The first BMW hatchback since the 2002 Touring was phased out in 1974, the original 3 Series Compact (E36/5) came out in 1993. The precursor to the 1 Series certainly doesn’t rank high on enthusiast lists , but it’s a BMW nonetheless and therefore worthy of our attention. A new video highlights a first-generation model assembled in 1999, making it one of the last built since the E46/5 was released a year later.

The 24-year-old 316 Compact with an automatic transmission needed meticulous care inside and luckily it received exactly what the doctor ordered. To say the little sedan had been neglected would be an understatement judging by the amount of trash lying on the floor.

Nearly a quarter century of use has taken its toll on the interior, but the 3 Series Compact’s cabin could have been much worse all told. Still, there was a lot of dirt that needed to be removed before even thoroughly cleaning the icky upholstery. Although it’s a BMW on the small side, it’s taken a while to rejuvenate this interior if this time-lapse video is any indication.

E36 BMW 3 Series Compact 3 830x528

The end result is like a time machine that takes us back to the late 1990s when the car rolled off the assembly line. The relatively basic dashboard from the pre-touchscreen era is a breath of fresh air and a reminder of simpler times.

With this little green machine being a newer model, that means the 316i has the larger 1.9-litre version of the M43 engine instead of the original 1.6-litre. It produced 103 horsepower and 122 pound-feet (165 Newton-meters) of torque at the time. That was enough for a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) run in 11.9 seconds and a top speed of 118 mph (190 km/h).

Fun fact – you get a bit more power and an extra 18 lb-ft (24 Nm) of torque in today’s equivalent, the 116i hatchback. Its modern counterpart is about a second faster in the sprint and has a slightly higher top speed while being significantly taller, heavier, more sophisticated and with a front-wheel-drive platform.

Source: Vermijl car detail / YouTube


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