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Autotrader Find: 1996 BMW 318ti Hatchback in Nice Shape

There was a period, back in the 1990s, when BMW made a compact, rear-wheel drive (RWD) hatchback. It was called the “3 Series Compact” globally, and the official name for it here in North America was the 318ti — the “t” added to distinguish it from the 318i, which was a 4-cylinder BMW sedan.

The 318ti wasn’t popular, as it was far more expensive than other hatchbacks, and you rarely see them today. But here’s a really nice one: a 1996 318ti with a manual transmission and just 86,000 miles on the odometer. It also boasts cloth seats, which really gets it in with the “entry-level BMW” crowd.

This 318ti is finished in silver with dark gray cloth, and it really does look nice. It would also be a great starting point for a fun build, as these weighed only 2,600 pounds, making them by far the lightest version of the E36 3 Series. The manual transmission helps, and so does the relatively low mileage, though I personally would swap out the engine for an M3 powerplant and really create a sleeper.

If you’re interested in doing just that, this E36 318ti is offered by Central Autos in Castle Rock, Colorado, south of Denver, for $7,977 — and it really is likely you won’t find a cheaper 318ti, no matter how hard you search. Find a BMW 318ti for sale

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  1. These are great little cars to modify, but the one caveat is that they have the E30 rear suspension, so they’re quite a bit more tail-happy than an E36. Nothing wrong with that, but something worth mentioning.

  2. I wanted one of these for a little while. I test drove a used one a bunch of years ago. With my first shift, the knob came off into my hand! Not a well-taken-care-of example. I still think they’re neat!

  3. I had one of these in 1999. SOOOOO much fun to drive and just big enough to be practical for 1-2 people. Mine had the California roof which is a huge bonus; like having a convertible with the structural rigidity of a hard top.

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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