Today’s Nice Price or No Dice 318i is a privately-imported edition of a model BMW didn’t think we’d like here in America. Let’s see if we like this one and its price tag.
There was little love to be found for yesterday’s Independence Day-celebrating 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD outside of its amazingly patriotic spare tire cover. With the general dislike for the Jeep, and the cost of diesel fuel these days, even a $4,500 price couldn’t sway enough of you to its side. In the end, that earned the Liberty a 52 percent No Dice loss
When BMW launched the E36 3 Series in the early ‘90s, in replacement of the ‘80s E30, it not only matched the earlier line’s body style, but added a hatchback version to boot. The American market received that oddball edition, but we were deemed unworthy of the Touring or wagon editions of either model. It wasn’t until the following E46 models arrived that Americans could finally get their wanting mitts on a 3 Series wagon.
Nowadays, however, the NHTSA 25 Year Rule allows the legal import of the older models, obviously relieving whatever pent-up demand there is for such things. This 1996 BMW 318i Touring is one such salve for that demand, having already made the boat trip over from its original stomping grounds in Germany, and having gained its citizenship papers.
This is not a romper-stomper edition of the E36. It’s a pretty basic car, as many of the Tourings were. Under the hood is a 111 horsepower 1.8-liter M40 four and that’s mated to a standard five-speed manual. As fitted, that combo might not offer the “Ultimate Driving Machine” experience long touted by BMW for its wares, but the car does somewhat look the part of the sporty ride. That’s by way an M front bumper, a set of alloys from a more modern era, and a drop on the front suspension that may be a tad too much for many people’s taste.
Overall, the car looks pretty solid, although the seller does note that the car suffers “some small rust” and describes it as a “Great project car to make your own.” Other things to note not specified in the ad include what appear to be aftermarket headlamp units up in the front and a phat exhaust tip and trailer hitch in the back.
Inside, things are reasonably tidy with just a grungy aftermarket steering wheel and flaky center armrest to really detract. In a quirky bit of standard Euro-market spec that isn’t typically found here, the front windows are electrically operated while the rears are hand-cranked.
According to the description in the ad, there are 160,000 miles on the car, although keep in mind that the gauges are all in metric so don’t be shocked when the odometer reads higher since that’s kilometers. With the aftermarket steering wheel in place, the airbag light is on in the cluster. No other warning lights appear to be illuminated.
One thing about that steering wheel — that, and the M front bumper and aftermarket lights — may indicate that this car was once in a front-end accident. The ad claims a clean title, but if a wreck happened in Germany, would that even show up on the U.S. importation papers and hence the registration?
In fairness, there’s no other obvious indication, either under the hood or on the chassis for any sort of serious accident, so there may be another explanation for the replaced kibbles and bits. The ad does claim the car to be in “Overall good running condition.”
In light of all that, the seller has set the asking price at a cool $12,000, which they claim is negotiable only after “viewing the vehicle in person.”
What do you think? Is that a fair price for this imported wagon that BMW once thought too few of us would want? Or, does that price put it firmly in the “BMW was right” category?
H/T to Don R. for the hookup!
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