The Details

BMW E30 318is




  • Mileage: 62,878
  • Year: 1991
  • MOT Expiry: January 2020
  • Exterior Colour: Brilliant Red
  • Interior Colour: Grey Chequered Cloth Recaro
  • Top speed: 129
  • 0-60mph: 9.3
  • BHP: 134
  • Transmission: 5-Speed Manual
  • Engine Capacity: 1796cc
  • Engine Configuration: 4 In-line

Model History

Brought to the market as an entry-level luxury car, the E30 3-Series spanned twelve years of production. It replaced the E21 chassis in 1982 and was succeeded by the E36 in 1990, although production did overlap by four years.

Early models featured the four-pot M10 and straight-six M20 engines of the E21. The major update for the E30 took place in 1987 where the M20 engine was fitted with Bosch Motronic injection and the M10 was replaced with the M40 engine, again utilising Motronic. The chrome bumpers were also replaced with black or coloured ones in late ’89, with the rear light clusters made slightly bigger during this minor facelift. E30s are now often referred to as either pre-facelift (with chrome bumpers) or facelift (with plastic bumpers).

Despite its solid construction the E30 boasted a spacious cabin and a light curb weight. This was due to the suspension design that utilised Macpherson front struts and rear semi-trailing arms. It was also the first three series to receive a service light indicator and warning light.

Available only in manual coupé form, the 318is was released in 1989 with BMW’s brand new M42 engine. This was the most modern engine available in the E30 range, which incorporated DOHC, the updated Bosch Motronic 1.3, hydraulic valve adjusters, and coil-on-plug ignition. The ‘is’ (Injection Sport) also boasted firmer M-Technic suspension that meant stiffer springs, firmer Boge shocks, and anti-roll bars measuring 20mm at the front and 12mm at the rear. A sportier aesthetic was achieved with the addition of a front air dam and rear boot lip. To keep costs down the list of available options was minimised but cars could be spec’d with a sunroof, limited-slip diff, front fog lamps, anti-theft equipment, 15-inch alloys, and metallic paint.


15-inch BBS alloy wheels, Electric aerial, Heated rear screen, Privacy blind, M-Tech rear spoiler, Electrically adjustable door mirrors, Electric sunroof, Electric windows, M-sport steering wheel and gear knob, Blaupunkt Boston cassette ra, Trip computer, Lockable glovebox, Cassette holders, BMW tool kit, Jack, Warning triangle, BMW first aid kit, Spare wheel, BMW paint touch-up sticks, Spare key.


This 318is is presented in Brilliant Red paintwork, all of which boasts a deep, glossy shine with none of the common fading issues that so many red examples have. The panel gaps are spot-on and both sides of the car are arrow-straight. There are no signs of corrosion in any of the usual E30 weak spots such as the wheel arches or scuttle panel, with the only real imperfections being a handful of light stone chips at the front end and a couple of small scuffs on the rear arch lips. An M-Tech rear spoiler has been fitted giving the car a more aggressive, sporting appearance, and at the front the correct ‘IS’ lip is in good order with no cracks or damage. Looking closer, all light clusters and black trims around the car remain in excellent fettle. A superb low mileage example that looks to have been garaged for most of its life.


At 25 years old, unlike most 318is’ that have covered circa 150k miles, this stunning example reads just 62k miles from new. The low mileage is particularly evident from the superb condition of the interior. The delicate chequered cloth sports seat are absolutely first-rate with no damage whatsoever to the bolsters or bases. There are no cracks to be found on the dashboard and all the switchgear feels solid to operate. A period correct Blaupunkt Boston stereo is in place along with some handy factory-fitment storage cases for all your favourite cassettes – a charming retro feature.


At the heart of this desirable E30 coupe is the 1.8-litre M42 engine boasting DOHC, updated valve adjusters, coil-on-plug ignition, and a healthy 136hp from the factory. This particular example is in fine mechanical fettle having almost always been serviced within the dealer network. Upon arrival at 4 Star it had a full health check and fresh oil service. Being a later engine variant, it runs on a cam chain rather than a perishable cambelt.

Behind the wheel this particular example is a joy to drive, with everything still feeling tight and precise. The M42 engine is as zingy and free-revving as its reputation suggests, and the 5-speed manual gearbox makes for an engaging and thrilling drive.


Sitting on the larger 15-inch BBS cross-spoke alloys, this 318is has a purposeful stance. With the exception of a few very light marks the wheels are in excellent condition, having been previously refurbished by market specialists, Lepsons. They are wrapped in a matching set of Nankang tyres, all of which have plenty of tread remaining.

History File

This 318is was first registered in August 1991. Within the original service booklet there are 20 stamps to be found, 18 of which are from BMW main dealers. Upon arrival at 4 Star a full health check and oil service were carried out for the new keeper’s piece of mind. The History File contains many invoices for parts and service work dating back to 1996 as well as an original Taylors BMW sales invoice dated February 1995, addressed to the second owner for £8,045. The Blaupunkt Boston operations manual is still present along with an extremely rare 318is-specific sales brochure containing all the factory options that were available with this model.

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