Rare BMW 325i Convertibles & What They're Worth Today

Despite changing it over the years, BMW's most memorable slogan is "The Ultimate Driving Machine," and no other model by the Bavarian marque better encapsulates that tagline quite like the 3-series. Since the 3-series was released in 1975, it has always been considered the ultimate performance daily driver. While the rowdy M3 might embody that statement the best, every model through all seven generations of the 3-series is praised for their chassis dynamics, even the entry models.

Since the 3-series' 50/50 weight distribution and dialed suspension give it a reputation in performance-focused communities, many purists forget that people enjoy BMWs for reasons outside of high cornering speeds. "The Ultimate Driving Machine" can be applied to more than just canyon carving. Some people are just looking for a stylish, luxurious, and reliable car to enjoy a warm summer's day with the top down, and, somewhat surprisingly, the 3-series is a perfect pick for that too.

The BMW 325i was offered as a convertible from 1986 to 2013 spanning the E30, E36, E46, and E90 generations of the 3-series. The first offering came in 1986 with the E30 3-series, four years after the body style was released, and the E93 325i rounded out the 325i convertible's run in 2013 before being split off into the 4-series. While the E30 generation provided the most unique 325i convertible variants, 325i convertibles from every 3-series generation are unique and rare in their own right compared to their much more common coupe and sedan counterparts.

E30 325i convertibles

The 325i convertible was introduced to the BMW lineup with the second generation 3-series, also known as the E30 chassis. In recent years, the vintage BMW market has been on fire, with some of the more historically relevant models, like the 2002 Turbo, selling for more than thirty times their initial sticker price. While the E30 M3 is unquestionably the model to have from a value perspective, nearly every E30 model has appreciated substantially in recent decades as well. The E30 325i convertible is no exception to that rule, even if it might be one of the less desirable models in the E30 camp due to its additional weight and inferior cornering performance compared to a sedan or coupe.

Convertibles are one of the rarer varieties of the E30 as is, with only 143,371 built, in contrast to over 2 million coupes and sedans. As with any collector car, E30 325i convertible prices vary depending on mileage, condition, transmission choice, and a number of other nerdy factors. But, generally speaking, well-maintained, average mileage E30 325i drop-tops range in price from $10,000-$20,000.

However, within the already rare selection of E30 325i convertibles, some were fitted with unique packages, making them even more desirable. The M-Technic package was a unique option for E30 models that added an aerodynamic body kit, improved suspension, and engine tuning tweaks. In 2021, a low-mileage E30 325i convertible equipped with the S771A M-Technic II package sold on Bring A Trailer for a whopping $44,000, making it one of the most expensive 325i convertibles sold on the site.

E36 325i convertibles

Following up the BMW E30 3-series was the E36 chassis, and it had big shoes to fill. While the E30 came to be known as one of the best examples of an everyday car that could also put a smile on your face in the corners, the E36 introduced a bit more luxury into the 3-series formula. It moved slightly away from the bare-bones, maximum connectedness that the E30 provided in favor of a more comfortable driving experience. That's not a negative. Like with the E30, the E36 was also offered as a cabriolet, or convertible to us in the states.

The E36 325i convertible suffered from many of the same pitfalls that made E30s slightly less desirable than other chassis types like the sedan and coupe. For one, the convertible was significantly heavier, weighing around 260 pounds more than the equivalent sedan. Its lack of a roof also made it less rigid. Those two factors detracted from the 325i convertible's handling, making it less appealing to enthusiasts, both then and now. However, that makes it a good buy for those who want the convertible BMW experience for a low entry price.

Like with the E30, E36 convertibles are rare when compared to other chassis, with around eight times more sedans and coupes on the road. Despite their rarity, they pop up on auction sites frequently. Unlike with the M-Tech kit on the E30, the E36 325i convertible wasn't offered with any unique appearance or performance packages, so their value is more tied to condition, mileage, transmission option, and color. Examples of E36 325i convertibles in good condition sell for an average price of around $9,000 in today's day and age.

E46 325i convertibles

The BMW E46 took the reins from the outgoing E36 generation in 1998 and ushered the 3-series into the 21st century. The previous three generations of the 3-series were truly analog cars, using simple engine technology, more rudimentary engine management systems, and lacking many of the safety features present in modern vehicles. The E46 featured new engine technology, a more sophisticated CAN bus electronics system, and more advanced driving aids. The E46 split the BMW fan base, as it was a nicer car to live with but at the cost of the raw driving experience of the earlier analog 3-series generations.

With convertible versions of the previous two 3-series generations outselling BMW's expectations, they tripled down with the E46, which was offered in three different variants in the United States (outside of the E46 M3, which also got the 'vert' treatment). It came as the 323ci with a 170 horsepower 2.5-liter straight-six, the 325Ci with a 184 horsepower 2.5-liter straight-six, or the 330Ci with a 225 horsepower 3.0-liter straight-six. Falling directly in the middle of the three, the 325Ci still had plenty of get-up-and-go for a luxurious, and reliable, German cruiser.

Unfortunately, only the 330Ci E46 got a special convertible variant known as the 330Ci ZHP, which featured more aggressive camshafts and improved tuning to bring power up to 235 horsepower. However, some 325Ci cars were equipped with either optional sport or premium packages that provided some additional cosmetic upgrades, interior improvements, and stiffer suspension in the case of the sport package. According to Classic.com, average prices for E46 325Ci float around the $12,000 mark in the modern age.

E93 325i convertibles

When the E90 3-series came out in 2005, it was a divisive design (much like BMW styling is today). The E46 was truly a hard silhouette to beat, but, nearly 20 years after its release, the E90 generation is often viewed by enthusiasts as one of the best-looking and most practical 3-series models that BMW has ever released. Despite being larger and more practical than the E46 that it followed, the E90 remained a sporty car with heavy and responsive steering, independent rear suspension, and a selection of extremely solid powertrains.

E90 convertible options were given the E93 chassis code and were offered in the United States in two variants. Those variants included the 328i and 335i. That's right, the E93 325i convertible never made it stateside. The E93 328i acted as a substitute for the 325i, which featured a similar — but slightly more powerful — version of the N52B30 straight-six engine that the 325i used in Europe. That's a good thing, as the N52 is widely known as a bulletproof engine in the BMW community, making both the non-US E93 325i and U.S.-spec 328i some of the most reliable convertibles offered by BMW.

In other parts of the world, the E93 325i convertible came in a number of different trim options. The most desirable packages included the sport package — which provided upgraded suspension, larger wheels and tires, sport seats, and a raised speed limiter — and the M-Sport package which included those same changes plus a sportier cosmetic body kit. The average price for an E93 325i is somewhere around 12,000 Euros.