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Old 09-23-2013, 01:01 AM   #1
E24bmw635csi
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: West Georgia
Posts: 3
Vehicles
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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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