Junkyard Find: 1996 BMW 318ti California Edition
The most affordable BMW in the United States, during the middle years of the E36 platform, was the 318ti. A four-cylinder hatchback, it sold for about two-thirds the price of a six-cylinder 328 sedan or coupe.In 1996, buyers could get a version with a huge canvas-covered sunroof, known as the California Edition, and that’s what I have found in a Denver-area self-service wrecking yard.
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Junkyard Find: 1996 BMW 328i Convertible
Internet Car Experts have spent the last decade explaining to the rest of us how every example of the BMW E30 3 Series, no matter how decrepit, is worth at least a couple of grand. This claim is even more ridiculous than most of the bad information with which ICEs clog comments sections and forum threads, and I still see plenty of solid-looking E30s at U-Wrench-It-type wrecking yards.However, the quantity of discarded E30s has declined a bit in the last few years (from a half-dozen per big California yard to two or three), and the E36 has become the reigning King of the Junkyard 3 Series.Here’s one of six E36s that I spotted at a San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard a few weeks ago.
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A Little Japanese Sausage: 35 Years of Honda's Takes on Leading German Cars

How ’bout that new Civic sedan? I don’t know about you, but I think it’s the boldest mainstream design I’ve seen from a Japanese manufacturer since Honda got rid of the hidden headlamps on the Accord back in ’92. It’s got a ton of surface texture, a vicious fastback profile with a tiny trunk opening, and big wheel arches like a show car.

There’s only one problem; it’s a clear and present riff on the Audi A7. But as we’ll see, this is a game Honda has played before.

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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.

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Today's Most Over-styled Car Is ...

I recently started to think about automotive over styling. This is because many of today’s cars are styled to the point where you wonder if they had some contractual obligation with the supplier to put in as many unnecessary curves and creases as humanly possible.

This all got started when I walked by an E36 BMW 3 Series a few weeks ago. That is a handsome car. It has clean lines, and clean panels, and virtually no unnecessary curves or surfaces or trim. The thing is all purpose, all business, and somehow it still manages to be beautiful. I love it.

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Crapwagon Outtake: The Ultimate … Machine

Insert your own preferred derogatory descriptor in the title.

The E36 M3 – lauded as a wonderful driver’s car, yet derided as a watered-down car unworthy of the ///M badge. Built in reasonably high numbers, this M3 will never be as collectible as it’s predecessor, the Mighty E30, nor as beastly as the E46.

I think that’s ok.

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Piston Slap: Need a "Hans and Franz" ABS Workout?

Craig writes:

Sajeev,

Some time ago I purchased a 1995 (E36) BMW M3 as a project car. Mostly I have limited myself to bringing the maintenance up to date. I have a more than averagely equipped workshop and can find my way around a car pretty well (I have even built my own Brunton SuperStalker) One problem that has eluded me from day 1 is an intermittent ABS light.

Should I just ditch the ABS forever or is there a way to trouble shoot these things without Hans and Franz at the stealership taking me for a ride?

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Piston Slap: E36, The Immaculata!

Robert writes:

Sajeev –

My wife drives a 1998 328i that we bought new for her- it currently has 64,300 miles on it. She drives it more or less daily (just not very far) so we couldn ’t just get rid of it; it would have to be replaced. I call this car ”The Immaculata” as it lives in covered parking and is often mistaken by her un-car-savvy girlfriends as almost new.

Unfortunately that isn’t the case. It got a new hood and fender after ”an incident”, and it’s ticked off the list of usual E36 demands. New shocks, radiator, etc. However it’s gotten everything it wanted including regular oil changes and radiator and brake flushes and a transmission flush as well.

Now it’s advanced down the list to having the HVAC mix door slam open when the heat comes on. My Independent macanic say $1,500 to fix that but it annoys the wife.

Thought about replacing the car, but I’m kind of stuck. She’s used to her heated seats and the easy power of the BMW. The suggestion of a new Mini was sneered at. However obviously this car, even in great condition as it is won’t be worth enough to make the trade for a new 3 – and she won’t eventry driving my 2011 anyhow.

So… should I bite the bullet and fix the noise she’s complaining about, bite the shotgun shell and dump it while it’s as valuable as it will ever get and buy a new car she doesn’t want, or tell her she’s crazy and that I don’t hear the noise?

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New or Used: A Flip of the E36 Coin

Danny writes:

Dear Sajeev and Steve,

This is not necessarily a purchase conundrum, but I hope that you’ll help me anyway. I’m currently the owner of a lovely, well-kept 1998 BMW 323is Coupe (E36) that comes very close to fulfilling every automotive need of a frugal 24-year old single guy living in a big city—it looks good, it’s a blast to drive, it’s economical to run, and it’s pretty comfy to boot.

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  • FreedMike Well, this ended up pretty much as I figured it would.
  • Bd2 I wonder how TTAC is celebrating this JuneTeenth? Rolling around naked in hyundai flavored mud somewhere like they usually do?
  • Wjtinfwb I'd like to see a Ford/Mazda relationship restarted. Both companies have some car guys keeping the flame alive and could develop a sports car slightly bigger than a Miata and pick and choose from each other's parts bin to put together some attractive powertrain combo's. Even a Mazda 3 AWD with the 300HP EcoBoost 2.3L, manual and AWD from the Focus RS would be welcome. Even better, a factory Miata V8 with the 480 HP Coyote (i know it wont fit...) and a manual gearbox. And how about a CX-5 with a 2.7L EcoBoost V6 with AWD and an chassis tuned for sport. Lots of possibilities.
  • Blueice Patient 28, sorry, but it is Oktoberfest. Bring a kegof Kraut beer and we will 50% you.
  • Bd2 Probably Toyota, Hyundai is killing them these days.