Classic Cars Wiki
Classic Cars Wiki

1986 BMW 318i

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 1990. 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 (BMW M10, BMW M40, & BMW M42) and inline 6-cylinder (BMW M20 and BMW M21) engines, with both petrol and diesel power. 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.

Body styles[]

The E30 3-Series was produced in the following body styles: a two- and four-door saloon, a five-door estate (marketed as the "touring"), a two-door convertible (the M3 cabriolet was only offered for the European market) and a Baur cabriolet.

The all-wheel-drive 325iX was produced from 1985 to 1991 and was available as a two- and four-door (sedan) and touring (estate).

A widened version of the E30 front suspension and the drivetrain from the E30 325i were used in the BMW Z1 roadster.

The BMW M3 utilised a widened and heavily redesigned variation of the 2-door body style. The M3 shares few 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.

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.


Following on from the E21, at the launch of the E30 range in 1982 it was fitted with M10 straight-4 and M20 straight-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. 4-cylinder

At the launch of the E30 range in 1982, the 316 used a 1766 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) and improving fuel economy.

In 1987, the E30 range was updated. At this time, the M10 4-cylinder engines were replaced with the new, belt-driven cam M40 engines, which also incorporated Motronic injection. The 316 was replaced by a 316i, which used a 1600 cc version of the M40, producing 75 kW (102 PS; 101 hp). Not quite as torquey as the 66 kW (90 PS; 89 hp) 1766 cc M10 it replaced, it nevertheless 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. After 1987, the 318i had 85 kW (116 PS; 114 hp) and was noticeably smoother than the old version.

The 318is was released in 1989. This model featured a new engine, the chain-driven DOHC M42 1.8 L 16v engine. This is the most modern engine available in the E30 range (this engine has been later used in early 318i E36s) and is often referred to as a "mini M3".

The M3 is powered by the BMW S14 engine, a high-revving motorsport engine.


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. This engine boosted the power of the top models to 125 kW (170 PS; 168 hp) and was available in the 325i variants (including the All Wheel Drive 325iX).

An economy version called the 325e (the e stands for the Greek letter eta, 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 softer valve springs. This resulted in 90 kW (122 PS; 121 hp) at 4250 rpm and, more importantly, 240 N·m (180 lb·ft) at 3250 rpm (peak torque for a 325i is 215 N·m (159 lb·ft) at 4000 rpm).

In 1987, the E30 range was updated. The update contained two significant changes in the engine department. First, the M20 straight-6 engines changed from Bosch Jetronic to Bosch Motronic. This boosted the 320i to 95 kW (129 PS; 127 hp) and the 325i to 126 kW (171 PS; 169 hp) and improved fuel economy.


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

A 4-speed manual was available for the 316 and 318i (Getrag 220). The 316 and 318i also had the option of a common 5-speed manual (Getrag 240), while the 323i and 325i had a stronger 5-speed manual gearbox (Getrag 260). It is suggested that the 323i may have had a sports manual as an option and there are conflicting reports about whether the 320i was fitted with the Getrag 240 or Getrag 260. The Getrag 220 does not have synchromesh on reverse, however all other manual gearbox options have synchromesh.

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.

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, and the 4-speed 4 HP 22, which was available on the 320i, 323i, 324td, 325, 325i and 325e models, as well as M40 and M42 316i and 318i.