1991 BMW E30 318i
|Season||The Boulder Roadtrip|
|Air Date||September 8, 2014|
The BMW E30 is the prerequisite to "being a car guy" even more than the Mazda Miata MX5.
The M42 engine was not put into E30 sedans until 1991, although it did exist in E30 318is coupes. It was in every E36, so in a lot of ways my E30 is sort of unique.
This car is one of the few E30s to not have a sunroof. The point is most people weren't as cheap as the original owner who bought this car in 1991. In fact, This E30 only has one optional extra: a digital clock/temp gauge. That might have been standard in 1991. I'm not sure but it wasn't at the start of the E30. It is the cheapest E30 you could buy in 1991. The fact that it doesn't have a sunroof is sort of a subculture thing; I've heard them referred to as "slick tops".
This E30 is untouched in terms of performance; as slow as BMW wanted it to be. Lots of E30s are slammed or track-day focused, but mine is stock as a rock. Still great to drive.
Ask any E30 owner, maintenance is expensive and sucks. In a lot of ways, owning an E30 is like dating a super-expensive high-maintenance MILF who cheats on you and sometimes abuses you, but whom you live anyway.
[AUDIO FADE IN, MR. REGULAR, ‘BRO’ VOICE:] Time Attack, bro! [WRITTEN TEXT, ABOVE ARROW: Yard sale watch] Time Attack, bro! Bro, you up for a Time Attack? Where’s my stopwatch? You got a stopwatch? [TEXT: By chance do you have a fine precision timepiece to measure lap times for this fine precision German motorcar?] Touring cars, bro! Roll cage mate! (SHOUTING) $12,000 ENGINE REBUILD, SOOOON! [TEXT, LARGE: $12,000// engine// rebuild// (growing) SON] SPARCO SEATS, BRO! [TEXT: Taint Slammers] BRO, IN MY PAST LIFE, I’VE BEEN A TOURING CAR CHAMPION! YO, BRO, I COULD BE A TOURING CAR CHAMPION! I SHOULD HAVE BEEN A TOURING CAR CHAMPION! [TEXT: I should have been a touring car champion!] DRIFTING! YO, BRO, TOMORROW’S A SNOW DAAAY! [TEXT: SNOW // DAY] STEERING RACK, BRO! TIGHTER STEERING RACK, BRO! [TEXT: 1/2 turn lock-to-lock] MY STEERING RACK IS SO TIGHT! [TEXT: My steering rack is so tight!] --- INTRO SONG, THE ROMAN E30, how can I explain it? I’ll take, it frame-by-frame it, Have y’all wrenching while we riffing it: E is for Euro, 3 is for hands you wished you had, The last zero…well, it’s not that simple. It’s sort of like another way to call your investment, Because E30s need a smart assessment. There’s a lot going on behind the naming, As a car, it seems we gotta start explaining. --- MONOLOGUE by MR REGULAR The BMW E30 is a boxy range of cars made from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties. The BMW E30 is hated, mocked, reviled as an emotionless box to hold invoices and print-outs from internet arguments - should anything go south at a car meet, you will have damning evidence of the inevitable civil lawsuit. And this is the most ‘E30-ist’ of all the E30s because it is not an M3. [TEXT: E30-ist] Look, it kinda is because the engine is a sorta-M engine from 4-cylinder Ms. *humming/growling* This E30 here is more ‘E30-y’ because it has four doors, and not two, and that’s important. [TEXT: E30-y] You see, your brain’s dick thinks that two-door cars are faster because structural rigidity or whatever. So, when a four-door BMW passes you in your S13, you’re PISSED, because there is no M badge on the back of that car on which you can lay your excuses. Because this E30 is the best at ‘E30-ing’. [TEXT: E30-ing] The engine is the M42 1.8 litre with a timing… chain. Double cams and four valves per pot. Yeah, yeah, there was the BMW S14 engine, no relationship to Nissan, but that was just a gimped M88. [TEXT: The M42 engine was not put into E30 sedans until 1991, although it did exist in E30 318is coupes. THE M42 was also used in the E36.] The M42 makes about 138 horsepower at 6000RPM, but that’s the stock horsepower. There’s plenty of ways to make an E30 go faster, and that’s why they are so popular. So popular, that this is the most requested car we got to review ever since the Miata. E30s and Miatas are always going back and forth, and E30s have more to prove, because they’re heavier and larger cars than Miatas. They’re fun to go fast in, because they don’t look fast at all. The only difference is Miatas can be fixed with swear words, but E30s, you need a manual. You have to take working on these things seriously, and that’s the difference. People want to tell you that these are not complicated cars, and that’s BS – these are very complicated engines, because the tolerances are so small. The E30 is a car that is punching above its weight class, like a boxer who’s never been told he can’t be world champion. It’s very admirable – it’s a Kenny Powers quote on wheels – and these are also very popular cars because they are rear-wheel drive. It’s an inexpensive car with a lot of potential, and it’s rear-wheel drive for lots of fun. And it’s more useful as a daily driver than a Miata could be, and just like the Miata, that’s the beauty of it – if you’re into cars, and you want something fun to drive, but you can only have one car, and you’ve got to do other car things, and you’ve gotta haul more than one other person, well, sorry Miata, I can’t have you, E30 to the rescue. But it’s up to you to know how to handle an E30 - To take it easy, but not too easy; to push it, but not be too hard – it’s sort of like figuring out where the line is with a substitute