Project BMW 318is: Figuring Out What We Bought

Update by Tim Suddard to the BMW 318is project car
May 11, 2018

It was time to drag our 318is out of the pole barn where we store future project cars, and get it up on the lift and really look it over.

What we found was a base model 1991 318is with virtually no options. While we lamented the fact the car was not equipped with the optional and rare limited-slip differential, we were kind of excited that the car was not equipped with the rather heavy, complicated and helmet-room-robbing sunroof that so many of the cars came with.

The Alpine Weiss II paint was all original on the car, except for the left rear quarter panel. Every body panel was original to the car as well.

The only rust on the car had formed around the left taillight, where a minor accident had occurred, requiring a new taillight.

The Car Fax showed the car was sold new in Alabama and had always lived in the south. We appear to be the fourth owners of the car. Despite the minor ding we found, there have been no accidents reported on the Car Fax.

Inside there is a code 071 Indigo Blue cloth non-sport seat interior. While we thought all of these cars came with sports seats, several BMW experts have told us that is not true.

There is no evidence that the interior on our car had been changed out.

Three of the seats are pretty ripped up, the dash is cracked and the gray carpet is filthy. The door panels, headliner and the rest of the interior seem to be in good shape.

Underneath, there is easily fixable evidence that the car was jacked up improperly on one side, and there is lots of deferred maintenance. But there is no evidence of accident damage and no rust. The lack of northern rust rash on the underside of this car confirms it has been in the south all of its life.

Under the hood, the radiator and alternator are missing and we found the wrong water pump in the trunk. The car was sold to us with an undiagnosed engine problem, which we assume to be a cooling system or head gasket issue.

So, we are very pleased and once we figure out what our engine issue is we will begin to clean up the car and develop a project car plan.

The car still doesn’t run. We’ll dive into the engine to try and figure out why in our next update.

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