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1996 BMW 3 Series 318Ti - More Ultimate Than Others

Raising The Bar On BMW's Lowest Model

Sep 25, 2009

That the BMW marker resides on the hood of the 318ti is an oddity. There is something unworldly about the cellar-dweller version of the Ultimate Driving Machine-something that throws salt into that resounding vaunt.

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Yes, the model does sustain morsels of the manufacturer's well acknowledged strong suits-spot-on handling and an aristocratically smooth engine hum-but those positives are severely undercut by uncharacteristic defects in design, especially the absence of power from that same sweet-sounding motor and the car's abrupt back end; it seems that the high-paid carchitects at BMW took the easy way out of this one and simply raised a meat cleaver to the backside of a 323i. The 318ti is a BMW and not a BMW, and really far too insufficient as a proper Bond getaway car.

2018 BMW 3-Series
$34,900 Base Model (MSRP) 24/35 MPG Fuel Economy

That is, the BMW 318ti as it is produced and delivered from the factory. But that doesn't mean the car has to stay that way. In fact, it shouldn't. Xandro Aventajado of Setauket, New York, thought the same thing, and now his '96 318ti drives, steers, and looks a sight similar to the factory model, but nothing more.

Straight off, the 1.9L DOHC engine was given a lethal dose of nitrous. A 100-shot dry NOS system delivers the boost the car needs to zip and dodge through the Long Island Expressway, while other engine enhancements give it the proper support: an AXZ intake and six-puck kevlar clutch, a BMW Motorsport header, and a B&B dual exhaust. When you get in Xandro's car, strap yourself in because the motor puts out an estimated 230 hp at 6,900 and 200 lb-ft of torque at 3,800.

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Steering a stock 318ti is eye-opening in itself, really. But keep in mind that's inside a tragically underpowered factory model. With the additional zest from the spray, agility needed to be tackled, as well. Xandro went stiff and rigid (Not that there's anything wrong with that.-BR) all the way around with high-performance Bilstein shocks and H&R race springs, AC Schnitzer antiroll bars in front and back, and a boldly blue OMP strut tower brace. The names don't get bigger than these, but then again, what else could you put on a Beemer?

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Style points are punched up with 18x8 and 18x9 Volk Racing Challenges on the front and back respectively and (225/40ZR18 and 245/35ZR18) Pirelli P-Zeros. Distinct M3 side skirts, front spoiler, lower chin spoilers, and M-package rear bumper speed-up the stubby factory lines; while clear blinkers, side markers, and Euro taillights and headlights fill in the blanks, lifting the shape of the car from the blasé to the sublime.

Inside, the M3 motif is echoed in the seats, which are upholstered in leather by AXZ, as well. Other interior goodies facing you while you're snug in the seat are an Auto Meter gauge, OMP Super Touring racing wheel, pedals, and seatbelts, and a BMW Motorsport shift knob. Not that you'll notice these things while you're flying into another dimension. You'll be too busy imagining yourself as Randy Pobst behind the wheel of his Super Touring car on the final lap at Laguna Seca.

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In the end, even with all these mods and innovations, Xandro's 318ti still might not be the ultimate in Ultimate Driving Machines, but just maybe, it's a little bit more Bond-worthy now.

Fast Facts
Owner: Xandro Aventajado
Setauket, NY
Ride: '96 BMW 318Ti

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Under the Hood: 1.9L DOHC, BMW Motorsport header, AXZ intake, 100-shot NOS dry manifold unit, B&B dual exhaust (2 1/2-inch pipe with two 2 1/2-inch DTM tips), AXZ six-puck kevlar clutch

Stiff Stuff: Bilstein Sport shocks, H&R Race springs, AC Schnitzer antisway bars, OMP aluminum strut tower bar

Rollers: Volk Racing Challenge (18x8 in front, 18x9 in back), Pirelli P-Zeros (225/40ZR18 in front, 245/35ZR18 in back)

Outside: M3 lightweight front spoiler with lower chin spoilers, M3 sideskirts with M-package rear bumper, clear turn signals and side markers, Euro rear taillights and headlights

Inside: M3 front and rear seats; black leather upholstery; Auto Meter gauge; OMP Super Touring race wheel, pedals, and four-point seatbelt; BMW Motorsport shift knob

Props: AXZ Tuning



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