The seller of today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe 318i convertible claims that it is more rare than the more motor 325i. Still, it may be more desirable because it goes more miles per gallon, but is its price more than you'd be willing to pay?
BMW is the ultimate driving machine, or at least so says BMW. Many of their cars are pretty ultimate, while some - like today's 1991 E30 318i Convertible - are a little less ultimate. Of course some people don't need to go full ultimate, and for them semi-ultimate is all they need. Perhaps if you demand red meat at every meal, and consider every road a welcome challenge, then you might also require an M badge be prominently displayed on your Bimmer. But if you grew up with a canopy bed in your pink bedroom, and haven't missed a single episode of Glee, then this lowliest of E30s might just be your cup of Zima.
Following the non-cult-generating E21 320, the E30 edition of BMW's staple 3-Series lasted nearly a decade until 1991, at least in coupe and sedan bodystyles. The convertible, like this one, continued on for two more years, uncomfortably sharing dealer showrooms with its younger, and better in many ways, but never as well liked younger E36 brother. Available with a spate of motors from mild to mildly wild, the 3-series droptop offered one of the few 4-seat convertible options on the market at the time. This one - claimed to have been specially ordered by its retired veteran original owner - leans more toward the mild side of things, being the four-cylinder 318i.
The 318 differs in significant ways from its six cylinder big brothers, and not just by only having 138-horsepower. There are a number of components that are either smaller, or less robust, which drove down the cost initially, and today give back both higher mileage and cheaper insurance. The M42B18 under the hood here was new in 1991, marking the return in the U.S. of the four-cylinder small Bimmer. At 1,796-ccs, it shared a lot with the older four, but sported double overhead cams and a 10:1 compression ratio. Here it gets a cone air filter and looks like it's been detailed one too many times, but the seller claims that it, and its 5-speed gearbox, both work like a dream.
The body is in great shape, as is the arrest me red paint, and the only glaring issue might be the panel fit on the hood, which sits a little proud on the driver's side. The fabric roof is claimed only two years old and the E30 is one car that looks good with its top up or down. Inside the seats - Recaros front, benchi-bench back, are cloth, and torn in enough places that you'd either want to have them all recovered, or buy a couple of those Pep Boys seat covers that look like vomit. The back side panels are missing, probably so the back passengers can admire the tweeters and the woofers in the speakers back there.
Mileage is claimed under six digits, and the E30, when not subjected to the kind of ass-roics subjected to - oh say, rental cars - has proven fairly robust and durable. That being said, it is getting to the point where certain parts - door trim, those funny cassette tape bins between the seats - won't be easily obtainable much longer. And that leads to the question, if you're going to enter into a relationship with a car of this vintage, would it be a 318i?
And, more importantly, regarding this particular 318i, would you pay $5,500 for it? This is an interesting case for those of you who would traditionally at this moment be thinking do you know how many Miatas I could get for that? because this Bimmer is a reasonable alternative for the Japanese sports car, each having their pros and cons.
So, what do you think, is $5,500 not wildly optimistic for this mild E30? Or, is that paying too much more for so much less?
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