teacher: “What jokes are gonna fly? Can I call him by his first name? Ah, this guy isn’t going to be here tomorrow, but what if he is?” The ride is smooth but buzzy, LIKE A JAILBROKEN VIBRATING ASS-TICKLER. [TEXT: Jailbroken vibrating ass-tickler.] The E30 in its time was supposed to go 124 miles an hour, but when you look at it, and you see all these boxy lines and this grille that’s just flat in the front, you kinda wonder “it’s-what-what is this car going to be like about a hundred miles an hour? What’s the aero gonna be?”, and people wanna tell you “Oh, this is in fact a very aerodynamic shape-“ ah, nuh-uh-uh SQUARES! The notion of an E30 going that fast seems about as likely as finding a video of your own conception at the adult video outlet off Exit 27. Of course, this isn’t a bad experience by any means, it just isn’t what’s expected. It’s sort of like getting to second base for the first time, only to discover your girlfriend has PEPPERONI NIPPLES, [TEXT: pepperoni nipples] and “Sure, let’s keep going, but I’m not going to store this in the SPANK BANK.” BMWs inspire a strange kind of provincialism, and it feels random and often misdirected. Being into E30s is like being fiercely passionate about your time zone. MY TIME ZONE IS THE BEST TIME ZONE, MOUNTAIN TIME OR BUST! [TEXT: Mountain Time or BUST!] I don’t blame anybody for being loyal to their brand, especially if the brand got ‘em young. Some people are BMW lifers, and that’s okay. But I’m not so sure if BMWs are ever going to speak to me in a primordial level. UGH, IT’S WASH DAY AGAIN. NO, I’M GOING TO GET AN EXTRA DAY OUT OF THESE UNDERWEAR (sic) IF IT KILLS ME. TIGHTY WHITIES! EVERYTHING’S IN CHECK! But you need to drive an E30. If you want to pass yourself off as a car enthusiast, an E30 is more of a prerequisite than English Comp 1. The acceleration has zero dead spots. It doesn’t climb onto the camb. And when you hear people who are into cars referring to something as ‘climbing onto the camb’, [TEXT: “Climbing onto the camb.”] it means with most double-overhead-camb engines, you h-there’s a point where the cambs start to speed up. Now I know that’s sort of a misnomer, but I’m speaking from a kind of an imaginative standpoint – imagine you’re watching that tach go up. There’s a point where it will jump. Hondas are notorious for this, and that’s why people like Hondas so much. But E30s don’t do that – in fact, most BMWs don’t do that. There’s no tipping point in the rev range. When you hear a car journalist refer to something called a ‘linear power band’, this is what they’re talking about: [TEXT: “Linear power band”] Say you want to go fast, so you give it 3/4ths throttle. And you’re revving from 2000RPM to 6000RPM. With most naturally-aspirated double-cam engines with four valves, somewhere between 4000RPM and 5000RPM, the revs will start climbing faster even though your foot hasn’t moved. That’s ‘climbing onto the camb’, but a BMW E30, that tachometer will move at a steady pace all the way up and down. So if you’re going autocrossing, or if you’re at a track day…bro, [TEXT, SMALL: bro] you can make fine adjustments to your speed while at high RPM without a sudden burst of power getting to the rear wheels and breaking you loose, and making you spin. --- LIVE, MR REGULAR AND OWNER, DRIVING ALONG: [MR. REGULAR:] Can I give it just a little bit? [OWNER:] Yeah, sure, that’s alright. *E30 revs loudly* [MR. REGULAR:] Ooh! [OWNER:] Yeah, *chuckles* [MR. REGULAR:] That’s why people like E30s! --- MONOLOGUE by MR REGULAR A BMW E30 is classically perfect – it’s the best introduction to any sort of enthusiast driving experience. Okay, so you’re 20, and you’ve been driving your hand-me-down Oldsmobile Alero, but you want to get into cars, what should you pick? And you have no idea what you wanna do, but you know you wanna do it in the correct way. You get an E30. An E30 is to cars what Magic: The Gathering is to card-based fantasy games. What a Ruger 1022 is to marksmanship. What a Ninja 250 is to motorcycling. What Audio-Technica is to sound recording. What AMD is to building your first computer. What Yingling porter is to being introduced to craft beer. What Peace Rock in Hamburg is to doing stupid stuff. What a Yamaha Blaster is to broken collar bones. Driving the E30 now in 2014 is like finally banging the prom queen, except she’s 41, four kids deep, twice divorced and out of options. But you’re taking the plunge anyway, so you can say you did. --- OUTRO SONG by THE ROMAN (warning, bassy) I’m be flirty, My knees dirty, From assuming the position of the E30, I’m still wordy with the things I say, Same way I ain’t choosy about the girls I lay, Well, assuming that I’m getting laid at all, Hell, it’s tough getting up the same old hall smell(?) This rack doesn’t take like chloroform, Could you maybe tell your thoughts on poor perform(?) What was I talking about, BM-Dubs, Gotta take a dumb ‘cause I got that BM-love, But when I get that, can I see about that date? Can we see about trading in your RX8? Because you like my appendix, girl, I have no doubt, Well, I don’t know what you do, I want to take you out. So check my BMW, we’ll (?), If you’re a lesbian, we’ll still be friends, Let’s be out, uh! --- SECOND OUTRO SONG by THE ROMAN I’ve been wired from the minute I wrote this here(?) Car’s used to store all my coke, Because my mind’s long gone, Yeah, my mind’s long gone. ---