Aside from keeping you dry, the roof of an E30 provides essential rigidity for your car during spirited driving. The roof, or lack of one, is the defining feature of cabriolets.
When looking at an E30 to buy, it is essential to look at the quality of the roof. If there are any signs of rust, even the merest bubble, then more serious problems lie underneath. Repairing roof rust is incredibly complex and laborious, and is often considered terminal.
Sunroofs were optional extras on all saloon and Touring models, but are not considered desirable today. In English weather they are vary rarely used, and yet their design increases wind noise during usage, and significantly increases the risk of developing roof rust. Having a big hole chopped out of the roof also compromises the rigidity, and sunroof-equipped shells are very rarely used in sport or racing-modified E30s.
Sunroofs were always solid panels which recessed under the main roof skin when opened. They were mounted to trays with carried the sunroof panel on runners, and provided a gutter to drain any water that got past the sunroof seal. These gutters are connected to rubber pipes which channel water from the sunroof tray, through the A-pillars to the front sills.
If you are experiencing a water leak, it is very unlikely to be the fault of the sunroof seal. Instead, you should look at the condition of the tray and the rubber drain pipes. If you discover any rust in this, you should think carefully before attempting a repair due to the complexity. To give you an idea of how involved it is, learn more about removing the sunroof tray.
Sunroofs were either mechanically or electrically operated, and controlled by a handle or switch on the roof, just above the rear view mirror. If your sunroof panel is in a poor condition, learn how to remove the sunroof panel. When replacing, it can also help to replace the sunroof seal, which is available as either a one-piece or two-piece component. Sunroof seals can be refitted and reused if required.
All cabriolets were equipped with a soft top roof, which collapsed down behind the rear seats. A hard top was also available as a BMW original part, as well as by third party suppliers such as .
The standard soft top roof was a stitched canvas design featuring a toughened plastic sheet as a rear window. Considering the cost of replacements, it is important to keep your soft top roof in a good condition. Learn how to clean your roof and window.
Over time the rear window can become creased, torn or otherwise damaged. Lean how to replace your soft top window.
Soft top roofs were driven by manual, electric or hydraulic mechanisms:
Over time, the mechanism that controls your roof will deteriorate due to lack of maintenance. To get your roof opening and closing smoothly, learn how to service your electric roof.
Learn how to reset the electric roof.