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Pre-2000 BMWs: what’s all the buzz about?

Viashen Moodley’s 1999 BMW 318is. Picture: Supplied.

Viashen Moodley’s 1999 BMW 318is. Picture: Supplied.

Published Aug 21, 2023


The second hand car market in South Africa has exploded into a plethora of opportunities, for buyers, sellers and content creators alike, all looking to leverage off the value of rare versions of BMWs made before 2000.

This was a time when the German powerhouse sent the E30 M3, 325is and the E36 M3 out of its manufacturing plant, cars that have since become classics and collectables that cost exorbitant amounts of money given their age.

The pre-2000 era of motoring could be seen as a time when companies made cars for the purpose of enjoyment and thrill, with the thought of getting you from ‘A to B’ on the back burner.

The BMWs made in this era had lines that resembled the beauty in simplicity, like the South African icon - the Gusheshe or E30 325is.

But the asking price for said beauty has grown astronomical, to say the least, but are they worth it?

IOL spoke to the owner of a 1998 silver E36 M3, four-door, Preston Chetty from Durban, South Africa, who said the car is an absolute thrill to drive.

Chetty, an avid car enthusiast who has owned a Lotus Diva Roadster, a Honda S2000 and Turbo Honda Civic, bought the car in good condition for R60,000 and had around 190,000km on the odometer.

“If you want to go sideways, this is the car. It’s fun to drive. It's a thrill. It’s way better than the Honda S2000 I owned previously. The BMW is more stable around the bends and has way more power,” Chetty said.

IOL asked him why he thought the prices of E30 and E36 BMWs were so high.

“I think because of the shortages in the 325is, people want to call more for their E36 models. It’s stupid prices, like R900,000 for the E36. But nobody has any more 325is for sale, so they are getting their price,” Chetty explained.

South African automotive car company Pharoah Auto has two pristine examples of the E30 325is and E36 M3 for sale.

IOL reached out to them for comment on the vehicles and are awaiting their response.

In response to the Pharoah Auto advert about the cars, motoring content creator Matthew Kanniah said the market “is now peak wilding”.

“The market is now peak wilding! Setting the bar, literally. This 1990 325s with 127,000km is now R1.5 million. That’s right, a Gusheshe is now worth more than a brand new BMW M340i at R1.36 million, plus 10k cash in the boot,” Kanniah said.

“And there goes the market, it was only a matter of time,” Kanniah said about the sale of the blue four-door E36 M3 listed for R1.1 million.

IOL also got in touch with 26-year-old Viashen Moodley, the owner of a modified BMW 318is, which is listed for around R900,000 on some online websites.

Moodley owns a 1999 BMW 318is with around 200,000km on the odometer, that he paid R52,000 for in 2019.

“It’s powerful, not M3 power, but with four cylinders it gives you that feel and is also light on fuel. I have mine on air suspension. It’s crazy what the prices of these cars are going for nowadays.

“It’s also reasonable to maintain for a BMW. Parts are not too expensive given its a BMW. I changed my wheels between 12-15 times. I tried every wheel that I could try. I Currently have an AC Schnitzer wheel,” Moodley said.

Viashen Moodley’s 1999 BMW 318is. Picture: Supplied.

CEO of Creative Rides, a car auction company, Kevin Derrick, said the advent of electric cars is likely to push the prices of these normally aspirated beauties even higher.

“The more electric cars enter the market, the greater the demand will be to own cars like Gusheshes. It’s human nature; if you can’t have something you want it even more and you’re prepared to pay a premium for it. Values are going to double and triple down the line.

“ In fact, the more EVs permeate, the better it will be for rare collectable car values across the board. You can equate classic car investments to art; the scarcer the masterwork the higher the value, and this is what will happen down the line as combustion engines are replaced on the roads,” Derrick said.