1997 BMW 318ti M-Sport

It seems like just yesterday I was writing up a clean 318ti M-sport. The condition was great on that particular example; miles were lower, it was all original and the color was nice. But there were several drawbacks, too – the California roof, while cool, was noted by one of our readers as a potential problem spot. Then there was the transmission; an automatic, it robbed a fair amount of the sport and fun out of the package. To top it off, there was the asking price – a staggering $13,000. As if to answer every single one of those points, another near-mint example of the rare to see M-Sport package has popped up this week; conventional sunroof, lower price and thank heavens a manual gearbox are the highlights here:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW 318ti M-Sport on eBay


Year: 1997
Model: 318ti M-Sport
Engine: 1.9 liter inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 158,000 mi
Price: $8,950 Buy It Now

An extremely rare and collectible 1997 BMW 318ti M-Sport E36 Compact – Finished in Alaska Blue Metallic with M-Sport Black Leather/ Millpoint Cloth Seat and Door Panel Inserts / Black Wool Headliner. First Owner Reported was as BMW Executive Car – Clean NO ACCIDENTS Carfax Documents Regular Servicing Since New – Fully Optioned with Heated Front Seats, Fold-Down Rear Seats, Tinted Glass, Cold A/C, Map Lights, Clock, Electric Mirrors, Electric 2 Position Sunroof, Front and Rear Defrosters, Electric Front Side Windows, M Sport Seats, M-Sport specific 15″ factory alloys, M3 style front and rear fascia, side rocker panels; integrated foglights, ASC ( Automatic Traction Control ), Driver & Passenger Front Airbags, M-Sport Factory suspension and sport shocks, Premium 10 Speaker Sound System. The E36 318ti Compact was briefly imported to the USA between 1995 and 1999 Model Years; The M-Sport was the top of the line model. While Luxury Performance hatchbacks were not well accepted in the 90’s, they are extremely popular now – which why this rare car is appreciating with collectors, especially those looking for an ideal candidate to swap an M3 engine into them. The long wheelbase affords an excellent ride and with the wheels almost at the corners, provides the fun handling very similar to the 1970’s BMW 2002tii. Although shorter in length than the e36 coupe and sedan, there is more interior room than either. This restoration is one of my projects for TheClassicCarFactory – the goal being to find the best example out there and bring it back to Daily Driver status by repairing/replacing anything that was broken, cracked, faded or non-functional. Everything works on this car. The Alaska Blue Metallic Paint shines beautifully showing only minor defects from tree sap, etc as would be expected. The interior is near flawless with only the bolsters on the drivers seat starting to age ( replacement Montana leather seatback AND seat cushion with PERFECT bolsters is included for your installation); The original cassette radio has been replaced with an in-dash BMW Business CD43; The car features a new windshield wiper cowl vent; All belts and hoses needing replacement have been; The original factory speakers in the kick panels and rear c pillar have been upgraded to JBL units; the components in the doors operate fine in this 10 speaker system. Almost all examples of the 318ti eventually suffer from out of track windows and bad door panels – and both issues have been remedied: both window regulators have been replaced, new switches added. Both door panels have been refurbished and reattached with the factory NUMBERED set of 10 specific door clips ( no longer made by BMW ) – They hold tight and are rattle free. The Black wool headliner is tight and perfectly fitted; New window seal and horizontal glass wipe rubber has been installed on both sides; new fog lights replace older clouded units in the front air dam; New exterior door handles and seals were added; New Goodyear Tires and Brakes/Calipers were installed approx 10,000 ago. This car gets nearly 30 mpg. A brand new waterproof/UV resistant fleece lined car cover is included. This vehicle spent most of its life in Virginia. There is NO RUST. This collectible will be delivered with a fresh oil and filter change and FIVE GREEN LIGHTS on the Service Indicator….it needs only the next collector to maintain its excellent current condition. Additional photos available. If you’re looking for the best maintained factory stock 318ti out there – your search is over. Carfax available by PDF on request.E36

I really think the Alaska Blue Metallic is a fetching color on this example and really helps to set the M-Sport apart from the M3 crowd just a bit. The seller seems to have addressed some of the typical problems with interior and exterior materials, including door cards, seals and lights. The light mechanical and cosmetic freshening has left this example looking good. There are still fairly high miles, but they’re not outrageous and if the car was cared for and rust free, it seems like a good example to consider. I still feel that the price is pretty high, though. Granted, there aren’t a ton of good condition E36/5s floating around out there, but of course at $9,000 you can get into a decent E36 M3 with similar mileage – or if you must have a hatch, you can get into a nearly decade newer GTi 2.0T with much more performance and space. Even considering the recent maintenance and overhaul, I feel the sweet spot for this car is around $6,000 or so.

