Less than 100,000 miles? Five greens on the service indicator? Full service history? A good metallic colour? Leather upholstery? Manual gearbox?
We'll get onto that in a minute, but first let's admire the comely shape of the E36 Coupe. It remains an attractive car even now. Ironically, the 318iS to have - if investment is your goal at any rate - would be the 318iS saloon. That was only on sale for one month, in 1998. But the Coupe looks best.
Right, back to the iS bit. Normally of course the sight of '318' on a BMW ad will have any self-respecting PHer turning up their schnozz in disgust. But the iS bit is important. That means it's the 16-valve version of the quietly effective but basically bland small four that droned many a sales rep up and down the motorways of 1990s Britain.
Those extra valves hoisted 318 power up by nearly 25hp to 138hp and gave the Three the top end that was never really there on the 8-valver. You do need to chase peak power somewhat on the iS, as it's not reached until 6,000rpm, just 500rpm short of the redline. Fortunately, revving the mammaries off it is not a pre-requisite for enjoyable iS driving, because you also got more torque in the iS, and lower in the rev range, thanks to its DISA variable-length intake manifold. So it's not a case of peaky not-so-blinder. Indeed, the key advantage of the 1.9 M44 over the forged-crank M42 was its extra driveability.
As a post-'94 Three, this car's cams will be driven by a chain rather than a belt. What can happen to these M44 engines though is sudden head gasket failure. If the gasket hasn't been changed yet then it's not a bad plan. Plus it's a good excuse to shove in a pair of Schrick cams.
What else can wee on your iS chips? Well, the cam cover gasket can seep oil, and this model didn't escape the plastic-impeller water pumps that plagued so many BMWs. Check as many pipes as you can for perishing or splits. Idle control valves get gunged up, causing lumpy running. Clutch pedals squeak, diff bolts loosen, and front lower control arm bushes dry up, leading to steering wobble and uneven tyre wear. Power steering reservoirs can leak. Track rod ends wear - but you probably knew that. The front windows don't work on this car. That could be something as simple as a relay.
You'll note from the ad that this car has had a new Final Stage Resistor (FSU) fitted. This is such a common BMW fault that the FSU has even been given a nickname: the hedgehog. If the lads include the pic, you'll understand why. This gizmo controls the air-con blower, or not, as the case may be. If your hedgehog is on the fritz, the fan will begin to operate in an alarmingly random fashion.
While we're in this area, anyone who's ridden in an E36 with leather seats will know they're not really as cool in practice as they look in a picture. Try a bit of hoonage along a bendy road and the outsides of your knees will be black and blue from all the bracing against the trans tunnel and the door.
But they do look great, and especially so here. The pics provided with the ad are the sort that a proud owner would take of his (or her) car. Why, he (or she) has even gone to the trouble of cleaning it! Whatever next.
1997 R-reg E36 BMW 318is Two Door Coupe in silver/green Moreagrün metallic (288) with the higher output M44 designated engine. Manual 5 Speed Gearbox. 5 Seats - Full Black Leather in great condition. Full Service History. A clean and unmolested example. Previous owner fitted 'angel eyes' style headlight surrounds which were thankfully not connected. Headlights are unaffected and work as they should. Mileage is approx 99,300. 5 Months MOT remaining. Front electric windows not currently working. CD Stereo with Aux out. Original car mats.
Full sized spare wheel. Integrated rear sun blind. Air conditioning. Dual zone climate control. Recent Battery. New Final Stage Resistor (FSU) unit fitted. Very keenly priced at £975. Advertised elsewhere. Based in Cardiff - CF24.