Originally Posted by Silver-Bolt
You could also look at the 2002 cars. Non-computer vehicles have less to deal with. In 87 I think the 325is was a dohc cam motor and the 325i was a sohc. Whatever you buy invest in a shop manual for it. With that most repairs are nothing more than replacing parts. Off with the old and on with the new. Most of what you learn on an older vehicle will apply to new ones as well. Strut/spring replacement, brakes, etc. Learn the basics and the rest is pretty easy.
E30's are good cars to learn on. BMW still supports parts for these cars as there are still a lot out on the road. The car is quite easy to work on as late 80's cars and BMWs didn't have near the computer control late model cars do. I owned an '89 325i for 18 years (bought it new) so I'm quite familiar with them. Get the Bentley repair manual. They make great track cars. There are plenty of aftermarket parts for them too.
The '87 325is and '89 325i have the same motor. Up until 1988 there was the "is" with the M20 non-eta motor, and the "e" with the "eta" M20 motor. Both have te same engine block, but different heads. The eta (127HP?)motor was less powerful and tuned for gas mileage. The "is" motor had more power, higher redline, and faster revving. The "is" (168HP) M20 engine became standard in 1989 for both the 325i and 325is versions of the E30. Both are SOHC engines. I'm not exactly sure but I think the eta engine had an iron head, where the "is" motor is iron block/aluminum head. The E30 never had a DOHC inline 6.