I'm torn between a 1987 Porsche 944 and a 1989 BMW 325i

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by Philander, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. Philander

    Philander Someday...

    Aug 29, 2007
    Ottawa, Ontario GWN
    A question for the Shiny Things collective.

    So, i have decided that I want to replace my 1998 Land Rover Discovery with a new (to me) toy...I want something fun to drive and that I can work on myself. I have enough mechanical abilities that I was able to keep the Land Rover running for the last two years.

    I really like the older style BMWs, but I have always wanted a Porsche.

    I have a choice between a 1989 BMW 325i with 160k km for $5000


    a 1987 Porsche 944 with 113k km for $8000

    What would your choice be, and why? :ear
  2. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

    Aug 12, 2005
    Turning expensive metal into scrap
    Both seem overpriced but maybe thats canada??

    Esp the bmw.

    I'd buy the porsche, way more fun, better resale perhaps. The 325, esp that vintage is a little long in the tooth
  3. Fe Man

    Fe Man I am Iron Moran!

    May 29, 2008
    Moran Nation, N. Atlanta Outpost
    Way more aftermarket support for the E30; half as expensive to own as the Audi, er Porsche.
    But then again, if you could keep the Rover running you have nothing to fear!

    And yes, I have owned all three brands, repeatedly.
  4. Maritimer

    Maritimer Bikeless Adventurer

    May 4, 2005
    Windsor, Nova Scotia
    Speaking as someone who's owned neither, my preference would be with the 325. Always loved that vintage of BMW and I'd be concerned about ongoing maintenance of the 944...Plus, I'd wait it out and get the best 911 I could afford when the times comes.

  5. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Been here awhile

    May 17, 2011
    north texas for now, sedona when I can get away
    944 - relatively uncommon compared to the BMW, straightforward mechanically and an underrated track car, plus you can relive your "risky business fantasies"
  6. Gummee!

    Gummee! That's MR. Toothless

    May 13, 2004
    NoVA for now...
    Except that was a 928

    Me? I've always wanted a 944 so I'd lean that way.

  7. FinlandThumper

    FinlandThumper Has Cake/Eats it Too Super Moderator

    Jan 30, 2008
    I'd choose the BMW because it doesn't have a damn Harley sticker on it. :D

    Actually, I have owned several BMW cars and I would say that you will get a fun drive and the engines are usually very reliable. Easy to source parts on those older 3-series and the really hold us.

    I have heard, though admit I do not know, that the 944's are finicky and troublesome. I have nothing but anectdotal evidence for this though so don't take my input as anything more than rumor and inuendo.
  8. Solaros1

    Solaros1 Long timer

    Dec 20, 2005
    Roswell, GA
    The E-30 BMW is a great car that can easily accumulate over 350,000 miles. Lots of support and reasonable parts prices along with being easy to work on has turned the E-30 into a very popular choice for people wanting a street/track car. I've owned around five E-30's and they were all fun cars.

    Porsche 944's make great track cars but parts prices are much higher. Friends of mine have owned them and they mention things like motor mounts and a few other expensive bits. I never warmed up to the 944 myself (after a 911 it seemed like a step down) but they certainly have a strong fan base. I'm not sure I'd pay the premium over the BMW for the 944.

    In the end drive both cars and buy the one that feels better to you - either one is a good car.
  9. wannaklr

    wannaklr Long timer

    May 25, 2006
    Back In Iowa. Quad Cities to be exactish..
    It would be the 944 for me. My 16 Candles fantasy! :lol3
  10. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

    Feb 14, 2006
    If either of them are autos, someone should kick the OP in the slats.
  11. Censport

    Censport Vendor

    Oct 23, 2008
    Nashville, Music City U.S.A.
    I've driven many examples of both, and have owned (and raced) two 944's. The 944 does make a better track car, because it has much better (and more predictable) handling. In fact, it was one of the best handling cars of its time. A high polar moment of inertia (engine in front, transaxle in rear), a better suspension design than... just about everything else in the 80's and 90's... 8 degrees of caster in the front, all of these things make the 944 a car that is safe to drive fast, and fun to drive seriously.

    If either car has been driven and maintained consistently, then you can expect that all of the upgrades have been done. Original 944's had oil cooler issues, water pump issues, etc., and have all had redesigned and superceded parts from Porsche. Plus, there is an active aftermarket for them. Not as big as for the BMW, but still plenty.

    And, cruising around even close to legal speeds, they consistently deliver 30mpg.

    It's not that I don't like the E30. I wouldn't mind having one of those either. I just like the 944 more.
  12. FPGT72

    FPGT72 Long timer

    Oct 25, 2006
    Kingsville MO
    I currently own both...a 88 bmw 328, and an 83 944.....the Porsche is a very early car with still the 924 inst. cluster.

    Both are fun cars...and the key here is how well they have been taken care of....of that I would pick the best one of the two...you will have fun in both of them.

