At $5,995, Will This Survivor 1991 BMW 318i Convertible Survive Our Scrutiny?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The seller of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe E30 says it has a “salvage history” but secondarily lists it as having a clean title. That seems pretty fishy, but could their pricing acumen potentially make up for the sleight?

If you have ever watched any of those big auto auction shows you likely know that their stock in trade is the rarest of the rare. They love cars that are only one of three in a particular color with a specific engine/trans combination. Those unique editions of otherwise mass-produced cars can bring serious bank.

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Yesterday we looked at a 1990 Chevy Beretta Indy Pace Car Commemorative Edition, which represented just 1.5% of that year’s total Beretta production. In the Indy Pacer Car’s case, however, that exclusivity seemingly did not equate to desirability and at an $8,500 asking, the tidy-’90 fell in a massive 88 percent Crack Pipe loss.

Hey, here’s another question: have you ever dated someone who has claimed to have a “prison history?” How would that make you feel? Oh sure, they’re out now, and those surprise visits from the parole people mean you’ll never suffer for wont of company. The self-applied neck tattooing and ability to make wine out of orange juice and a used gym sock are certainly laudable qualities as well. Still, in the back of your mind you wonder if that history is going to come back and haunt them.

We’re faced with a similar conundrum with today’s 1991 BMW 318i convertible. On the one hand, the car is described as being in “exceptional condition for the year.” On the other, it’s also said to carry a “salvage history.” Now, the car is offered on the Atlanta Craigslist, and to be honest with you, I’m not well versed in the machinations of Georgia’s automotive titling system. They could very well put you in a salvage title penalty box until some peeiod of time until they deem you’ve had enough and let you revert to a clean title.

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But, like being born again or going without sex for so long that every partner mistakes your ineptitude for being a virgin, it wouldn’t really overcome the original tarnish, would it?

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Whatever the legalities of it, the ad notes that “salvage history” in the body like it’s a dark incident in the ancient past—a ‘youthful indiscresion’ to use political parlance—and then claims the title to be clean in the quick facts on the right. It’s all a bit befuddling.

The car itself does look pretty tidy for its age. This was the last year for most E30s in the U.S., however convertibles such as this one soldiered on until the E36 line could be fully fleshed out. Power comes from a 134 horsepower M42 DOHC four and that’s mated to a Getrag 240 five-speed stick. The ad claims that the drivetrain “[R]uns, drives and shifts great,” and that the clutch “feels strong.”

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The engine bay looks a little grimy and all of the aluminum surfaces show surface discoloration, but it’s not too egregious. An aftermarket alarm has been added here and those can frequently be problematic so it may be a candidate for removal and replacement.

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The bodywork is in what looks to be Lazerblau Metallic and seems extremely clean. That wears a black convertible top that seems in fine fettle with an appreciably clear plastic rear window. Notably, the front air dam, an element usually sacrificed to the curb gods on high, is fully intact. The bottlecaps too look satifyingly unmarred.

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The interior sports cloth upholstery and sport seat up front. The dash is amazingly un-cracked and even carries its original equipment head unit. On the downside, the door lever surround on the driver’s side has broken, as they do on these cars, and a number of the beige plastics have taken on an unfortunate hue like an old office printer. There are 63,000 miles on the clock and even the A/C is said to work as it should.

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The four-pot 318 was the most prevalent of the E30s sold in the U.S., and with over 350,000 of the line in total, it wasn’t exactly what you might call rare overall. That being said, many of those have gone the way of all things corporeal, while at the same time the E30 has changed in status from that of a basic old car to a classic.

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All that means that survivors like this one can be in high demand, and as we all learned in high school econ, low supply and high demand increase valuation. This particular one, however, faces the issues of that questionable title history and a potentially unscrupulous seller for positioning the car in that incongruous way. That makes his $5,995 price also something of a conundrum. That’s okay though because we have all of you here to straighten things out.

What do you think, is this “survivor” 318i worth that $5,995 asking as it’s presented? Or, is its “history” going to doom its future?

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You decide!

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Atlanta, GA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Evan for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.