E46 BMW Social Directory E46 FAQ 3-Series Discussion Forums BMW Photo Gallery BMW 3-Series Technical Information E46 Fanatics - The Ultimate BMW Resource BMW Vendors General E46 Forum The Tire Rack's Tire Wheel Forum Forced Induction Forum The Off-Topic The E46 BMW Showroom For Sale, For Trade or Wanting to Buy

Welcome to the E46Fanatics forums. E46Fanatics is the premiere website for BMW 3 series owners around the world with interactive forums, a geographical enthusiast directory, photo galleries, and technical information for BMW enthusiasts.

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload content and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today!

If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact contact us.

Go Back   E46Fanatics > E46 BMW > General E46 Forum

General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 08-28-2014, 02:11 PM   #1
iamamused
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: CT
Posts: 5
My Ride: Xterra
E46: 325ci, 330ci, M3? Coupe or Convertible? Help!

Hi All -
New here and looking to get into (likely) an E46. This will be my 2nd "toy" car. I am leaning towards a convertible. I've been in the market for several months and I've been all over the place. With Miatas, XK8s, Boxsters, Z3s and Saabs making the list and getting test driven.

I thought I'd be OK with a 2 seater, but with a newborn I've decided a 4 seater will at least allow flexibility to take the family out or be a kiddo hauler in a pinch (i.e. daycare on the way to work). I also want a manual. With a budget of $10k or less, a usable backseat, a manual, and a vert - I keep coming back to BMW.

Anyway I'm looking for some advice.

Here's some background:
I want a car that's fun to drive and reasonably quick. My definition of "reasonable" is sub-7 sec 0 to 60 and more importantly ability to move from 60 to 80, as much of my commute is freeway. A firm, but not jarring ride would be ideal.

Would also like decent reliability or at the least easy enough to DIY on. This will be an extra car so it doesn't have to be corolla like reliable, but I'm not interested in a four wheel money pit with exotic parts. (It is nice that of all the cars I've looked into there are more E46 BMWs on the road with 200k+.)

I am also into modding and would like a foundation to work from. Nothing crazy, but over time I'd look to tune, utilize bolt ons, and suspension bits. The car will not be tracked, just a fun commute / weekend toy.

For reference, I had a manual 2005 C230 (1.8L supercharger ~200hp) and found it slow. Moved to a manual 2007 G35S, liked the power, but it was way more than I ever needed or used. Currently I drive a sensible 2010 Xterra that has been lightly modified (tune, intake, exhaust, IMS) is an Auto - and oddly I find it reasonably quick. (I think I like torque.)

So here's where I'm at:
I've been saving towards the toy for several months. (Currently at $7k, with a max target of $10-$12k) With that budget in mind, I'm looking for well taken care of cars with plenty of life left (ideally under 100k miles).

The $7k to $10k range puts me into the following:
  • Newer 325ci 'verts or coupes with less miles (some '04+)
  • Early 330ci 'verts or coupes (most in the '01 - '02 range, some '03+ cars)

The stretch range $12k+:
  • I've found a couple M3s in that range. Some coupes or 'verts. With reasonable miles on them.
  • Or moving to a 135i.

I plan on keeping this car for a while; ideally many years.

So here are my questions:
  • Which car has more support for modifications?
  • Which car would likely meet my requirements? Do 325 drivers wish they had a 330? 330 guys wish it was an M3? What if you add a couple upgrades?
  • How is the "culture" of the E46 and here? Oddly I really liked the Miata and XK8 board. Helpful folks, not really many "look at my loud exhaust threads".
  • If you were in the market for the same money what would you choose?
  • Or by some off chance if you have a recommendation for a 4-seater manual convertible that I've missed, please let me know.

Thanks!

Last edited by iamamused; 08-28-2014 at 02:14 PM.
iamamused is offline   Reply With Quote
Ads by Google

Guests, get your FREE E46Fanatics.com membership to remove this ad.
Old 08-28-2014, 02:17 PM   #2
ElrichMeister
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Santa Ana, SoCal
Posts: 408
My Ride: 06 325Ci M56
if range is around 10K i would look for a any 330i/Ci. If you can find ZHP 330 i would opt for that. Make sure it has some sort of vehicle history and get pre purchase inspection by a BMW tech.

