The BMW models covered in this manual include the 1989-98 BMW 3 Series and the 1996-98 Z3 models. The BMW 3 Series basic models include the 318, 323, 325, 328, and M3 vehicles. The BMW Z3 models include the Z3 1.9 and Z3 2.8 vehicles. Because BMW uses a series code to designate their basic body/chassis platform type, the combination of the model designations and the series codes results in the 318, 325 and M3 models being produced as both E30 and E36 series versions.
BMW began identifying their basic body/chassis platforms in the late 60's by a alpha-numeric code referred to as the series. This series code begins with the letter E and is followed by one or more numbers. The 1989-98 3 Series BMW models include both the E30 and E36 series body/chassis platforms. The 1996-98 Z3 BMW models were produced using the E36 series body/chassis platform.
Of the 1989-98 BMW 3 Series models covered in this manual, the 3 Series BMW models using the E30 series body/chassis platform were produced up to and including model year 1991, except for the 325i Convertible which continued to be produced on the E30 body/chassis platform for two more years. Beginning with model year 1992, BMW introduced the E36 series body/chassis platform, featuring a body styling with smoother body lines, creating a more sleek appearance and improved aerodynamics than the previous E30 body/chassis platforms. All 3 Series BMW models with exception of the 325i Convertible were produced using the E36 body/chassis platform at this time. The 325i Convertible entered production utilizing the E36 body/chassis platform two years later, beginning with model year 1994.
BMW uses model identifying characters to represent certain aspects of their vehicles. The following list is an explanation of these characters: