A Light but Powerful Partnership – LS3-Powered 1988 BMW 320i Touring w/ 6-Speed

Sold – $20,250 (plus fees)

Long before the onslaught of modern SUVs, CUVs, and minivans, the wagon reigned supreme. Elongated bodies were motivated by slow, but torque-torrential powerplants responsible for transporting families and their things around the states in comfort. As the wagon began to slip into popular obsolescence during the nineties, fewer and fewer companies produced the variant. However, their smart practicality and sleek aesthetic design, especially when fitted with a properly emotional engine, keep the car on the fringe of relevance. While some contemporary manufacturers offer expensive specially developed, high-horsepower trims of their wagons, the basic principles could more easily be obtained, and possibly much more fun.

After being imported to the United States from Germany by the previous owner, the 1988 BMW 320i Touring wagon we have on auction today received an American heart transplant. The factory-supplied straight six-cylinder was replaced by a crate LS3 V8 engine. Now this E30 has the carrying convenience of a wagon coupled to the brutish commands of a Corvette engine. The 320i is on auction now, and we assure you that this daily-driven monster is not worth missing out on. Here are the facts we know.

The exterior has been modified with later-model E30 bumpers, valences, and rocker extensions helping to exude a sportier appearance. Finished in Diamantschwarz Metallic, the paint’s condition is acceptable given the cars regular use. Throughout the body, several imperfections and scratches can be found; particularly worth noting are the pair on the hood, a chip on the sunroof panel, and another pair of scratches on the tailgate. Furthermore, two areas of rust were located at the bottom left of the rear bumper and in the corner of the tailgate. However, the aesthetics have been improved by a set of Alpina-inspired 16×7″ wheels from Greg Gear Head. Given the substantial power put out, those wheels were wrapped in dry-performance focused Goodyear Eagle F1 tires. Furthermore, an H&R Cup Kit suspension was equipped on the front and rear, which supplies superior weight balance and handling characteristics to the lightweight wagon.

The interior is enveloped with grey cloth upholstery and carpeting. Although only the essentials are present, the cabin’s ergonomics are blatantly tailored toward the driver who is focused on driving. Seats are sufficiently bolstered to keep passengers planted without intruding on their ingress or egress attempts. A three-spoke M-sport steering wheel provides a welcome touch of sportiness. Controlling shifts is a gear-incorrectly counting five-speed shift knob with a new leather boot. , and during this time an aftermarket radio was installed. Another renovation was the removal and replacement of the original headliner.

Although unequipped with air conditioning, the heater blower was recently cleaned and the fan resistor replaced to restore their functionality. The factory-original gauges are still installed but have not been graduated to work with the eight-cylinder engine or electrical system. As such, the tachometer falsely indicates the current rpm and the fuel gauge reporting is half off. The registered mileage on the odometer is approximately 8,400, although this only reflects the distance traveled since the engine swap with the actual mileage unknown.

To install the LS3 E-Rod V8 engine an LS1 to E30 conversion kit was employed alongside a custom-built aluminum radiator. Accompanying the motor was a GM-supplied ECU, electronically-adjustable throttle, and intake. Although the motor is CARB legal, the appropriately necessary catalytic converters are not presently in place. Transferring power through the driveline and out to the rear wheels is a Hurst Drivelines T56 Magnum six-speed manual transmission. After exiting the transmission, power is sent to a 3.07:1 final drive racing differential developed by a funny car builder. With this arrangement, in sixth gear, the engine’s rpm hovers around 1,500.

To ensure that this power does not go unchecked, an Ireland Engineering brake kit has modified the calipers and rotors. Espoused to that braking system and the power steering rack is a hydroboost setup taken from a 1994 Mustang Cobra R. A 3″ exhaust system that is equipped with crossover piping which projects a throaty resonance. Finally, new wheel bearings were installed into the rear hubs before the decision to sell.

Wagons may have unfortunately lost their time in the spotlight outside of our enthusiast community. However, engine-swap ventures such as this showcase how perfectly matched they can be for anyone who must evenly weigh their desires for performance and practicality. Our wagon is being offered in California with a clean title from Alaska. A BMW factory first-aid kit, safety vests, spare tire, and the tool roll are all included.  If perfectly imperfect ever existed, this LS3 BMW is it incarnate.

You can see the auction’s live progression here!

Leave Comment