1991 BMW 3 Series 318is 1.8 from North America


A sports car in a sedan body


Water pump replaced at 80,000 Miles

Lower ball joints replaced at 105,000 Miles.

General Comments:

The car handles like an INDY car. It has a very strong 4 cylinder engine. With the five speed manual transmission it is very fun to drive. I added a K&N air filter and noticed a significant improvement in horse power.

This car lives up to and surpasses its billing as the replacement for the BMW 2002.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd January, 2003

9th Nov 2005, 23:16

The '91 318is and its four door counterpart are both wonderfully balanced cars. The positioning of the smaller 4 cylinder engine directly above the front axle make the car much more toss-able than the 325i of the same year.

The only unfortunate thing is that the car was only sold for a single year with the sporty, free revving four cylinder engine... as the E30 was replaced by the heavier E36 model. The added weight make the E36 models sluggish in comparison.

The '91 318is is a poor man's M3.

22nd Dec 2005, 04:56

I just bought a 318is and I was impressed... This car handles a lot better then my 93' 325i... When I bought it the previous owner had replaced many parts, and now the car runs like it is new... I recommend this car for anyone who is looking for a quick afforable car... This car is really quick for a inline 4.

11th Jul 2007, 21:10

All above compliments are true. My only complaint and minor correction to an above post: It is possible to get these things up to 135mph. However unlike modern sports cars, it doesn't sink on the suspension, instead it raised and felt like I was floating on clouds, instead of cruising down a road. I never repeated that feat.

1991 BMW 3 Series Cabriolet 320i from UK and Ireland


A true motoring icon, the standard, the benchmark


Previous owner cracked the cylinder head at 120,000km due to overheating after driving the car at 6000rpm for 5 hours in 35 Celsius temperatures!!!. Being a BMW mechanic he replaced it with a brand new OEM. New bearings, valves, belts.

Previous owner replaced a front wheel bearing and a rear shock mount.

Alternator broke down 6 months ago, but still managed to travel for 200 miles before the car stopped completely. Got a reconditioned part for GBP50 with 6-months warranty on it.

Radiator cracked, but it was easy and relatively cheap (GBP100) to replace, event hough I bought the parts from a main dealer. Replaced thermostat at the same time, just to be sure, at a cost of GBP13. Now the engine runs at a perfect temperature.

Brake pads at the front and rear, but given my 4 visits to Nurburgring and the "gigantic" weight of the car - 1750kg!- it comes as no surprise. GBP60 for the original BMW pads, which I replaced myself.

The hood is starting to go in one place, but I am sure I would be able to repair it, as it is one of the few really expensive parts for this car.

Had an Inspection II done for GBP370. Not a single spot of rust.

Had fluids replaced

Valves adjusted

Belts checked

Catalyst as good as new


Rocker Cover Gasket

Small leak on the the oil pan, which stopped.

Small leak on the differential, which has also stopped.

General Comments:

The car is probably one of the best Autobahn cruisers ever made in its class.

320 Engine struggles a bit at low revs in town with the heavy Cabriolet body, but rev it up to 6000rpm and you are in business. Amazing torque and throttle response over 4000rpm. The car tops out at 210km/h, which is approximately 135mp/h.

Fuel consumption is around 12l/100km combined, but I can get it down to 8-9l/100km cruising on B-roads. However, it can go as high as 18l/100km if you are doing 190km/h = 120mph.

Gearbox is very precise and sweet, but travel between I and II could have been made slightly shorter.

Brakes are very good, given they have to cope with the extra weight. Vented disks at the back (same as on the ix models) was a nice extra, which the previous owner added. In fact the brake system is so good, my ABS rarely has to kick in...

Handling on the Cabriolet is sublime, despite the extra weight due to the real 50/50 distribution and the M-Tech suspension, which is standard on mine. Serious fun, both in the dry and wet. Cornering ability is unmatched in its class for the age of the car.

Pedals arrangement is perfect for heel-and-toe (LHD), which is very useful at Nurbugring.

Driving position is probably one of the best ones in its class.

Leather Recaros are very comfy and I often have done more than 6 hours of continuous driving without feeling stiff or knackered.

Dashboard layout is very ergonomical, but BMW should have installed oil-pressure, oil-temp and alternator gauges too.

The original Becker Radio still sounds as the GBP400, which it cost at the time as an extra option.

The power hood is easy to operate and is relatively quiet, even at high speeds.

Boot space is adequate, but the rear seats could be a bit cramped.

Overall, work on it, learn how it was engineered, and you will love it.

Maintain the "Ultimate Driving Machine" properly and you will get "Freude am Fahren".

Ignore it, and it will pay you back, but not in a nice way...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th September, 2002