Labor of Love: 1991 BMW 318iS

Labor of Love: 1991 BMW 318iS

You don’t have to cast a very wide net to find a modified E30 BMW. Though they’ve been out of production for the U.S. market for some 25 years, they’re still a massively popular choice for enthusiasts – so much so, that they’re a bit ubiquitous and border on cliché.

As a result, we’ve seen our share of modified E30s on these pages with varying results. But today’s example really is something special. It’s not the first time I’ve heard an E30 be referred to as the cleanest, best built car in the country. I clicked the link with my normal base-level of E30 skepticism.

It’ll be way, way overpriced for what it is. Lipstick on a pig. I’d prefer a stock one” rolled through my head.

You see, if I told you the value on a 318iS was such that it justified a full disassembly and restoration, you’d likely laugh. There could not possibly be a return on that investment, right? And on top of that, a resto-mod in a non-original color in a market which has highly prized only completely original, low mileage and stock examples to date?

Naysayers, bear witness.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW 318iS on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1979 BMW 320i Dinan 4.6

Tuner Tuesday: 1979 BMW 320i Dinan 4.6

The E21. By far, it is the 3-series we feature least frequently (barring new models). In U.S. trim, it is also by far the least sporting 3-series. But don’t throw the baby BMW out with the bath water, because it’s still a classic BMW, it looks nice and it’s quite affordable relative to some other hyperbolic models.

For one, I really like the E21. I’ve even enjoyed driving a few. Of course, never once did I think when driving one “You know what this needs? A M60 V8.” And certainly, even in the very unlikely scenario that idea sprang into my head, there’s no way I would have said “Right, now, off to Dinan to bump it out to 4.6 liters!”

But, if nothing else, this Golf Yellow example of an extreme E21 dispels the myth that they’re all underpowered?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 BMW 320i Dinan 4.6 on eBay

1998 BMW 318ti

1998 BMW 318ti

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If you’ve been following my posts here on GCFSB for the last seven years or so, you’ll know I’m a fan of obscure vehicles. These days, the sight of an M-badged BMW or Porsche 911 does little to excite me, as they seem all too ubiquitous in the urban environments I frequent. It’s no surprise then, at a recent cars and coffee, it wasn’t the fast German machines or Italian exotics which grabbed my attention. Rather, it was a mint Citroën SM sitting in the corner of the parking lot that caught my eye. It had been years since I had seen one of these French grand tourers and it was a design that looked as good in 2016 as it did when it debuted over 45 years ago. The BMW 318ti is not nearly as exotic as the Citroën SM, but it’s not something you see that often on the streets these days. This one for sale in California is saddled with an automatic gearbox but makes for a nice alternative commuter that you could have some fun with on the weekend.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW 318ti on eBay

1993 BMW 316i Touring Design Edition

1993 BMW 316i Touring Design Edition

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Each year, more and more interesting non-US market vehicles become eligible for importation stateside. Recently, the BMW E30 Touring has crossed that threshold to where it is legally possible to bring one of these five-door E30s into the US. Most of the examples we’ve seen arrive on these shores have been packing the 2.5 liter inline-6, but this 1993 example for sale north east of Düsseldorf, Germany is a 316i, equipped with the single cam 1.6 liter M40 four-cylinder. It won’t set your world on fire, but it certainly looks sharp in Daytona Violet with the special Design Edition fabric sport seats.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW 316i Touring on Mobile.de

2000 BMW 323i Touring

2000 BMW 323i Touring

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Every now and then, I come across an interesting car which I slot into my weekly rotation at GCFSB last minute. This 2000 BMW 323i Touring is one of those cars. I was in Hingham, Massachusetts on holiday last week, spending a few days at the house of a childhood friend. He’s been a BMW guy ever since they days my 1988 325is convinced him to take the plunge on a 1992 325i 5-speed sedan. He has stayed true to BMW with his latest rig, a 2009 328i xDrive Touring equipped with a 6-speed manual. We discussed how great this car was, allowing you to have your family car cake and eat it too. But one question posed by my friend was what to do now that BMW no longer imports a 3 series Touring with a manual gearbox. Well, you could always dial back the clock and explore the other interesting Tourings from BMW’s past. This E46 323i Touring for sale in Minnesota belies it’s age and 146,000 miles on the clock thanks to some fastidious care. It also has some tasty bits included, such as M3 front seats, a ZHP shift knob and Alcantara trimmed M3 steering wheel to provide maximum driving pleasure behind the wheel.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 323i Touring on eBay

