Home » Here’s Why This Lila Metallic BMW 318ti Is The Holy Grail Of BMW Compacts

Here’s Why This Lila Metallic BMW 318ti Is The Holy Grail Of BMW Compacts

Purple Nurple
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I hope you brought sunglasses. Ask just about anyone what the poster car version of the Lamborghini Diablo is, and they’ll probably answer with the violently violet SE30. Bathed in magenta, this limited-run special was excess personified and fetches a pretty penny these days. However, if you can’t afford a Diablo SE30, there’s a little Bimmer for sale that might be the next best thing. This bright fuchsia BMW 318ti being auctioned on Cars & Bids isn’t just rare, there’s a solid chance it could be one-of-a-kind.

1998 Bmw 318ti Lila Metallic Engine Bay

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Vidframe Min Bottom

On the face of things, the BMW 318ti isn’t a particularly special car. In fact, it was BMW’s cost-cut entry-level special in the 1990s. The Bavarian marque basically took its popular E36 3 Series coupe, truncated it like AMC did the Gremlin, and then fitted a semi-trailing arm rear suspension as a cheaper alternative to the standard E36’s more sophisticated multilink setup. Under the hood of this 1998 model sits an unremarkable 1.9-liter M44 four-cylinder engine cranking out 138 horsepower and 133 lb.-ft. of torque. The collective efforts of humankind have yet to find a way to make this engine sound good without a suitcase-sized muffler smothering all the rasp. Admittedly, none of these attributes sound brilliant, but this E36 Compact has two things going for it. Firstly, all 318tis are unbelievably fun to drive, as the semi-trailing arm rear suspension imbues these cars with a tail-happy demeanor. Secondly, as I like to say, spec is everything.

1998 Bmw 318ti Lila Metallic 3

Much like In-N-Out or any number of high-end fashion brands, if you pay BMW a little more money, you can unlock a secret menu. Sadly, it’s not the sort of secret menu that lets you stuff a V8 in a 2 Series, but the Individual program opens up a much wider array of paints, leathers, and veneers than typical, and the original owner of this 318ti went for an unfathomably rare shade known as Lila Metallic.

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1998 Bmw 318ti Lila Metallic 4

As far as official production numbers go, 32 E36 M3s, 15 E31 8 Series coupes and six E38 7 Series sedans were produced in Lila Metallic, but the numbers go fuzzy after that. I’ve been following this color for years and seen evidence of one early E46 sedan in Lila Metallic, one E39 5 Series sedan, a handful of E34 M5s, one E34 5 Series, and fewer than two dozen non-M E36 coupes, but never an E36 compact until this year, when this car popped out of the woodwork.

1998 Bmw 318ti Lila Metallic Interior

Oh, and did I mention that this 318ti has piping to match the exterior color? Sure, most of the interior is the same color as a hearing aid, but purple piping on the seats is a distinctive touch that you don’t see much anymore. Unfortunately, the piping on the driver’s seat is quite worn, which brings us to a downside of this vehicle. Since it’s a U.K. car, this 318ti saw salty winters, and wears evidence of year-round life on its underbody. There’s crust on the diff housing, on the floorpans where they meet the sills, and near at least one of the jacking points. It certainly doesn’t seem terminal, but it will take some love to bring this 318ti back to showroom condition.

1998 Bmw 318ti Lila Metallic 1

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Still, if I opened up my banking app and saw a balance of “eh, fuck it” in my car stuff account, I’d throw caution to the wind on this BMW 318ti. Lila Metallic cars pop up less frequently than sightings of Bigfoot, and this obnoxious shade of fuchsia has stolen my heart. If you happen to win the auction on this car, drop me an email. I can’t quite swing it right now, but when you want to sell, I’d gladly be first in line.

(Photo credits: Cars & Bids)

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Noah Zaidi
Noah Zaidi
7 months ago

I am the new owner of this car. Follow @corsa.fleet on instagram if y’all would like to see its journey.

Matt Hardigree
Matt Hardigree
7 months ago
Reply to  Noah Zaidi

Great buy!

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
7 months ago

Someone needs to notify Sreten.

Also, put a Euro-spec S50B32 and a 6-speed in that, post haste!

Josh Jones
Josh Jones
8 months ago

I wish I’d have seen this earlier… I probably would have at least bid $10k on it. Purple and RHD are two dream options for me 🙂

Last edited 8 months ago by Josh Jones
Motorhead Mike
Motorhead Mike
8 months ago

I’ve always been more partial to Daytona Violet (that E34 M5 touring will be mine one day) , but this color is fantastic!

