E30 - 325il?

A friend of mine just bought a 1986 325i cabrio. I don't have the vin to hand, but according to the dealer that did the PPI for him, the vin number
came up as being a 325e. The engine in the car is not an eta however, it is an "i".
The date of manufacture was 5/86. My friend was told that the 325i cabrio was not available until 87, although I am wondering if 5/86 does qualify as an 87 MY?
The dealer suggested that his car must have been an early pre-production model imported from Germany. The car has the larger "diving board" bumpers, although I suspect they may have been added after being imported. Further evidence that this was a euro-spec car is the presence of the side-marker (indicators) close to the front wheel arches, and elipsoid headlights. I believe the elipsoids weren't introduced until the tail light re-design, (car has original tail-light cluster), so these may have been added later.
The 3-spoke steering wheel is what I believe is referred to as the "sport" wheel (not the M3, "is" or "es" m-tech wheel), with the roundel mounted on the horn push in the centre of the wheel.
The car has the boot lid spoiler found on the likes of a 325is/318is, but this could have been added later.
The black leather front seats are heated, and appear to be identical to those found in the M3.
What is most bizarre is the presence of a 325il badge on the trunk. Very possible a PO put this on, but if they did it was done some time ago and put on very straight. I've seen E30s incorrectly re-badged with E36 style badge, but never one with an "L".
There is also a very small clip on badge on the front grill of the motorsport colours.
FWIW, the car is alpineweiss II, has the 14" basketweaves, came with an OEM hard top, and only 70k. Listed at $4,900, but paid $3,000 cash.
Can anyone shed any light on the unusual aspects to this car?
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Or, in the forums at http://www.bmwe30.net .
It's a bit deep for this group, although you never know what expert might be lurking...
-Russ.
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Thanks for the advice. I do plan on posting to a few of the forums, but as I'm in work right now it's easier to post to usenet. You're right though, I have found there to be several very knowledgable E30 people here.
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Maybe in the US. Certainly there are '86 cabrios in the UK.

New one on me too.

Often added, usually fake.
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Neil wrote:

Neil, a car produced in 5/86 may very well be a 1987 model year car. I am not aware that any cabrios ever came with the eta engines. I believe that they were the 2.5 liter "i" engines through the entire production even when the sedans were etas. However, this may have been a US market thing?
Please post the last 7 digits of the VIN number and I will tell you what the car has (had).
-Fred W
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9677685
Thanks Fred.
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Neil wrote:

Well, Neil, the plot thickens...
I entered that VIN into my BMW ETK (Electronic Part Catalog) and it comes back as: 3 Series E30 325e *Coupe* USA, Trans M, Steering L, Year/Month blank
So I entered it into the TIS (Technical Information Supplement) and it comes back as: E30 325e *SAL*, Year 1986, Eng M20, Gearbox MECH
So, it seems the two cannot agree how many doors you have (2 or 4) but neither of them think this is a cabriolet. They both agree, however that this has the ETA engine and it would appear it is a 1986.
My guess is that either this may be one of the Baur (sp?) aftermarket convertible conversions with a fake 325iL badge (there was no iL by the way) or the car has had some numbers swapped around somewhere along the line. Do the numbers on all of the body parts match the VIN plates?
I think that you might be able to tell if the engine is "eta" or "i" by getting the numbers off the engine block? I believe there is a chart of some sort that will allow us to determine what this really is.
Does anyone else know of any other outward signs that differenciate an "e" engine from an "i"?
-Fred W
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The etas intake manifold has longer runners. If you compare photos of the i and eta engine you'll see what I mean.
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Unfortunately the car isn't a Baur, and it definitely has an automatic transmission and an M20 engine. I'll check to see if the engine is truly an "i" if I can find photos with which to compare.
There are two numbers stamped on the firewall, one of which I presume is the engine number, while the other appears to be a VIN that has been painted over, and partially scratched off. Where the painted-over number is stamped, you can run your finger along the firewall and feel some kind of damage or dent. It definitely got me thinking that for whatever reason, the VIN might have been changed. Would the original VIN be changed for a euro-spec car that was imported into the US?
Where else can I look for VIN numbers on the car?

Where on the engine block are these numbers stamped?

Thanks for your help Fred. I'll report back what else I discover.
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If there's marks around the VIN then it might have been through a chop shop a few years ago when it was a more valuable car. That would go a long way towards explaining mis-matched numbers etc. Does the VIN and other numbers match those on the ownership or registration papers?
Steve

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i vs e - how about drive that automatic at wide open throttle and see what the shift point is in RPM - if it is at or under 5000rpm probably "e", over 6500rpm, probably "i", over 7000rpm, probably no longer running...

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Production date, Jan 24 1986 US production, 325e 2 dr sedan Manual trans Delphin Grey Metallic paint Black leather
WBAAB5409G9677685, full VIN
LSD ABS Central locking Electric sunroof Rear spoiler Electric front windows Sports seats Air conditioning Cruise OBC MSport suspension MSport leather sterring wheel.
If the car currently carrying this VIN is a convertible, it's stolen.
Brett Anderson KMS
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According to www.e30.de the regular production of the E30 started in May 1986, this would fit to the production date suggested by you. I seriously doubt that this car is a preproduction sample, because BMW usually collect these after a while and destroys them entirely (as confrmed by several BMW employees I know personally). It is mandatory for them to do so in order to get these cars street legal in Germany. It sounds very reasonable to me that the E30 convertible came later into markets which require serious modification (UK with Right Hand Steering, US with EPA regulations).
An E30 convertible of that production date in original condition and with German specs does not have most of the modification you describe. The old convertibles are equipped with chrome bumpers, non-ellipsoid headlights, no side marker lights (they do carry a plastic cover instead, as other markets required such marker lights back then). The spoiler on the trunk has never been a factory standard. German spec. Early E30 convertible were available in three versions: 318i, 320i, 325i (The badges on the trunklid read exactly like this). In 1988 BMW introduced the E30 M3 convertible, which has different bumpers and wider fenders. Other badges are not original. In Germany it was quite common to order the car without badge (mine does not carry one), so that only knowledged people would detect the size of the engine by the shape of the exhaust tubes (one tube = 318i, two small tubes = 320i, two big tubes = 325i). 316i and 325e never were officially available as convertible, the same is valid for the diesels.
This image shows an '86 E30 convertible german spec without modification
http://www.schwarzone.de/e30/fotost/f00320/02.jpg
This image shows my '92 E30 convertible german spec, also without modification.
http://www.kemperzone.de/page-0019.htm
I am quite sure that the information given until this point are quite accurate, as I do live in Munich/Germany and I own an E30 convertible with M-Technic option package. This car does feature a small M-Technic logo in the lower spoke of the steering wheel but no logo in the front grille. The side marker lights confuse me. Maybe the car was sold to Italy. They have regulations very similar to the german ones, so that you can sell a german car basically unmodified to Italy. But they do have the side markers.
Hope that helps.
Frank
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