LS1-Powered 1991 BMW 318is is an Incredible Sleeper

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LS1-Powered 1991 BMW 318is

LS1 produces nearly three times the power of the stock BMW engine in a 2,600-pound German coupe.

While flipping through the automotive listings of Craigslist’s Los Angeles channel, we came across a 1991 BMW 318is that caught our eye and stole our hearts. This basic-looking BMW coupe has slightly bigger-than-original wheels and wide tires, but the key aspect of this 318is is what we can’t see. Under the hood of this early-90s BMW is an LS1 V8, surely making this lightweight coupe an incredible sleeper that will catch many people off guard.


This 1991 BMW 318is appears to be one of those Craigslist posts with a buyer who isn’t really all that interested in selling. There is only one picture which doesn’t show the most important aspect of the car and the details are as brief as possible.

“1991 BMW 318is
LS1 + T56 Swap
Complete Sikky Swap Kit and more
Pro Wiring harness
Work done by shop
SD plates

Looking to see if there is interest as I am prepping the car for sale.”

From that scant bit of information, we know that this small BMW coupe has an LS1 V8 engine that has been installed with a Sikky Swap Kit and a Pro Wiring harness. Unless there is a shop called “shop” in the LA area, the person who made this ad forgot to include the name of the shop. Maybe he or she was simply clarifying that they did not install the engine themselves.

In any case, the power from the LS1 is sent to the rear wheels by means of a T-56 manual transmission and there is a side of wide tires on what looks to be modern BMW wheels.

Ultimately, based on what we can see, this 1991 BMW 318is is super clean on the outside and it has a powerful American V8 that surely makes it a blast to drive in any situation.

LS1 in a 318

The 1991 BMW 318is with the original 4-cylinder engine had a curb weight of 2,600 pounds while packing 134 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. We don’t know what this LS1 came from, but we know that in stock form, your average LS1 is capable of around 350 horsepower and around 350 lb-ft of torque.  Those numbers represents a horsepower increase of roughly 160% and a torque increase of roughly 180% over stock, and while the LS1/T-56 combination surely weighs more than the stock BMW drivetrain, this car is likely well under 3,000 pounds.

Needless to say, a German-engineered coupe with 350 horsepower, 350 lb-ft of torque and a curb weight below 3,000 pounds must be mighty quick and with the LS1 taking so well to upgrades, this car could pack far more than stock Corvette power.

The only bad news is that this car has South Dakota plates, but it is being sold in Los Angeles. We would bet that this BMW 318is will not meet California emission standards, so the owner has the car registered in South Dakota, where he or she doesn’t need to worry about emission laws. This means that a buyer in California might have a hard time getting proper plates and emission clearance, but if you live in a non-emission state, this 1991 BMW 318is with LS1 power seems like an awesome daily driver.

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