1996 BMW E36 328i

Back in early 2001, I was as tired of the Vectra as it was of me. So, it was time to get a better car. Being 21, my needs weren’t very complicated: I needed to be faster than anyone else I knew. Simple, really.

I grafted for a while to earn some budget and studied my options. I did have a couple of other criteria – I wanted the car to be reliable, and I’d heard that RWD was A Good Thing. These ruled out the Peugeot 306 GTi6 I was considering, and the Audi A6 Quattro wasn’t pure RWD, so I got myself one of these:

With three years of warranty, I was pleased to have met all the criteria. Certainly it was fast! So, as I believe is common given my situation, I drove it into a lamp post after just 5 days. Seemingly the Dukes Of Hazard had made oversteer look too easy.

Unabashed I duly got it repaired and continued. Modifications weren’t plentiful, but the tart in me saw one of the earliest UK ‘Angel Eye’ conversions take place, and while those funny 15 inch alloys it came with had cheap tyres and were fun, I obtained some 17 inch replicas. A white light kit and rear spoiler later, and I was done.

In the engine bay everything was pretty standard. However, this car was significantly faster than it should have been. Using a accelerometer based timing device I recorded a 14.6 second standing quarter mile, and a 5.9 second sprint to 60. Pleasing.

The car failed me only once (fair, given I only failed it once with the lamp post incident!). The plastic water impeller snapped which got the engine quite sweaty. Fortunately I didn’t let it get too hot, and the warranty was effective, getting a metal impeller and coolant change done quickly and most importantly, free.

Within the interior, there wasn’t a great deal of specification, but at that time in my life, it was enough. Sunroof, OBC, through-load system, and centre arm rest.

Ultimately though, inspired by the evil persuasions of BMW forums, I found myself drawn towards an M3. So just under two years later, the 328i and I parted company. I really liked the 328i, a most usable and dependable car during a period of life where most other things went wrong.

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