Whats it worth

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Your Dad's workmate's neighbour just told you about an E30 in a shed somewhere, and you want to know what its financial value is. Let's work through the checklist to find out.

For a more thorough guide to getting your hands on an E30, check out our Buying Guide.

Base Value

Cars currently return around 150 pounds at the scrapyard, and the E30 is no different. Before you get all offended, this is purely our BASE price; the Chinese will pay this much for the raw steel of the car. Now we need to know whether there's anything valuable attached, or anything that would reduce the value. So we'll start at 200 pounds to be generous.

Warning: If you can't provide photos of the car, we will never value the car higher than the Base Value.

Model

Some models are worth more than others. You can try to argue with it, but the market decides and buyers will always pay more for a 325i than a 316.

316 316i 318i 320i 325i and 318iS 325i Sport
Add 300 Add 800 Add 2800

Body

It's an unfair situation that 2-door versions command a higher price than the Saloon, but that's the way it goes. Remember, the most desirable E30 models, the 325i Sport and M3, only came in a 2-door body style.

The Cabriolet is the other clear winner. Topless models command a higher price, despite the obvious disadvantage of having a tent for a roof.

There's a mixed feeling about the Touring; some love the stiffer shell and more practical size, others hate the idea of rattling around in a hearse.

So if your car is a 2-door or a Cabriolet, add 200

Shell

This is the most crucial area affecting the car. It doesn't matter what body the car has, if the shell is in poor condition the car can be rendered worthless.

Rust

The biggest factor affecting value is Rust. No-one wants to see scabby patches and crusty bubbles on their car, so any rust will have a devaluing factor. But rust in certain places will render the car worthless. Check it out:

Location Remove value
Wings, Bonnet, Boot lid, Doors 2000 per affected panel
Sills, Floor, inner arches, valances 150 per affected area
Pillars, scuttle, roof Return to base price

Paint

Paint is entirely a matter of taste, and there's nothing to say that one paint colour is better than any other. Some love the early 80s metallic colours including Luxor Beige, while others lust after the simplistic cleanliness of Alpine White. But no matter the colour, if it is faded, patchy or scratched then the price of your car will be reduced. This is especially prevalent for Tornado Red models, which turn Haribo Pink over the years.

Equipment

There is a vast amount of equipment available for the E30, and it's almost impossible to put a financial value on every component. But there are some parts that buyers consider Essential, and without those the car is considered Poverty Spec; the lowest of the low models. On the other side, there are ultra-desirable options whose practical design or market scarcity will ramp up the price of the car.

Therefore, add 500 if the car has at least 3 of the following:

  • Fog lights
  • 13-button OBC
  • Leather seats
  • Sports seats
  • M-tec steering wheel
  • Front electric windows

And add another 1000 if the car has at least 2 of the following:

  • Aircon (in a working condition)
  • Rear electric windows
  • Limited Slip Differential
  • Heated seats

Wheels

Without wheels, the car is going nowhere. And BMW chose an excellent model, the 15" BBS, to grace most models. These wheels are considered the benchmark rim. But that doesn't mean that bigger is better. There are hundreds of Wheels to choose from, and some command thousands of pounds on their own, and others are worth little more than scrap.

As a basic rule, trusted names like Avez and Borbet wheels will add 300 to the price, as will BBS wheels other than the standard 15" basket-weaves. Anything less than standard, like 14" steels or bottletops, will deduct 150 from the price. If the car has been fitted with 17" wheels, especially BK Alpina reps, the car's value returns to base price.

Suspension

The original BMW suspension was a great design from the factory... but that was 20 years ago. If the car is still running its original setup, then the shocks and springs be very tired after 20 years and be very close to the end of their lives, if not already past it.

If the car has evidence of recent suspension work, such as new rear bushes or fresh shocks, then add 100.

Lowering is often increases the car's appeal, but it is important that the parts are from reputable suppliers. No-name coilovers may look good, but will do harm to the suspension in the long run. If your car has Bilstein, Eibach or H&R suspension, then add another 300.

