7.27.2009

Cars I've Owned (Part 7 of 14)


1998 BMW 318ti
Owned: 2002 to 2008
Aka: “The Dearly Departed”

I returned to Sean’s used car lot (Stevens Creek European) where I’d originally purchased the M3 (hoping to manipulate chance like Longshot, that this move would be a harbinger of changed luck) and picked up this odd little car. Built from 1996 to 1998, the “ti” model sold horribly in the US, but was an interesting piece of work. Essentially it was a hatchback built on the E36 chassis. The “ti” designation was a nod to the old 2002’s and meant “touring injected,” not unlike the 2002tii which denoted “touring injected international” (don’t get me started on the naming nomenclature of Bayerische Motoren Werke). This last year of the production run had an ever-so-slightly larger 1.9 liter 4 cylinder, got about 35mpg, and was a perfectly economical commuter car. A smooth quiet ride, easy to park because of the shortened length, and loved to rev high on the freeway. I bought it with only like 30,000 miles on it and was able to keep it really low. Even in 2008, when it was 10 years old, it still had only 60,000 miles on it. It was the M-sport edition with the California package and was all tricked out. It had leather interior, the retractable canvas roof, sportronic transmission, ground effects kit, and the larger wheels and tires. This was a great little car. I didn’t do much in terms of mods, because I was frankly losing interest in cars in general by this point. I just added a K&N air filter, tinted the windows, and rigged up an iPod compatible Pioneer deck. I had it about 6 years and really appreciated its reliability and fuel efficiency. I was looking forward to driving it out until it died of natural causes one day. It wasn’t extremely fast, but handled incredibly well because of the low center of gravity and all of the weight from the hatchback glass being directly over the drive wheels making it stick in the corners. If I’d put the short block 6 cylinder in this like I wanted to eventually, and made it a custom 323ti like they released in Europe, it would have been a screamer – a total pocket rocket. I wasn’t crazy about the color, Hellrot Red (getting pulled over in dad’s red Porsche 911 enough times simply because it continually screamed “look at me!” basically soured me on red cars forever), but could have easily put 200,000 miles on this and gotten tons of value out of it. I was really bummed when blonde death reaper decided that talking on the phone with her friend about what color nail polish her boyfriend would rather look at while sucking on her toes was more important than watching where she was going and had to total my car instead. I have no problem with the “hands free” cell phone law in California; only wish they’d actually enforce it more aggressively.

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