By Chris Porter
March 31, 2000
I currently own a later model BMW 318i that was purchased from a family member whos owned it since new. I knew I wanted to own one from the first time I laid eyes upon it as a kid. You can imagine my glee when I purchased that very car for a mere $1400 more than 10 years later! Of course, the car needed some tlc (as most older cars do) when I purchased it, but for a car thats coming close to 20 years of undaunted service, it was still in surprisingly good shape.
After some new paint and parts, this car is as rock solid a machine as it was new. Keep in mind, I had to spend some money to update some things, such as replacing some interior pieces, putting in power doors and locks (this was a base model), and new suspension and wheels. But I consider these expenses well justified in keeping with the car’s longevity. The motor is still humming (25-30 mpg) beautifully after (get this) over 300,000 original miles, and I still get compliments on it to this day. I had driven many different types of BMW models, and my overall impression of these rear-wheel-drive gems is that they are worth every penny. Though acceleration could be a bit more robust, the 4-cylinder engine in the 318i is strong and dependable (i’d suggest going with a 323/325 if you want more power and options). If your in the market for one, unless your strongly opposed to a manual transmission, I suggest getting the 5-speed as opposed to the automatic, since its peppier.
To me, these cars seem to fool your senses. Though some may say that the older BMWs have a rather boxy, economy car look to them, I feel they handle like a fine sports car (as with most BMWs) in the turns. I’ve hit some clover-leafs here in California at speeds up to 60/70 mph without even a hint of tire screech or worrying about the back-end giving way. If you are in the market for a good multi-purpose vehicle, and don’t have a fortune to spend, take a look at the 318, or 325i. To me, this vehicle certainly packages BMW-expected quality for an affordable price (newer models run in the low to mid $20000 range). Unfortunately, since BMW discontinued manufacturing these models, you won’t be able to purchase one brand new. However, some dealers do have a few unsold demos as well as some very impressive slightly used models to choose from. I may end up buying a new car soon (non-BMW – only because I can’t afford an X5), but hopefully I can keep my 318 until I can give it to either my son/nephew when the time comes just to keep it in the family.