By on April 1, 2013

Want a BMW manual diesel wagon for under $10k? You can buy one right now, on Ebay (via Bring A Trailer), and if you live in Canada, you can legally register it.

One gentleman in Germany is offering a 1997 BMW 325tds wagon with a 5-speed manual for sale. The seller is offering to ship the car to Halifax, Nova Scotia, a major eastern port and a country where the car can be legally registered. The 2.5L diesel engine puts out 141 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque, hitting 60 mph in a leisurely 9.9 seconds – between that and the very European cloth seats, I think I’d rather opt for a gasoline powered wagon, if I had my pick.

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30 Comments on “Not An April Fool’s Joke: Rear-Drive, Manual, Diesel Wagon For Sale In North America...”


  • avatar

    One of my true dream cars, and it doesn’t even have to be diesel. I get sad every time I visit Europe, see these, and realize I’ll never have one here.

  • avatar
    Easton

    Funny thing is, it would actually sell quite well here in Canada. Jetta diesels have been cleaning up here for years. Almost always with clutch pedals.

  • avatar
    JMII

    So close… but wrong color, try again.

  • avatar
    gkhize

    The only real appeal this has for me is the fact it’s a nice looking wagon. I’ve never understood why everyone is so adamant about having a manual transmission diesel vehicle. I’ve driven countless manual cars over the years and in fact have one right now. However, given a choice, I’ll take my AT car most of the time just because it’s easier to drive around town without all the shifting. As far as the diesel goes, sure you get better MPG, but fuel is more expensive (I know the mpg offsets most if not all of that)and less available (and I live in an ag state). The kicker is the maintenance on the diesel can be ridiculous. I work part time at an O’Reilly’s and a typical oil, oil filter, and fuel filter change runs easily close to $150. Granted that’s for a Powerstroke or Duramax, but it just seems to me anyway the costs of the diesel just aren’t worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      Maxseven

      Probably because it’s “unobtainium” – and as you know, anything that is hard to find and buy, becomes fluffed with delusional mystique.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The difference in maintenance costs between a modern turbo-diesel and an equivalent modern turbo-gasoline engine are effectively nil. The service schedule for a VW TDI and 2.0T gas motor are all but identical. Oil change every 10K with synthetic, timing belt every 100K or so. No spark plugs for the diesel, of course, though you are bound to have to change a glow plug once in a while. Air filters are about the same. For the cars that need urea fluid, you will still spend more on windshield wash in a year than you will on that stuff.

      Here in Maine, at least 3/4s of the gas stations have diesel, and I would say EVERY station anywhere near a highway does. And with a much longer range typically you won’t be looking very often.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      Let’s not also forget over $1,000 to have the glow plugs changed on a Powerstroke (but only $100 if you DIY)

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    I know the new Mazda6 will have a diesel next year with a wagon following shortly thereafter. Now… can it be optioned as a wrist flicker? That’s the big question.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “a wagon following shortly thereafter”

      If you don’t mind me asking, where did you hear this? If true, I need to adjust my plans a bit.

      When I talked with some folks from Mazda corporate at the 6 launch, they confirmed that the diesel released later this year would be only in the Grand Touring, just like the V6 last year, and that is the only trim that won’t have an option for a manual. However, they did not say anything about the US getting the wagon.

      The best case would be for the 6 to be configured like the 3 where both the wagon & engine upgrade are available on the Touring & higher.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        The only place that said that it was coming was Edmunds when Mazda revealed the new 6 at a motor show. The second place I saw it was just a picture of it in the “Zoom Zoom” magazine that some of us Mazda owners get every once in a while. There was not a blurb or anything about it but the magazine was entirely about the new 6 and what’s available on it for this new model year. Its a North American publication so if the wagon was not going to come here, I wouldn’t see them putting teaser pics in our issues.

  • avatar
    raincoaster

    I grew up driving the mythical Manual Diesel Wagon. She was a 1980 (possibly ’82) Volvo and a glorious shade of powder blue. Unfortunately the glow plugs had an aversion to shutting off once the engine started, and one melted out and dropped into the cylinder. While it was being repaired, I drove another wagon, a ’77, with my dad’s permission to kill it. I was unable to do it in.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Not sure, other than for joke purposes, this is the “mythical beast” of autodom. The characteristics of diesel engines (limited rpm range; lots of torque at low rpms) make them ideally suited for today’s multi-speed automatics. Driving a diesel with a manual would feel like short shifting . . . lots of work with the gearshift. How do I know? I used to own a diesel — 30 years ago.

    The attractiveness of diesels seems to be their highway fuel economy… folks seem to report regularly that their diesels exceed the highway EPA mileage ratings.

    Wagons are another matter. The point of a wagon is versatility. With folding rear seats, you can carry a lot of stuff . . . more than a sedan and more than some SUVs

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I would have no problem registering that car in the Great State of Maine. Maine accepts Canadian titles, and once it is driven across the border under the nose of the Feds no one will be the wiser.

    I think today’s 7-8-9spd automatics are perfectly lovely, until you have to FIX one down the road. I can change a clutch in the comfort of my lift-equipped garage. I cannot rebuild an 8spd ZF. Thus, I would prefer a manual transmission in all cases. This is aside from the sheer enjoyment I get from actually DRIVING the car.

    This car has what is by modern standards a fairly old-school diesel. No comparison to modern units that make a lot more hp/liter, and are more efficient to boot. The e36 makes a pretty wagon though.

