Well-known is the fact your humble TTS staff are station wagon geeks. Having lived with and in them, the long roof versions of regular sedans have drilled deep into our frontal lobes. The combination of utility and potential sport in enticing, especially in a modern package. Last week's Cutlass was a goofy homebrew that, while certainly entertaining, you probably wouldn't want to drive every day in any place other than its native Florida. This week's wagon… oh, dear Lord.
The USA market never received BMW's E30 and E36 3 Series wagon. There are scant few running around these shores, though the numbers will likely continue to rise as the USDOT rolling 25 year vehicle import rules wash over more of them. The E46 officially introduced us to the Touring, as BMW calls their wagon, and the E91 continued the family line.
A few things to know about the E9x series of 3er, which debuted somewhere around 2006 depending on format and market. They have neither dipsticks nor spare tires. They are the first 3s to really function as rolling computer platforms. From a mechanical standpoint, you can trace the evolutionary lineage of the 3 from the earliest E21 through the latest E46. The E9x cars were revolutionary. Other than the propeller badge, little will be familiar once you peek behind the curtain. These points have been debated ad nauseam; we won't be rehashing the good versus bad here.
The boxes this pristine 328i out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin checks are so important the order doesn't matter:
- Station wagon
- X-drive for all weather go
- Real three-pedal 6-speed manual
- M-Sport package
- Clean dashboard design provided by iDrive's absence
No wrecks, presumably no rust, and really no miles. That enormous Panorama glass roof, desirable until the track breaks requiring replacement of the entire sunroof cassette. The M-Sport package – black headliner, sport seats M-Sport steering wheel and shifter, upgraded rolling stock – adds all the goodies the old-school Sport Package offered, minus the tighter suspension due to the X-drive specification. It's still under the factory warranty – through 2015 – and you may even be able to get the car certified through BMW.
Downsides? None worth talking about, really. The 335i powerplant– with either one or two turbochargers – wasn't available here in wagon format. So while having the extra oomph would be lovely, you'll have find the goods elsewhere. That said, the 228 horsepower inline-six really isn't a slouch, and the long-term maintenance costs will likely be half of either turbo motor.
And speaking of maintenance, the seller really doesn't mention any. We're in the era of 15k-mile factory recommended BMW oil changes and lifetime-fill transmissions, which is horror-show terrifying. This car, were it to grace our driveway, would immediately get all oils replaced, down to the brake/clutch fluid.
Nor is it really a color. Though black on the two-tone Oyster and black with dark wood interior is stunning in its present condition, fastidious cosmetic maintenance would be required to keep it that way. You'd need a professional detailer on retainer.
The price is dear but probably in line with the market, which according to the seller is a grand total of two other examples over the last 15 months. He mentions KBB numbers, but for the right buyer – i.e. a true enthusiast looking for a unique grocery getter – the final price will depend on what the next goon is willing to pay for it. The roof rack system isn't included, but could be negotiated into the deal. We could take it or leave it, because the car its bolted to is just fantastic.
There is stupid, and then there's Totally. That. Stupid. This wagon is the latter.