­a­tive for all en­gines; make sure it’s been re­placed in the last 40,000 miles. Early belt ten­sion­ers can seize, so we rec­om­mend us­ing more mod­ern re­place­ment units. Gear link­ages suf­fer from wear af­ter 100,000 miles but are re­pairable. Shaft seals fail, too – apart from that, the man­ual ‘box is golden.

SUS­PEN­SION UPHEAVALS

Check the joints by rock­ing the wheels when the car is jacked up. Front strut top mount bear­ings go – beware of big clonk­ings up front, spin the wheels and lis­ten for bear­ing rum­blings. Rear damper bush­ings can also go – the steel mount­ing hits the bodywork and punches holes in the metal.

BODYWORK COR­RO­SION

Hot rot spots in­clude the door bot­toms, sills and arches. Front wings crum­ble, but th­ese are eas­ily bought and are a bolt-on item. The chrome­work pits eas­ily. Check front sub­frame mount­ings, too.

ELECTRICS

It might sound ob­vi­ous, but if the car you’re look­ing at has elec­tric win­dows, make sure they work. The E30 is no­to­ri­ous for prob­lem­atic win­dow mo­tor reg­u­la­tors. En­sure none of the check con­trol LED lights are on, and con­firm the cen­tral lock­ing work.

IN­SIDE STORY

In­te­ri­ors vary de­pend­ing on trim level, but they have some com­mon foibles. Seat­belt mounts rot and can be­come un­safe. Lift the car­pets, check for damp­ness and ex­am­ine the floor for rust. The cloth seats found in cheaper mod­els wear well, but leather-clad in­te­ri­ors are worth more when sell­ing on. Head­lin­ings droop, gauges are known to mis­read, and rear light seals fail, leav­ing you with a soggy boot.

DON’T BUY A FAKE

The M3 is the pick of the E30 bunch and its price re­flects that (about £60,000 th­ese days). Many peo­ple have tried to dress up lesser mod­els as M-cars. M3 VIN num­bers start with WBS and they don’t have au­to­matic gear­boxes. Also re­mem­ber, M3s have four-cylin­der en­gines, so one with six is a 325i dressed in wolf’s cloth­ing.

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