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      What about the 17 digit VIN or lack thereof? Isn’t this where you get screwed by not being able to register or insure the car legally? thus setting you up for insurance fraud if you get in an accident. I wanted to import a e30iX wagon years ago and this was the stumbling block.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Why would you think this car would not have a VIN? Every modern European car has a VIN, whether it was sold here or elsewhere. Certainly never was an issue with any of the Euro Saabs that passed through my hands over the years. There are TONS of gray-market import cars in the US, this is not that unusual an occurrence. As far as the insurance co is concerned, this will be no different than an ’97 e36 sedan. Heck, you could probably get a cheap limited-use policy from Hagerty or Grundy for it.

        I can’t speak for other states, but as far as registration, Maine only cares about the cash. They will consider it the closest thing in their book for tax purposes, which would be a ’97 328i sedan.

        • 0 avatar
          dswilly

          I know it has a VIN number but thought it didn’t conform with what the US DMV and Insurance companies wanted to see. If it’s that easy why is the rest of the country dealing with grey market regulations etc? is it a Maine only thing?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The biggest issue you will encounter elsewhere is a Canadian title. Only a few states will accept them – I know VT will as well. I imagine SOME states are fussier than others about VINs, for example, in any state that does emissions testing you are pretty much out of luck with anything that did not come through “official” channels. Maine does no VIN checking other than if the checksum works out correctly.

            Ultimately, Maine is easy for several reasons:
            1. Maine accepts Canadian titles and only titles 1995 and newer vehicles anyway.
            2. No emissions testing at all
            3. Registration is handled by the local town hall, and ALL they care about is the money. If they can’t find the car in the tax database they will list it as “other” and basically take your word for it on the valuation.

            I have had several oddball Canadian cars pass through my hands, never a problem with registration or insurance. In Maine you must show proof of insurance to register a car. Including a 1984 Saab 99, and a RHD 1990 Saab 900. Coming in through Maine eases the title problem because every state has to have a mechanism for dealing with cars that come from jurisdictions that don’t title. In my experience, this usually takes the form of requiring a notarized bill of sale, and a valid registration from that jurisdiction. Of course anything 1995 and newer is just going to get a Maine title anyway.

            Note that I am not condoning this – technically you ARE breaking various Federal Laws by bringing in a non-conforming vehicle. But the reality is, if you get it over the border, there are no Federal Car Cops out there looking for random old European cars to crush. Not worth their time or effort. Where you will get bagged is if you try to ship a car to a US port and go through customs. Driving one across the border? Almost no chance at all, particularly if it is the Canadian seller doing the driving on his plates.

    • 0 avatar

      Truly and honestly interested to hear more about this. Here’s my big question, and you may not know the answer: once I’ve got a Maine title, can I then register the car in any other US state?

      The car in question is an Audi RS2, for which I will need to wait another five years before it’s 25. It will pass emissions in my home state. I’m just curious if other states will accept Maine titles. Very curious to hear if you know more…

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        It depends. It could get flagged by the other state’s DMV.

        Also, as krhodes1 said, this doesn’t mean the car is “legal.” This just means it’s registered in that state. You are still in violation of federal law, and the car could be impounded by customs.

        That said, having an RS2 would be awesome — definitely one I’d love to have.

  • avatar

    Considering what you can do with diesels today, there’s some power to be had even with 2.5L. I’ve seen MkIV Golf TDI’s in modified guise that had scoot like a GTI.

  • avatar
    Redshift

    Being located in Halifax, I’m willing to help take delivery. I’ll take good care of it in the interim and would fit in well with my current fleet of “cars everybody on the Internet says they want but nobody ever buys.”

  • avatar
    vvk

    Cloth seats are the best part. I would pay good money to have cloth seats in my BMWs.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    People who want diesel cars haven’t driven them

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Most people who disparage modern diesel cars haven’t driven one.

      • 0 avatar

        I had an A1 and an A2 rabbit diesel, so I know slow, clattery and smoky. A few years ago, I drove a 1.6 Peugeot turbodiesel in Germany, and had no problem holding off Berlin taxis. Smooth, quiet, and “why don’t they sell that here ?” Looked at all the Chrysler minivans with TD engines differently.

        Drove last year a 320d rental car. 40 mpg…140 mph observed on the Autobahn.

        Currently own a TDi.

        I would favor diesel at this point for anything but a dedicated sports car…a normal DD, diesel me !

  • avatar
    BobAsh

    Diesel wagons are fine. As company cars. With automatics.

    I have driven dozens and dozens of European diesel cars, lot of them being The Holy Grail itself, diesel manual wagons. And were it not for immensely expensive fuel in Europe, I would never take any single one of them over the gasoline-powered version of the same.

    And if I were to buy a diesel wagon, it would never, ever be manual.

    Because diesels, even the modern ones, don’t like revs. And even the nicest ones are kinda rough.

    And every single of the “good” diesels is fitted with common-rail injection, which is atrociously expensive to fix, once it breaks down. Which it will.

    So, even in Europe, where both gasoline and diesel cost about the same (which is a fucking lot), owning a diesel only starts to pay off when you drive a lot – like, 30k miles/year or more (which is really a lot in Europe).

    In America, where diesel fuel is significantly more expensive, the diesel loses sense even more.

    And diesel BMW? Opting for a agricultural engine (which 25tds in this old E36 surely is) in a vehicle that can be fitted with sweet, rev-happy inline six-cylinder? Blasphemy. And, considering the price difference between importing this thing and buying a nice one locally, idiocy.

    • 0 avatar
      piro

      “So, even in Europe, where both gasoline and diesel cost about the same (which is a fucking lot), owning a diesel only starts to pay off when you drive a lot – like, 30k miles/year or more (which is really a lot in Europe).”

      But you spend less time filling up. Your time must be worth something.


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