Carburettor for a 1986 BMW 316 (E30), 5 speed manual

This car was bought new by my partner’s (now very elderly) mother in 1986. It is up together with a recent rebuild of the M10 engine including a new cooling system, and it’s got about 80,000 miles on it. Newish Pirellis all round.

It’s always been garaged. It is also undersealed. No serious rust. Sailed through an MoT last November. Not even an ‘advisory’.

BMW fitted the Pierburg 2be carburettor to this model. We have been advised that ‘a flap is broken’ which probably explains the massive overfuelling and terrible, chuggy running. The car is now off the road. Another two weeks is neither here nor there. But we would like to be able to run it again even if only for the odd Sunday jaunt.

A Weber conversion kit with manual choke can be supplied and fitted locally, for roughly £500 all up. Alternatively I have found a couple of places that look like they can repair the Pierburg for a comparable sum, possibly slightly more, but not much. It’s a case of posting off the defective unit and back comes the repair in 10 days to two weeks.

Mechanics tend to say to us, ‘those Pierburgs were always sh*t, whip it out and put a decent Weber in’. They also say that with a Weber fitted, it will run better than it ever did with a Pierburg.

But some say, ‘those Pierburgs were fitted with good reason, either get a new one (amazingly still available from BMW but the price makes it out of the question) or get the original repaired. The Weber has too big a Venturi effect, and consequently the car will drink fuel.’

Did you own an E30 316? (The 2be may also have been fitted to the 518 of the same era.) Has this carburettor problem ever happened to you? What did you do please?



Chris - I’d give Munich Legends a call and ask their advice. They should be able to sort you out.


Whoever said that hasn’t a clue how a carburettor works or needs set up. If the jetting is properly set the fuel air mix will be correct for all running conditions. The original carb may have been set lean to pass emissions regs and for best fuel economy. The aftermarket Weber will likely be jetted for best performance, so the engine will be more responsive, but will obviously use more fuel.

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@Mr.Tibbs is correct. Set up properly a Weber will give better performance and fuel economy will be very slightly worse but not to the extent of drinking fuel. My only thought would be in the air box arrangement. The Weber conversion may need K&N filters instead of the original air filter. The E30s in good original condition are rare so I’d be tempted to keep to the original arrangement.

Yep. Keep it original where possible.
Might be something as simple as a faulty choke flap or actuating mechanism. A repair should be possible at reasonable cost if you shop around a bit.

I was on the spanners in the 70s and 80s and fitted quite a few Weber conversions many to replace Pieburg and Soles carburettors that had developed flats spots.

Provided the Weber has the correct chokes and jets these were excellent replacements giving better performance and drivability and on par fuel figures.

Also fitted a lot of manual choke conversation kits.

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I second James’ advice here. Get in touch with Munich Legends. They are near Forest Row in Sussex. There’s not much Munich Legends don’t know about older BMWs - IIRC I think even BMW UK send their classics to ML. They’re about an hour’s drive from me across country but I wouldn’t take my BMW anywhere else. Give them a call.


Thank you all for your replies. As a result I mentioned Munich Legends to my girlfriend. She said, ‘But how are we going to get it to Munich?’ :slight_smile:

Anyway, your replies have helped us clarify our decision making, so thank you. Will keep you posted.

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I have just had a prompt and detailed email reply from ‘the classics guy’ at Munich Legends. So all we have to do now is decide exactly what we are going to do. To be honest, given that the car is not driveable at the moment, which I should have made clear at the start, the pricing is going to make it easy.


Chris, what was the gist of it, if you don’t mind me asking the question…?

Not at all. Munich Legends work in conjunction with CCK Historic, near Uckfield, on carburettor stuff, and were happy to recommend them.

Thankfully, I had made it clear to Munich Legends that the car isn’t driveable, as I should have done to the forum. Again, sorry to all who have replied so helpfully, for omitting this key fact. I can tell you your collective replies have really restored my faith in the forum. When I posted, we knew we had to do something but we didn’t know what.

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As long as quote is not silly money I would get it fixed and back on the road. I have had many E30’s and they are just lovely to drive, even your humble 316 will seem lightweight and nimble compared to todays heavyweights. Keep it for those Sunday jaunts and visit to the pub when the sun shines, you wont regret it :slight_smile:


Didn’t Petrol-head extraordinaire, Top Gear presenter, and avid Naim fan and owner, Chris Harris pick an old 3 series (possibly an E28 though) in one of the episodes as representing the memorable car his Dad drove in his youth? I remember watching it and recalling how much I tried to persuade my Mum to make the stretch to get a 316 back in the day. I was gutted when Mum got an Escort instead!

I’ve always had a bit of a hankering for one and bought a secondhand E30 325i Touring (and a Saab 900 Turbo) to replace the dreadful Golf VR6. That was a great fun car to drive.

If I recall correctly, Chris Harris’s father had an early compact BMW, I think it was a six cylinder 3 series and his father wouldn’t let him drive it! As a result Chris had wanted one ever since. I had a similar frustration when trying to get my dad to buy a golf GTi Mk1

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Thank you all for your comments and help. Weber carburettor with manual choke ordered by the local garage, who will also fit. The guy doing the job seems totally unphased by it.


Glad you are getting it sorted.

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