1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport

1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport

Like the M535i from the other day, the 318ti continued BMW’s expansion of M branding to pedestrian models. That plan included inclusion of a new down-market economy model; the 318ti Compact. The new hatchback platform brought the pricing of the small executive into the teens (just), but the only engine available – the 138 horsepower M44 1.8 liter 4-cylinder – proved just adequate motivation. Though big brother power wouldn’t come to the chassis, the Sport, Club Sport and later M-Sport packages added BMW Motorsport DNA into the E36/5. Subtle styling revisions included M3 front bumper cover, revised rocker panels and a diffusor-inspired rear cover. The Club Sport and M-Sport received special mirror covers and integrated fog lights, as well, along with the M-Sport suspension. Inside, special sport seats with Millpoint fabric (red in the case of the Club Sport), along with an M branded wheel and shift knob, helped to remind the driver that they were in the sportiest of economy BMWs. And the basic package was fairly good to begin with, in spite of the power shortfall; Car and Driver rated the 318ti Sport second in its handling competition, though it should be noted that it lost to a front-wheel drive Honda.

These 318ti M-Sports have developed a bit of a cult following as a result, offering economy car sensibility and cheap repairs with M3 looks – and, for many, a great basis for motor swaps down the line:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport on eBay

2008 BMW 135is

2008 BMW 135is

(Editor’s Correction: Though I originally listed this car as a M-Sport, it’s really a 135is with the Sport package. However, the equipment package on this car was renamed for the 2009 model year to M-Sport. This car does feature the upgrade 740 M-Sport suspension.)

Tempting.

It’s hard to judge the performance value of the BMW 135i M-Sport 6-speed as anything other than very tempting in today’s market. Get beyond the styling for a second and look at what this car comes with; stock, the twin-turbocharged N54 inline-6 pumps out an impressive 302 horsepower and matching torque, giving you E46 M3-strata performance. Equipped with the M-Sport package, you got shadow line trim, a black headliner, sport seats, M steering wheel and shifter, M door sills, and the M-sport M264 5-spoke wheels unique to this model. While performance wasn’t turned up, the 1M was no slouch, capable of sub 5-second 0-60 times. Admittedly, it is not the most beautiful product that BMW produced in period, but in gussied-up M-Sport form it is certainly more purposeful than the standard 128i your boss’s secretary ran out to get the moment it was off-lease.

But the real beauty of the 135i M-Sport is the price. Some dip into the mid-teens or occasionally below, but even a pristine one like today’s example hits the market below $25,000. A generation newer than the E46 M3, it offers plenty of sport, reasonable practicality, more affordable repairs and one could argue that it’s a bit of a sleeper compared to the S-motored cars:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 135is at Coventry Motorcar

2000 BMW 740i Sport

2000 BMW 740i Sport

Taut, restrained and handsome. These words come to mind when describing the E38 platform 7-series, perhaps one of the most successful BMW designs in recent memory. In short wheelbase form with the M-Sport package, which adds sport seats, firmer suspension, shorter final drive, M-Parallel wheels, sport steering wheel and Shadowline trim, the conservatively styled executive express takes on a slightly more menacing look and feel. Owing to the marvel of depreciation, these cars can be had for a fraction of their original cost. While bargain-basement examples are tempting, they probably hide gremlins that will cost the asking price again to put right. Best to pay up front for a nice one, like this lovely looking example for sale in California.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 740i M-Sport on eBay

Double Take M-Sports Wagon-off: 2017 BMW 330i xDrive Individual v. 2014 BMW 328i xDrive

Double Take M-Sports Wagon-off: 2017 BMW 330i xDrive Individual v. 2014 BMW 328i xDrive

There’s an entire sub-culture of automobile enthusiasts that MUST have everything wagon. And for those people, there have long been many options to choose from – expect recently. Since the 2000s, the number of wagons available to U.S. fans has dropped off a cliff so that today precious few are left. I detailed what I felt was the height of the market last year over at The Truth About Cars.

Today, enter the marketplace and there are very few options left. The staple Audi A6 and BMW 5-series wagons have left the market, as has the regular A4. Sure, today you can finally get an all-wheel drive Golf Sportwagon that was promised for so long, but outside of that, you’re left really with the Allroad, the expensive and numb (but potentially ridiculously quick) Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon, or the BMW 3-series.

Options for the 3-series have dwindled as well as the price has increased. From rear-or-all-wheel drive a few years ago with multiple engine options, only two remain – you have a choice or gas, or diesel. The Sports Wagon has gotten pretty ridiculously expensive, too – starting at $43,000, it’s not hard to break $60,000 when you start to add options (which you’ll see below). Even more ridiculousl is the naming convention, to the point of I’m not sure what the word order is in the title of these cars anymore. Seriously, consider our first example – the “2017 BMW 330i xDrive Sports Wagon M-Sport Individual”. Or was Individual first? Or M-Sport second?

