Maxim Vintage Car Shopper: 1991 BMW 325i Convertible

Summer demands a convertible, and we demand that you reclaim this aging preppy status symbol as the glorious, warm weather chariot it was meant to be. 
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Summer demands a convertible, and we demand that you reclaim this aging preppy status symbol as the glorious, warm weather chariot it was meant to be. 

The Year: 1991

The Model: BMW 325i Convertible

The Drivetrain: A high-revving, 2.5-liter straight-six engine making 170 horsepower, routed (for ultimate cruising) through a four-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels.

Favorite Five Points:

1.     Nothing zips like an E30 BMW. While tiny in comparison to modern Bimmers, the E30 is totally adequate for four, and that quartet will have one of the better rides—taught, quick, and backed by a sweet, straight-six yelp.

2.     Early nineties BMWs are our favorite vintage—simple and square enough (and with quad lamps) to be explicitly antique, but with enough power and comforts to make them stellar daily drivers.

3.     The sports seats—BMW’s sporting chairs are some of the best, and luckily, this 325i is equipped with that rare option. This car will gently squeeze your dad-bod like lover.

4.     The transmission—to some, a slushbox BMW is heresy, but this little convertible is perfectly equipped for low-stress cruising. Use your free hand to wave at the beauties on the beach.

5.     BBS Snowflake-style wheels: these BMW classics go perfectly with the E30’s boxy shape, providing a bit of sex appeal and race-car look to underpin the stodgy (if elegant) bodywork.

Quirks:

-       Convertible technology has come a long way in twenty years—this convertible is built for summer, and even summer rain, but this is not a 365-day car like contemporary hardtop convertibles.

-       Similarly, this is a rear-drive pleasure cruiser—don’t expect to dash around in the wet as you might in your X5.

-       BMWs of this vintage have finicky gauges, so be sure to check for full functionality. (Or, live on the edge and estimate your speed and oil temperature.)

-       These cars are prone to wheel-well rust—check carefully, but this is a Florida car.

Good Buy?

            This car’s blue book value sits around $4k, which we think is highly undervalued. (That’s the price of a 20 year-old car, not a young classic.) As such, we think the asking price is not unreasonable as a starting point for negotiations. For under $10,000, this would be a great buy, but it’s such a sweet car, we might just pony up and pay in full. In terms of near-classic convertibles, the BMW E30 is far and away our pick—Saabs are less fun to drive, the Mercedes E-class convertible is far too expensive, and contemporary Audis are much less reliable. This red sled, though, is prime. [Find it here at Cars.com]

Photos by Cars.com