RC
RC
8 months ago

Under the hood of this 1998 model sits an unremarkable 1.9-liter M44 four-cylinder engine cranking out 138 horsepower and 133 lb.-ft. of torque.

I had a 1997 318i. That engine might be unremarkable, but it was still going strong at 300,000 miles (when the transmission lost first gear). And the 318 – as noted – is a hell of a canyon carver, with a curb weight of under 3,000 pounds.

six E38 7 Series sedans were produced in Lila Metallic

That is the grail car, right there. Flagship BMW sedan decked out in the closest thing to Avon pink? I want to meet the person who bought it, because that kind of eccentricity is always fascinating.

DysLexus
DysLexus
8 months ago

I think Thomas just found the name of his next daughter…
Lila Metallica Hundal

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
8 months ago
Reply to  DysLexus

/Lars Ulrich files cease and desist letter just in case

Grayson Williams
Grayson Williams
8 months ago

damn, was really interested until I saw it was RHD. I had a 1998 318ti M-Sport when I lived in Switzerland, and it was a blast to drive (and also reliable, fuel efficient, practical, and easy to work on). The E36/5 is one of the most underrated Bimmers ever.

Acrimonious Mofo
Acrimonious Mofo
8 months ago

Purple all the Bimmers!

MrLM002
MrLM002
8 months ago

Purple is a great color!

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
8 months ago

I love the 318ti. I had a red one that about bankrupted me because I bought it even though I could not really afford it (young and dumb). However, if I am going to buy a left hand drive, it would be the 323ti. I really don’t like the color, but that is just a preference.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
8 months ago

I love that you’ve been following a colour, and I double love that it’s this colour. And I triple love that you’re giving love to this wonderful old shitbox. My heart is half in my chest and half in The Autopian

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
8 months ago

This is fucking awesome! The 318ti is one of the coolest cars BMW ever made, and what a cool color too 😀

The only thing it’s missing is the California Roof, a huge canvas sunroof that was also offered instead of the regular sunroof.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
8 months ago

“Since it’s a U.K. car, this 318ti saw salty winters, and wears evidence of year-round life on its underbody.”
Since England is an island and one is never more than about 100 miles from the sea it’s a wonder that the English vintage car scene is so extensive as seeing how these cars are exposed to sea air pretty much everywhere.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
8 months ago

I grew up about 20 miles away from the North Sea coast, and there was a huge difference in rust between local cars and coastal cars.

My mum bought a 2CV new in 1979 and it’s still going strong (well, weak, because 602cc) with its forth owner in the family. It did get a new chassis in the 90’s, but that was in its way back from Africa and wasn’t entirely rust related.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
8 months ago

Former San Diego resident here. Corrosion from sea spray drops off very quickly with distance from the beach. Residents of the beachfront had terrible corrosion whereas us folks living just a few blocks inland had it no worse than usual.

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
8 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

As a Washingtonian, can confirm this, but prevailing winds can also dramatically affect this. Living in Puget Sound, you’re fine unless you’re right on top of the water. But the coastal areas don’t have any protective land mass and the winds come right across in force, so the rot develops deeper inland there. Puget Sound is protected by the Olympics, which deflects the wind to be generally parallel to the shore.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
8 months ago

Maybe. SD doesn’t have THAT much protective land mass, certainly not like you do.

The winds in SD came in from both the ocean and from the desert depending on the time of year. That made it very clear which way the wind was blowing!

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
8 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

But the SD area is fairly hilly in general. That in and of itself affords *some* protection. As compared to, say, Grays Harbor County, which is as flat as Florida.

On that second note, we get occasional winter winds coming down from the Fraser River Valley in BC. Between the bone-chilling cold and the accompanying freezing rain, that pattern is pretty unmistakable too!

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
8 months ago

BMWs are usually more Holy Grey All than Holy Grail when it comes to color palette. This little jewel is quite fetching. Hope it finds a good home near a car wash with an undercarriage spray rack.

3WiperB
3WiperB
8 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

I do like the pun. BMW’s offer some pretty good colors though, at least on the smaller cars. You can get the 2 series in Red, Blue, or Purple, and the 3 series has red and 3 shades of Blue. The 4 series can come in orange, red, green, or 3 shades of blue. A lot of people still get them in bland colors though. Beyond that, there’s a whole bunch of colors that can be special ordered from the factory. Ours is Portimao Blue Metallic and it’s a great bright blue with a hint of purple in some light.

Last edited 8 months ago by 3WiperB
Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
8 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

Good points. I should’ve stressed most of the BMWs that I see tend to be shades of grey. The occasional color burst Bimmer in my area is always a welcome sight.

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