Avoid:
Auto
32X
M3's in the Sub 13k
__________________
ElrichMeister is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2014, 02:46 PM   #3
BartenderPlease
OEM ///Member
 
BartenderPlease's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: FL
Posts: 9,324
My Ride: 328i Sport
You are going to want to be as close to an M3 as possible, if not an M3. If you got a 325 'vert you'd kick your own arse, especially if you drove a 330 afterwards. ZHP is nice, too. Nothing wrong with getting an M3 in the 13,000s range if it has the maintenance history. The deals are out there. Somebody just got very lucky and bought a supercharged e46 M3 for $13,000 on the forum and it was well maintained if my memory serves me right. It just needed to get GONE, and somebody got very lucky.
__________________
New Genuine Parts FS
328i DISA
E46 CCV

image
AERA Hi-Perf Engine Builder
| BBS | FK | Rogue Eng | K&N | Exhaust | 330i Brakes |
| b30 manifold | ported head | FX-R/Orion V4 | LEDs |
| Alcantara | Khoalty Knob | JL Audio |


BartenderPlease is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2014, 02:50 PM   #4
choxor
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 4,452
My Ride: JDM
If your stretch price is $12k and you want something reliable go ahead and drop the idea of an M3.
__________________
choxor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2014, 03:29 PM   #5
aarondb4
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Boise, ID
Posts: 393
My Ride: 2002 BMW 330CI Vert
Yep you are in prime 330 territory.

About the same position I was in. Looked at a lot of verts, decided a back seat was a must for hauling stuff and it provides a bit more room in the front as well.

I paid $8k for mine with 80k on it, put another $3k into maintenance and a few cosmetics, still have another $1500 or so to go on maintenance stuff.

Id go 330 if I were you. 12k should get you a low mileage very well maintained car, $10k will give you some left over money for maintenance issues that come up.

It may not quite meet your speed requirements. But I think your budget is too low for a quality M3. Go drive a 330 and see of it is quick enough for you.


Sent from BimmerApp mobile app
__________________
2002 BMW 330CI Convertible
aarondb4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2014, 03:45 PM   #6
riotrhythm
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 1
My Ride: '06 325Ci
I bought a 2006 325Ci for 12 and some change back in may with 41k miles. not very fast but fast enough to get you out of trouble and i love it! doesn't come close to the ZHP or the M3 though

Last edited by riotrhythm; 08-28-2014 at 03:45 PM.
riotrhythm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2014, 09:20 PM   #7
QuickSilver330ci
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 15
My Ride: 2001 330ci Coupe
On the coupe vs convertible part of the subject, take into account that a lot, if not most people who are going to mod a car are gonna go with a coupe. Most convertibles have been babied and not modded much if at all.
QuickSilver330ci is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2014, 09:31 PM   #8
QuickSilver330ci
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 15
My Ride: 2001 330ci Coupe
Btw, I bought my 2001 330Ci coupe for $6800 with 103000 miles. Its a great platform for mods and is tons of fun to drive. Mine is a daily toy! I catch hell from the guys at work because I work at a Chevy dealer! LOL
And I agree with BartenderPlease: if you buy a 325, you'll wish you'd bought a 330. The 330 has 230hp vs the 325's 195hp. Not a lot of difference you'd think, but enough to feel it in the seat of your pants. Now, if you can swing the M3, I would DEFINITELY go with that. 330's 230hp vs M3's 345hp. That's a whole Honda Civic worth of difference!
QuickSilver330ci is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2014, 09:40 PM   #9
ti317
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: S. Florida
Posts: 638
My Ride: 02 330ci coupe 5 spd
Quote:
Originally Posted by QuickSilver330ci View Post
Btw, I bought my 2001 330Ci coupe for $6800 with 103000 miles. Its a great platform for mods and is tons of fun to drive. Mine is a daily toy! I catch hell from the guys at work because I work at a Chevy dealer! LOL
And I agree with BartenderPlease: if you buy a 325, you'll wish you'd bought a 330. The 330 has 230hp vs the 325's 195hp. Not a lot of difference you'd think, but enough to feel it in the seat of your pants. Now, if you can swing the M3, I would DEFINITELY go with that. 330's 230hp vs M3's 345hp. That's a whole Honda Civic worth of difference!
One of my cars is a 2002 330 coupe but I am taken aback when OP says a G35S had too much power. That rules out the M3 and maybe ZHP or a strong running 330.

I think a Lexus IS250 would be more on the lines of what he is looking for.
__________________
Remember, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away!
ti317 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2014, 09:55 PM   #10
QuickSilver330ci
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 15
My Ride: 2001 330ci Coupe
Quote:
Originally Posted by ti317 View Post
One of my cars is a 2002 330 coupe but I am taken aback when OP says a G35S had too much power. That rules out the M3 and maybe ZHP or a strong running 330.