1991 BMW 318i

1991 BMW 318i

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As I scour the ads each week for noteworthy vehicles to feature here on GCFSB, I come across a fair amount of E30 BMW M3s on the market. These original M3s are now the darling of the collector set. I was a bit intrigued by them when I was running my E30 325is two decades ago. Nowadays, they don’t do much for me. This is party due to my preference for the 2.5 liter inline-6 that powered my 325is and partly because their collectability has made them all but impractical for use as a daily driver. If you still want some E30 four cylinder goodness, why not check out this 318i for sale in Maryland? This car has undergone a partial restoration and is a non-sunroof model with a 5-speed manual, a combination suited for the purists out there.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW 318i on eBay

1993 BMW 318i Baur TC4

1993 BMW 318i Baur TC4

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We’ve reached a point where the BMW E36 has probably dipped about as low as it will go in terms of value, with exception of some mint M3s on the upward tick and the exclusive M3 Lightweight. Most of us are familiar with all the different models of this range, including some of those which did not make it to US shores, like the Touring. This 318i Baur TC4, however, is a different proposition altogether. The relationship between BMW and Baur goes back a ways. Baur is a coachbuilder based in Stuttgart, Germany that has been collaborating on BMW convertibles since the 1930s. Their targa variants of the E21 and E30 3 series helped them gain notoriety, but they didn’t stop there. When the E36 3 series debuted in the early 1990s, Baur decided to try something different.

What you see here is a rarity amongst modern day automobiles, the four-door cabriolet. From the side profile, you’d be hard pressed to figure out this was a convertible of some sort, with fixed door frames and a canvas roof which would fold discreetly behind the rear seats. This 318i Baur TC4 is claimed to be the first on US shores. While it wouldn’t be an easy claim to verify, it is probably valid, as a little over 300 of these unique open-roofed sedans were made.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW 318i Baur TC4 on eBay

2000 BMW 323i Touring

2000 BMW 323i Touring

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A good friend of mine who lives on the coast in Massachusetts happens to drive an E91 328i xDrive Touring equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox. This Touring would be the last five-door estate BMW would offer in the US with a manual gearbox. We sat around discussing potential replacements for this machine once the time comes but the only answers seemed to be buy an old car to replace it or become an expatriate. Given he’s married with two kids, the latter option would not be all that convenient. Well, if we want to take the latter route, why not size up this 2000 323i Touring for sale in Florida with the all important third pedal?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 323i Touring on eBay

1990 BMW 324td Estate

1990 BMW 324td Estate

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I’ve been on a wagon kick lately over the past week and I’m not about to slow down with my first post of the week. This BMW E30 estate might not have the engine the enthusiast lusts after, but it is wrapped around the one body style forbidden to US customers that is highly sought after on these shores, given their legal status in the eyes of the government. This 324td estate for sale in New Hampshire is originally an Italian market vehicle, equipped with a 5-speed manual to help get the most out of the oil burner under the hood.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW 324td Estate on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1984 Alpina C1 2.3/1

Tuner Tuesday: 1984 Alpina C1 2.3/1

The other day I read an article on Petrolicious entitled “Which classic car gets on your nerves?” The photo was of an E30 M3, and it wasn’t far into the article that it became clear that this was a decidedly anti-E30 stance. In many ways, I agree with the author – having a conversation with an E30 enthusiast and trying to convince them that there are other cars (even within the marque) that are much better values or offer more performance per a dollar is akin to attempting to blame mass shootings on assault rifles in the middle of an NRA meeting. Now, to be fair, there are quite a few very reasonable E30 enthusiasts out there and just like it’s not fair to generalize about any group, they’re not all the same and most haven’t been recent bandwagon jumpers. But the rocketing to fame of the E30 and the ascending prices of the lineup have become somewhat laughable; take Paul’s mint, low mileage 318is for $30,000 the other day. Is it a lovely car? Sure, and if I’m honest I agree with Paul that it’s one of the neatest options in the E30 lineup to me – but is it worth the same as a brand new, replete with warranty 228i coupe in your choice of colors? That’s where the wheels start to fall off the bandwagon, because while I can rationalize a lot of automotive things that are pretty ridiculous I find that one hard to stomach. But, if the market has spoken and a 318is is “worth” $30,000, surely a super limited production Alpina C1 2.3/1 is more highly valued?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Alpina C1 2.3/1 on eBay