-Carter

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9 Comments on "1997 BMW 318ti M-Sport"

  1. John says:

    9k, seriously?

    These are cool cars for $5k…but one that is over 150k miles with the stock motor is, in my opinion, not work anywhere near the asking price.

    This guy is hoping that the e30 bandwagon will follow this car as well.

  2. KevinR says:

    A few thoughts:

    First, referring to these cars as “M-Sport” does a disservice to the M brand. They are simply a 318ti with the optional sport package. Granted there are M branded parts in the package, but it really takes a lot more to be worthy of the M moniker.

    Second, while they are somewhat rare, I wouldn’t exactly call them collectible. Especially not with over 150k on the odometer.

    Finally, do you have any idea of just how nice an E46 330 you can get for $9,000?

  3. Matt says:

    About a half mile from my house in Doylestown PA there is a BMW shop called Zygmunt Motors selling a 318ti DINAN. The seller says it has a full stage 3 DINAN suspension package and chip that was installed in California. It is also supercharged. It has 80k miles and he wants $5k for it. My question, has anyone here even heard of that package for a 318?

  4. Carter says:

    The suspension items were all the same as Dinan would be able to install in any other E36 (front) and E30 (rear) so it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Dinan also made up to stage 3 upgrades for the M42, so that would apply. The supercharger could have come from Dinan or someone else, for that matter. Sounds like a good deal if it isn’t wrecked!

  5. Carter says:

    Kevin, I think these are pretty universally referred to as the M-Sport, though I have seen references to M-Package. Given that most of the major manufacturers have moved towards offering appearance packages with their sport brands, I’m not sure it really degrades the branding any more than, say, the X1 M-line (which is entirely an appearance package). One could fault BMW for doing it, but ultimately people want to buy them and they’re in business to sell cars, so while I see the crux of your point I’m not sure the worthiness of the badge really applies. And indeed I do know how nice of an E46 330 you can get for the same money! Or M3, or any number of other really nice BMWs. You could get a nice 635CSi, for example, with much better build quality. I agree wholeheartedly that the prices on these two cars were way too high – but they’re still pretty cool to see, to me anyway!

  6. KevinR says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the 318ti a lot. I owned one for 3 years/50k miles. I just try to remain realistic about what they are worth.

    As to the rest, you can call me a cranky old guy but I find it hard to refer to a car with 139 horsepower (sometimes mated to an automatic transmission) as an “M sport.”

  7. Jeff says:

    5 green lights on the service indicator! Whoo-hoo, it got an oil change.

    I like these cars, but this seller is grasping at straws when it comes to pluses. Stick with the fact that it’s stock, clean and well-kept, and I’m a happy camper.

  8. Rick Ambrose says:

    As the owner/restorer of this 318ti – i first want to thank you for posting it – and 2nd, compliment you on a great ” daily newspaper ” of cool german sheetmetal I find every day in my box…..

    I really have to chuckle at some of the comments above. Having worked for BMW for 12 years, I can tell you without doubt this option package was called the ” M-Sport ” as I sold them when they were new.

    Regarding price: the market is constantly changing and CONDITION on older BMWs is what appears to be the determining factor now as cars from the 80’s and 90’s ALL have what use to be considered high-mileage.

    I have bought, restored and resold over 40 classic cars. I seek out two cars a year to restore as a hobby and I pay up for the nicest examples, do the work required and then let the market come to me. Believe it or not, there are buyers out there looking for exceptional condition and quality and are willing to pay for it – and it only takes one. Two years ago, you would have thought $15,000 for an e30 M3 or $50,000 for a Pagoda SL was ridiculous – but now both would be screaming bargains.

    As for this 318ti: it sold for $8000, 91% of the original asking price of $8950…..and all those who believed it was over-priced are still riding the $400,000 bus.

  9. Carter says:

    Rick, thanks for the update and well done on the car! I agree, as do a fair amount of our readers, that condition and maintenance trump mileage. To me, it was the combination of color, condition and unique package that made this car interesting. We’ll hope to see your next ride soon for sale!

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