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BMW 325iX: BMW’s Little Known All-Wheel Drive Beginnings

In today’s world where people want one vehicle that’s a truck, a car, an SUV, a sports car, a family car and a minivan — all in one — we kind of take for granted that BMW offers all-wheel drive in every car they sell. Of course they do! They have to appeal to people in the north, snow people; people who want to drive a BMW despite the fact that they live in a place where the three most common types of home are brick, timber and igloo.

But this wasn’t always the case. Back when I was a kid, growing up in Colorado, nobody really had BMWs, because they were all rear-wheel drive, so they didn’t work in the snow. Then, when the X5 came out in 2000, people started flocking to them: You could finally have BMW performance with all-weather capabilities! It was a revelation! And then came the all-wheel-drive 3 Series, and eventually the all-wheel-drive 5 and 7 Series, and now everything is all-wheel-drivable.

But before all that, there was the 325iX.

The 325iX debuted in the U.S. for the 1988 model year, and it lasted until 1991 — and it was a major anomaly: In the world of rear-wheel-drive E30 models, it was the only one with all-wheel drive. It was apparently BMW’s test bed to see if people were interested in all-wheel drive, and apparently it failed, because they didn’t revisit AWD for another decade.

But for people in cold, northern climates, it was a great car: You basically got the handling, the size and the experience of an E30 3 Series, but with all-weather-traction capabilities. I think every single one of them was sold in Colorado and the Northeast, all driven by people who thought they’d spend their whole lives in front-wheel-drive cars, using chains every time it snowed.

Offered in two- or four-door form, the E30 325iX was distinguishable from the standard 3 Series in two basic ways. One was the slightly flared fenders and larger rocker panels, which gave it more of a utilitarian, can-do look. The other was the wheels: The iX had different wheels from the standard model; a subtle change, but enough of a revision that eagle-eyed E30 enthusiasts can tell them apart.

These days, a clean E30 325iX is impossible to find — and they aren’t especially sought-after, as the "E30 tuner crowd" prefers rear-wheel-drive cars for their handling and drifting capabilities. Presumably, however, there are a few out there. They’re all in Colorado or Vermont. And they all have ski racks attached to them. Find a BMW 325ix for sale

 Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

Photo credit: Mr.choppers

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