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BMW 3 Series (E30)

The BMW E30 is a compact executive car with rear-wheel-drive layout (except the all-wheel-drive 325iX) produced by BMW. The BMW M3 was first introduced on the E30 platform. The E30 was released in 1982 and replaced by the BMW E36 in 1992. BMW continued to produce the cabriolet (convertible) E30 well into 1993 and the touring until 1994.
The cars were powered by a range of inline 4-cylinder and inline 6-cylinder engines. The E30 BMW M3 was fitted with a high-revving 4-cylinder petrol engine (BMW S14) which produced 175 kW (238 PS; 235 hp) in its final European-only iteration.
Manufacturer
BMW
Production
1981 - 1994
Predecessor
Successor
Body style
2-door coupé
2-door convertible
4-door saloon
5-door estate
Layout
Front engine, rear-wheel drive (325iX models are all-wheel-drive)
Engine
I4, 1.6 – 2.5 L (66 – 178 kW)
I6, 2.0 – 3.3 L (92 – 145 kW)
Transmission
3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
4-speed manual
5-speed manual
Wheelbase
2,570 mm (101.2 in)
Length
1988-89 Sedan & Wagon: 4,450 mm (175.2 in)
1988-89 Convertible: 4,460 mm (175.6 in)
1990-91 Sedan & Wagon: 4,326 mm (170.3 in)
1990-93 Convertible: 4,323 mm (170.2 in)
Width
Sedan & Wagon: 1,646 mm (64.8 in)
2-door Saloon: 1,661 mm (65.4 in)
Height
Sedan & Wagon: 1,379 mm (54.3 in) 
Convertible: 1,369 mm (53.9 in)
2-door sedan: 1,400 mm (55.1 in)
Curb weight
1,070–1,368 kg (2,359–3,016 lb)
Related

Body styles

The E30 3-series was penned by Claus Luthe, the author of the NSU Ro 80 and the BMW E28 5-series. It was produced as four and two door (often referred to as a "coupe") saloons, two-door convertible (the M3 cabriolet was only offered for the European market), cabriolet byBaur and five-door estate (marketed as the "touring")
The BMW M3 utilised a widened and heavily redesigned variation of the 2-door body style. The M3 shares few body parts with other E30 models; however, many M3 parts can be used on the other body styles and are interchangeable offering the consumer an OEM upgrade.

Production history

Initial release (1982)

Externally, the appearance is very similar to the E21 predecessor, however there are various detail changes in styling to the E30. Major changes over the E21 include interior features and revised suspension (to reduce the oversteer which the E21 was criticised for).
The primary distinctive feature of the BMW E30 models produced for the North American market in 1984–1987 are the elongated front/rear aluminum bumpers. These bumpers are commonly known as "diving boards."

Minor update (1985)

This updated included changes to exterior and interior trim. The 323i model was replaced with the 325i at this time.

Major Update (1987)

In September 1987, BMW introduced a major update to the E30 (often called "Series 2" or "update"). The changes to the lineup were the addition of the touring (station wagon) variant and removal of the 325e model. The M10 4-cylinder engine was replaced by the M40.
External styling changes included the front bumper, rear lights, rear apron, headlight reflectors and licence plate frame. Rust protection was improved with the update. Various mechanical changes were made, including updating of the engine range. In 1988, the anodized aluminum bumpers for the North American market were shortened by revising the cover/fillers and shortening the shocks. In 1989 the aluminum bumpers were replaced with shorter body-color plastic bumpers.

Engines

BMW E30 325i Engine
Following on from the E21, at the launch of the E30 range in 1982 it was fitted with M10 straight-4 and M20straight-6 engines. Over the production run, the M10 was replaced with the M40 and M42, the M20 received various upgrades and the BMW S14 engine was introduced in the M3.
1990–1991 BMW 318is (E30) 2-door coupe (Australia)
1988–1990 BMW 320i (E30) convertible (Australia)
E30 Touring

