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      01-11-2014, 12:06 PM   #1
pj.rodriguez
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E30 325e or E36 M3 or E46 M3?

Need some input. I am fairly new to the BMW world and I need some pros and cons for each of those cars.

I found some good prices online to buy any one of these three vehicles. I know an M3 is something to be excited about but this 1985 E30 looks so nice and appeals to me!

Let me know what everyone thinks. What are some issues with these cars?

Thanks!
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      01-11-2014, 12:34 PM   #2
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I've owned all of those. I would only go with the E30 if you plan on doing an M5x/S5x swap.

E36 M3: you will probably find the power lacking but it's a nice middle ground between the E30 and E46. It's still a very small, light car. It inspires huge confidence as it's highly controllable at all speeds. I had to supercharge mine to bring numbers closer to the Euro spec models, which makes the chassis and engine feel a little more in sync. Otherwise it's ALL chassis. This model is the easiest to work on, but a lot tends to go. Anything made of rubber needs to be addressed. VANOS is a typical issue. Cooling system needs to be replaced immediately. The list of fixes on my E36 is endless.

E46 M3: my favourite BMW, and honestly I wish I never sold mine. It seems to blend the best of everything into a great package. The S54 needs absolutely nothing and is an incredible engine. Unfortunately it's hard to find a clean one. Lots of "bros" bagging these cars. Cooling system, bushings, suspension, electronics are going to be an issue. Valve adjustment is recommended when you buy it. But it's a very rewarding car and I'd say the last truly mechanical M car.

For either the E46 or E36, budget an additional $5,000 to put away. Get your Inspection II done right off the bat if it isn't done. This allows you some flexibility when things start to go. Out of my E36, E46, and E92 it's the E46 M3 that I miss the most.
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      01-11-2014, 01:41 PM   #3
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I need to find a E36 M3 for a track car, damnit.
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      01-11-2014, 02:05 PM   #4
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E30

The 325e has a 121hp engine geared for low end torque and fuel economy. It can be made into an "i" w/o too much difficulty or cost. If its that nice you may not want to drive it in winter. Buy it, drive it for 5 years and sell it for same price you paid for it (again assuming its a gorgeous well maintained car). This spoken by me, he who owns a very nice E30.
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      01-12-2014, 08:56 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoirthernDancer
The 325e has a 121hp engine geared for low end torque and fuel economy. It can be made into an "i" w/o too much difficulty or cost. If its that nice you may not want to drive it in winter. Buy it, drive it for 5 years and sell it for same price you paid for it (again assuming its a gorgeous well maintained car). This spoken by me, he who owns a very nice E30.
Couldn't agree more. I got an 87 325IS, and it never seems to go out of style. It will be forever classic, and I hope to keep it as long as I can. Now E46 M3 are is also an excellent choice, as long as you can find one in decent shape. However if you choose any of these in a bad shape, you will be spending a lot in repair, unless DIY. If your going for the E30, look out for rust, and any leaks on the engine, and when the timing belt was done. Also let the car run in stand still for about 15 min to see if there is any heating issue. I would also recommend if you can find a E30 I or IS, they are lot more fun than the e.
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      01-12-2014, 10:22 AM   #6
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E46 M3. Neither of the other cars even comes close. Driven many E36 M3s, E46 M3s, have owned multiple 325e cars and still own my '87 iS. The E46 M3 has nearly 100bhp more than the E36, and has almost TRIPLE the power of that 325e.

If you choose an E46 M3 and it's an early production car, check to see if the rod bearings were replaced.
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      01-12-2014, 11:26 AM   #7
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      01-12-2014, 04:14 PM   #8
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I find the E36 M3 is the sweetspot.
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      01-13-2014, 01:38 PM   #9
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Anyone willing to post pictures of their own cars of these specific models?!
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      01-13-2014, 06:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pj.rodriguez View Post
Anyone willing to post pictures of their own cars of these specific models?!
Here's my E30. I've owned several, but this is the one I've owned the longest and the one I loved the most. I still say go with the E46 unless there are some sort of budget concerns. The E46 M3 is a sledge hammer, the E36 M3 is a framing hammer, and the '85 E30 325 doesn't even belong in the toolbox with the other two, assuming it's an 'ETA'.


Last edited by Kyle B; 01-13-2014 at 07:19 PM.
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      01-15-2014, 12:56 AM   #11
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E36 M3....anything after this model needs a weight loss program.
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      01-15-2014, 09:49 AM   #12
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There seems to be an even split in this forum.

After browsing more of the web in Canada, there's also an E36 318i "M" package that is being sold by the same guy selling the E30. But what turns me away about it is the M3 logo on the back... Here's the link if anyone wants to take a look.

http://toronto.kijiji.ca/c-cars-vehi...AdIdZ556153616
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      01-15-2014, 10:34 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pj.rodriguez View Post
There seems to be an even split in this forum.

