Digestible Collectible: 1995 BMW 318ti

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
digestible collectible 1995 bmw 318ti

Last week, we looked at a bunch of hot hatches — or, at least, hatchbacks that were hot back in the day. Those cars lost some luster over the years. Though, if they were clean, they’d clearly still be desirable.

Today, rather than from Japan, we look to the country that brought us the original hot hatch. BMW was never really known in this market, however, as they’d only ever offered rear-wheel-drive cars.

One could argue that after this failed experiment, BMW punted hatch-building duties (at least for North America) over to the MINI division.

Today’s 1995 BMW 318ti is one of two hundred that were built with the Club Sport package, which basically added on the appearance bits of the contemporary M3, along with the two-tone interior, a slightly tighter suspension, and a limited-slip differential. The factory never offered any power improvements over the 138 horsepower four cylinder originally fitted, but this car has an aftermarket supercharger installed. Roughly 200 horsepower should be on tap now.

Save for some cracked leather on the driver’s seat, this car looks basically flawless. I’m generally not a fan of bright red — excuse me, ///M fanbois, Hellrot — but it looks right on this car. The Club Sport package, even though it’s mostly for show, really does make this car so much more attractive.

Conventional wisdom holds that the Touring model (hatch) underperformed in North America because of the low price, and perhaps that’s true. Priced around $19,000 new when the standard sedan was at least 20-percent more, buyers likely felt the hatch was an inferior product unworthy of the upscale BMW badge.

For my (imaginary) money, this is probably the BMW I’d buy. It’s relatively lightweight with the four cylinder, but with similar power to the six, and the lovely M3 appearance. Nearly ten grand might be too much, though $6,000 might be a more appropriate price.

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  • Salguod Salguod on Dec 14, 2015

    I just bought a 2 owner 1996 318ti with 240K and all receipts from new in October for $500. Another $700 in parts (engine & trans mounts, control arms, oil filter housing gasket & diff mount) and I've got a solid, if worn, daily driver. It's not fast, but it's fun to drive and it's been a joy to wrench on. At $10K this one is a bit pricey, even for a Club Sport. The '96 this dealer has with similar mileage plus the California roof is a better deal at $6,900, but still pricey.

  • Windnsea00 Windnsea00 on Dec 15, 2015

    I had a 1997 Black on Black 318ti M-tech some time back, it was a blast to drive! I had a full custom suspension (450f/550r springs), custom valved Bilstein's, upgraded bushings, etc. Also put on custom wheels with 245/40/17 all around. Once I corner balanced it and dialed in the alignment the car was literally a go-kart. With sticky 245's out back I could keep the pedal close to the floor in most turns, the semi-trailing arms react well to a stiff spring and proper dampening, never had it once snap out of control. Miss that car along with the Z3 M Coupe I had after which was also heavily modified, that car was effectively a better set up 318ti underneath along with the M engine.