Will some get their fingers burnt by overpriced classic BMWs?

Bob wonders about the future of classic BMWs and if there are any wise buys left?


It’s a tricky one to fully assess and come to any meaningful conclusions but it certainly seems like the market is going through some realignment at present. Those that were sucked into the ‘classic cars are better than money in the bank’ mindset look like they might get their fingers burned – the good cars are still selling for top money, but there are plenty of not so good machines that are proving hard to sell for what their owners think they’re worth.

And given the market might be cooling a little perhaps you should be wary of buying one of those nailed-on classics. Their prices tend to be high which can be a not insignificant barrier for many of us, but there are still some BMWs out there that represent excellent value for money.

We all know what happened to E30 M3 prices, but would you be having significantly less fun in a non-M E30? The 320i and 325i have sonorous straight sixes while a 318i is surprisingly light on its toes, and providing you avoid the 325i Sport which seems to have taken off in value of late, there are plenty of good examples out there which won’t break the bank. You’ll need a minimum of around £35k for an E30 M3 these days, but ‘normal’ E30s can still be had for around the £5k mark – would you really be having seven times the fun in the M3?

There’s a similar case to be made with the E9 Coupé and the mechanically virtually identical E3 Saloon. Back in the ’60s and ’70s the Saloon was by far the bigger seller – 222,000 E3s versus 30,000 E9 Coupés – but today it’s the four-door that’s the rarer car as most of them just rusted away. Yes, the E9 has the competition pedigree and some might say it’s the prettier car but you’ll need to shell out significantly more for a Coupé than you will for a Saloon. Best to whisper it among the E9 Coupé community but with a stiffer shell and a better rear suspension set up the Saloon is the more involving drive.

A similar case could be made for the 2002 – the Turbo is the poster boy generating somewhat bonkers pricing from over optimistic owners – but the 2002Tii is the better car to drive. Folk have caught on to this though and prices are on the up, but let’s face it, you’ll enjoy ’02 ownership whatever the engine. It’s not about driving around at maximum velocity, it’s about enjoying the drive which any ’02 will provide in spades.

While it’s impossible to gaze into that crystal ball to determine if your chosen steed will appreciate in value, it’s likely that if you choose wisely it won’t depreciate significantly. And the main thing is that if you do buy a classic that you use it – don’t be afraid to take it out – it’s there to enjoy so there’s no point just leaving it in the garage because it might rain. And my advice would be to do it now – you never know what’s around the corner and the days of autonomous boxes might arrive sooner than we think!

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