    All things being equal I would do the 944....unless you want to haul big people around in the back...that is a little hard to get in and out of.

    Oh an if that 944 is a no power steering car like mine...parking is a bitch.
  13. Rogue_Ryder


    Dec 8, 2005
    Pinewood Springs, Colorado
    I personally haven't owned an E30 or a 944 but I've worked on a few and my mother has a 1991 E30 325i.s. and my sister had a 944 Turbo for a short time (fixing it was getting too expensive for her).

    The E30 will be more reliable IF it has been well maintained. The 944 will require more money in regular maintenance than the BMW, and if it doesn't come with a fully documented service history pass. Having driven a couple E30s and 944s only the 944 Turbo feels significantly faster.

    Stop on over to E30tech.com there's a lot of information on that site. For $5,000-$7,000 you could almost find an early E36 M3 for that price, which is a lot more fun than either an E30 or 944....
  14. NICO

    NICO Save the USA

    May 1, 2006
    here, there and everywhere
  15. ddavidv

    ddavidv Thrifty not cheap

    May 10, 2009
    Elizabethtown, PA
    Blah blah blah. :lol3
    I race an E30. I've passed plenty of 944's, and I'm only a mid-pack driver. Stock, yes, the 944 will handle better. It's not really any more powerful than a M20 equipped E30 though. Now add lowering springs, sway bars that aren't made of piano wire and some stiffer shocks to the E30 and you'll school the 944 pretty easily, all the while enjoying much cheaper parts prices and simpler and less invasive maintenance. It's very, very rare one of our cars breaks on the track, but I've seen numerous 944's towed back to the pits. The handling on the E30 with it's 'unsophisticated' suspension will surprise you; it's extremely easy to drive at the limit. My experience driving a 944S left me very underwhelmed, and that was before I had ever driven a BMW. I guess I'm not wowed by the Stuttgart crest like some people.

    I do have several friends who own/have owned 944's and they have enjoyed them, but for me they simply weren't worth the added expense and headache over the BMW.
  16. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Banned

    Aug 27, 2003
    Boise, Idaho
    I love how many non 944 owners commenting on 944 reliability and handling. Priceless.

    This is my 87 944. I have owned it for 15 years (my previous car was a BMW).

    This car is currently sitting at 196,000 very hard miles on the original motor. Runs like a top and still gets 21/27 mpg city/hwy. I have another set of wheels with slicks on it for track days, auto cross and hill climbs.

    Do the same to the 944 and it will return the schooling. Both very capable, but set up equally, and with equal drivers, the 944 would have an edge on the handling. Mine has Koni adjustable coil over struts/shocks, corner balanced, M030 sway bars and drop links, and an S2 transmission. I'll take almost any 325 you want to throw at it in the handling department.

    As far as parts pricing goes, I 100% disagree. If you shop outside of the dealership, pricing is on par with everything else these days. The only regular maintenance that is not on par with everything else is the timing and balance shaft belts. Yes, they have to be done at 40k. But they are not expensive, and if you do it yourself, takes about an hour once you do it once. No biggie.

    Early versions, pre 1985.5 did have weak water pumps, but they have not been available for years now so most likely it has already been upgraded. Same with the original rubber centered clutch.

    Overall reliability I would put about equal between the two, when properly cared for. The problem comes when trying to find one that has been properly cared for and used since new. Most versions of both cars have been ridden hard and put away wet, so finding clean examples is getting harder and harder (good for those of us with nice ones).

    But in the end, they are both totally capable cars and a hoot to drive. Drive both, look at the service history, have them checked by a mechanic that is skilled in both cars, then buy the one that makes you want to get up in the middle of the night and go for a drive.
  17. Bueller

    Bueller Cashin?

    Sep 25, 2003
    Hide Away Hills, Ohio
    Not a fan of any version of the 944 except the Turbo, and then only marginally so. I worked for Porsche when those cars were new. Jesus, they ate a LOT of parts. Coolant leaks, front engine seal leaks, that dumbass belt tension gauge needed to set the proper tension of the cam belt, and the fact that they only last about 3 yrs or 30,000 miles, all for very mediocre performance.

    I'd go with the bimmer.
  18. RocketJohn

    RocketJohn Hook em' Horns!

    Apr 15, 2002
    Denver Metro
    I would vote 325i, but I have an 85 635, so its a known quantity for me... I have heard too many horror stories about 944s and very few about E30s over the years... E30s are lil' bulldogs that don't die... and they seem to be in fashion again...
  19. Jimmy the Heater

    Jimmy the Heater Dirt Farmer

    Sep 8, 2004
    Eastern Washington State
    Good god that is Beautiful! :raabia
  20. thechickencow

    thechickencow Been here awhile

    Jan 19, 2008
    Green Bay, WI
    I would absolutely go 944, simply for the fact that everybody is lusting after old bmw's lately it seems.