2002s are great cars, but they rust like no car I've ever seen. Every person I've met that's owned a 2002 has told me it's a non-stop battle. I had someone give me a '74 2002tii, but it needed so much work (rust) that I gave it right back.
If you're looking for a blast from the past car, then maybe an E30 isn't a bad idea. From a rust standpoint, they're double-sided galvanized so it'll stave off rust a bit better than something earlier.
Clean E30s are getting more and more expensive by the day it seems. I used to buy clean, running 325Es for a grand or less. Now it seems like a grand gets you a rusted out, non-running project car. 11000CAD should get you one hell of an E30. Heck, half of that would at least get you a decent 325i. You could take the leftovers and repair and modify it.
The E36 is decent too, but I was never a fan. The build quality is nowhere near E30 or E46 levels, and I don't know that it's the blast from the past car that you'd be looking for. The E46 is still a pretty modern car IMO, even by todays standards. The E46 M3 is a monster of a car. It and the E30 are the two best M3s if you ask me.
If you do decide to go the E30 route, do yourself a favor and buy a 325i or a 325iS. It's the best of the bunch, other than the M3 of course. Feel free to PM me if you go that route, I can definitely offer some pointers and tell you what to look for.
Good luck with the car search.
Last edited by Kyle B; 01-15-2014 at 08:49 PM.