Yat Ming - 320i Turbo Rally #1029

Tomica - 320i Alpina #F25
Kenner - 320i GT racer

Matchbox - 323i Baur Cabriolet #39-G

Majorette - 325i #257

Road Champs - 325i

SS/Summer - 325i convertible
Hot Wheels - M3 convertible

Corgi - M3

Welly - M3
BMW 3 Series Generates Many Models
by Doug Breithaupt

Since the mid-1970's, BMW has offered their most popular cars as part of the '3 series' models. The 3 series cars have provided BMW with the bulk of their profits for 25 years and have provided consumers with models that define the small, sporting automobile. Other automakers measure their products against the 3 series and BMW continues to measure their success by the success of these fine cars.

The first 3 series BMW was the 320i of 1975. This car replaced the popular 2002 models in the BMW line-up. Since that time, 318, 323, 325, and 328 models have been offered. A full history of these cars is available through other sources. The intention here is to review the miniature versions of BMW's 3 series, scaled at 1:64.

The 320i models are represented by just three manufacturers. Yat Ming did a nice 320i, #1029. It came in many colors, including the 'turbo-rally' scheme shown here. Tomica also did the 320i as #F25. The example shown sports 'Alpina' graphics and has opening doors. Perhaps the most dramatic 320i model came from Kenner;s Fast 111's series. It represents a 320i fitted out for racing. These 320i racers were very successful in sport/GT racing series. The models added body work and spoilers are quite accurate.

In 1983, the 320i was replaced by the 323, which later became the 325. Several examples of the coupe, cabriolet and racing versions exist in small-scale. Matchbox did the Baur-built Cabriolet version on the 323i. With the rear top lowered, rear passengers enjoyed open motoring. Majorette offered the 325i model in an accurate version with opening doors. This model is very close to the real 1988 325iX that is my regular driver. The iX models came with all-wheel drive. Mine is a former pro-rally car with many performance modifications. It placed first in class/second overall in the 1994 Alcan 5000 Winter rally, going from Seattle to the North Pole and back.

The 325i was also done by Road Champs and included opening doors. A somewhat crude 325i convertible is still being produced by SS/Summer. Note the lack of rear seats. Hot Wheels also did the 3 series convertible with M3 graphics. The M3 was a tuned version of the 3 series offered in the late 1980's. Corgi also did the M3 in coupe form with opening doors and Welly still offers an M3, identifiable by the flared front and rear quarter-panels. Corgi also did an M3 is full IMSA, sport/GT racing trim.

The 3 series entered it's third generation of body styling in 1992. Majorette currently offers the 325i, #257 in 4-doors. Herpa, better known for their 1:87 plastic cars, also did the 325i sedan in their diecast 1:66 scale junior line. Real Toy currently offers a beautifully-painted 325i sedan and Pioneer offers a crude 325i saloon-racer with paint that clearly apes the BMW art cars. Siku still produces the 320i sedan, a 2.0 litre model not offered in North America.

The most recent 3 series BMW models are beginning to appear. In 2000, Matchbox offered both the coupe and sedan. These are completely different castings and both are nicely modeled. The sedan is labeled a 328i while the coupe is simple labeled as a '3 series' model. It is odd that Matchbox decided do two 3 series, BMW models like this at the same time. I cannot recall ever seeing this before. Does anyone know why this might have happened? Maisto also offers the 3 series coupe in their current line.

Welly's new castings offer the 328i sedan as well as #2025. All the new Welly models are reviewed in our feature story for this issue (click here).

The Majorette BMW 325i is the closest match to my daily driver, a 1988 325iX. The 'X' notes all-wheel drive. The photo shows the car today. The photo to the left shows it in 1994 when it placed first-in-class, second overall, in the Alcan 5000 Rally, driven by Steve Norman with Satch Carlson as navigator. The rally ran from Seattle to the North Pole and back. This iX has many performance modifications including a 215 h.p. 2.7 litre 6 cyl. motor with a Dinan chip and a serious upgrade in torque.

Corgi - M3 GT racer

Majorette - 325i sedan

Herpa Junior - 325i sedan

Real Toy - 325i sedan

Pioneer - 325i sedan

Siku - 320i sedan

Matchbox - 328i sedan

Matchbox - 3 series coupe

Maisto - 3 series coupe

Welly - 328i sedan