Of all the cars to spend the extra money on for a BMW Individual color, this was not one I would have guessed. This is a 1999 BMW 316i, better know as the ti to us Americans. It was the compact hatchback body of the E36 and generally known as the “cheap” version. For the rest of the world, not so much, as little hatchback versions of luxury brands are the norm and not looked down on in any way. They just exist. That probably explains how this car ended up finished in the very cool Fiji Green and how it seems so inexpensive today. Too bad this one needs another two years before it is welcomed to the US because it has some great equipment on it.
Until the current model year, BMW’s “what if?” pantheon was generally reduced to a few paths. What if BMW had given us the full M treatment on the 7-Series and 8-Series models? What if Chris Bangle hadn’t taken the styling reins? And what if they made an M3 wagon? Well, the last finally came true, but today’s car somewhat answers the question several generations earlier. That’s because what started here as an unassuming German-market 1996 320i Touring has become something more with the addition of M3 Lightweight-style bodywork and graphics, along with some neat 1995-specification Style 22 wheels. Inside we’ve also got a little M treatment, with M Rain cloth covering the seats. While it hasn’t had the full drivetrain swap, this one looks like a winner:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 BMW 320i Touring on eBay
Crazy though it may sound, this E36 – priced at $24,000 – may actually be a reasonable deal. Wind the clock back a few years, and that statement was inconceivable; E36s were relegated to the bargain basement of BMW M pricing. That’s not the case anymore, though, as pricing has been trending sharply upwards – recently a few non-Lightweight examples have crested $60,000 sales after fees. Hard to believe? Well, perhaps more a sign of the trends, but finding a neat and clean E36 is certainly no longer as easy as it once was, and early examples are – amazingly – able to be registered as antiques in more than a few states.
So here we are, with a very shouty Dakar Yellow ’94. And if you know E36 M3s, you know that a pre-’95 model year automatically means one important thing – European specification. Well, at least it should mean that. Let’s take a look:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW M3 Coupe on eBay
The expensive E30 ‘verts got you down? Not to worry, there’s always the smash success follow-up, the E36! And looking light it’s ready for Charlie Sheen to abduct Kristy Swanson, this particular car might just be the one for you. It’s a fairly early example with the Sport Package 2, which gave you the standard affair of front sport seats. But in particular there’s one thing that caught my eye here, and its the wheels. Early Sport Package 325i models were also equipped with 15″ Style 17 wheels, which may go down in history as one of the most difficult wheel designs to clean that were ever offered by the company. Seriously, look at them. You have the normal outer basketweave openings that will test your fingers’ ability to survive a normal wash. But inside of those are a second row of even smaller openings that are so impossibly shaped and sized, it’s just not possible for normal devices. They’re so small, in fact, that my fall back – old toothbrushes – are also useless. What does fit in there? Q-tips. And it’s not like there’s just one – there are 30. Each wheel. And that’s, of course, in addition to the 30 OTHER holes. Not done yet, the Style 17 then offers you a further two sets of inner recesses – 30 for the outer, and…you guessed it…30 for the inner. That makes a total of 120 crevices on each wheel for the notoriously dusty BMW brakes to fill with adhering dust. You’re looking at nearly 500 total little detailing spots on just the wheels; it’s enough that they should have to provide health benefits for your service.
Still, they’re quite a pretty design and rarely seen today….for some reason (or, maybe 480 reasons!). Couple that with a nice color combination, a five-speed manual, a limited-slip differential, and just 18,200 miles from new? Well, it’s certainly impressive.