4-cylinder

At the launch of the E30 range in 1982, the 316 used a 1,766 cc M10 fed by a carburetor and producing 66 kW (90 PS; 89 hp), this engine allowed BMW to offer a cheap, entry-level car in the range. The 318i had the same M10 engine, but with Jetronic fuel injection, pushing power to 77 kW (105 PS; 103 hp) while also improving fuel economy.
The 1987 "Series 2" update introduced a new four-cylinder SOHC engine, the 1,796 cc (M40B18) with 85 kW (116 PS; 114 hp). This engine incorporated Motronic fuel injection, hydraulic valves adjusters and a belt-driven cam. The 316 was replaced by the 316i, which used a 1,596 cc M40B16, producing 75 kW (102 PS; 101 hp). Not quite as torquey as the 66 kW (90 PS; 89 hp) 1,766 cc M10 it replaced. Nevertheless, it offered superior performance. In South Africa and perhaps some other markets, the old M10-powered 316 continued until 1991, gaining the new bumpers when the range was updated. The 316i model (and previous 316 model) was not sold in Australia, where the base model was the 318i.
The 318iS coupe was released in 1989, soon followed by the 318i sedan and 318iC convertible. These models introduced a new engine, the chain-driven DOHC M42 1.8 L 16-valve engine. This is the most modern engine available in the E30 range, incorporating the updated Bosch Motronic 1.3, hydraulic valve adjusters and four individual coil packs. The excellent weight distribution of the 318iS has led to frequent comparisons with the famous E30 M3. Nicknames include "mini M3" or "poor man's M3."
The M3 is powered by the BMW S14 engine, a high-revving motorsport engine.

6-cylinder

At the launch of the E30 range, the 320i (2.0 L M20 with 92 kW (125 PS; 123 hp)) and 323i (2.3 L M20 with 105 kW (143 PS; 141 hp)) were available, both using Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection. These models were not sold in North America, presumably for emissions reasons. In 1985, the 323i was replaced with a 2.5 L version of the M20, which produced 126 kW (169 hp) and used Bosch Motronic fuel injection. This engine was available in the 325i variants (including the all-wheel drive 325iX).
An economy version called the 325e (the e signifying efficiency) was released as a lower revving, more fuel efficient engine. To maximise low-rev torque, the engine was the largest available in the chassis (aside from the rare South African version which was available with the 3.3 L M30). The 2.7 L had a longer stroke than the 2.5 L, with a more restrictive head, four cam bearings instead of seven (less internal friction), and single valve springs where the 2.5l had doubled up springs. This resulted in 90 kW (122 PS; 121 hp) at 4250 rpm and, more importantly, 240 Nm (180 lbft) at 3250 rpm (peak torque for a 325i is 215 Nm (159 lbft) at 4000 rpm).
The 1987 "Series 2" update boosted the 320i to 95 kW (129 PS; 127 hp) and the 325i to 126 kW (171 PS; 169 hp) and improved fuel economy.

Drivetrain

In total, seven transmissions were available for the various models of the E30: four manuals, and three automatics.

Manual transmissions

The standard gearbox for the 316 and some 318i models is the Getrag 220 4-speed, these models had the option of the 5-speed Getrag 240. The Getrag 220 does not have synchromesh on reverse.
The 5-speed 318i models use the Getrag 240 gearbox. This gearbox is also used on the 320i, however with a different bell housing to suit the M20 engine.
The 323i and 325i use the stronger Getrag 260 5-speed. It is suggested that the 323i may have had a sports manual as an option.
The M3 was fitted with a Getrag 265 5-speed manual gearbox. This featured a dogleg shift pattern for European models and a standard H-pattern for North American models.

Automatic transmissions

Both automatic transmissions were manufactured by ZF - they were the 3-speed 3 HP 22, which was available on the M10 316 and 318i models until year 1985, and the 4-speed 4 HP 22, which was available on all models later.

Transmission gear ratios

4-speed manual
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
available on
316, 318i
316, 316i, 318i, 320i
323i standard, 325i
323i sports
316, 318i
320i, 323i
325i
1st
3.76
3.72
3.83
3.76
2.48
2.73
2.48
2nd
2.04
2.02
2.20
2.33
1.48
1.56
1.48
3rd
1.32
1.32
1.40
1.61
1.00
1.00
1.00
4th
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.23
-
0.73
0.73
5th
-
0.81
0.81
1.00
-
-
-
reverse
4.10
3.45
3.46
4.10
2.09
2.09
2.09