Nevertheless, these wagons remain popular among sport-minded German car freaks who need to carry more than just themselves. Today I have two interesting blue options to consider – one a special-ordered Individual in Laguna Seca that is brand spanking new, or a lightly used Estoril Blue Metallic example.…

2010 BMW 535xi Touring M-Sport

2010 BMW 535xi Touring M-Sport

It’s been a while since I last updated you on the trials and tribulations of E61 ownership. And, there have been a few exciting events which pertain to this car. Some of that comes down to learning about the quirks of ownership. For example, the iDrive system has a habit of notifying you of problems well after they’ve occurred. Like the E46, the E61 utilized the ABS speed sensors to calculate rotation of the wheels to determine if you’ve got a flat tire. So, if you..say…swap wheels and forget to notify the car that you’ve done so, it gets very unhappy (but, not immediately – only a few miles down the road will it tell you something occurred). Navigating the menus to find specific items can be laborious, but with time it gets better and you start to figure it out. But the electronic nannies don’t end there; the “IBS” – Intelligent Battery Sensor – proved to be anything but intelligent, as it malfunctioned and decided that the car shouldn’t start. It took a lot of internet diving to determine that simply unplugging the connector would fix the problem. Of course, that sensor is directly under the drains for the sunroof, which unfortunately seem to have a habit of randomly leaking (and, according to the never-wrong internet, are almost always the cause of the woes with the IBS).

Then there’s the service warning.

Say your 11 year old car uses (read: leaks) a little oil. Fine, no problem, top it up. But the E6x FREAKS OUT that you’ve lost a little oil and basically tells you you’re about to grenade the motor. Except, it doesn’t do this when you first start the car. No, because the N52 carries some 7 quarts of synthetic it waits for the oil to warm up prior to notifying you there’s a problem.…

2003 BMW 540i M-Sport Touring

2003 BMW 540i M-Sport Touring

I’m not really sure where the “wagons are cool” craze comes from. Back in Europe, estates tend to be regarded as a bit boring. But the longer I’ve lived in America, the more I can relate. Camping trips, afternoons spent chasing down furniture on Craigslist, and weekends spent helping friends move apartments in the city have all led me to appreciate the appeal of a good wagon.The highly competent 540i sedan is already well loved, combining a well-balanced chassis with a torquey 4.4 liter V8 that puts out about 290 hp. The Touring version offers all of this plus a load space nearly on par with that of a small pickup, once the seats are folded down. What’s even better than a 540i Touring? A 540i Touring M-Sport, which adds more aggressively styled, M5-like bumpers, firmer sport suspension, sport seats and shadowline trim (sedans also received M-Parallel wheels, although Tourings did not).

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 540i Touring M-Sport on Portland, OR Craigslist

1995 BMW 540i M-Sport

1995 BMW 540i M-Sport

1Towards the end of the E34 run, the 540i was offered in the US with an M-Sport package. This added sport seats, an M-tech body kit and mirrors plus suspension and steering components borrowed from the M5. Only 200 units were produced, and of those only 139 came equipped with the 6-speed manual gearbox.  So equipped, the 540i is an attractive and cheaper alternative to the M5, whose values we’ve seen creep up lately as the M-enthusiast crowd has rediscovered their love for the E34. This clean, low-mileage example is one of those manual cars.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 540i M-Sport on eBay

1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport

1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport

Just the other day, Paul looked at a 1998 BMW 318ti in Oxford Green. An offbeat commuter, the condition of that car was great, but not so much was the near $7,000 price. Today I have another 318ti to look at, but this one ups the ante a bit. Again it is an original M44 car in great shape with well below average miles. The color is a little less 90s spectacular, but still looks nice in Alpine White. However, it’s the addition of the California roof and the M-Sport package which really helps this hatch stand out. Let’s take a look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport on eBay

2003 BMW 540i M-Sport

2003 BMW 540i M-Sport

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Yesterday Paul wrote up a 530i Sport noting that for many, the styling of the E39 5-series is vastly preferable to the E60 that came afterward, burdened as it is with awkward creases and controversial styling courtesy of BMW design guru Chris Bangle. I tend to agree, although I also think the E60, especially in sport specification, will probably become better appreciated as it ages. While yesterday’s 530i with an autobox represents, as Paul put it, the “bread and butter” of the range, this particular car is a bit more special. The standard 540i, powered by a torquey 4.4 liter V8 making nearly 300 hp, is already a very capable sport sedan in its own right. The M-sport package however, which adds M-sport exterior styling, suspension and wheels, brings the car within firing range of the M5.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 540i M-Sport on Bimmerforums

Miserly M: 2011 BMW 335d M-Sport

Miserly M: 2011 BMW 335d M-Sport

Okay, so diesel has a bit of a bad reputation right now. For an enthusiast, that’s not necessarily a bad thing – and when you weigh the advantages it offers it can be quite compelling. For sure there is mileage; a friend of mine daily commutes in an A3 TDi, and despite a relatively heavy foot he returns a pretty reliable 40 m.p.g.. That’s impressive. But surveying the real world results of BMW’s diesel offering seems to suggest that it doesn’t return much better mileage than our N52 gas motor, which is inexplicably capable of 30 m.p.g. on the highway at reasonable speeds. But what BMW’s first U.S. offering of a diesel in the 3-series does offer is some sport. You see, while M3 owners will shout all day about horsepower numbers, the 335d’s weapon is being pushy. The S65 may be a legendary V8 already, but it only is able to twist with 295lb. ft of torque. In contrast, the 335d offers a bit more in the M57 turbo diesel – a total of 428 lb.ft of torque, with horsepower numbers that nearly match the N55 at 282. Equipped with the M-Sport performance options, this is about as close to a diesel M as you can get:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 BMW 335d M-Sport on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 2008 BMW 550i M-Sport Dinan 5

