“In my case, when I started looking for BMWs, I gravitated toward the 1991…the 1991 coupé is the last coupé they made in the E30…” says Delia Wolfe. “The 318IS is the ‘baby’ M3; it doesn’t put out as much horsepower or torque…but it was the spiritual successor, if you will, to the 2002.”
“It has everything you’d want in the 2002,” she says. Delia is the proud owner of a 1991 BMW 318IS, one of the last of the simple, mechanical, engineering-driven driver’s cars the Munich firm built its reputation on. “I found it down in Aptos, near Santa Cruz, somewhat sad and neglected—but I fell in love, because it reminded me about my 2002, and my Tii. And those cars were the cars I grew up on, those were the cars I loved first.”
Wolfe has been able to repair and restore her car—she’s a BMW mechanic, restorer, and expert—since 2008, with it remaining tied to commuting duties as well as just about anything else, from flinging it through a twisty road or embarking on a longer road trip.
“The E30 has its own cult following. People found that you could modify them with very little money, and that the cars were durable, and that there’s all kinds of places to exercise your passion,” she says. “There’s lowered and ‘stanced’ E30s, then you’ve got E30 spec racing, there’s a rally series…people run drift cars—every facet of racing seems to have a place for the E30.”
“When you choose a car, you should choose carefully,” Wolfe says. “If it’s not the right car for you, don’t keep it…[but] I have to admit, I have got a kind of a jaded view in favor of the E30.”