Mileage

These cars will now have seen two decades of driving, and that will have an effect on the condition of the car. But 100,000 stop-start city traffic miles will have done the same damage as 200,000 motorway miles, so smaller isn't necessarily better. And since BMW mechanicals are extremely sturdy, well-maintained cars can reach very high mileages without any signs of wear and tear. So...

  • Mileages under 100k - add 250
  • Mileages over 200k - remove 250

Tax and MOT

The bane of the UK driver is the constant paperwork needed to keep the car legal. The yearly safety check, the MOT, is crucial for knowing where your car's trouble-spots are, while the tax disc in the window is handy for warding off police clamps and council crushers.

  • If the car has NO MOT, remove 500. Note that this may return the car to below base price.
  • If the car has less than three months' MOT, remove 200
  • Add 20 for every month of tax valid on the car.

Extras and Exceptions

At this point, feel free to add or subtract to the value of the car based on the following factors:

  • Stereo
  • Body Kits
  • Other BMW extras (headlamp washers, rear headrests, rear blinds)

For some people, these things matter, and for others not. It's entirely up to you how much you decide to add to the value of a car for the extra bits, but be aware that parts on a car aren't worth the same as they are in a shop. While you may have paid thousands for your stereo system, the fat boom box in the boot may in fact decrease the value of the car to a potential buyer. A car with an expensive audio system but no sign of a recent service should send alarm bells ringing, so get your priorities right. This applies to any car, not just the E30.

We also warn people on body kits. The M-tech kits for Sports models do command very high prices, but fibreglass copies are plentiful, and it's never easy to tell what the car may be fitted with. Also, badly-fitted body kits will lower the value of the car rather than increase them, and are also great at hiding rust, so don't automatically assume that side skirts and valances mean extra cash in your pocket. On the other hand, a missing lip shouldn't detract too much from the value; even the prominent iS lip is fairly cheap to replace and therefore won't impact the price that much.

For other equipment, such as headlamp washers and headrests, it's entirely your discretion. These are mostly pleasantries, not necessities, and as such they don't really affect the price of the car.

What this guide does NOT take into account is matters of personal preference. Some people prefer metallic paint to solid colour, some prefer automatic gearboxes to manuals, and some prefer the earlier chrome body cars to the later plastic facelift models. At the moment, there is no standard for pricing these factors; it all comes down to a matter of taste. Obviously if a car doesn't meet your preferences then you will value it lower, and while the car you're selling may be perfect in your eyes, a potential buyer may see it differently. Therefore, this guide won't increase or decrease the value of a car based on those factors.

Overall Condition

You should now have a close approximation to the market value of the car, whether it's your own to sell or the one you want to buy. But the overall condition, especially how it looks on your driveway, will have the final say in the price one pays.

Our calculations have been based on all aspects of the car being in good, clean, working condition. But if you're taken aback by the factory condition of the vehicle, we'll add more, and if the car has lived a long, unloved life then we'll lower the price. In simple terms, we can put the car into four categories:

Concours Good Unloved Shed
Gleaming paintwork

Immaculate interior

Unkerbed wheels with matching tyres

Full-documented service history

The odd stone-chip

Minor cosmetic scratches

Clean carpets

Decent tyres

Faded paint

One replacement panel

Old tyres

Worn driver's seat

Noticeable body rust or damage

A dirty or damaged interior

No-name tyres

Torn roof (for Cabriolets)

Add 15% Final price Remove 15% Remove 40%


Examples

Based on this study, a rusty old 316 will never get more than scrap metal price, while a mint-condition 325i Sport will achieve over 4800 pounds.

Therefore:

  • Good 320i four-door saloon with standard equipment and six months' tax: 920 pounds
  • Concours 318i 2-door with standard equipment: 1560 pounds
  • Shed 325i 2-door with high equipment but no MOT: 1110 pounds