Would your life be better if you had a BMW 318is?

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Update by David S. Wallens to the BMW 318is project car
Oct 27, 2023 | BMW, e30, 318is, bmw e30, Buyer's Guide, BMW 318is

Wondering if you need a little 318is in your life? Well, have we got a video for you: JG and Tim present a buyer guide on the E30-chassis BMW 318is.

 

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Comments
Byrneon27
Byrneon27 HalfDork
10/27/23 11:35 a.m.

There was a several month period where my 318is was the best thing about my life. Do recommend ownership perfect street toy. M42 takes to boost better than people believe too. 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
10/27/23 12:25 p.m.

Yes. My 318is is one of the cars I really regret selling. 

Berck
Berck Reader
10/28/23 12:08 a.m.

Two years in, my answer thus far is, "Nope."  I'd probably be less annoyed if I weren't trying to rally one, but I'm still pretty annoyed.  If I could do things differently, I'd have picked a different car... Details here:  

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/e30-rally-car/190039/page1/

Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos)
Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/28/23 12:24 a.m.

Heck, I just regret selling my E30s in general. 

mr2peak
mr2peak GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/28/23 11:55 a.m.

Life sure would be a lot slower

GTwannaB
GTwannaB GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/28/23 9:33 p.m.

I occasionally watch this guy on Garage 27 who always finds interesting cars. He has a string vote for the 318. 

LanEvo
LanEvo GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/29/23 9:24 a.m.

My dad bought a 318is brand new in 1991 and gifted it to me a couple of years later. It was my first "real" car and I kept it for 20 years.

Being honest, the M42 engine is not very good for a sports car. It doesn't really want to rev and just doesn't make enough power or torque to get the chassis working. At some point (after my SECOND timing case profile gasket failure) I had enough and swapped in a complete 325is drivetrain. The car felt so much better with M20 power.

Years later, I finally got my hands on the E30 M3. I have two now: street and race. That really is the sweet spot for the E30 chassis. I also used to call my 318is a "baby M3" ... but it's really not. A 325is gets you closer to the M3 driving experience IMNSHO. 

jr02518
jr02518 HalfDork
10/29/23 11:40 a.m.

First, it's not a street car and it will never pass a California visual inspection, , but my E30 is running a '91 325 non vanos M50.

Who built the car is lost to time, but I can attest to how sweet the combination is to drive.  I did install a high flow cat to make it social acceptable,  it is a loud motor on song.

My dad purchased in 1991 a new 318i,  he drove it for well over 150,000 miles.   It was his fifth BMW.  It did almost everything well, just slowly.  His reaction to driving the car.

 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/29/23 11:47 a.m.
LanEvo said:

My dad bought a 318is brand new in 1991 and gifted it to me a couple of years later. It was my first "real" car and I kept it for 20 years.

Being honest, the M42 engine is not very good for a sports car. It doesn't really want to rev and just doesn't make enough power or torque to get the chassis working. At some point (after my SECOND timing case profile gasket failure) I had enough and swapped in a complete 325is drivetrain. The car felt so much better with M20 power.

Years later, I finally got my hands on the E30 M3. I have two now: street and race. That really is the sweet spot for the E30 chassis. I also used to call my 318is a "baby M3" ... but it's really not. A 325is gets you closer to the M3 driving experience IMNSHO. 

That is kind of my gut feeling too... the 325is was no M3 but it definitely felt like more than the sum of its parts.  And the engine was FUN, it had a noticeable surge when it came up on cam in the midrange and it pulled right on up to redline. Definitely a better drive than an eta and felt like more power than the numbers claimed.

But that nose weight... Given a choice I would prefer the 318is strictly for that reason, horsepower be damned, and only because I don't see myself buying an M3 anytime soon, or ever.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
10/29/23 12:07 p.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

Maybe it's because I was coming from a 2002, but the M52-swapped E30 I had suffered so much less from the effects of nose-heaviness than what it replaced... If i had it to do over I'd be after one of the aluminum Z3 engines.

 But that later engine was enough meatier everywhere without being too much... I miss that car.

I wouldn't turn up my nose at a 318is, but I'm glad the swap options mean that one doesn't have to shop for a small subset of an already diminishing chassis to get something really good.

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