Today’s Nice Price or No Dice 318i is a low-rent model featuring manual windows, transmission, and seats. Let’s see if its wagon booty makes up for both that poverty spec and its price.
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As nice as it appeared to be, yesterday’s 1983 Toyota Land Cruiser resto-mod engendered a number of comments avering that the same thing or similar could be built for less than its turn-key price of $99,999. And further, that it could be done with a fully emissions-compliant engine. As sleeves were rolled up and wrenching arms flexed in anticipation of such work, the time was still afforded to give the TRD-branded Toyota a damning 85 percent No Dice loss.
If you are interested in something a little less daunting than a full-on restoration and reinterpretation of someparticular classic car, today’s privately-imported 1991 BMW 318i Touring might just be your port-o-call.
Never officially imported to the U.S., the E30 wagon is these days a plum bit of private import catnip for Bimmer buffs. Being a European model, it is also somewhat uniquely spec’d, featuring manual window and sunroof cranks, patterned cloth upholstery, and a speedo that goes all the way up to 240. Of course, those are kilometers per hour, which translates to about 149 miles per hour — a still very optimistic number since the 318’s top speed is around 110 mph.
Getting up to speed is made possible by the 1.8-liter M40 under the hood. Backed up by a Getrag five-speed manual, that drives the rear wheels. In Euro guise, the SOHC cam four-cylinder managed a modest 111 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque. That means it’s not quite so ultimte a driving machine as one might expect.
According to the seller, this one runs and drives but suffers from some squeaky belts. That could be secret code for a “needs a new water pump,” but we’ll leave that to prospective buyers to decipher.
Other issues on the car include a noticeable scabbing of rust on the rear hatch and door edges, some wear on the seat upholstery and loosening of the carpet in places, as well as a bunch of rogue wires hanging down under the dash in the driver’s footwell. Your guess is as good as mine as to what those are for.
Another somewhat minor but very common E30 issue is a broken odometer drive, which is something else this 318 suffers. The seller says it went south at 218,000 kilometers, which works out to about 135,000 miles. They now estimate the car to have done 150,000 miles.
Aside from the rust, the bodywork looks to be in pretty good shape. The Laguna Green metallic paint still holds a shine in most places, and there don’t seem to be any major scuffs or dents anywhere. Things are similar in the cabin, where the upholstery looks tired but still serviceable. As a major plus, the dashboard looks to be completely intact and uncracked, a total bonus on any E30. Other plusses in here are the sport seats and three-spoke steering wheel. The latter, along with the shifter, is wrapped in leather.
The car has a clean title and is shown wearing historic vehicle plates from the District of Columbia. Offered for sale via a private party in Bethesda, Maryland, it comes with an asking price of $15,800.
Much like yesterday’s Toyota, one of the attractions of this Bimmer is that a lot of the heavy lifting has already been done. In the 318i’s case, that’s the overseas purchase, transport, and U.S. registration under the 25-Year Rule. Sure, any one of us could jump on a plane, fly to Germany, look up a similar car on “Autos und Gebote” or whatever the equivalent, and pay to have the resulting purchase shipped to a port of our choice here in the U.S. Geez, I’m getting exhausted just writing that all out. I might need a nap.
Instead undertaking all that rigmarole, we can just consider this one and that $15,800 asking. After all, it’s already here, and all the import documentation has been done, saving prospective buyers from the threat of undesired paper cuts.
What do you think, is the easy route to Touring time worth that $15,800 asking? Or, considering the car’s condition and miles, is that decision not so easy?
Washington, DC, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.
H/T to Jim Bryce for the hookup!
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