1991 318i:

I purchased this car with 140k miles in March 2004 with the intent of using it as a daily driver to replace my Neon. Finding an E30 in good shape was not easy and finding a perfect E30 is very tough.

I decied to get a 318i for several reasons. I wanted a 4 cyl. engine for the better fuel economy, I wanted a light car, and a model that was one of the last E30s built. The 1991 318i (and 318is and 318ic) all have the M42 engine. The M42 is a more high-tech engine than that in older 318 and 325. Unlike other E30s, the M42 based 318 doesn't need to have it's valves adjusted. They are self adjusting hydraulic valves. The M42 also has a timing chain instead of a timing belt. The timing belts in the 325 need to be replaced every 60K miles. A timing chain will go for hundreds of thousands of miles.

The car I finally decided on was a 1991 E30 318i. I would have preferred a 318is but I intend on upgrading the suspension and the car is equipped with a limited slip differential, so there isn't much allure in a 318is. The fact that I wanted a sedan also ruled out a 318is.

The car came with some problems including no radio (just a bunch of wires hanging out of the dash) and the previous owner had added a bunch of wires and cut the factory stereo wires. The passenger side door hinge was broken and the 6 button on board computer/clock has a broken screen.

A car of this age requires a lot of maintentance and repairs. I bought it knowing that it will require work, parts, and patience. You must enjoy working on cars and restoring cars to daily drive an E30 - or any car of this age.

Over the months the 318i has really responded to the work and attention. It handles 100% better since I've replaced most of the rubber bushings in the car and installed new shocks and springs. The roar from the dead rear wheel bearings is gone. After more and more miles, the engine seems to run smoother and more efficient. I typically get over 30 MPG and on one occasion, I was able to go 400 miles on one tank with the fuel light not coming on!

While the M42 doesn't put out amazing power numbers, it seems peppier than the numbers would suggest. It is a rev-happy little motor and the torque is great after 3.5K RPM. It has plenty of passing power and climbs steep hills without trouble.

318i Repairs and Modifications:

Clarion CD/MP3 Headunit, Alpine Amp, 12" Sub
Antenna Mast Replacement
Adding $25 Keyless Entry
V1 Hardwire
Fog Light Lens Replacement
Map Light Rear View Mirror
Dash and Cluster Light Replacement
Rims and Tires
Door Hinge Replacement
Euro Grill Installation
Roundel Replacement
Interior:   OEM Center Arm Rest / Cup Holder
On Board Computer Retrofit
Rear Arm Rest Seat and Rear Headrest Install
Accessory Belt Replacement
K&N Air Filter
Spark Plug Replacement
Ignition Wires
M44 Chain Tensioner
Fuel Filter Replacement
Engine Oil Change
Thermostat and Coolant Replacement
Contol Arms and M3 Offset Control Arm Bushings
Sway Bar Link Replacements
Front Subframe Sway Bar Tab Reinforcement
Tie Rod Replacement
Front Sway Bar Bushing Replacement
Front Springs, Shocks, and Strut Mounts
Rear Springs, Shocks, and Rear Shock Mounts
Front Wheel Bearing Replacement


BMW Car Club of America - Boston Chapter