Differentials

There were many differentials used on the E30 models. The 316 and 318i shared a differential, as did the 320i and 323i, with the standard transmission. 323i models with sports transmissions had a different differential. The 325i received its own ratio, as did the 325e. The various M3s had special ratios as well. In some markets, LSD differentials were optional for all models (there are cases of 316i and 318i cars with LSD).
BMW E30 M3
BMW 320 E30 Cabriolet
1989 BMW 318i
Baur TC2
BMW 325e Sedan (US)
model(s)
ratio(s)
case size
type(s)
316 before 9/84
3.64
small
open
316 after 9/84
3.91
small
open
316i M10
3.91, 4.10
small
open
316i M40
4.27, 4.45
small
open
318i M10
3.64, 3.91, 4.10
small
open
318i M40 2- and 4-doors
4.10, 4.45
small
open
318i M40 convertible and touring
4.27, 4.45
small
open
318is & 318i sedan
4.10
small
open (USA Spec had an optional 4.10 small case LSD)
320i before 9/85
3.46
small
open
320i 9/85 to 9/87
3.64, 3.91
small
open
320i after 9/87
4.10
small
open
320i convertible and touring
4.27, 4.45
small
open
323i before 9/84
3.23
medium
open
323i after 9/84
3.46
medium
open
324d
3.45
small
open
324td
3.25
medium
open
325i before 9/86
3.46, 3.73, 3.91, 4.10
medium
standard - open
sports – mechanical limited-slip
325i after 9/86
3.64, 3.73, 3.91, 4.10
medium
standard - open
sports - mechanical limited-slip
325i convertible before 9/86
3.46, 3.91
medium
standard - open
sports - mechanical limited-slip
325i convertible after 9/86
3.64, 3.91, 4.10 (USA SPEC)
medium
standard - open
sports - mechanical limited-slip
325i touring
3.91
medium
open
325ix 2- and 4-doors
3.64, 3.73, 3.91, 4.10(US SPEC AUTO)
medium
open, all viscous, 10-100% limited-slip
325ix Touring
3.91, 4.10
medium
open, all viscous, 10-100% limited-slip
325, 325e US-models
2.93, 3.23
medium
standard - open
sports - mechanical limited-slip
325e before 9/85
2.79
medium
standard - open
sports - mechanical limited-slip
325e 9/85 to 12/86
2.93
medium
standard - open
sports - mechanical limited-slip
325e after 12/86
3.25, 3.46
medium
standard - open
sports - mechanical limited-slip
M3 (North America)
4.10
medium
mechanical limited-slip
M3 (Europe), Evolution
3.25
medium
mechanical limited-slip
M3 Convertible
3.25
medium
mechanical limited-slip
M3 Evolution II, Sport Evolution
3.15
medium
mechanical limited-slip
The all-wheel-drive system on the iX models used three differentials to distribute power to the wheels, 37:63 split front to rear. The center and rear differentials use viscous couplings to split torque. The front differential was open.
Models and production volumes
  • 1982-1987 316s - 1.6 L M10B16 I4, 75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) - Greece and Yugoslavia
  • 1982–1987 316 1.8 - 1.8 L M10B18 I4, 90 PS (66 kW; 89 hp)
  • 1988–1992 316i - 1.6 L M40B16 I4, 99 PS (73 kW; 98 hp)
  • 1982–1987 318i - 1.8 L M10B18 I4, 105 PS (77 kW; 104 hp)
  • 1988–1992 318i - 1.8 L M40B18 I4, 113 PS (83 kW; 111 hp)
  • 1989–1991 318is - 1.8 L M42B18 I4, 140 PS (103 kW; 138 hp)
  • 1982–1985 320i - 2.0 L M20B20 I6, 125 PS (92 kW; 123 hp)
  • 1986–1991 320i - 2.0 L M20B20 I6, 129 PS (95 kW; 127 hp)
  • 1988–1990 320is - 2.0 L S14B20 I4, 192 PS (141 kW) Italy and Portugal only
  • 1981–1986 323i - 2.3 L M20B23 I6, 150 PS (110 kW; 148 hp)
  • 1984–1987 325e - 2.7 L M20B27 I6, 122 PS (90 kW; 120 hp)
  • 1984–1991 325i - 2.5 L M20B25 I6, 170 PS (125 kW; 168 hp)
  • 1986–1991 325iX - 2.5 L M20B25 I6, 170 PS (125 kW; 168 hp)
  • 1986–1988 M3 - 2.3 L S14B23 I4, 200 PS (147 kW; 197 hp)
  • 1989–1991 M3 - 2.3 L S14B23 I4, 215 PS (158 kW; 212 hp)
  • 1987–1987 M3 Evolution - 2.3 L S14B23 I4, 200 PS (147 kW; 197 hp)
  • 1988–1988 M3 Evolution II - 2.3 L S14B23 I4, 220 PS (162 kW; 217 hp)
  • 1990–1990 M3 Sport Evolution - 2.5 L S14B25 I4, 238 PS (175 kW; 235 hp)
  • 1985–1990 324d - 2.4 L M21D24 I6, 86 PS (63 kW; 85 hp)
  • 1987–1993 324td - 2.4 L M21D24 I6, 115 PS (85 kW; 113 hp)
 Other markets:
  • 1984–1985 318i - 1.8 L M10B18 I4, 101 hp (75 kW) - North America
  • 1991 318iS - 1.8 L M42B18 I4, 142 hp (100 kW) - North America
  • 1984–1988 325e - 2.7 L M20B27 I6, 121 hp (90 kW) - North America
  • 1986 325es - 2.7 L M20B27 I6, 121 hp (90 kW) - North America
  • 1987–1991 325i/is - 2.5 L M20B25 I6, 168 hp (125 kW) - North America
  • 1988–1991 325ix - 2.5 L M20B25 I6, 168 hp (125 kW) - North America
  • 1988–1991 M3 - 2.3 L S14 I4, 192 hp (143 kW) - North America
  • 1984–1986 333i - 3.3 L M30 I6, 197 hp (145 kW) - South Africa
  • 1989–1991 325iS - 2.7 L I6, 197 hp (145 kW) - South Africa
  • 1991–1992 325iS - 2.7 L I6, 210 hp (155 kW) - South Africa

