Low-Class Yuppie: Falling In Love With A 318ti

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I’ve fallen in love—hard.

You probably remember the week or so I spent with my boss’ 318ti, but let me refresh your memory. In a week’s time, I managed to dramatically improve the car’s appearance and fix a few mechanical issues while I was at it. I enjoyed the car quite a bit, so when the opportunity came to drive it even more, I took it without hesitation.

I’ve had the car for several weeks now, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how well it has fit into my daily routine. It does everything I ask of it and then some. It made a 400-mile round trip on a single tank of gas, even impressing a Nissan 240SX on a long, sweeping interchange just a few miles away from home late on a Sunday evening. It’s hauled my drum set to a handful of shows, and was even pressed into service to carry the additional cargo of my guitarist: his amplifier, two guitars, and a pedal board. It’s been called on for date nights, cruises, and daily commuting. Despite nearly 220,000 miles on its well-worn frame, the little 318ti has done all of this with no fuss whatsoever.

Most miraculously, this car made me rediscover what it is I love about cars in their most primordial form. My idealized vision of the perfect daily driver was well-formed by the time I had graduated high school. I carried this ideal through college and beyond, and it gradually faded, becoming murky and confused. I had assumed that that ideal had changed and grown with me; the 318ti has made me realize that it hasn’t.

It’s such a wonderful feeling to rediscover exactly what you love about driving. For me, a small, sporting rear-wheel-drive coupe with a cavernous hatchback, an economical but eager engine, and a measure of luxury and comfort have represented that personal ideal of automotive nirvana. Of all of the examples I’ve owned and driven over the years, the 318ti is the best. It’s wriggled under my skin in that distinct but intangible way only BMWs can. In short, it’s the sort of car I could drive for the rest of my life and not get bored with.

That’s even more impressive when you take into account the general condition of the car. I’ve done my best to fix a few of its issues, but it’s still a 220,000-mile car with tired spark plugs, worn front control arms, and a leaking sunroof seal. Still, the car is about $500 and a weekend’s worth of work to set right again, and I intend to do just that.

All I need to do first is to convince my boss to sell it to me.—Cam VanDerHorst

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