1997 E36 318iS

This little coupe still has some life left in it. We’ve been slowly repairing little problems as they crop up. Currently, it’s got the usual ASC & SRS lights. Feels a little loose in the front, maybe a little loose in the rear too. Squealing front right brake, warped rotors, whiny PS pump. Smells like a leaky heater core too. Also needs an interior and some bodywork. But it runs great!

So in the great tradition we’ve established here at The Iconic BMW, I’ll be offering my car for sale while I’m working on it. I think my son wants it for a racer project, it might end up that way too. It’s nice to have choices.

This car is a magnet for low-ballers. I’ve collected hundreds of offers, roughly one a day. Even if I sell it, I might leave the ad up just to annoy all the time-wasters & tire-kickers. They mean no harm, but it sure does get old.


I’m looking for $3K, but I’m negotiable. Cash or crypto are fine, some trades will be considered. The car is located in Pittsburgh, but I’ll drive a few hours to meet a prospective buyer. It’s got current PA state safety & emission inspection, clean title in my name, runs OK, drives OK, lots of new parts. Fun car, 5-speed manual transmission, rear wheel drive, open diff. Moderately high mileage, like 260K. These cars got a 1.9L 4-cyl that BMW called the M44. They made about 130hp when new. The motor is healthy, no check engine codes. The gearbox doesn’t grind, diff doesn’t whine. Overall it runs well, with an occasional lumpy idle and the typical oil leaks that they all seem to have.

It’s been well looked after, formerly owned by a BMW Master Tech. Chassis is solid. The cooling system has been rebuilt within the last few years.

Cosmetically…it’s a different story. Clearcoat has mostly peeled off. The front bumper is from another car, includes a black nosepiece. Driver’s door has been replaced at some point. There’s also a bit of cosmetic rust. It’s actually really clean for an E36, the worst of it is the trunk lip.

The interior isn’t that great either, although the front seats are still in pretty good shape. These are grey fabric, quite comfy. If you know your BMWs, they’re gray millpoint comforts from an E36 Touring hatchback. The rear seat is the original grey fabric coupe interior with some missing parts. It does have the flip-down rear seats, very convenient. There’s also some later model black vinyl door cards, a broken sunroof, missing or broken pillar trim covers, and a stripped headliner.

It’s got an upgraded mechless JVC head unit (USB & bluetooth) running with the stock Harman Kardon speakers & amp. The head unit is nice, but there are several blown speakers.

Problems that’ll eventually need fixed are a pinhole leak in the heater core, weak parking brake, and the front control arm bushings feel tired.

This being a BMW, a number of electrical systems aren’t currently working. Off the top of my head, they are the cruise control & sunroof. No A/C either. All the parts are there but it needs a new condensor. The gauge cluster is working at the current time, but they’ve been a little random in the past. Shifter is typically sloppy, but I have the parts to rebuild it. Noisy coffee can muffler with a minor exhaust leak too. It’s a pretty typical high mileage E36, nothing really unexpected.

I checked the OBD2 codes with a BMW scan tool. Currently, it has an airbag (SRS) light for the passenger seat occupancy sensor. The rear left ABS sensor has caused some trouble in the past. I clear the codes periodically, but they eventually come back. I’ve run the dashboard gauge test sequence, and all the lights appear to be good.

Asking price gets you a large assortment of spare parts, including a center console armrest, a complete set of four stock 15″ bottlecaps (style 13) with nearly new Michelins and the original set of spoked 15″ wheels (style 32) with lots of rash & worn out snow tires.