1995 BMW 318ti Euro S50 swap

A few weeks ago, I wrote up a tidy little 318ti M-sport that, as a package, was pretty well presented. The right sprinkling of M3 details on these little hatchbacks really dresses them up and makes them a compelling alternative to a Volkswagen GTi, for example. But that car retained the original 4-cylinder motor; great for commuting and fuel economy, not so great if you want a kick in the pants. What if you took one to the next level then, and installed a full Euro-spec S50 with double the horsepower of the original motor? You’d have an even more compelling package, especially when it’s presented in a very low mile chassis:

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Motorsport Mondays: 1997 BMW 318ti 454 Twin Turbo

There are a fair amount of people who don’t get the “stance” scene, and there are many others who don’t understand modifying a car to go to the track. There are those who don’t understand Concours shows, those who don’t understand not putting miles on a car, and an equal number who don’t understand daily driving a high-performance machine. There are diesel fans, turbo fans, V8 fans and even fans of the supercharger. There are people who love modifications and those who prefer their cars stock. For the most part, I “get” all of these camps; I don’t necessarily agree or favor any one in particular, but each has its own merits. There is one that still leaves me a bit mystified though – drag racing. I understand it takes tremendous skill to get a car dialed in; I appreciate the engineering that goes into overcoming physics. I am awed by the raw speed that these vehicles can produce – ballets of explosive violence, a concoction of sound, smells and disappearing cars. But I’ve never really understood the attraction of drag racing, though an unusual suspect can sure make me smile:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW 318ti 454 Twin Turbo on eBay

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1996 BMW 318ti M-Sport

One of the great unsung heros of the E36 lineup was the compact three-door hatchback, sold in the U.S. as the 318ti. Journalists decried the E30-based rear suspension and oversteering tendency of the 318. Enthusiasts were grumpy that it only came here with the 4-cylinder. And practical folks were happy to pass up the rear-drive amusement for a cheaper and better equipped Golf. But in my mind, the proportions of the 318ti were just right – like a rear drive Corrado, this car screamed of the potential for fun and practicality in one little package. The best looking of the bunch were the M-Sport models – though the changes were only cosmetic, they made the hot hatch look great!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 BMW 318Ti M-Sport on eBay

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1997 BMW 318ti California Roof

It seems that another generation of small BMW hatchbacks – I’m looking at you, 1 series – will be passing us by here in the US market. But, not many people can blame BMW, as there were few takers for its mid 1990s experiment, the 3 series Compact. Sold here as the 318ti with the 1.9 liter four cylinder engine found in the Z3 Roadster, this car was all E36 saloon from the A-pillar forward but carried a vastly redesigned hatchback rear section with trailing arm rear suspension and simpler, one piece dashboard inside. This 318ti for sale in Pennsylvania has the rare California Roof option, which equips the 3er hatchback with a canvas folding roof, providing almost targa-like motoring pleasure.

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1997 BMW 318ti

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The Mercedes-Benz CLA and forthcoming Audi A3 sedan are proof that Americans can be open minded to compact premium vehicles. However, dial it back a few years and you’ll come across one small BMW that was barely a blip on the sales radar screen: the 3 series Compact. Sold as the 318ti stateside, this hatchback was a mix of old and new, featuring the E36 front suspension setup while utilizing the old trailing arm setup from the E30. A simpler dashboard and unique bodywork from the A-pillar were additional features that set it apart from the rest of the E36 clan.

When introduced for 1995, these cars retailed for just under $20,000, opening the BMW experience up to a new demographic. Subsequently, given their lower priced status, there are few good examples left out there on the used market. This clean 318ti for sale in California has just over 100,000 miles and the 5-speed manual gearbox.

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1995 BMW 318ti with S52 swap

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BMW went a little funky in their 90s reach downmarket, docking the E36’s tail to make the stocky 318ti. Most were used and abused as BMW hoped – as a smaller, entry-level luxury-branded city car. Some have survived that ignominous fate, and swapping in the M3’s inline-6 for the puny four cylinder has become a popular and well-documented modification. Today’s claims to be a very professional job, and it looks (and costs) the part. This one has even gone for the later S52, and having those 240 silky horses in a tiny, well-appointed red demon will make you want to take this city car out of the confines of urbanity and onto some very twisty roads.

