Buying A Dream E30

It's 1AM and I'm browsing classifieds, searching for the perfect E30 318IS and listening to a podcast featuring Jay from Players. Jay makes a throw-away comment on how he found his 964 on mobile.de, a german version of Autotrader. I've never heard of this site so I load it up, filter to 1990's 3-Series BMW and hey presto, there lies the very car I've been searching for for almost two years.

Over the next few days I exchange emails with the seller, Markus, and a deposit is arranged. With the car located in Germany, I ask for some details on logistics and Markus mentions his showroom is located just outside Adenau. I blink to make sure I've read that right. Yup, its the same Adenau that shares its name with an infamous series of corners on the most famous race-track of all, the Nordschleife.

This car couldn't get any more attractive if it tried. Knowing a hectic schedule would coincide with the purchase, it left me with a three day window to fly over, buy the car and drive 1,200KM home. Not ideal but I wasn't prepared to turn down the prospect of driving my dream E30 from the Nurburgring to home.

Monday 6th September arrives and a brief flight leads us to Cologne where we meet Markus. He chauffeurs the one hour drive to the circuit, stopping along the way to show us the devastating flood damage the region recently experienced. We arrive and I stand in awe at his exceptional collection of historic sports and racing cars. and there, sat like a sore thumb, is the red 318IS.

I've been around a fair amount of E30s to know them pretty much inside out by now. However, this one was different. The drivers door closed with a surety I haven't heard or felt before and the engine ticked over without the usual valve tap noise that is so common in early nineties BMWs. Underneath it was better than expected, our inspection failing to find a single patch of rust or corrosion on the shell.

Satisfied, I completed the deal, fully aware that our time frame to check out the race-track was rapidly decreasing. Keys in hand, I sat in my latest E30 for the first time and pulled out of the compound with 14+ hours driving ahead of us.

First port of call was the famous sign on the back of the Ring Boulevard. Mandatory photo in the bank we drove down to the Touristenfahrten paddock on the Döttinger Höhe to check out the machinery enjoying the track that evening.

It always impresses me how owners of €100k plus Porsche GT3Rs and BMW M3 abuse their cars at the Nordschleife like they're almost disposable. Lapping the 'ring is not exactly a hobby for those with shallow pockets.

With some photographs secured, it's back in the car and over to a spot I've wanted to visit for years, the Pflanzgarten viewing area. We stay a brief 15 minutes before setting off on the 1,200km journey home.

7PM quickly ticks over to midnight and we arrive in Calais at the Eurotunnel and board the train to mainland UK. The next day we travel the monotonous 8 hours up the spine of England and across Wales to Holyhead where an Irish Ferries sailing waits.

We arrive back where we started with less than 48 hours on the clock. A dream car purchased and countless memories made. Tiredness mixed with excitement sets in, looking forward to the future with the 318IS.