If you wanted a sporty three series BMW in the early 90s but didn't have an M3 budget, the 318is was the Bimmer for you. After disappearing from the BMW lineup for the second part of the 80s, the four cylinder 318 returned for 1990 bringing with it the new IS model. As this classic ad points out, what was once just the entry level BMW had become the entry level BMW with a vengeance.
Even though E30 3 series BMWs are now the beloved German beaters of the automotive obsessed, owning one was once a yuppie status symbol. If you wanted the prestige of your neighbor's M3 for approximately two thirds the price, the 318is was the car for you—as long as you didn't mind approximately two thirds the performance. Under the hood BMW placed their recently introduced M42 engine four cylinder engine which was good for 134 horsepower.
Opting for the 318is meant you got two doors, a five speed transmission and all of the dramatic descriptors BMW could dream up—none of which were optional. All of this could have been yours in 1990 for $21,985, over $13,000 less than the top of the line M3.
Even if the 318is wasn't the hardcore performance car this classic ad might suggest, you still got a car with a sporty appearance capable of respectable performance numbers. Perhaps more importantly to some, the 318is came with the right to say you had purchased a brand new BMW—with a vengeance.