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Old 09-23-2013, 02:01 AM   #1
E24bmw635csi
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Default Meet Dexter the 318ti

Friday, Sept 13th 2013.

I am driving on GA Hwy 16 on my way to Newnan, in my less than great daily driver, a 1992 Toyota Celica GT Convertible, Shiela. I loved the little car, but it has been decided that I do not love automatic cars in general, so I have been on the hunt for another BMW to supplement my 400,000-mile-old 635csi Maxine for a while. I previously owned a 1992 E36 325i Sedan (Bailey) and was possibly in the market for another E36, but this time a two door, possibly a convertible, but I really didn't need another car.

It was a beautiful sunny Friday, and as I passed through rural Georgia, I happened to just catch in the corner of my eye, as I drove down GA-16, a few E36's and an E30 at a small used car dealership. One of them happened to be a compact.



My first thought, was that it probably has one of the four things that were deal-stoppers: over 200,000 miles, an automatic transmission, a less than clean history, or the one I most dreaded leather seats. So I headed on my merry way, but still wished I had the time to stop, I had somewhere to be.

On my way back however, I had time to kill, and there was also an E30 convertible, an E36 convertible, a Z3, and another very rare car that I like the styling of despite also, being an automatic convertible, an Infiniti M30. So I stopped.

First I looked at the E30, but it was an auto, then the Z3, but it was out of my price range, had the dreaded leather seats, and I wasn't overall impressed with it. The E36 convertible had an automatic, so I passed it quickly, and the Infiniti showed signs of a front end collision, and had much too many miles on an engine I am not familiar with.

Last, I checked the 318ti, expecting disappointment again. I have always loved the compact, and it's been on my bucket list for a while, so I took a peak inside.

Two immediate surprises: A 5-speed stick and cloth seats in fairly excellent condition but for one small rip in the driver seat were inviting me in. I looked at the paper taped to the inside of the windshield to find it's age. 1995 and only 96,900 miles old! So I ask the dealer the price, since it is not labeled on the car, and it is well within may range at a relatively correct $4,000. I asked for a test drive.

The car drove well, but I have not owned a 4-cylinder BMW, and found it tinny and quiet needing more revs than I was used to, especially compared to my 635csi's ancient but torquey M30B35. I noticed the Oilservice lamp orange and red bars lit, and became curious of its history. It shifted well, and drove smoothly, and I verified its A/C, mileage, radio, sunroof and window regulators worked. The first catch: The right window button was only fixed into the car by a piece of tape, and pushed through the console when I went to open the passenger window. The second catch: the windshield has a small stone crack that has a few inch long lines webbing from it. The inside of the car was very clean and had a few other signs of age, but I liked it.

I wasn't expecting to like a car, and had not been preparing to make a purchase of a car. I drove home in Shiela the Celica but not before snapping a picture of the VIN on the 318ti. It had passed three of the four points, but there was one that I couldn't take the dealers word for.

A few days passed, and I could not get the car out of my head, so I pulled a few strings and got myself a carfax of the car.

One owner until recently, raised from import to trade-in in the southeast, until the owner traded in for an upgrade. The mileage matched, and the car passed between a few auctions before ending up in Newnan, it also had passed emissions every time that was listed. It's history was as clean as I could hope for, so I decided to scrounge a few pennies together.

Friday, Sept 20, 2013

After a hectic work week, Friday arrived again, and I made another trip to Newnan, this time in Maxine, the 635csi.

It was still there, but the dealer told me of many a viewer who wanted to get the car, as well as a man from North Carolina who was already asking about plans to fly to Georgia and drive it home. Being the used car salesman he was, I took these stories with a grain of salt, but it didn't matter.

I wanted that ti!

I checked a few more things, popped the hood to reveal a very clean M42B18 examined the fluid levels and searched for leaking fluids, and found nothing but a little dust here and there.

I called a friend, and asked if they could give me a ride to Newnan that afternoon, left Maxine in the parking lot and drove the fun little alpinweiss 318ti home.



So begins the story of Dexter, the 318ti.

Here are some pictures of us getting to know one another today:



One of my discoveries was that the cruise control lever is not properly mounted in the steering column, but since I live in an area with twists and turns, hills and varying speed limits, this is no big bother for me. It appears the lower plastic casing of the steering column is missing a screw, and the lever hangs at an odd angle compared to my previous E36, resting on the plastic housing rather than holding itself up.



Possible questions: Is this common? Does it just need to be refitted inside the housing or must the lever mechanism itself be broken?

Oh, the ugly orange-yellow door rails! The plastic fasteners of the door rails I discovered are largely missing, and the plastic itself has taken on a very aged orange hue, and has split and likes to slide right off its clips. Realoem tells me there were two possible colors, schwartz und sandgrau (51478146955).



Possible questions: Is this what a new sandgrau panel looks like? Or would it better match the interior gray?

The broken window regulator panel:



This I've dealt with before, and can do again.

After moving the passenger seat forward a bit I found a lovely surprise under it, in excellent 18-year-old condition. The owners manual, some vintage 1995 BMW CCA brochures, and guides to the security system, no-longer present BMW radio, key-less entry system, service lights and a few other things, were all inside still in decent condition, if a little yellow and with wrinkled plastic sleeves in the leather bound BMW manual organizer.



I am already very happy with Dexter, but there are a few things I am curious about, the suspension seems a bit like a pogo stick. Small bumps disappear under Dexter's feet, but if the road has a longer dip or I go over a speed bump, even if I crawl over it, the front of the car seems to bounce several times, smoothly, but the suspension feels very soft, like that of an old Buick, which is NOT what I expect from BMW. Were these little cars fitted with grandmother's shocks in the base model, or am I in need of new ones? After bottoming out on a parking lot speed bump that my Celica had never touched in two years, despite the fact it was lowered (before you complain, it was done by the previous owner) and thus had a much lower clearance than the 318ti, I realized that the amount of rise and fall in the suspension seemed awfully much. I feel as though it has six or eight inches of vertical play, and uses it.

