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1991 BMW 318is

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There’s a clean red 318is I see around the island I live on fairly regularly and these Sports Sedan Lite models have always intrigued me. While my E28 is an engine-first beast, the E30 318is has always held the same allure that my later-Golf-engined Rabbit Pickup had – a light, direct driving experience with an enthusiastic but modest engine that rewarded momentum driving. Without the inline-6, the 318is becomes all about the chassis. And when said chassis is one of the most legendary ever built, that’s a good thing.

This 318 has covered 171k miles but looks like a car with half that. The silver exterior and black interior both look outstanding – someone has taken serious care of the paint and leather. The chrome/gold ESM wheels that come with the car are hideous to me, but it comes with the original wheels so the costume jewelry could be sold to get some classier rollers. Some 16” Style 5s would do the trick just perfectly. That’s really my only complaint, though, as the higher mileage has been mitigated with outstanding maintenance and care.

Click for details: 1991 BMW 318is on eBay

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Year: 1991
Model: 318is
Engine: 1.8 liter inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 171,025 mi
Price: $8,500 OBO
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(RARE) E30. 1991 BMW 318is. 2 door coupe. 5 speed manual. Silver exterior (factory paint shows extremely well). Black leather smoke free interior (near perfect no cracks in the dash,seats or door panels). No rust on the body or undercarriage. Trunk floor is clean and rust free, includes original BMW tool kit. Cleanest example of an original unmolested BMW. Made ONLY one year. First model with the M42 4 cylinder engine. I have documentation from 1991 including hand written maintenance records from the original owner, original owners manuals and keys, service book. Have documentation from all previous owners. Oil changed every 3k with synthetic oil. Rare manual sunroof. Cold AC. Not one single issue or mechanical problem with the car. I would drive it anywhere as I’ve done so, driven 11 hours no issues.

REPLACED: rubber hoses,brakes and rotors,control arms,all gaskets,water pump,timing chain and tensioner ,weather stripping,head gasket and head bolts,

UPGRADES: H&R lowering springs, staggered 16×8-16×19 ESM chrome and gold wheels with new tires (also have the factory wheels). Dinan performance chip. Power acoustic TV,DVD,Bluetooth,Navigation, head unit (have original radio), JW interior speakers throughout.

Must see and drive. Timeless classic that’s gets questioning and attention from everyone. Always garaged and cleaned after use. I purchased the car from Motorcar Studios in GA for 10k and then invested money in the car. Closing on a new home prompts the sale which I absolutely hate doing, have currently owned the car only a few short months (Loved every moment of owning it).

This is the closest BMW you can get to the E30 M3. Similar to the BMW 325 minus the 6 cylinder engine.

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Despite the seller’s claims of buying it for $10k and putting more into it, $8,500 is still a lot for an E30 with 171k miles – especially one with the “baby” M42 – but I think it might be worth close to that. Finding a well-traveled car in great shape can, in many ways, be better than a low-mileage example. Regular use is good for cars, as normal wear items will be maintained or replaced and weak points will have been addressed. You won’t have to worry about keeping the miles low – you can keep driving and enjoying this car as intended. This 318is looks right and sounds right, so now we’ll just see if it’s priced right.



  1. Scott
    Scott March 11, 2016

    I shopped these when they were new and ended up buying a clean used one in the mid 90s. Unless they have been replaced in this car the seats are BMW leatherette (Sensatec) and not leather. It is funny how time has made everyone forget the profile gasket issue many of these M42 engines suffered. Once repaired, the problem often came back later to haunt you. I certainly enjoyed my little Alpine White baby Bimmer but I always wished it had the six from the 325is. Not many twisty roads here in SE TX and some extra beans under the hood would have been very welcome.

  2. Oolong
    Oolong March 11, 2016

    I’ve been reading and commenting for a while. I am really interested in the pricing of these vehicles. Logic tells me that a vehicle with 171 K miles would not be worth the posted asking price — SO off to Kelly Blue Book land I went and discovered that in this instance this vehicle books out at under $2000… That a LONG, LONG way form the posted ask of $8500. Honestly KBB only goes back to 1992 so I used a newer model year…

    There is no doubt that the current owner firmly believes his is the finest example on the planet – maybe it is… but is it worth the additional $6500?

    Sure it;s fun to look, but I have to wonder if these prices represent any sort of reality or is there something missing in these ads?

  3. MGT
    MGT March 11, 2016

    The E30 market is officially insane. Wonder how long it’ll be before E36 prices start creeping up….

  4. GaryB
    GaryB March 11, 2016

    1. 1991 is an E30 3-series and 1992 is an E36. This is an apples-to-oranges comparison analogous to someone comparing the value of a last year air cooled Porsche 911 with a first year water cooled 911. Someone looking for an E30 318is isn’t looking for an E36 318is.

    2. KBB and NADA admit to using formulas for determining the value of a car not actual sales data. You can safely disregard KBB and NADA book value for cars with enthusiast interest. These value guides are applicable to commodity/appliance cars. As another common example for how wrong KBB and NADA are check the book values of BMW M Coupes (clown shoes) with actual selling prices (e.g. BringATrailer auctions).

    3. For a real world snapshot of the value of a really nice high mile E30 318is, see this BringATrailer auction from less than 2 weeks ago: With 230K miles it sold for $8K and this is not an anomaly in the market. Reading the comments with the auction listing may help you to understand the E30 318is market.

    4. This silver 318is isn’t mine, but I have owned 4 E30s including an M3 and a 318is (along with a pair of 325iXs). The 318is is simply a great car and is a more than worthy sibling to the 6-cylinder E30s as well as earning the “baby M3” moniker.

  5. Carter
    Carter March 11, 2016

    The cheapo Chinese BBS knockoffs don’t fit the price tag in my opinion.

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