The BMW 325e was first released in the United States in 1985, in both a two and four door model. It joined the 318i as the second BMW to use the e30 chassis. It came standard with a 2.7 litre SOHC straight-six, producing 121 bhp @ 4800 RPM and 170 lb ft @ 3200 RPM. Production of the 325e and its variants, the 325 and the 325es, continued until 1989, when all 325s were equipped with the more powerful 2.5 litre inline six.

The theory behind the 325e (the 'e' stands for 'eta') was that large amounts of low-end torque would make up for lower horsepower, allowing for good performance combined with good fuel economy. The M20 B27 power plant is very rugged and reliable, but is not as fast as the 2.5 litre M20 B25 motor, which produced almost the same amount of torque, but developed 170 bhp.

The general longevity of BMW engineering combined with the reliability of the B27 motor means that many 325e model BMWs are still on the road. They can be had for $1500-$3000 (or less, if the buyer is willing to do repairs), and will still provide years of reliable transportation. Problem areas include leaky trunk and tail light gaskets, some idle issues caused by failing cold-start injectors and idle control units, and breaking timing belts.

The 2.5 and 2.7 litre motors in the 325 series cars used a plastic timing belt between the crank and the camshaft. If this timing belt breaks, the pistons will contact the valves, and at a minimum, the cylinder head will need to be rebuilt. This problem can be avoided by changing the timing belt every 40,000 miles. A buyer of a used 325 would be well served by replacing the timing belt as soon as possible unless documentation verifying that the belt was recently changed is available. The replacement requires removal of all v-belts and removal of the timing belt cover. It is not difficult for someone with auto repair experience, but probably not a good first project.

In conclusion, the BMW e30 325e is a solid car that will provide reliable transportation for a low initial cost. Quirks such as the timing belt make it much more economical to own if the owner can do their own maintenance. The Robert Bentley e30 BMW manual is an invaluable resource, as is Google.

(the author makes no claims regarding the accuracy of this information - it's not my fault if you can't tell a metric wrench from a hole in the wall, and i will not be held responsible by the use of this information)

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