Japan-Spec E30s Popular in Overseas, Sold at Surprising Prices

In this article, we examine the current value of the BMW 3 Series’ M3 and 325iX, a.k.a. “the Corolla of Roppongi” in Japan, based on the latest auction results.

Why The E30?

Launched in the early 1960s, BMW’s 1500 series was a hit car. It was also known as the “Neue Klasse”, which directly translates to “New Class” in English.

The series continued to evolve as the “1602”, “1802”, and “2002”, and also played an active role in motor sports, thus defining the image of BMW as an ultimate driving car.

Not only the M3, but also all E30 models’ prices are currently on the rise(C)2021 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's
Not only the M3, but also all E30 models’ prices are currently on the rise(C)2021 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

BMW launched the 3 Series in 1975. This was the direct successor to the 02 series, and the first model was called by its model number “E21”, and was produced until 1983. The two round-eyed headlights and inverted slant nose were distinctive features that made it easy to recognize a BMW without looking at the kidney grille. In 1979, BMW updated the model with increasing headlights to four, giving the sedan a top-tier taste.

The 2nd generation “E30” model, which became a big hit in the Japanese market, was introduced in 1982. This model was probably the first BMW model to be recognized by the general public in Japan.

During the Japanese economic bubble period (around late 80’s to early 90’s), the E30 was often seen around Roppongi, a district famous for its popular nightlife scene. It was also called “the Corolla of Roppongi” at that time.

At the same time, the Mercedes-Benz 190E was also a big hit. I was in my early twenties at the time, and I had delusions of buying an M3, a 190E 2.3-16, or a 325iX for skiing. I’m sure there are many people who had the same problem.

The 325iX was the first 4WD car from BMW. It is equipped with a 167 hp 2.5-liter I6 engine, the same engine used in the 325i.

The car’s full-time 4WD gave the car an advantage on snowy roads during the early studless tire era (early 1990s) when studded tires were no longer available in Japan.

At the time, full-time 4WD vehicles included the rally-derived Subaru Legacy RS and the Mitsubishi Galant VR-4, but BMW’s fashionable image was also appealing.

Of course, there was no way I could afford a 325iX on my income at the time, so I ended up buying a Galant. A 325iX at that time was ¥5.98 million, and an M3 was from ¥7.58 million.

The E30 was a huge hit worldwide, and some people think that there are many of them in the used car market. But in fact, only a few maintain good condition.

If the car has a history such as the M3, a homologation car equipped with an engine from the BMW M1, there are many owners who have been taking good care since they were new.

However, in the case of a family car such as the 325iX, there are many vehicles that have been used and driven hard, and even fewer that have been well maintained. As a result, it is very hard to find a 325iX in good condition on the used car market.

NEXT PAGE Second-handed E30s from Japan, How Much Was It Sold For?