I think a Lexus IS250 would be more on the lines of what he is looking for.
I agree. If you thought a G35S was more than you needed, then you don't need an M3. The M3 has a little more than the G.
As for your question "Do the 330 guys wish they had an M3?"
In my case: YES! I haven't found a car that has too much power yet. I like fast cars. That's just my preference. I like to drive fast. I like taking my car to the Friday night drags here at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bottom line: If you thought the G was a little too much, you'll think the M3 is a lot too much.

Something else to think about***********: Yes you can get an M3 for $12k, but its probably not in great shape and probably has high mileage. If I were looking for an M3 I would be in the $15-18k range.

It's got nothing to do with the fact that I own a 330Ci, but I'd go with a 330 if I were you. Coupe vs. convertible is still up to you though. I love a convertible, but at the same time, if I'm gonna be driving fast, I like the idea of having a steel cage surrounding me. Also, I don't want to put up with a 10+ year old convertible top.

Last edited by QuickSilver330ci; 08-28-2014 at 09:57 PM.
QuickSilver330ci is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2014, 10:47 PM   #11
rbalazsi
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: AZ
Posts: 227
My Ride: 323iT, 330Cic
Quote:
Originally Posted by ti317 View Post
One of my cars is a 2002 330 coupe but I am taken aback when OP says a G35S had too much power. That rules out the M3 and maybe ZHP or a strong running 330.

I think a Lexus IS250 would be more on the lines of what he is looking for.
You're not going to see any real difference in acceleration for a 330Cic vs. a ZHP vert (both manual) as I doubt that 10HP is going to be noticeable and they both have the 3.07 diff.

For the OP, sounds like a 330 vert is what you're after, of course a test drive is in order to confirm, and if you can find a 2003.5 or later, you get a 6 speed manual vs. the 5 speed (6 has an overdrive; but the other gear ratios are essentially identical).
rbalazsi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2014, 10:59 PM   #12
GDubois
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: East coast
Posts: 1,167
My Ride: BMW
A well maintained 325 will obviously be a better car than a beat to hell 330. In your price, I'd go for the 3.0. Personally, I think my 325 has plenty of power in most situations; the 2.5 really isn't as bad as people make it seem.
__________________

Congratulations.
GDubois is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2014, 09:06 AM   #13
TRITONAL
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: WI
Posts: 68
My Ride: 330Ci, 325i
Quote:
Originally Posted by GDubois View Post
A well maintained 325 will obviously be a better car than a beat to hell 330. In your price, I'd go for the 3.0. Personally, I think my 325 has plenty of power in most situations; the 2.5 really isn't as bad as people make it seem.
I sometimes like driving my SOs 325i sedan over my 330Ci
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildirish317 View Post
The E46s are the Knights of the chessboard. They can outmaneuver the other, more powerful pieces on the board. They aren't the King or Queen of the garage, but they are the first piece that you want to move.
TRITONAL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2014, 09:20 AM   #14
iamamused
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: CT
Posts: 5
My Ride: Xterra
Guys, thanks for the advice! The comments have been quite helpful. Please keep 'em coming.

RE: My G35S comment. Let me clarify, it wasn't that the car had too much power for my comfort level - it was just more than I really used or enjoyed regularly.

Hell I likely would have bought the Miata had it had a backseat. Those things are fun! (Well like a scooter or a fat chick, fun till your friends see. I kid.)

It seems more based on my target budget that the 325 or the 330 would be best. Are these engines torquey? I always hear praise for the BMW straight 6s.

I did a quick and dirty analysis here...

My old G35 (which I thought was plenty quick):
- Weight: ~3500 lbs, HP: 306
- Power to weight, 11.5lbs per hp

My current Xterra (slightly modded, which I find acceptable)
- ~4400 lbs, HP: 275
- 16 lbs per hp

330ci Convertible:
- ~3600lbs, 225hp
- 16 lbs per hp

330ci coupe:
- ~3300lbs, 225hp
- 14.7 lbs per hp

My old C230 that I found slow:
- 3240lb, 189hp
- 17.14 lb per hp

325ci:
- 3200lbs, 184hp
- 17.39 lb per hp

Sooooo, the 330ci 'vert might be OK for me and the coupe should be quick enough. Throw in a few upgrades and a 330 should feel brisk enough for me. The 325ci will likely feel slow to me, even more so as a convertible.

Granted I'm not looking for a rocketship. If I was I'd buy a pony car and call it a day. I want a good all-rounder. Fun in the occassional corners, when I want good power its there, can pull family duty every so often - but most of its life will be a highway tourer to work. So a nice ride and decent mpg.

