BMW E30 3 Series
|Body and chassis|
|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)|
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.
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 by Baur 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.
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
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.
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.
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 N·m (180 lb·ft) at 3250 rpm (peak torque for a 325i is 215 N·m (159 lb·ft) 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.
In total, seven transmissions were available for the various models of the E30: four manuals, and three automatics.
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.
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.
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).
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
Global E30 production totals by model
The total production from 1982 to 1994 was 2,339,520 units.
, 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.
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 a limited 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.
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.
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
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