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Technical_   Information_  Eta Differences Between Model Years

Eta Differences Between Model Years
Fred Kim

The following is only true for US-spec vehicles (Canadian-spec is slightly different due to varying equipment options).


Production for the 1984 325e is begun in December of 1983 and the car is introduced into the American market in early '84. It's available only as a two door model and is equipped with cloth or leatherette manual sport seats, Service Interval indicator, On-Board Computer, Active Check Control, Alpine 4-speaker stereo system with power antenna, power sunroof, power windows, power mirrors, central locking, cruise control, air conditioning, three spoke leather Sport steering wheel, leather shift knob, bumper-mounted foglights, and trunk mounted toolkit. Of course, it is powered by a SOHC 2.7 liter 121 horsepower eta engine mounted to a Getrag 260 transmission and 2.79:1 differential.

Individual options are limited to an automatic transmission, leather seats, metallic paint, and a limited slip differential. The 325e is positioned as the top of the line 3-series with the 4-cylinder 318i marketed as the base model.


A four door model joins both the 325e and 318i lineups. The ECU is updated from an 0-261-200-021 to an 0-261-200-027 unit that has a detachable chip, though it still remains a Motronic 1.0 system.


The 318i model is dropped, so BMW reshuffles the 3-series line with three different models: 325, 325e, and 325es. All three models use the exact same 121 horsepower 2.7 liter eta engne used in the 1984-1985 325e. The 325 is marketed as the base model: It's available in both 2 and 4 door form and comes "sparsely" equipped with a manual sunroof, leatherette or cloth standard seats, 4-spoke steering wheel, 6-button clock, and 4-speaker stereo. However, it does have air conditioning, power windows, power mirrors, power antenna, and central locking. The 325e now has a luxury theme and is only available as a 4-door sedan. It is fully equipped with the same features as the 1985 325e 4-door (plus leather, a premium sound system, rear headrests, and center rear armrest), but sport seats are not available. The 325es is introduced as the sport model and has a front airdam with integrated foglights, rear decklid spoiler, larger grille air inlet, sport suspension, limited slip differential, sport seats (in either cloth or leatherette), M-Technic 3-spoke steering wheel, OBC, premium sound system, power sunroof, and cruise control. It is only available as a 2-door coupe. ABS is now standard on all models and an ABS sticker is added to the instrument cluster to remind people of the added safety.

An automatic transmission is optional for the 325, 325e, and 325es, as is metallic paint. A limited slip differential is available to the 325 and 325e.

Interior changes for the 1986 model year include an updated instrument cluster with a coding chip (for cars built after 1/86) and a different speedometer layout, plastic front kickpanels instead of carpeting, higher front seat rails, revised rear shelf with center lock for the middle lapbelt, black seat belt buckles with holders, and revised sunvisor clips. Exterior changes include rectangular sidemarkers (instead of square) and a revised front valance that deletes the brake cooling ducts. In addition, a 2.93:1 differential is now used in place of the 2.79:1, the airbox is redesigned, various fuel silencers in the engine bay are removed and the fusebox now uses a circular C101 connection.


Twin-tube gas shocks used on the 325es is now standard on the 325 and 325e. Mid-year the 325e is replaced by the 325i, while the sporty 325es is succeeded by the 325is. Both the 325i and 325is use a higher revving, 2.5 liter variant of M20 that produces 167 horsepower and 164 lb-ft of torque. The 325, still with the 2.7 liter eta engine, continues on as the base model.


In order to meet federal emissions standards in it's final year of production, the '88 325 receives a 325i cylinder head, exhaust system, and engine management control with self-diagnostic capabilities (Motronic 1.1) as well as special pistons, (lowering compression slightly to 8.8:1), a slightly larger intake manifold and a revised valve cover. These changes bump up the eta's power rating slightly (to 127) and a 6000 RPM tachometer is fitted. The cooling system is overhauled and the expansion tank is shifted to the driver side. A new oil dipstick and fuel cap are used, and the fuel tank is enlarged to 16.5 gallons.

On the inside, the window regulator is redesigned (after 2/88) and the manual power window override is deleted. The external fader switch disappears, the hazard switch is revised and swaps positions with the defrost switch, and the power window circuit breaker is also moved onto the center console. The instrument cluster warning lights are revised with slightly larger lettering and "BRAKE FLUID" replacing "BRAKE". On the rear shelf, the center high mounted stop lamp (CHMSL) becomes more aerodynamic despite not being exposed to high amounts of drag. The door panels are also revised with the textured ribbing no longer used. 1988 model year cars also received a cosmetic upgrade that include shorter aluminum bumpers, revised front valance with integrated foglights, a lower rear apron, larger rear taillights with horizontally mounted reverse lights, and a lower rear fender line.


The 325 is cancelled and is replaced by the 325i as the base model in the E30 lineup.


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