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3-Series (E36) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1992-1999. Autodoodad Specific models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318iS/ti, BMW 320, BMW 323, BMW 320, BMW 324, BMW 325, BMW 328.

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Old 08-24-2009, 07:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Angry Is my car German or American Spec

OK so I bought the car from some other military person who was leaving Germany. I have a BMW 318IS 1997. He said it was US Spec. A friend of mine says that most US spec cars have the VIN on the Dash. Mine is on the door. The car is in miles and not Kilometers. It has DOT stickers on the front driver windows. I am totally confused and pissed because if it's a German spec, means I cant bring it home with me in three months unless I convert it. Does anyone know how I can find out what my car is. I tried looking up the VIN but no success. I am thinking about calling BMW but don't even know where to start. PLEASE HELP!
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Old 08-24-2009, 08:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You should have no trouble getting the answer from BMW. A dealer can get you the right number to call.
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Old 08-24-2009, 08:48 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I am not sure if it will work there, but I contacted BMW (Australia) directly and asked them for the build information on the vehicle I was looking at and subsequently purchased. BMW has a system called sgate which basically tracks cars by their VIN through the manufacturing phase, so it will give you details on all the options and other build information, hopefully including the US spec information if appropriate. The other avenue that works in Australia, and I am don't know if the US has a similar policy, if you have owned and driven a vehicle overseas for a certain period (6 months from memory) you don't have the same importation restrictions put upon you. Possibly not relevant, but worth exploring.
Good luck.
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Old 08-24-2009, 08:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks guys.. will do my homework
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Did you try this VIN Decoder......just put in the last 7 digits & it will give you the info on your E36........specifically the Catalog Model......when I entered my vin, it stated that the Catalog Model was USA. I assume your steering wheel is on the left?


BMW VIN Decoder - By Mitsuhiko Kanekatsu


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Old 08-24-2009, 03:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Even if it were german spec the wheel would still be on the left side

I couldn't use the link because I am in Germany and I think only US IP's can use it

Last edited by FoxNova; 08-24-2009 at 03:33 PM. Reason: had to add info
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Old 08-24-2009, 04:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by FoxNova View Post
Even if it were german spec the wheel would still be on the left side

I couldn't use the link because I am in Germany and I think only US IP's can use it
Ok.....how about this link from Germany?



BMW Baureihenarchiv - BMW Vehicle Identification Number Decoder | bmwarchiv.de

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Old 08-24-2009, 05:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Give me the last 7 digits of the VIN and I'll give you an answer right away.
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Old 08-24-2009, 05:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Plastic or glass headlights?
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Old 08-24-2009, 10:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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US spec. Only US spec calibrates speedo in miles per hour. All others are kph. :-)

In any case, that it is a german spec with an MPH speedo, the necessary changes for conversion have already been made, and you should be ok :-) I don't remember anymore if there are other requirements but i do know the speedo is foremost.

You might also be able to verify if you open the hood. there should be at least 1 sticker/tag that says that the vehicle conforms to Federal or California specs, as the case may be.

Last edited by darkhorse737; 08-24-2009 at 11:05 PM.
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:49 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Last 7 of your VIN and you'll get your answer. I think you can check yourself at realoem.com
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Old 08-25-2009, 12:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Okay heres the deal with the VIN... I keep getting an "INVALID" on every site... the only site that actually gave me something with the last seven digits said this:

BM32
Katalysator: mit
Sichtschutz: nein
Lenkung: rechts
Getriebe: keine Angabe
Baureihe: E46/2
Ausführung: Europa
Bezeichnung: 323Ci
Motor: M52
Karosserie: Coupé
Produktionjahr: 08/1999
Werk: Regensburg


which is wayyyy wrong because thats not what my car is... and I know that for a fact lol. The headlights are plastic.... The front side windows have little stickers that says conforms to DOT.. which we all know is just in US... but the little sticker around the engine or hood that says conforms to california..blah blah blah is not there.. Hopefully if it were german then maybe it was converted already... But I still need to call BMW and find out what is going on.
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Old 08-25-2009, 05:48 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I'm telling you: post your VIN or PM it to me and I'll have it figured out for you in a matter of minutes.
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Old 08-26-2009, 07:11 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by FoxNova View Post
Okay heres the deal with the VIN... I keep getting an "INVALID" on every site... the only site that actually gave me something with the last seven digits said this:

BM32
Katalysator: mit
Sichtschutz: nein
Lenkung: rechts
Getriebe: keine Angabe
Baureihe: E46/2
Ausführung: Europa
Bezeichnung: 323Ci
Motor: M52
Karosserie: Coupé
Produktionjahr: 08/1999
Werk: Regensburg


which is wayyyy wrong because thats not what my car is... and I know that for a fact lol. The headlights are plastic.... The front side windows have little stickers that says conforms to DOT.. which we all know is just in US... but the little sticker around the engine or hood that says conforms to california..blah blah blah is not there.. Hopefully if it were german then maybe it was converted already... But I still need to call BMW and find out what is going on.
If it is of any help, that translate roughly to:

Catalyst with
Blinds: no
Steering: Right
Transmission: not available
Series: E46 / 2
Execution: Europe
Name: 323Ci
Engine: M52
Body: Coupe
Production Year: 08/1999
Work: Regensburg


All in all, what does an equivalent car of the same model cost in your hometown? It might be cheaper and a whole lot less trouble just to sell this one when you are heading home, and buy another one when you get there. Do the maths and see how it stacks up.

Last edited by brettski; 08-26-2009 at 07:14 AM. Reason: More to say
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Old 08-26-2009, 07:38 AM   #15 (permalink)
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^^ The thing is, her car is a 1997 318is, so that is why she's all like
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