BMW 3 Series (E36)

BMW 3 Series Sedan ( 1989-1996 )

The E36 series was the third 3 series of car manufacturer BMW. It was introduced E30 in November 1989 as the successor of the series and built as a sedan until February 1998. Using the technique of the E36 BMW Compact and Z3 models were built.

As of February 1998, the E36 was replaced continuously by the successor model E46. In September 2000, the Compact has been set, the Z3 was followed in December 2002.

The diversity of E30 variants was largely continued with the E36, it was for this series but no all-wheel drive. This was only offered again at E46. Also available was a sporty version with the most powerful six-cylinder engine (BMW M3).

From the autumn of 1997, there were for the E36 side airbags.

Model history

In this series, the two-door sedan, which was identical to the four-door model with the previous model in the dimensions, replaced by a flatter and wider Coupe in October 1990. In April 1993, the new convertible appeared, the Touring wagon version came only in May 1995 on the market.

In April 1994, the three-door version Compact supplemented with about 20 centimeters shorter tail the pallet, the wheelbase remained the same. Initially equipped with rear antenna, rear window antenna came in 1995 then used.

The entry-level model used on some construction techniques of the E30, such as the Hinterachsbauweise. The dashboard was also a new development, although the cylindrical air outlet grilles and various switches still remembered the E30. The 316i Compact was delivered between May 1999, September 2000 with a 1.9 liter engine. This 77 - kW engine with 165 Nm torque applied at 2500 rpm, a total of slightly more "elastic " to drive than the 1.6 - liter engine to May 1999 with 150 Nm at 3900/min. Outside of Germany, there were other engine and body combinations, for example, the U.S. version of the 318i Convertible from 1996, the M44 engine with 103 kW.

From Baur there was a built in 310 copies, four-door convertible sedan ( Baur TC4 ). This was based on the sedan, the, but not the window frames were removed the rear window and the greater part of the roof. A fabric roof stretched from behind the C- pillar forward. At the level of the B-pillar, a cross member of the roof had been preserved for reinforcement, to which the roof could be mounted in a semi- open state. In this position the vehicle a limousine was the same with a slightly enlarged open sunroof. The TC4 could be ordered with any engine available for the 3 Series sedan as gasoline and diesel.

Production periods

  • Sedan (E36 / 4):
  • Coupé ( E36 / 2):
  • Convertible ( E36/2C ):
  • Compact ( E36 / 5 ):
  • Touring ( E36 / 3):
  • M3 Coupé ( E36/2S ):
  • M3 Convertible ( E36/2CS ):
  • M3 Sedan ( E36/4S ):


BMW 3 Series Coupe (1990-1996 )

BMW 3 Series Convertible (1993-1996)

BMW 3 Series Compact (1994-2000 )

BMW 3 Series Touring (1995-1999)

BMW 3 Series Baur Convertible Sedan

Special models

From 1994 to 1995 the special model 318iS Class II was built, which was only available as a sedan. A Homologationsserie of 2500, 1,000 of which are in Germany, worldwide for the STW series. This was built simultaneously with the M3 GT and took some optical characteristics. In addition to the standard M- package an "M- lip " was built with so-called GT-Ecken/GT-Flaps also on the front bumper. Furthermore, the two-piece rear spoiler M3 GT was acquired. This limited edition M3 GT ( 356 copies) was made ​​only with the color of " British Racing Green" and delivered. The interior of the M3 GT graced some real carbon applications. In addition, there was the M- Club Sport, which was limited to 500 copies.


The E36 was one of the few 3- models, which was produced without major eye-catching facelift over the entire term. In detail, however, regularly numerous changes have been made, which had mainly focused on improving the quality of the goal.

The models from the early series were characterized by a BMW ratios unusually poor body quality that showed up in numerous squeaking and rattling noises, but also due to lack of fit of body parts led to strong wind noise especially on headlights and side mirrors. These models also showed a high susceptibility to corrosion, which is why BMW already very soon made ​​provisions in order to buy these early items from the market, in order to avoid reputational damage due to rusty cars. The vehicles of this initial series were in the German media also very scolded that they had a spontaneous response to steering, which allegedly made ​​it difficult to fast driving. Recognizable these vehicles are on a panel above the glove compartment between the center console and air vent on the passenger side in a smooth hard plastic.

BMW has reacted quickly to these shortcomings and, for example headlight lenses introduced the small spherical " excesses " in the glass had at its upper edge and so tied under the strong whistling in the Motorhaubenfuge at this point by other turbulence. In addition to general measures to improve the production quality rust prevention was improved and a much better quality of the paint job. Also by German media criticized for spontaneous steering was changed by modifications at the front, which makes them significantly less spontaneously spoke mainly about the central position, which praised in the German media, but abroad was partly heavily criticized. Visible are these and all subsequent production runs on a panel in the dashboard above the glove compartment between the center console and front passenger air nozzle with an insert made of grained plastic in a similar look as the door panels.

