The BMW E36 generation of 3 Series is one of the most affordable, desirable cars on the used market today and thereā€™s very little reason not to buy one. I say this because I have been bewitched, bewitched by this comparison test involving the top three British touring cars of 1992, some furious shifting and a lot of teal.

Back in the olden days of, what is this now, old-old-old Top Gear? Old-old Top Gear? I canā€™t keep track. In any case, back in the ā€˜90s lovable F1 reject Tiff Needell used to present on the BBC car show, regularly driving different race cars and reviewing them. He gave us probably the most cuss-filled broadcast in TG history, as well as many other wonderful segments, this one included.

Tiff drove the top three finishers of the then-previous BTCC season, right in the midst of the seriesā€™ golden years: a Vauxhall Cavalier, a Toyota Carina and the BMW 318is.

The Vauxhall and Toyota were both wild, ā€œaliveā€ as Tiff put it, but neither as sweet-handling as the rear-drive BMW.

Remember that this BMW was a very well-developed car in its day, but itā€™s still at its base just a stripped and caged four-cylinder 3 Series, the shell of which is still pretty much as cheap as a car is going to get these days. While it took a top-flight race team to prep this as a championship-winning car back in the early ā€˜90s, thereā€™s very little stopping someone from making an equivalent recreation of the concept in a home garage.


Thereā€™s not much more to it than a 2.0-liter S14 with about 270 horsepower, a six-speed sequential transmission and about 1,025 kilos to throw around, per

Well, if thereā€™s plenty of teal paint lying around, at least.