1991 BMW 318is

1991 BMW 318is

For all the desirable //M cars over history, there’s one classic BMW that has always stood out in my mind that hailed from the end of the E30 production run. The 318is. This was a curious model, pairing the popular but aging 3 series with the new DOHC M42 inline-4. Sold for one year only in the US market, this car offered the style of its bigger brother, the 325is, at a reduced cost of entry by way of a the smaller engine and the omission of a few features. While I have fond memories of my 1988 325is, I would almost prefer a car like this mint, low mileage 318is for sale in Chicago from Evolve Motors. Somehow, this coupe speaks to the simple pleasures of motoring. This has been a BMW theme over the years that, in my opinion, has been clouded in recent years but somewhat fussy styling and an overkill of technology and the added weight that comes with it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW 318is on eBay

1995 BMW M3

1995 BMW M3

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I’ve been seeing a pristine white E36 M3 coupe on perfect Style 22s, looking like a wonderful mix of stock daily driver that gets pampered in the garage every night. Even though history has shown it to be the most banal M3, there are still so many things right about this car. It’s sized right. The simple but aggressive lines perfectly support the car’s ethos. Just as I imagine that white example is cared for, the E36 M3 is the perfect car to dote upon, drive every day, and enjoy the hell out of.

This one-owner silver 1995 coupe is not quite the same stock-queen as the local white one, but it’s has just 90k miles and a host of well-chosen modifications. Suspension upgrades, chip, brakes, exhaust, and wheels complete the standard modification lineup on this now two-decades-old M3 that brings a few nice stock options like the slicktop sunroof delete and Vader seats. For just $10,500, it’s the perfect representation of why the E36 M3 is in the running for best performance value available.

Click for details: 1995 BMW M3 on eBay

Feature Listing: 1999 BMW M3 Convertible

Feature Listing: 1999 BMW M3 Convertible

It seems as if winter decided to hang on for another weekend on the east coast of the United States this week. However, summer will be here before we know it and with it comes the desire for open top motoring. This 1999 BMW M3 for sale in Arlington, Virginia is on offer from the second owner who has had the vehicle in his possession since it was a year old. While the M3 Convertible might not be the first choice for the hardcore //M enthusiast, this one is perfectly suited for those lazy jaunts to the beach, especially since these E36 convertibles have more than adequate rear seat and trunk space for those weekend jaunts to the beach.

1999 BMW M3 Convertible

1997 BMW 318ti with S52 swap

1997 BMW 318ti with S52 swap

I never understood why, but hatchback seems to be a dirty word in the US. So many of my friends eschew these vehicles, whether in three or five door form. Curiously, SUVs are popular here in the Land of the Free. So it seems Americans might not be all that averse to practicality, just as long as it is jacked up and classified as something more butch than your average passenger car. BMW dabbled with the idea of a hatchback 3 series for a number of years across two generations, however, only the E36 318ti, or Compact as it was known as, was sold stateside. While there were a number of different options you could spec a 318ti with, you had one choice of engine, the 1.9 liter inline-4. Customers in other markets, however, had access to the 2.5 liter inline-6 in the form of the 323ti. Enthusiasts took note of this and we’ve seen a number of six-cylinder ti swaps appear over time. This example for sale in Miami has an S52 from a 1999 M3 under the bonnet. It looks to be a rather tidy swap, with its look enhanced by the BBS RK alloys.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW 318ti on eBay

2016 BMW 340i xDrive

2016 BMW 340i xDrive

For years, the BMW 3 series has been the standard bearer for someone looking for a sport sedan with a dash of luxury mixed in. Luckily for the enthusiast, it is one of the few cars in its class that offers the option for a manual transmission. While modern automatic gearboxes are more efficient, there are still those of us out there who enjoy rowing their own. This 2016 340i xDrive for sale in New Jersey is lightly used, but is one of the few big engined 3 series sedans so equipped these days.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2016 BMW 340i xDrive on eBay