Side question on coupe vs. convertible... those with a converible, how are your blind spots with the top up and interior noise?

Last edited by iamamused; 08-29-2014 at 09:28 AM.
iamamused is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2014, 09:34 AM   #15
Mango
A full five stars, son
 
Mango's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Southern California
Posts: 22,802
My Ride: M54B30
Get a 330. Though if you want modding potential, good luck. Better looking at a 135i for that. If you can afford it, get what you want. If you want sensible yet fun and reasonably quick, 330 all day.
__________________
A lifetime free of problems if you follow my guides
Cooling | Maintenance | Suspension | Vacuum | Supreme Reliability | Details

OVER A MILLION VIEWS
Mango is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2014, 09:58 AM   #16
BaliDawg
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Riverside, CA
Posts: 557
My Ride: 325Ci 530i 750iL
One car you might consider is an E39. I know it's a four door, but with a kid on the way you may want that. I have two E46 coupes (2004 325Ci, 2004 325Ci w/ 3L motor) and an E39 (2002 530i), and I actually tend to drive the E39 more than the E46s because of it's smoothness, power, and awesome jetpower AC. I have never liked the looks of four door cars except the E39. It handles great, has plenty of highway power, and has a smoothness the E46s lack. Last month we drove from SoCal up to Yosemite and back. No question, the E39 was the choice. There are some 540i M-sport cars available with sub-100K mileage if you want that V8 power, 6-speed, and tight handling.

Just one guy's opinion...
BaliDawg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2014, 10:16 AM   #17
iamamused
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: CT
Posts: 5
My Ride: Xterra
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaliDawg View Post
One car you might consider is an E39. I know it's a four door, but with a kid on the way you may want that. I have two E46 coupes (2004 325Ci, 2004 325Ci w/ 3L motor) and an E39 (2002 530i), and I actually tend to drive the E39 more than the E46s because of it's smoothness, power, and awesome jetpower AC. I have never liked the looks of four door cars except the E39. It handles great, has plenty of highway power, and has a smoothness the E46s lack. Last month we drove from SoCal up to Yosemite and back. No question, the E39 was the choice. There are some 540i M-sport cars available with sub-100K mileage if you want that V8 power, 6-speed, and tight handling.

Just one guy's opinion...
Thanks, I'll look into it. But I figured this would be the 2nd toy. Wife and I already have sensible cars that can pull most of the family duty. I just want to be able to throw the kiddo in the back occassionally or do a weekend ride in it.

So some impracticality is the point. (I.E. convertible or a coupe.)
iamamused is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2014, 10:27 AM   #18
philliplong
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Norman, OK
Posts: 399
My Ride: 2002 325CI
Go for a 135i if you aren't in love with the e46 design. You will eventually get bored with how powerless it is after riding in a faster car and performance upgrades are pointless on the e46. I know the 135i is out of your price range but it may be worth the wait.

Sent from BimmerApp mobile app
__________________
philliplong is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2014, 10:29 AM   #19
philliplong
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Norman, OK
Posts: 399
My Ride: 2002 325CI
Or sell you "sensible car" and buy an m5, you could kill two birds with one stone.

Sent from BimmerApp mobile app
__________________
philliplong is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2014, 11:01 AM   #20
ti317
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: S. Florida
Posts: 638
My Ride: 02 330ci coupe 5 spd
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaliDawg View Post
One car you might consider is an E39. I know it's a four door, but with a kid on the way you may want that. I have two E46 coupes (2004 325Ci, 2004 325Ci w/ 3L motor) and an E39 (2002 530i), and I actually tend to drive the E39 more than the E46s because of it's smoothness, power, and awesome jetpower AC. I have never liked the looks of four door cars except the E39. It handles great, has plenty of highway power, and has a smoothness the E46s lack. Last month we drove from SoCal up to Yosemite and back. No question, the E39 was the choice. There are some 540i M-sport cars available with sub-100K mileage if you want that V8 power, 6-speed, and tight handling.

Just one guy's opinion...
I had a 540. It was an AWESOME highway car. Sport suspension and Bilstein HDs were the only mods.
The V8 can run into some very expensive maintenance and repairs with high mileage. I sold mine with a little less than 160k before I ran into the really expensive stuff.
Cooling system maintenance is even more critical with the V8. I got laughed at for changing my radiator at 60,000 miles. The laugher was looking for a used engine within 6 weeks.
__________________
Remember, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away!
ti317 is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Censor is ON





All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:53 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
(c) 1999 - 2011 performanceIX Inc - privacy policy - terms of use