Thursday, June 10, 2010

BMW Sedans For The MPG Crowd

1991 BMW 318i - I've always liked the looks of the E30 4 door. It was BMWs last "boxy" sedan. It almost looks like a shrunken E28 5 Series. Almost.

Early E30s had huge aluminum bumpers on them, which really detracted from the car's clean, simple, lines. In 1989, BMW revised the bumpers and these last E30s are really nice looking cars.

This car should not be confused with the older E30 318i. The early cars, while fuel efficient, were not especially quick. This car has BMW's later M42 engine, which is a free revving smooth DOHC 4. First introduced in the 1991 318i, BMW continued to use it in the later E36 cars. The engine is fuel efficient and quick. 60 MPH comes in less than 10 seconds and on the highway it's not uncommon for these cars to get well over 30 MPG.

In the US, the 318i sedan was BMW's most inexpensive car. Basically that meant you got cloth instead of leather seats. Everything else is pure E30, which means it handles great, is well built, etc., etc.

This car is in very good, but not perfect condition. The seller says there is a small dent in the fender from a bookcase falling on it and the dash has a few cracks (a common problem for E30s as they aged). Everything else is appears to be in great shape and the car shows no rust.

Located in Monroe, NC, click here to see the eBay listing.

1985 BMW 524td - This car doesn't look like and E28, it is an E28.

Back in the 1980s, diesels started becoming very popular in Europe. BMW, VW / Audi, Volvo, Peugeot and, of course, Mercedes-Benz, all offered diesel cars in the US in anticipation of the same thing happening here. It never really happened. MPG was not a top priority in the US and we tax diesel fuel to a point where it's more expensive than gasoline.

The 524td was only offered in the US for 2 years, 1985 and 1986. The turbo-diesel engine was slow, but gave the big car good gas mileage. Like all older diesels, it was fairly noisy and tended to cover the back of the car with soot. (More reasons why diesel cars didn't sell well here).

It's common for these cars to get over 30 MPG, which is very good for a 1980s built big car. The trade off is acceleration. It took 13 seconds to reach 60 MPH.

This car appears to be in very nice condition. The seller gives few details in his ad, but leaves his phone. The seller says this car "might be the only one in the US", which is not true, but it certainly is a rare car.

Located in New Orleans, LA, click here to see the Craigslist ad.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad that 524td isn't for sale around here. Someone would buy it, convert it to run on rancid fryolator grease and then I'd get stuck behind it in traffic.

m4ff3w said...

You left out the ETA. The 325e & 528e get really good fuel economy as well.

The ETA engine was designed to operate much like a diesel, with low revs and high torque.

The engine in the 524td was actually available in Lincoln MKVIIs and Continentals.

Lastly, I think the styling of the e34 is as much overgrown plastic bumpered e30 as the e28 is overgrown e21 3 series.