Back To The 80s: BMW 3 Series MkII

Fri 14th Jun 2019

When we think of the classic eras of motoring we might cast our mind back to stylish cars of the 1950s, the muscle cars of the 1960s or the super cars of the 1970s. What might not spring to mind however is the motors which were produced in the 1980s - an era which certainly favoured practicality over power, style and sophistication.

But the cars of today owe much to 80s, it was decade which brought us turbochargers, multi-valve engines and hot hatchbacks, an era of the people-carrier and the rise of the SUV. Digital displays and electronic gadgetry, were the norm as designers pushed the boundaries of of what was capable in a production vehicle.

So let's celebrate the 80s, a period of huge change across Britain as a whole, and one which had incredible landmarks in the motor industry.

BMW 3 Series MkII
With a list of credits that includes Beverly Hills Cop, Miami Vice, Pretty Woman and La La Land, the MkII 3 Series was a true star of the 1980s, a car that helped launch BMW into the highest of stratospheres.
Development of the second generation of 3 Series began in 1976, when the company’s chief designer Claus Luthe began styling those iconic curves. Luthe’s legacy references classic Audis and Volkswagens, but it was the MkII which grabbed the headlines for BMW.

The German manufacturer produced almost 2.5million 3 Series during its spell on the production line, with sales peaking at 329,460 in 1986.

Codenamed the E30, the MkII was the first 3 Series to be available in wagon and 4-door and was also the first to offer a diesel engine. A four-wheel drive model was available in parts of the world where snow and rough terrain was a daily concern, though British drivers had to get one on import if they required that level of traction.

This generation of 3 Series also saw the first of the M3, which was essentially a sports car built onto the E30 frame.

The 3 Series of the 1980s was essentially a drivers car, with powerful brakes, excellent transmission and fun handling. The biggest tribute from modern culture possibly came from the Top Gear team, who having been challenged to find a 4-seat convertible costing under £2000, all three presenters opted for the £30 325i convertible.

Manufacturer: BMW
Assembly: Munich, Germany
Designer: Claus Luthe
Did You Know?: After an argument with his drug-dependent son on Good Friday 1990, Claus Luthe was accused of fatally stabbing his youngest son and was sentenced to serve 33 months in prison for manslaughter.