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Year: 1995
Model: 318ti
Engine: 1998 S52 inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 218k chassis, 50k drivetrain
Price: $15,099

Click for more details: 1995 BMW 318ti with S52 on eBay

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You are bidding on a 1995 BMW 318ti, M Tech, S52 swap.. Built by a BMW Factory Technician.. factory 4 cylinder engine has been replaced with a 1998 M3 6 cylinder engine.. engine compartment is so clean, you could eat off it.. this ti has a full harness swap from a low mile 1998 M3, including M3 Brakes, M3 transmission, power M3 factory Leather seats, front suspension, xbrace, rack, rotors, struts, swaybar, wheels, steering wheel, and clutch.. all M3 parts.. the rear has Koni Yellow with H&R springs.. New Continental tires.. new factory M Technic skirts, bumpers, and M door moldings.. new dry cell battery mounted in rear hatch.. AC is ice cold.. HVAC converted from analog to digital dual climate control, major job, only 1 or 2 TI’s anywhere have this.. she is a daily driver, but, really would make a better track car 🙂 car has been fully gone through, factory hellrot red paint is new and very nice, no scratches.. interior has also been refreshed, and shows nearly new as well.. no accidents, no rust, very clean.. car shows excellent, and drives even better, she is a super light rocket!! she was built by a BMW factory certified technician.. very impressive build.. approx. 50k miles on drivetrain.. a spotless, never hit, no rust, hardtop non sunroof coupe, 218k on chassis, 50k on drivetrain.. Pictures speak louder than words..

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I would take a good look beneath that pretty new coat of paint to see what 218k miles on the chassis have done, but 50k on that great drivetrain makes sense to me. Does $15k for a 318ti? It’s certainly taken a great amount of work, but I’d probably get a great E36 M3 sedan before I spent $15k on this. A few grand cheaper and I would find this odd little bulldog very interesting.


1998 BMW 318ti

To round off a week of highlighting basic German transportation here at GCFSB, here is an example of BMW’s attempt to move down market in the 1990s: the 3 series hatchback. Paying homage to the 2002 hatchback with its “ti” moniker, the hatchback 3er was also known as the Compact. Offered here in the US solely as the 318ti with the venerable twin cam, 1.9 liter four cylinder engine, customers abroad could request a bit more power with the 2.5 liter inline six cylinder engine in 323ti. From the A pillar on back this was a completely unique car and featured a semi-trailing arm rear suspension instead of the Z axle multi-link setup found elsewhere in the lineup. With the intro of the E46 3 series in 1999, BMW abolished all four cylinders from its lineup and that along with lackluster sales saw the Compact exit the US market that year. These hatchbacks aren’t a common sight these days, but this low mileage 318ti for sale in North Carolina has the M package and looks relatively well cared for.

1998 BMW 318ti on Cars.com

I’d be all over this car if it weren’t for the 4-speed automatic transmission. The two tone black and red upholstery is especially appealing and helps to break up the austere nature of the standard interior. I know I bang on a lot about how I don’t like slushboxes, but this car certainly needs a 5-speed manual to make the most of its power. Since many of these were commuter cars, I can see why people would opt for the auto, but with the M package, it screams poseur. At close to $7,000, this car is a bit out of its league pricewise, as you can get plenty of faster M material for that kind of money. I’d say $4,000 to $5,000 is a more realistic number for this particular car. Still, it’s nice to know there are a few of these forgotten E36s out there and it will make safe, reliable transportation for someone out there.


Reader ride: 318ti with M3 S50 swap

Reader Paul sent us his well-modified BMW E36/5 sporting the popular engine swap of an E36 M3 3.0L inline 6 for the original 1.9L four. If the potential of this swap weren’t clear enough, it’s worth it to note the S50’s 240hp is a stunning 75 percent increase. Logically followed up with a LSD, springs, etc., this little compact is a serious contender. While the hatchback might scare some away, less weight and shorter overhangs with the same wheelbase makes a lot of sense and must be a ton of fun. The murdered-out OEM+ look suits it well, and Paul seems ready to sell it to whomever makes a decent offer.