Tuner Tuesday: 2008 BMW 550i M-Sport Dinan 5

I still remember well when the new E60 5-series launched. I was not impressed. It looked modern, sure, but it also looked very heavy and it was full of odd angles. It was expensive, too, and though the M5 came with a massive screaming V10, the rest of the run seemed to be pretty tame. But BMW offered steady upgrades throughout production, and the post-LCI sedans really came into their own with the M-Sport package. A few weeks ago I posted a ’08 550i M-Sport 6-speed on our Facebook page, and its popularity proved that more people are beginning to appreciate the performance value offered in this unique package. Having spent the past half year with a E61 Sport, they are really fantastic cars to drive and ooze quality and you can count me among the converted. Today I have another 550i M-Sport 6-speed, but this one has been turned up a few notches by Dinan:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 550i M-Sport on eBay

2001 BMW 740i M-Sport

2001 BMW 740i M-Sport

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Bright red isn’t a color you would typically paint an executive sedan, but, in the case of the E38 BMW 7 series, somehow it worked. Imola Red was, however, offered as an option on the E38 and was a popular choice with those opting for the M-Sport package. It can be a bit tricky to identify a true M-Sport, as the real defining features are the high stall speed torque converter and lower ratio differential. However, the visual clues are fairly easy to spot, such as the Shadowline trim, M-Parallel alloys, M Steering wheel and the countour/sport seats. This 740i M-Sport for sale in South Carolina is described as a one owner car that is showing just over 112k miles on the odometer. These late model E38s have turned into a bit of a cult classic, given the styling direction of the 7er that followed.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 740i M-Sport on eBay

2003 BMW 540i Touring M-Sport 6-Speed

2003 BMW 540i Touring M-Sport 6-Speed

540iT1Growing up, I never really understood the appeal of wagons, or “estates” as we called them in England. The triumph of sensibleness and practicality over style, they didn’t seem particularly cool or desirable. Instead, they were for posh people in the countryside who owned big dogs. But as I’ve gotten older, and particularly since I moved to America, something has changed. Not only do I find myself needing to carry around a lot more stuff these days, but wagons have become, well, cool. No longer the staple of the staid upper classes, they’re for the person who needs the extra space of an SUV or a minivan but says “f-that, I’m not ready to give up on life just yet.” And there are some seriously cool wagons around these days. On a recent trip home to London, the first sight greeting me in the car park at Heathrow was that of an F11 530d M-Sport, B8 S4 Avant and an E63 AMG estate, all lined up next to each other. It’s as if somebody was trying to make a point.

The E39 Touring, already a fairly handsome car, looks especially good when specified with the M-sport package, as here. This particular 540i represents the top of the range and not only has it been blessed with M exterior styling and sport suspension, as an added bonus the current owner has gone to the trouble of retrofitting a 6-speed manual transmission from an M5, turning this into a quick, capable and seriously cool longroof.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 540iT on BMW Car Club of America

2016 BMW 228i M Sport

2016 BMW 228i M Sport

A colleague of mine in the Bay Area recently took delivery of a BMW 228i with the Track Handling Package. A long time BMW owner, we both like to talk cars when we get the chance. Given that we work for a large technology professional association, our conversation instantly revolves around the finer technical points of the vehicle, most notably the turbocharged, 2.0 liter engine and how well the 8-speed automatic his 228i is equipped with complements this powerplant. I’ve driven a decent number of new cars over the last two or three years, and some of the automatic gearboxes are quite impressive in their performance, while returning better economy. I feel like something is missing though every time I get behind the wheel of a two-pedal vehicle, but thankfully, BMW still gives 2 series buyers the option of the third pedal. Of all the new cars out there currently, this 228i with the 6-speed manual is speaking to me, especially in Estoril Blue, one of my favorite BMW colors.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2016 BMW 228i M Sport on eBay

Row Your Own? 2000 BMW 528iT v. 2003 BMW 540iT

Row Your Own? 2000 BMW 528iT v. 2003 BMW 540iT

I have a bit of an interesting comparison today, and I think in many ways it’s harder than it would first appear to be. If you said to most enthusiasts “Would you rather have a manual or automatic?”, the collective ire of autophiles towards self-controlled cars is akin to suggestion a revision to the 2nd Amendment at a NRA rally. And outwardly, today’s two E39 5-series wagons seem quite similar. But they represent two different directions for BMW and I think it will be interesting to see which foot enthusiasts land on. So, what would it be, then – a 5-speed 528i Sport Touring or a 5-speed (automatic) 540i M-Sport Touring?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 528i Touring on eBay