However, the poor have become sharper in competition fit of body parts remained as well as the resulting partly rough gaps a characteristic feature of the E36. Are particularly affected in the four-door sedans that also with other manufacturers of production technology delicate and always shaped for wind noise susceptible from the door panel window frame. In their back doors despite the wide rubber seals used, the transition to the roof and the C-pillar is a definite weak point, which is almost always not run the claim and the price range is reasonable. That's why BMW renounced the successor model to this design feature and used again conventional window frames on the doors.

In October 1991, the suspension of the stabilizer and its linkage has been modified. Prior to this date the front axle stabilizer was hinged on a longer, upward pendulum support from the strut at all E36, as it was the M3 through the entire production period.

In September 1993, the E36 was a first slight facelift. The mirrors were provided with nubs on the inside in order to reduce noise ( wind noise) and the front bumper was replaced by a modern -looking variant. In addition, the E36 received from year 93 standard side markers in the fenders.

Augenscheinlichstes feature of the model managed care and E36 were from spring 1996, small changes in the headlamps ( technology) and the turn signals in the fenders, and the BMW kidney grille and the bumper front and rear.

While the first models were still H1 ellipsoid headlights, and light gray plastic bumpers with large air inlets, flowed with the facelift H7 headlight ( with lens ) free-form technology, aerodynamically optimized exterior mirrors and headlight covers (each with small nubs against wind noise ) and side indicators in the fenders into the series.

It also featured the modified vehicle on a slightly V -shaped and curved outwards BMW kidney as well as in darker gray colored side sills and plastic bumper with a finely ribbed cooling air inlet and a continuous horizontal joint. The reason for this is that surcharge the bumper also (up to this joint) were now ordered in body color.

Although the standard full wheel covers made ​​of plastic retained their basic design, were created but a little softer and with three-dimensional model of care and provided with a more glossy clearcoat. Inside, the facelift with new upholstery colors and fabrics ( flat weave ) became clear. In addition, the driver's airbag was standard. By order of the passenger airbag, the cockpit was given a more modern form since the tray was omitted in front of the passenger seat and the cockpit was slightly beveled here. Subsequently, the models further comprises an optically clear attractive airbag steering wheel with colored BMW emblem received ( so far only in the plastic embossed).

Engine variants

As standard, the E36 was built in the following engine versions:


The E36 has an obliquely rising front which is no longer forward as in older BMW types. It is a major advance in the field of pedestrian protection has been achieved. In accidents involving pedestrians this could now " roll " rather over the hood and were not - as in the past often - seriously injured from the above front end. The dual headlights were now behind a glass cover and the rear was pulled higher. The instrument panel was rounded and delicate design as the previous model E30. A design element that is only found in the E36 compared to the BMW sedans, are the strong, drawn up into the roof, door frame, a design principle that was applied at approximately the same time imported Golf III.

New to the E36 was the fact that the two-door version received at least formally independent body and was henceforth referred to as a coupe. Here, the front end was extended by the windshield set back and to compensate the instrument panel has been reduced for the same seat position. The doors are not only - as on Zweitürern usual - longer, but they do not have a window frame. Furthermore, the roof and the rear lot, including the coupe rear lights are kept flat.

Passive Safety

In the crash test of the AMS 1991 the E36 did well. The car was crashed with 50 percent overlap at 55 km / h against a non-deformable, 100 ton concrete block. Here, the risk of injury as low and the deformation of the body was classified as high. The vehicle tested was a 325i without airbags. Moreover, crash test the E36 also cut in, carried out by BMW, well. This was crashed into a 100- ton concrete block of the E36 Compact at 60 km / hr.

In the Euro NCAP crash test, the E36 performed poorly: The tested 3 Series sedan received two stars out of five, one of which was revoked because of the risk of injury to the driver's seat. However, it must be considered that the E36 was developed long before the introduction of the Euro NCAP crash tests. Accordingly, its construction was not designed for these test conditions.

The successor of E46, however, has already received four out of five stars, which ( both were tested vehicles LHD) E90 even five stars. If there are several used car tests of the car image, which are partly based on the experience of the TÜV, was particularly drawn to the vulnerability of the front axle ( wishbone, axle joints ). This showed the first signs of wear after only 25,000 km. Moreover, also show the wishbone usually after a short time the first signs of wear.

Z3 Roadster

The Roadster Z3 (produced from October 1995 to December 2002 ) ran under the name E36 / 7; its coupe version was called E36 / 8 Both are based on the platform of the E36 Compact and also share in the interior several parts.