After browsing more of the web in Canada, there's also an E36 318i "M" package that is being sold by the same guy selling the E30. But what turns me away about it is the M3 logo on the back... Here's the link if anyone wants to take a look.

http://toronto.kijiji.ca/c-cars-vehi...AdIdZ556153616
The E36 318i is a complete dog of a car.

Don't take this the wrong way, but I think you really need to look, touch, and drive some cars first. THEN narrow your focus to one or two specific models. You've compared an E30 325E, E36 318i, and two previous generation M3s. These cars are all completely different from one another. Comparing an E46 M3 to an E36 318i is like comparing Charlize Theron to Gabourey Sidibe. Sure, they're both actors, but....

Figure out what your budget is for a car. Then look at what BMWs fall in that budget. Do your research (common failures, common services, etc), and decide EXACTLY what one or two models you could live with. Then it becomes a well defined car search, and you'll be more likely to end up with something you'll be happy with.

I see your signature says you have an E88 128i...are you looking for something to replace it, or are you looking to add to the stable?
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      01-15-2014, 11:52 AM   #14
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E36 M gets my vote
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      01-15-2014, 01:52 PM   #15
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Quick picture but itll do

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      01-15-2014, 05:51 PM   #16
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^^^love it. That and LSB are hands down the best two colors for the E46 M3.
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      01-15-2014, 05:56 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle B View Post
The E36 318i is a complete dog of a car.

Don't take this the wrong way, but I think you really need to look, touch, and drive some cars first. THEN narrow your focus to one or two specific models. You've compared an E30 325E, E36 318i, and two previous generation M3s. These cars are all completely different from one another. Comparing an E46 M3 to an E36 318i is like comparing Charlize Theron to Gabourey Sidibe. Sure, they're both actors, but....

Figure out what your budget is for a car. Then look at what BMWs fall in that budget. Do your research (common failures, common services, etc), and decide EXACTLY what one or two models you could live with. Then it becomes a well defined car search, and you'll be more likely to end up with something you'll be happy with.

I see your signature says you have an E88 128i...are you looking for something to replace it, or are you looking to add to the stable?
I don't really know what my budget is. I would like to keep it below $11000 CAD, and I have seen some E46, E36 M3's go for that. I've also seen a bunch of E36 318i for less than $5000. Then again, I've also seen some E90 3-series for less than $8000 haha.

I'm just looking to get something that will take me back in time a little bit so I can experience what the Ultimate Driving Experience was back a couple generations ago. I'm not looking to replace the E88. I'm looking to add to the stable for sure.

I've been hooked on BMW and I'm ready to take a leap into a more historical BMW vehicle. When I save enough, I definitely want to take a leap into a 2002tii if I can find one. There's one for sale currently in the Roundel magazine from BMWCCA, but that's not for me just yet. I want to learn and learn some more.

Thanks for your input.
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      01-15-2014, 07:01 PM   #18
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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.

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      01-16-2014, 12:59 PM   #19
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So, browsing the web last night, I emailed someone about their 1991 318is, and he's trying to sell it to me for $10,500. What the heck? Is that even close? I swear the value for that car is less than $5000. He claims it's in great condition but he's just a reseller. Doesn't really know much about BMWs.

Anyway. Just wanted to throw that out there.
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      01-16-2014, 01:06 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pj.rodriguez View Post
So, browsing the web last night, I emailed someone about their 1991 318is, and he's trying to sell it to me for $10,500. What the heck? Is that even close? I swear the value for that car is less than $5000. He claims it's in great condition but he's just a reseller. Doesn't really know much about BMWs.

Anyway. Just wanted to throw that out there.
The only way I would pay that much for a 318iS is if it had 20,000 original miles and has a fresh profile gasket. When you talked to him was he wearing pajamas? Because he's dreaming.

Keep looking. Yes, the car is probably worth around 5K if it's your typical 318iS that has the mileage and battle scars of a 23+ year old car.

The E30 318iS is a decent car. A 325i, in any trim level, is better.
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      01-16-2014, 01:10 PM   #21
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Quote:
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The only way I would pay that much for a 318iS is if it had 20,000 original miles and has a fresh profile gasket. When you talked to him was he wearing pajamas? Because he's dreaming.

Keep looking. Yes, the car is probably worth around 5K if it's your typical 318iS that has the mileage and battle scars of a 23+ year old car.

The E30 318iS is a decent car. A 325i, in any trim level, is better.
Yeah. I know! I've seen E30 325i for much less. And it has 180000 miles on the 318is btw.

He's never gonna sell that car for $10500. He said he was offered $7000 "last week" but I think he was trying to convince me to buy it for $7000 haha.

There are a few 325i models to choose from. I'm just sorting through them now. A couple 325is models also.
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      01-16-2014, 01:19 PM   #22
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There are a few 325i models to choose from. I'm just sorting through them now. A couple 325is models also.
If you're dead set on an E30, I'd recommend you pick up the cleanest, best condition, best sorted 325i you can find. an iS would be nice, but you can just as easily build a regular 325i into a really nice car. The engines and transmissions are identical. Definitely get a manual transmission. My wife just pointed to this guy and said "I like that one, put that in there."
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