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

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1991 BMW 318is S52

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I’ve been daydreaming about the lightweight tossable treat known as the 318is a lot recently, fueled by a couple of nice examples that didn’t end up selling on eBay. While those were higher-mileage, driver-quality baby E30s that retained their M42 four-cylinder, this beautiful Brilliantrot example has the swap most E30 owners dream about with an E36 M3’s silky S52 3.2-liter inline-6 shoehorned into the earlier chassis. This one’s running gear has been tweaked all around to supplement the extra 110bhp with coilovers, 3.25 LSD, brakes from both the E36 and E30 M3s, etc. We don’t get any pictures of the inside, but it sounds nice with aggressive Recaros and other racy touches. Small OEM+ touches spice up the rare slicktop exterior, most notably some almost-too-big but always sexy 17″ Style 5s. The main flag is previous collision damage, but all panels were professionally replaced with OEM parts. All in all, it sounds like a well-sorted little rocket.

Click for details: 1991 BMW 318is on craigslist Boston

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1985 BMW 325 Rally

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Alright, folks, it’s Thursday. We’re almost to Friday, and it’s time to start thinking about weekend fun. I love taking the M5 out for a weekend cruise, but I’ve always wanted to try out rallying. It has typically seemed cost-prohibitive, as most autosports do, but today we have a kickass, fully-prepped E30 rally car that looks ripe for the picking.

From the inside out, what started as a lowly 325e has been converted to a serious race machine. The S52 swap doubles the horsepower of the original eta engine, while the suspension has been redone with ix and Bilstein parts. The interior is full rally spec, with an approved cage, seats, and a giant e-brake handle just like Ken Block. Outside, an ix-style M-Tech kit supplements the raised suspension while a FINA-tribute sticker job makes it look like the all-business machine that it is. The custom skid plate that goes back to cover the transmission both looks awesome and is extremely useful – pretty much the general theme of this dirt-tosser. There are clearly tons of regulations that I’m ill-equipped to comment on, but it sounds like the seller knows his stuff and assures us it’s ready to go racing.

It would surely be a lot to dive into and the future investments will be serious, but a no-reserve auction means you could at least get behind the wheel for a really good deal.

Click for details: 1985 BMW 325 Rally on eBay

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1997 BMW M3 Sedan

It was interesting to watch the bidding on the well documented, well presented and nicely modified E36 M3 convertible last weekend. Though theoretically exactly what enthusiasts would want, there was a general lack of bidding resulting in a $11,000 ceiling. Now, admittedly the M3 Convertible isn’t for everyone and you could make an argument that the absence of strong bidding had more to do with the configuration than the history. So, how about the hot E36 model – the “M3/4/5”? And to add some hotness to the already appealing recipe, how about in the rarely seen Byzanz Metallic?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW M3 Sedan on eBay

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Motorsports Monday: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo v. 1989 BMW 325is

A fan favorite symbol of the 1980s with a perfectly balanced chassis, great aftermarket support, capable of massive upgrades in power, brakes and suspension, and avid race series still today; both the BMW E30 and Porsche 944 fit this mold. Since new, many have been hitting race circuits and autocrosses and now going on 30 years later they remain staples of their respective marque racing club events as well as amateur race series. Today I have a showdown between two modded examples; who will outbrake the other into turn one?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 325is on eBay

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10K Friday: BMW 3-series Showdown

Rightly so, I’ve been accused of comparing everything to BMWs – so for today’s 10K Friday, I thought why not compare BMWs to BMWs? Part of the reason I compare various cars I write up to the alternative BMW products is because for some time they have been considered the benchmark, and their popularity from new to the used classic market means that they set the pricing trends against which others can be judged. That’s especially true of the 3 series; for some time, the go-to performance product from Germany, increasingly many earlier generations of the 3 are being viewed as not only collectable, but indeed as investments. So, what does your $10,000 budget buy these days? I’ve rounded up five examples from the first five generations, covering nearly every configuration the small executive platform has been available in. Which is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW 320is on eBay

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Low Mile Dilemma: 1999 BMW M3 v. 2008 BMW M3

In the last few weeks I’ve done a series of posts covering some well priced, good condition E36 M3s. The genesis of those posts came from a low mileage, slightly modified Dakar Yellow M3 which apparently really raised my ire. As with any car, there are opportunity costs for buying an example which is lower miles and near pristine condition; you’re paying not only for the exclusivity of having had someone store and not heavily use the model you’re clearly seeking, but then often you’re also paying extra for what they think it’s worth. In some cases – classic Ferraris, for argument’s sake – that won’t matter to the prospective buyers, whose bank accounts often align with small African nations. In others, the opportunity cost for getting into a low mile older car is that you could have a much newer car, with better features, performance and perhaps reliability. As such, today I’m looking at two very similarly priced M3s; the last of the run E36 versus the first of the run E92. 9 years, 45,000 miles, 2 cylinders and some 174 horsepower separate these black beauties – which is the one you’d choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW M3 on eBay

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As Good As New? 1999 BMW M3 with 22,000 Miles

From a string of well priced, overall nice examples of M3s, I’m returning back to a lower mile example – perhaps one of the best condition E36s on the market today. It’s a rare one, too – produced in January 1999, it’s one of the last BG93 E36 M3 coupes produced. Considering I spent some time talking about how the Lime Rock Park Edition E92 is coveted as the end of the run for the M3 Coupe (and E9X), it’s interesting how there seems to be less attention paid to the last of the E36 run. This car popped out at me for a few reasons; I was pondering a low-mile E46 v. E92 post as asking prices on both are nearly identical, but here was a low mile E36 languishing at under $20,000 bidding – less than half the asking price of the super-low mile later models. Unlike the other 26,000 mile Dakar Yellow coupe I looked at, where my big complaint was that I felt the car was overpriced considering the lack of originality, this car has even lower miles and appears completely stock and unmolested. Is this as good as E36s get?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW M3 on eBay

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1990 BMW 325i w/ S52 Swap

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As the decent E30s still out there reach for ever higher miles or higher prices, engine swaps make even more sense. No longer just a tuner’s choice, this can be a great way to keep a high-mileage car on the road while simultaneously boosting performance. This clean 325i received the M-built S52 from a Z3M a few years back and was given a new lease on life. With 240hp on tap out of the same silky inline-6 that many fell in love with in the E36 M3, this car should haul some serious butt while looking fairly subdued other than the lightweight but pleasantly right-sized wheels. The interior is in nice shape given the age and mileage with a few cracks but impressively tear-free bolsters. The seller sounds knowledgeable and thorough despite the brief description, the real question is if a 230k mile E30 chassis can command $11k.

Click for details: 1990 BMW 325i S52 on eBay

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Motorsports Monday: Think you can build it cheaper? M3-off

Race cars are a fickle friend; countless smiles on the track come from often well counted currency leaving the pocket of the driver off-track, as the sometimes referenced 10:1 ratio of time spent preparing for the track versus time on track ultimately results in huge bills. So, what costs separate a $5,000 M3 from a $25,000 M3 – certainly, with that huge chunk of change it would seem certain that one could build a reliable racer rather than forking over what would seem to be an unbelievable amount to purchase a non-street worthy, home-brewed racer, right?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 on eBay

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