Global E30 production totals by year

Year
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
Production
*
15,580
218,201
285,134
297,886
329,460
316,075
Year
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
Production
269,074
257,307
246,818
56,363
26,913
18,440
1,997
Note: * The very first E30 that was made ​​in December 1981, but it was just a few of the 323i. Exactly how many is still unknown.

Global E30 production totals by model

Model
Year
Units produced
318i
1987–1991
89,637
318is
1989–1991
41,234
320is (2-door)
1988–1990
2,542
320is (4-door)
1987–1990
1,206
325i (2-door)
1985–1991
113,906
325i (4-door)
1985–1991
83,080
325ic
1985–1993
85,246
325ix
1985–1991
29,589
325e (2-door)
1983–1988
114,498
325e (4-door)
1983–1988
74,789
M3
1986–1991
17,184
The total production from 1982 to 1994 was 2,339,520 units.


Special models

BMW E30 320is saloon (1990)
In addition to the famous M3 there were other special models of the E30. For Portugal and Italy only, due to considerably higher VAT and vehicle tax for cars with engines exceeding 2000 cc, a special model was created: the 320is. This model was produced both in 2- and 4-door versions and was equipped with a 2.0 L (1990cc) version of the S14 engine from the M3, with stroke reduced to 72.6 mm (sometimes described incorrectly as being "sleeved" or of reduced bore), and power output of 192 hp (DIN). The 320is shared the same dogleg Getrag 265 gearbox of the non-US M3 while it had alimited slip differential with the same 25% lock up rate but with a closer ratio. All the 320is were left hand drive and without catalytic converter; ABS and power steering were also fitted as standard equipment. The saloon version appeared in the dealers' showrooms on September 1987 while the 2-door version arrived on March 1988. The 4-door was equipped with 14" alloy wheels and foglights only, while the 2-door model was further equipped with the complete M-Technic II Aero package (identical to the one fitted to the UK-spec 325i Sport and available as an accessory on all other E30 3 Series models), which consisted of a deeper front airdam, additional lower side body panels, an extended valance under the rear bumper and a two-piece rear spoiler. In addition, the two-door E30 320is sported body-colour side mirror housings, shadowline (dechromed) window trim and 14-inch cross-spoke alloy wheels. The springs, shocks and anti-roll bars of all two-doors (as well as four-doors produced from September 1989) are of the more aggressive "Sportfahrwerk" specification. The interior of the 320is was identical to that of other 3 Series models with the sole exception of its unique instrument cluster that utilized the same M3 dashboard with integrated oil temperature gauge at the bottom of the rev counter instead of the econometer present on all other E30s. The car was sold for three years only and produced in 3748 examples (1206 saloon cars, 2542 2-door cars) and for this reason is now becoming a collectors' item.
BMW South Africa's Motorsport division created the 333i in 1986 by fitting the 3210 cc M30 "big six" ("M30B32" of the 733i E23/ 533i E12/ 533i E28/ 633CSi E24) engine to a 2-door E30. The resulting 333i was a major success in saloon car racing in that country and is now a collectors' item. These cars, built with help from Alpina in Buchloe, Bavaria, Germany, featured some interesting compromises like forcing the buyer to choose between air conditioning (vital in South Africa) or power steering (because of lack of space due to the large M30 engine). They were only built in small numbers in 1986. BMW South Africa provided the following specifications for the 333i: Powerplant - M30B32 6 Cylinder 3210 cc 145 kW (197 PS; 194 hp) at 5500 rpm. 285 N·m (210 lb·ft) torque at 4300 rpm. The cars were fitted with a 5-speed manual gearbox and limited slip differential. Braking was enhanced by 296 mm (11.7 in) Alpina dual ventilated grooved front disc brakes. ABS was optional. The cars were fitted with 16x7J Alpina wheels and Pirelli P7 (195/50/VR16) tyres. BMW provided performance figures were impressive, with a top speed of 228 km/h (142 mph). 0–100 km/h in 7.4 seconds, and a standing kilometer in 27.7 seconds at sea level. Actual South African Car Magazine road test figures were a top speed of 231 km/h, 0–100 km/h in 7.23 seconds and a standing kilometre in 28.08 seconds. The test was carried out with a driver, passenger and a full tank of fuel. Only 204 of these cars were produced.
Later when it became clear that South Africa would not be getting the M3, the 325iS was created. Initially this was merely a 325i 2-door fitted with a bodykit and a close-ratio gearbox (improving acceleration at the expense of top speed and economy), but more changes were made to keep the car competitive in South African saloon car racing. Nevertheless, these cars were always sold to the public. This resulted in the 325iS of late 1990. By now several body panels were made of aluminum and the M20 engine grew to 2.7 L and now produced 145 kW (194 hp) and a 0-62 mph in a mere 6.9 seconds as claimed by BMW South Africa. Due to increased competition in the production car race series it was competing in, another version was released in late 1991 called the 325iS Evo. The main revisions were a front aerofoil to smooth underbody airflow, shorter stiffer springs, thicker rear anti-roll bar and changes to the throttle body, exhaust manifold and inlet valves. It produced 155 kW (211 PS; 208 hp) and BMW South Africa claimed a top speed of 235 km/h (146 mph) with a 0–100 km/h in 6.9 seconds. It did win the 1993 Group N race series under Robbie Smith and set various track records in the process.
The cabriolet version continued to be built to the end of April 1993 and the touring version continued to be built to the end of February 1994.

