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.

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#Fail Friday: 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup+

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My one main complaint with my 1981 Rabbit Pickup was that the passenger compartment was a pretty tight squeeze between the low roof and too-close rear wall – beyond that, it was a hilarious, competent, unique, and fun-to-drive car. Today’s oddball Frankenstein monster fixes my one gripe by melding a Rabbit Hatchback with a Pickup, creating a Crew Cab Caddy reminiscent of Rutledge Wood’s limo on Top Gear America (I don’t blame you if you haven’t seen it). While the extra legroom and seating for four are nice additions and it allegedly runs and drives, this is clearly a half-baked project with many, many needs. The seller thinks its rarity makes it as valuable as a top-notch Caddy, but it would take a lot of time and money to make it even presentable.

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1995 BMW 318ti

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After reading a Car Magazine long-term test review of the new Caterham 160, my interest in base model vehicles was rekindled. Much like the rather basic BMW 518 that Nate featured back in 2013, this 318ti has caught my attention for similar reasons. When the E36 hatchback made its debut, I wasn’t particular fond of it. But time has changed my view of it, not in the least because it wasn’t the most common E36 3 series on US shores. It’s rare you come across a good example, as these were the most affordable car in the BMW range at the time, but sometimes you’ll find a hidden gem. Such is the case with this example equipped with a 5-speed manual for sale in Oregon.

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1972 BMW 2002tii Touring

For some reason or another, hatchbacks don’t play well to the American consumer. It’s a rather baffling phenomenon. Why take a small car and put a trunk on it, thus making it less practical in terms of load hauling? Sure, people on these shores may view the hatchback as a low rent vehicle, but they are depriving themselves of some serious practicality. This 2002 Touring for sale in California is a chance at a 2002 that was never offered new to US customers but through the efforts of intrepid collectors, a few have taken up residency in the states.

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Two Tourings: 1972 and 1973 BMW 2000s


Wagon, avant, touring, shooting brake, longroof – however you wan to call it, I’ve always had a thing for cars with a little more junk in the trunk. This is amplified when it is a unique variant that was never sold in the US. Case in point, today’s two beautiful Neue Klasses eschews the classic 3-box shape of what many consider the original sports sedan, and instead has a great little hatch mated to that unmistakable, round-eyed front clip. Both have less than 120k miles and are asking significant mark-ups over standard 2000 BMWs.

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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.


1974 BMW 1802 Touring

The BMW 02 Series was one of the progenitors of the sports saloon class and is still revered today as a practical classic that offers a healthy dose of motoring thrills that compare favorably with modern day motors. Interestingly enough, BMW also offered a hatchback version of this popular model from 1971 through 1974. This 1802 represents the final year for the Touring variant, a model which was never sold in the US. This green 1802 Touring for sale in The Netherlands has had but two owners over its 40 year lifespan.

Year: 1974
Model: 1802 Touring
Engine: 1.8 liter inline-4
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 92,083 mi
Price: Reserve auction

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1974 BMW 1802 Touring on eBay

1974 BMW Touring, LHD. Originally delivered new in The Netherlands in a very rare green colour seldom seen. The car has had 2 owners from new and is in very nice condition.This 1802 Touring comes with original aluminum wheels and good tires. The body is beautiful and straight without any rust. Interior needs minor attention but allover a lovely car, not messed about, which can provide many more years of enjoyable motoring at a realistic price. The car comes with APK/MOT/TUV certificate. Worldwide delivery can be arranged at a reasonable price by www.globaltransportamsterdam.com. More photo’s available on request. Payment through PayPal or a bank transfer.

Most of us are hip to the fact that 2002 values are strong these days, and the Tourings do carry a little bit of a premium on these shores given their scarcity. If this were a 2002 Touring, especially a tii version, I’d wager to guess we’d be closing in on $30,000 USD. As this sits, I’d guess this would bring somewhere between $15,000 and the low $20,000 range. For those in the US, they would have to bid accordingly, making sure to factor in shipping and customs costs from Europe.


2005 Mercedes-Benz C320 6 speed Sportcoupe

Like the BMW 3 series Compact that preceded it in the 1990s, the W203 C class hatchback was one of those experiments by an upmarket German marque to test the waters and see whether the American public would accept a smaller, cheaper offering. Not many folks took notice of the C class Sportcoupe, but much like GM does with its product lineup, Mercedes got it right at the end, offering the 3.2 V6 with a 6 speed manual. Here’s a clean example for sale in Pennsylvania.

For not much scratch, this last year Sportcoupe is an interesting and quite rare alternative to a MINI Cooper S or Volkswagen GTI. A good friend of mine just picked up a clean 30k mile example of this same car with the 6 speed manual, and while it doesn’t drive too dissimilar from my ’07 C230 sedan, it certainly can give the usual hot hatches a run for their money.