1995 BMW 318ti w/ S50 swap for sale on e46fanatics

A list of goodies:

– Shell was bought here last year, swap manual used from J!M and also had him come over and help in person. 140k on the shell.
– Complete and running swap, I have put just under 10K miles on it in about 15 months.
Matching Cluster DME and Motor, with 58xxx on the dash, car still has the original Ignition coils.
– Brand new; Clutch TOB Fork OEM(Done at Final Touch Motor Sports which rodney will vouch for also have receipt.), rear main seal,Starter, alternator, motor mounts OE, Trans mounts OE, Guibo OE, Fresh Plugs and Belts, valve cover gasket, O2 sensor AND MUCH MUCH MORE.
– Full Front end rebuild Control arms/ball joints, Tie rods and OEM FCAB’s less than 1k miles now
– All new Vacuum hoses and fitting as well as a Clean ICV, and manifold/ TB gaskets. New plugs/
Belts as of 3400 ish miles ago.
– No A/C Compressor and mounts condenser and lines have all been removed only the coil in the dash remains.
– Brand new Pioneer Deh 6300-ub headunit, with all NEW OEM speakers. Inifnity Basslink Subwoofer.
– This car also has No-sunroof. It was going to be my dedicated track car. Needs small amount of body work Car has never been in an accident. small dents and scratches which would be expected car looks awesome none the less.
///M Front Bumper, ///M Moldings,///M Mirrors. Oem fogs with 6k HID.
– Depo Headlights with Angel eyes and 6k HIDS
– Comes with AC Schnitzer Replica Spoiler.
– Car is Stock Minus OBD2 Headers and Conforti Chip and Exhasut.
– 3.73 E30 LSD with E30 half shafts.
– DS2 Wheels with tires Staggered OEM Sizes. Painted Gunmetal
– Car is currently on Rokkor Coils In front and the spring in the back with NEW OEM M coupe Struts and new RSM’s . Has an Ebay strut bar.
– Water pump<1k thermostat ALL hoses and radiator have all been replaced just under 7-10 k ago. - - Aluminum T stat Housing. - Valve Retainers are done. Still needs the oil pump nut to be welded. No problems with this car turn key, and go! Solid idle no missing no check engine! Air bag light is ON! Pulls Strong smooth and quiet. NO VANOS NOISE! Active autowerke Replica track pipe. Ebay SSK. B&M rep. Also have all the booklets that came with the car in the leather case. 2 keys. You would be VERY hard pressed to find a better example of a 318ti as well as an S50 from a 1995 M3.

Originally priced at $10,500, Paul is heading out to sea with the Merchant Marine Academy and has reiterated several times that he is “quite flexible” on the price. The Vader-and-Angel-Eyes is not for everyone, but if it’s your style, this appears as well-sorted as a modded-and-swapped car could be and is poised to be a great deal.


1998 BMW 318ti M Sport

The BMW 318ti, or Compact, as it was known, was a bit of a step child in the overall scheme of the 1990s BMW lineup. Attempting to snag buyers who were looking for a way to get into a BMW at a lesser price, the 318ti looked promising with it’s rear drive chassis and looks that were indistinguishable from other E36 models forward of the A pillar. However, an engine that was a bit short on power, lower rent dashboard and a rear suspension that made use of the E30’s semi trailing arms showed the lengths BMW was willing to dilute things to gain market share.

Still, I like the 318ti. When they first arrived on the scene, I wasn’t too fond of the rear styling, as I thought it looked a bit ill-proportioned. Time, it seems, has been kind to this model but few good examples still exist. Here is a neat example with the sport package for sale in California.

1998 BMW 318ti M Sport on eBay


“M” Wheels, “M” Spoiler, “M” Interior, “M” Sport Power Mirrors, “M” Badges Everywhere. Excellent Interior, Great Original Paint, Good Tires, New Sony Radio W/CD. 5 Speed Stick, Power Sunroof, Power Windows, Power Door Locks, Power Sport Mirrors. Recently serviced at 142,269.0 miles by Performance European.

1. Replaced catalytic converter
2. Replaced cam sensor
3. Replaced crankcase vent valve
4. Oil and filter changed
5. Installed new radiator
6. Replaced AC and main drive belts
7. Checked brake pads, Front 45%, Rear 90% of pads remaining
8. Checked brake fluid
9. Checked power steering fluid
10. Checked cooling system level and hose condition
11. Checked wiper/ washer system
12. Checked battery level and condition
13. Checked tire condition and set pressures
14. Lubricated door and hood hinges
15. Replaced air filter
16. Passed Smog in last 30 days

The Car is also listed locally on Cragslist. Winning buyer will be the first to make sucessful payment arrangements.

