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
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
318i Repairs and
Car Club of America - Boston Chapter