BMW are universally renowned for making good, great cars. But in terms of all round usability, value, style and near iconic status, does the BMW E30 325i Cabriolet fit the bill as the all-round best BMW?
The E30 BMW 3-Series is arguably the ultimate ‘Eighties saloon. It was a truly class-less car that along with Wham!, Mrs Thatcher & City boys in red braces epitomised the period.
In relative terms it was expensive. More than, say, a Cavalier or a Sierra, but not so expensive that it was unattainable, moreover it instilled a sense of quality & technical expertise to the market that raised the bar. Of course, the marvellous six pot engine cars giving the halo effect to the whole range that lifted that bar even higher.
A little known fact, in performance terms the 325i was the fastest four-seater car you could buy in the late ‘80’s. A well-known fact, in terms of looks it was drop dead gorgeous.
Featuring a unique open cockpit style, the roof folded easily and quickly, literally disappearing out of sight once down. It was as if BMW engineers made the 325i Cab without a roof, and then suddenly thought, “ve need to haf ze roof for de Englanders”! Yeah, sorry about that, but you get our drift. It just looked right.
Yet, practically, it was still a good daily driver. It had room in the back for two adults, just. And despite a very clever roof design it had a useable boot too.
Handling was spot-on. The 325i felt tight and smooth and extremely capable. It was happy around town or on a M-way. But around the twisty’s was where it excelled. That six-pot mated to rear wheel drive gave the car superb balance. The exhaust crackled, popped and rasped at just the right time. Over-enthusiastic application of the right foot could make the back end break away, but that was also part of the magical driving experience.
In ownership terms the 325i democratised car ownership like no other. Celebrities, pop stars, footballers, Board room executives along with Joe Bloggs and his mate down the pub owned one. It wasn’t quite the Austin Mini, but it sure cut a huge swathe across many demographic boundaries. We doubt BMW thought intended that at the time, they just wanted to build good cars. Instead, they built a great car. Some might argue the greatest all-round BMW car ever made?
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