One thing I like about this 318ti is is rear spoiler. It adds a bit of visual length to the car and helps to round off its bobbed off tail. The asking price of $6,500 seems a little bit dear given the mileage. At $1,000 to $1,500 less, this car would work well as an efficient commuter car or an attractive alternative for autocrossing to the usual Miatas and Coopers that are out there tearing up the parking lot circuits.


1998 BMW 318ti

I’ve never understood why the word hatchback is a dirty word in the United States. Having grown up in a family that drove a 1983 Honda Accord hatchback for 13 years, I can appreciate the practicality cars like these provide while confining themselves to a relatively small footprint. Now, with the resurgence of the MINI Cooper and Fiat 500, it seems some Americans are willing to look past the third door.

One of my favorite hatchbacks in recent memory was the E36 318ti hatchback. I found it to be much better proportioned than the Mercedes-Benz C230 Sport Coupe that followed it a few years later and some enthusiasts have gone ahead with tasteful M3 modifications which make these quite formidable little beasts.

Here is a late model version with, thankfully, a 5 speed manual transmission for sale in Connecticut.

1998 BMW 318ti on eBay

1998 BMW 318ti finished in fern green with dove gray leatherette. A very rare model in excellent condition. This 318ti was produced toward the end of the model being offered in the U.S. and it is much more generously equipped than earlier models (production date was 7/98, delivered 8/28/98). The car has a 5 speed manual transmission which makes it fun to drive and very economical. It is optioned with heated seats, 6 disk CD changer, sunroof, fog lights, and factory remote entry. The car has been well taken care of; having been garaged, carefully driven, and extremely well maintained. It was never used as an everyday car, but for weekly trips to the city as it is easy to park, therefore most of the miles were highway driven. The car is in excellent condition, has very low miles, and is well optioned, making it a hard to find excellent example of the 318ti.

The exterior of the car is in great shape. The paint is very deep and holds a strong shine. Because it was an extra car and was seldom used in the winter, it has no rust. The car has not been in an accident and only has minor blemishes, but far fewer than would be expected on a car of this age. It has a handful of nicks, touch-ups, and a scratch or ding or two but nothing excessive. The wheels are also in good condition with only minor scratching. The glass and rubber trim are free from blemishes.

The interior of the car is close to perfect. The seats are in amazing condition, particularly considering the fact that they are basically white. The material is very durable and had regularly been cleaned to avoid any discoloration that is typical with light interiors. The seats have no unusual wear and are firm and supportive with no sag. The carpets are very clean, there has been no smoking, pets, eating etc. in the car. There is the beginning of some separation on the rear corners of the headliner as it is freeing from the backing; however, it cannot be detected unless you are looking for it and it does not interfere with vision so I had not bothered with it. All pixels on the dash, radio and clock displays are present and bright. Every button in the car works as it should: AC is cold and heat is hot; all windows and sunroof open and close swiftly; and all other controls are working properly.

Mechanically the car is also in great shape. It has been extremely well maintained and I have all service receipts from the last 5 years, including: recent services; tires and rear brakes were new at 79k miles; new catalytic converter, struts, right control arm, drive belts, a/c pulley, alt belt tensioner etc., and major tune up at 73k miles; and previously had new radiator, water pump, valve and timing cover gaskets. The only issues that I am aware of is that the air bag light is on and the hood support shocks are in need of replacement (I had used a golf club to hold the hood open in the photo). The car has been meticulously maintained over the years and drives and operates as it should.

The 318ti is a very unique car that combines the efficiency of a compact car with the safety and appeal of a BMW. I have averaged around 32mpg on the highway, which is the only type of driving I do with it. In addition to being very efficient, the car is extremely useful being a hatchback, the trunk is large and the capacity is enormous when the seats are folded down. These cars are very durable and, given the low miles, there is a lot of life left in this one. The combination of low miles, excellent condition, and meticulous maintenance makes this car a very rare find.

These are great little cars and besides the E30, the E36 is, in my opinion, one of the best looking 3 series. The proportions are a little skewed given the shorter length, but this would be a fantastic car to commute with or for the first time driver, as it is not too overpowered, but includes the safety features common in new vehicles.