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Autotrader Find: Someone Really Cherished This 327,000-Mile 1988 BMW 325iX

The second-generation BMW 3 Series — known to car geeks like us as the E30 — achieved legend status in its own time. The previous owner — or maybe several owners — of this rare 1988 325iX are certainly well aware of the car’s draws: its balanced handling, its smooth straight six power, and its just-right proportions. That it’s an unusual all-wheel-drive E30 is only the icing on the cake.

Oh, and it looks brand-new, even though it’s been driven 327,000 miles.

That’s right — it has double the mileage of the typical faded-paint rust-bucket E30 waiting to be plundered in your local Pick-n-Pull junkyard, yet it looks almost new. That’s astounding, especially considering that the 325iX was the most second-most complicated version of the E30 — second only to the vaunted M3.

The selling dealer in Michigan, where the car clearly did not accumulate most of its miles, reports that the car stayed in California with a doctor and his wife until 2011. The car’s story doesn’t make mention of whether it was special-ordered, but given that nearly every AWD E30 went to a snowy place, it’s a safe bet that it was. Supposedly the doctor and his wife bought the car in anticipation of a move to Minnesota that never materialized. That seems believable, as it’s unlikely that many Southern California dealers would have stocked a 325iX in 1988.

The doctor and his wife reportedly sold the car to an enthusiast near Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the car is currently for sale on Autotrader. The enthusiast commissioned an extensive refurbishment, including a glass-out repaint, an interior reupholstering and a number of new parts. Certainly, the enthusiast went to great lengths to acquire BMW parts, as much of what was made for the 325iX is no longer available.

The 325iX story

About halfway through the E30’s life cycle, BMW offered its first AWD car, the 325iX. The German automaker envisioned that its Ultimate Driving Machines would now be able to go skiing or, apparently, to a rocky beach while its drivers were wearing parachute pants and denim. Rad!

The plucky little 325i featured a 168-hp straight six teamed with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission. To create the 325iX, BMW kept the limited-slip rear differential and added a relatively simple transfer case with a viscous-coupling differential and an additional driveshaft.

Underneath, the cars had a substantially revised chassis and a number of bespoke components not shared with the regular 325i. The 325iX also had a wider track, which necessitated the nifty fender flares and which meant that standard E30 wheels wouldn’t work on the iX. Check out those weird bottle caps on the period press photo above, for instance. 

BMW charged about $4,200 more for AWD, a 20 percent markup over the base 325i. That drove the asking price of this example to somewhere north of $26,000 when new. For comparison, the Lexus LS 400 that bowed in 1989 was $28,000. That’s not an apples-to-apples comparison by any means, but it should give some perspective.

Most 325iX models from the 1988-to-1991 U.S.-market run were sold in places with lots of snow, which also tend to be places with lots of road salt. The E30 was not known for its corrosion resistance, however. In short: few survived.

Except this one, which apparently had the fortune of being kept under single ownership in a gentle climate before being acquired by someone willing to invest lots of time — and presumably lots of cash — into making it look awfully new. Find a BMW 325iX for sale

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Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz is an author specializing in helping in-market consumers get the most bang for their buck -- and the best car, while they're at it. When not virtually shopping for new and used cars, Andrew can probably be found under the hood of a vintage classic that's rapidly losing fluids.

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