Suspension

One of the features that added to the roominess of the E30 was the suspension. The front MacPherson struts and rear semi-trailing arm suspension were a compact arrangement that left a lot of cabin and boot space for the car's overall size. The semi-trailing arms have been criticized for the dynamic toe & camber changes inherent to the suspension geometry, causing bump steer in hard cornering situations (such as racing and autocross). This has contributed to the E30 as having a reputation for "tail happy" handling, where rear grip is reduced in certain situations, leading to oversteer.
The M3 model has unique suspension compared to the rest of the E30 range, including 5 lug wheel bolts.
A widened version of the E30 front suspension and the drivetrain from the E30 325i were used in the BMW Z1 roadster. The BMW Z3 (E36/4) and BMW Compact (E36/5) rear suspensions are also very similar to the E30, but utilizing five-lug hubs. The BMW M Coupe (E36/8) uses a widened version of the same rear semi-trailing arm suspension.

Service indicator

The E30 was the first 3-Series car to be fitted with an onboard service indicator, consisting of an LED bargraph plus Inspection, ABS and Oil Service warning lights.

Top Gear appearance

The episode aired 13 February 2011 contained a challenge for a 4-seat convertible costing under £2000. All 3 presenters purchased E30 325i convertibles. Modifications to the cars included Clarkson's car (the only fitted with an automatic gearbox) having a large paving slab in the boot to improve handling, and Hammond's car (which handled the worst) having aftermarket wheels and lowered suspension. May's car was un-modified, and subsequently won the challenge by a significant margin.

Further reading


  • Jeremy Walton (2001). BMW 3-Series Collectors Guide: Generation 1 and 2 including M3. Motor Racing Publications. ISBN 1-899870-55-5 (paperback).
  • R.M. Clarke (1990). BMW Series 3 - 4 Cylinder Cars Gold Portfolio. Brooklands Books. ISBN 1-85520-149-6 (paperback).
  • A.K. Legg & Larry Warren (1996). BMW 3- & 5-Series Haynes Service and Repair Manual. Haynes. ISBN 1-85960-236-3 (hardcover).
  • Various authors (1993). BMW Serie "3" (Modelos después 1983) Estudios técnicos y documentación. ANETO-ETAI. ISSN 1134-7155 (paperback).
  • Andrew Everett (2006). BMW E30 - 3 Series Restoration Bible. Brooklands Books. ISSN 1855206781 (paperback).
  • Robert Bentley (2003). BMW 3 Series (E30) Service Manual: 1984–1990. Bentley Publishing. ISSN 0837603250 (paperback).

Gallery

BMW 3-Series E30 Coupé front view
1987 BMW 3-Series E30 Coupé rear view
1989 BMW 3-Series E30 Cabriolet front view
BMW 3-Series E30 Cabriolet rear view
1991 BMW 3-Series E30 Wagon front view
1989 BMW 3-Series E30 Wagon rear view
Back to BMW 3 Series
Back to BMW
Last updated on 3 July 2013 at 14:23.

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