E36 316i 1.9i Compact Individual – Open Air Edition/ California Model


This is the INCREDIBLY rare BMW E36 316i 1.9i Compact Individual Open Air Edition, also known as the BMW California.  It is in a desirable colour scheme and has got to be one of the coolest modern BMW’s around!

It has the Electric Mohair (optional as standard spec. was canvas) Folding Roof, and the M43B19, 1895cc engine increasing torque to 180 Nm at 3900 rpm and utilising a timing chain instead of a timing belt.  It also has a rare 5 speed manual transmission.  Many of these models were ordered with an Auto transmission, so its a joy to have a punchy engine with a good driving response.

 bm8  bm7

This particular car is an Individual model, with the Sports package which includes M-Technic Suspension, M-Steering Wheel, Foglights and Cream Nappa leather interior with black piping, and two tone Black/Cream (Oyster) trim.  Nappa is both the most expensive and softest leather available as a BMW Option.  Colour coded bumpers and electric windows, mirrors and AIR CONDITIONING which works perfectly.  Seats are manual, which I actually prefer, because they are lighter and easier to use, and it makes the car less prone to expensive electrical malfunction.

Only 100 of these rare cars were sold in the UK market in RHD.  This is rarer than the E36 M3, and believe it or not, as rare as the amazing E30 M3!  Only 400-500 are reputed to have been sold Worldwide.

The deep dish non-staggered OEM alloy wheels on this car are even rarer than the car itself!  They were a very rare E36 option, and are Style 86 Alloys.  BMW can no longer supply or obtain these wheels, and I painstakingly sourced these from Munich, Germany at great expense.  They have been professionally powder coated in chrome and are immaculate.  They are 17″ 8X17 ET20.  BMW Part No. 36116752087.  Tyres 235/45Z R17.


The original alloy wheels are Style 42 and are in immaculate condition, with a set of new tyres.

The car has only covered 60k miles from new, with Full History file verifying genuine mileage, servicing, and a BMW Product Recall for E36 RHD Steering Spindle Corrosion in 2004 by Derek Woodman BMW.

In black, the paintwork is stunning, with a completely unblemished original Individual leather interior.  In the history case, it comes with the original sales brochure, and BMW sales leather swatch which the first owner would have been given by the  supplying dealer.

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It is a low ownership car, supplied new by BMW Park Lane.  The car retains its original registration number, with no evidence of personal plates having been used from its extensive history.  It is a completely original, unmolested E36 and in mint condition, which is nice to see on such a rare car.  I hate to see these with replica M3 bumpers at the front and then a standard bumper at the back, because the stance is completely wrong.  Having owned an E36 M3 3.2 EVO, I personally think that M3 styling belongs on an M3; and as time passes, the most original BMW’s across all platforms are always more appealing to BMW enthusiasts in their original form.  Aesthetically, the E36 Compact is more naturally original in true BMW design than any of it’s successors – particularly the E46 – taking styling cues from the rear of both the E30, and E26 M1; daring to appeal to a new market for BMW.

The roof mechanism works perfectly, and has been serviced and lubricated according to BMW Manufacturers Recommendations by a friend who is a BMW specialist.

The E36 compact had an excellent lightweight chassis, and the trailing arm suspension and rear sub-frame is a carry over from the E30.  Handling is great, and the drive chain pulls away in every gear with typical BMW spirit.  The available torque makes occasionally pulling away in the wrong gear effortless, due to the long gear range.  This is what makes a BMW such an enjoyable car to drive.  For a four cylinder engine, it really is fantastic fun!

I will add more, and get some photos together, but for now, this is my initial write up….

The car is available for sale, and whilst I am in no hurry to sell the car, I have priced the car to sell.  This is not my daily driver and as a result, the mileage will be kept commensurately low.  I intend to  keep usage down to a minimum; but enough to keep the car running reliably and immaculately.

The MOT was due in August 2015, and I have put it through a fresh MOT.  Only advice was minor pitting on brakes which is down to under use.  It’s insured with Footman & James for £190 per year, and is limited to 2,000 miles a year – I don’t want to put a large amount of miles on the car, but it allows me to use it twice a week to keep her ticking over properly and washed once a week.  All this needs is a fresh tax – which when considering that tax is non-transferable, makes no difference whatsoever to the outstanding condition of this very rare car.

The ultra-rare Style 86 Alloys are not included in the sale. They will require new tyres, as tyres have been removed and original Style 42’s placed back on the car. All 4 tyres are brand new, and spare is still present and unused.

Offers around £5,000 will be considered.  I am confident that you will not find another example.  If you do find another E36 California, I doubt it will be in the condition of this car.  In addition, you have the rare original manual transmission, and a highly sought after Individual model with such an originally stunning contrasted two tone full leather interior.  Add the spare and outstandingly ULTRA rare and highly coveted BMW Style 86 Alloys, and I think you’d have a very tough job to find another car like this in Europe.  Outside of Europe, the E36 Compact wasn’t a popular model due to the relative cost of running larger petrol engines.  To get an idea of how rare this car is, I think there are very very few RHD models around, and once you filter out the cloth interiors, auto boxes, intergalactic miles and unserviceable broken roofs which can cost £3,000.00+ to fix; finding a mint high spec individual model seems an impossibility: because it almost is!

The only other example of this model I am aware of in such original and exceptional condition is in BMW Wel Am Olympiapark 1, 80809 München
Gebäudeöffnung.  This is BMW’s Munich museum.  BMW’s model is not available for sale.

I will not ship outside the UK, so you will have to collect this car personally.  Please get in touch if you have a serious interest in this car.  I am an avid BMW Enthusiast and not a car trader.

It’s not just a rare car, and whilst I’m not a great fan of the standard compact in any iteration, I think this car is ridiculously cool, which is what makes it such an interestingly desirable car.  It’s definitely a little car to watch for the future – if you are patient enough, I could see this car commanding big money in time.  The classic car market is changing – today it’s about paying as much as you’re prepared to to get your hands on it right away, and I can see this getting snapped up quickly.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone, so be quick!

Viewing is strictly by appointment only.  My email address is 53039e@gmail.com.  Get in touch if you are interested.  Thanks.

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  1. matthew · August 29, 2016

    Hi i have the same car just wondered best place to advertise sell etc thanks


    • 53039e · August 29, 2016


      Here if you want. Not sure what the traffic is. I sold this car to my best friend so it is still alive. Just attach a photo in comments and a contact so that anyone interested can reply.


  2. Robert · September 3, 2016

    What became of the Style 86 wheels? I’ve been looking for a set for quite some time now.


    • 53039e · September 3, 2016

      I still have them. Am planning to have a 3 piece rim fabricated so it fits into my E39. If it doesn’t then they will be available, but I’ll be updating my plans on BMW 5 series owners board.

      I have never seen another set available.


  3. Robert · September 3, 2016

    Thanks for the update on the Style 86. I’m not on the 5 Series Boards, but I’m following this thread just in case an opportunity to buy presents itself.


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