White Propeller, Blue Skies: 61k-Mile 1997 BMW 318i Convertible

  • March 24, 2021
The Rundown
  • 61k Seller Stated Miles
  • 1.9L Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
  • 5-Speed Manual Transmission
  • White on Tan w/ Black Soft-Top
  • All-Original, Mint Condition
  • Said to Run & Drive Perfectly
  • Hard to Find
Why We Like It

The E36 was the third generation of BMW’s popular 3-Series. Larger and more finished than the E30 that preceded it, the E36 established itself as one of BMW’s most interesting, capable, flexible, and now desirable models. While those with the 6-cylinder engines command all the attention, the oft overlooked 4-cylinder variants have a lot to offer too – especially as a convertible. But any 4-cylinder E36 is just really, really hard to find in any condition worth mentioning, which is why this totally original, 61k mile example stopped us in our tracks…

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Finished in what’s said to be the original white paint, by the post and pictures, it looks to be flawless. The body panels appear straight, well-aligned, and without obvious or outstanding flaws. Said to have no rust, the post also says the car has never seen snow or rain – being located in New York, it must have served as a fair-weather toy. The tan interior appears to be immaculate, and there are no rips, tears, stains, or cracks, which is fairly amazing for a car this age. The dashboard looks factory fresh, its original stereo system still in place, and even the airbag-equipped steering wheel looks fairly nice. Under the hood, the scene is fabulous, with the engine and compartment look like they’re only a few years old; spend a day detailing and this car would seriously be on the brink of show car ready. The 1.9L inline 4-cylinder is a great engine, known to be durable, provided it’s maintained and not abused. It’s not a racing engine by any stretch of the imagination, but BMW engineered it well enough to make it feel more like a small 6-cylinder, rather than a 4. This one is equipped with the 5-speed manual transmission, so it should have a fun, sporting air to it. Nicely, the 1.9L set well between the firewall and front suspension, giving 318s a superbly balanced, neutral driving feel – from the factory, they handled like a dream, but with just a couple of minor modifications to the suspension, they’re outstanding in the twisties. E36s are well-equipped machines, even when they’re the entry level 318i, and they’re becoming increasingly interesting to enthusiasts and collectors. While everyone flocks to the M3s, 325s, and 323s, there should be no shame in a 318. And, let’s face it, the 318 was the less expensive, entry-level BMW – it was a disposable commodity to be bought, used up, and discarded. Therefore, not many remain – especially like this one.white-propeller-blue-skies-61k-mile-1997-bmw-318i-convertible00Q0Q 11hzz8oNLqlz 1320MM 1200x900

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Valuation Verdict

Off the bat, the E36 318i Convertible is not an easy car to find, and when one is found, it’s usually in a kind of derelict condition, teetering between disaster and resurrection. In other words, finding comparable examples is more than difficult. However, at just under ‘$10k All Day’, this is a desirable E36 Convertible in seemingly very close to mint condition, plus it’s got the 5-speed manual transmission – all in all, we’ll call it ‘Well Bought’. Snap it up, maintain it, enjoy it, and preserve it!

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