I am certainly going to replace this with something stiffer, I just want to know if this sounds urgent or not. None of the shocks show any signs of bleeding, and all bear BMW logos, so I know they are OEM.

Tips, tricks, comments and queries are welcome! I'm new to 318ti.org, but hope to make a bit of a home here!

Maxine is looking a bit jealous, of her new little brother.



-- Matt
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Old 09-23-2013, 04:26 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E24bmw635csi View Post
One of my discoveries was that the cruise control lever is not properly mounted in the steering column, but since I live in an area with twists and turns, hills and varying speed limits, this is no big bother for me. It appears the lower plastic casing of the steering column is missing a screw, and the lever hangs at an odd angle compared to my previous E36, resting on the plastic housing rather than holding itself up. Possible questions: Is this common? Does it just need to be refitted inside the housing or must the lever mechanism itself be broken?

It looks like it might be broken, but it's really easy to take the steering column shroud off (especially if it's missing a screw!) and inspect what is going on- it definitely shouldn't be hanging like that.



Quote:
Originally Posted by E24bmw635csi View Post
Realoem tells me there were two possible colors, schwartz und sandgrau (51478146955). Possible questions: Is this what a new sandgrau panel looks like? Or would it better match the interior gray?

No, that's not what a new sandgrau panel looks like- for some reason, the plastic that BMW used in this trim piece is prone to discoloration like that shown in the picture. Both sandgrau interior ti's that I've owned have suffered from this problem to varying degrees, but yours looks especially bad. A new sandgrau trim piece will closely match the color of the front kick panel. The good thing is that this part is still available from getbmwparts.com for under $12!



Quote:
Originally Posted by E24bmw635csi View Post
Were these little cars fitted with grandmother's shocks in the base model, or am I in need of new ones?

The M Sport option was the only model that got you a stiffer sport suspension, all other models were fitted with more of a touring shock, but if it is rebounding like you mention, I'm sure it's time- especially being OEM units.

Let me know if you need any other interior pieces, as I have a practically complete Sandgrau interior that I was planning to install in a previous ti that I owned, which was subsequently totaled. I also have a spare cruise control lever, if you end up needing one and are interested in it.

Welcome to the .org!
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1995 318ti Base - Cosmosschwarz/Sandgrau R.I.P.
1997 318ti Active - Alpinweiß III/Sandgrau
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Old 09-23-2013, 04:55 AM   #3
E24bmw635csi
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Both the left and right panels are like this, I have to do a bit more resarch on the cruise control lever, but it appears that it might have just popped out of place when the steering column housing popped of when I tried to use it. The panel fell into my lap, and there didn't seem to be any screws, so I believe it is just a matter of popping it back into place.

As far as the door trim goes, I would love some that aren't brittle and yellowed. I snapped two clip holders on mine even with trying to be gentle as I could when I snapped it in place.

If you want to let go of yours let me know.

Glad to be here! Thanks for the welcome. ^^
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Old 09-23-2013, 05:00 AM   #4
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Great story and a great introduction... Welcome to the .org both Matt and Dexter!
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James 95 active w/leather interior and sport interior conversion, Vaders, full M-Tech exterior conversion. Now m50 swapped* Eibach sway bars, D2 Coilovers, Depo's w/AE's, blacked-out sides and grills, LeatherZ console and door armrests, 1 series starter button mod, and custom finished Style 5's <--- in this color! Named "Roddy": *M50 6 cyl. swap with fan delete, S50 cams and chip, AFE stage 2 intake, M3 clutch and 11.5 lb Fidanza flywheel, 3.15LSD, battery relocated to rear and complete custom exhaust. Sweet! 97 318ti sport, Alaska Blue, Contours, coilovers, Dove Vaders and custom black/grey interior named "Max" 95 318ti Active in Cosmos, S50 swap in progress... named "Pit" SUPPORT 318ti.org! CLICK THE LINK ABOVE! Hosting a forum like this is not free. 318ti.org is one of the best BMW forums on the web because it is member supported, not vendor supported. The cost to become a Supporter is a nominal $10.00... A YEAR! DO IT! NOW!
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Old 09-23-2013, 05:06 AM   #5
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The steering column shroud snaps together for the most part, but there are two screws (one on the top and one on the bottom where there is a square indentation) securing it in place. Sounds like at least the bottom one is missing.

The trim pieces that I have are slightly discolored, which is why I suggested just picking them up new. They're cheap enough at ~$25 for the set.
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1995 318ti Base - Cosmosschwarz/Sandgrau R.I.P.
1997 318ti Active - Alpinweiß III/Sandgrau

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Old 09-23-2013, 05:37 AM   #6
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These are pics of the trim pieces currently in my ti:







As you can see, a little less discolored than yours, but discolored just the same. I'm not sure if a brand new one is an exact match with the rest the interior plastic, but I'd imagine that it's very close if not exact.
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1995 318ti Base - Cosmosschwarz/Sandgrau R.I.P.
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Old 09-23-2013, 07:13 PM   #7
E24bmw635csi
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I may just toss a few bucks for some new ones then. As far as the suspension goes, after driving over the curbs in the parking lot here at work, I know for sure the front shocks at least are not doing their job. The front bounces a good four or five times even crawling over the bumps, and I have to almost completely stop not to bottom out on 4 inch speed bumps. Definitely not a sport suspension, that's going to be early on Dexter's todo list.

--Matt
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