BF Garage: Our E36 328i Soldiers Through a Winter Vortex

This year’s midwest winter has been statistically one of the worst on record. With temperatures diving below -15F at times and record levels of snow it’s been taxing on humans and machines alike. In hindsight it was perhaps not the best winter to buy an untested 16 year old car as a winter daily driver. Yet our 1998 E36 has been absolutely faultless with 6,000 miles driven since November for a total of just over 68,000 on the odometer.

Maybe faultless it’s exactly the word. The rear control arm bushings needed to be replaced when bought and there was a front anti-rollbar mount that had surprisingly rusted away (surprising because the rest of the car has almost zero signs of rust). Then there’s the issue of heat. More specifically it seems that the thermostat isn’t operating properly and thus the heat isn’t blowing as warm as it should. You might think this would be something I’d try to get fixed asap considering the cold temps this winter. However at this point it’s a source of pride that the seat heaters and luke-warm air is all I need to get by. And big gloves.

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All that aside our 1998 325i has been one of the best and most enjoyable daily drivers I’ve ever driven. While the E36 has been traditionally lambasted by enthusiasts as one of BMW’s low-points, I’ve found it to be one of the most lively and tossable cars I’ve ever driven. Its turn in is eager and the 192 hp inline six, while not overpowering, is both a joy to push and putter in. The gear box is slick shifting and the clutch has more feel and is appropriately firm – something BMW has seemingly forgotten how to do.

But most of all it just goes and goes. No matter the weather, every morning when I walk out to the driveway it starts . Every time. And every time, every drive is a joy. Which has led to it’s latest nickname. “Everyday”.

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  • Giant

    My E36 318i was one of the most enjoyable cars I’ve owned. Yes it was somewhat under-powered, but the exceptionally firm steering and handling was a blast. And the linkages for pedals and steering were mechanical, not computer controlled as today, so were always linear and predictable in their response. As the author stated, very tossable, and frankly more fun to drive than today’s BMWs.

  • sackboy

    The E36 series are great fun but- what does the 1M feel like when jump in IT, after a long stint in the E36 ?? Different breed-o-cat !! :)/