The E30 3-series was penned by Claus Luthe in 1978, the designer of the NSU Ro 80. Externally, the E30's appearance is very similar to twin headlight versions of its E21 predecessor, however there are various detail changes in styling to the E30.
Major changes over the E21 include interior features and revised suspension (to reduce the oversteer for which the E21 was criticised). As per the E21, a Baur convertible was available.
Unlike its predecessor, the second generation 3 Series was available as a four-door saloon as well as a two-door saloon, and there was later a five-door estate model.
The primary distinctive feature of the BMW E30 models produced for the North American market in 1984–1987 are the elongated front/rear aluminum bumpers. These bumpers are commonly known as diving boards.