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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!

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Old 07-07-2012, 09:34 PM   #41
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330 ZHP.... cough* cough*
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Old 07-07-2012, 09:38 PM   #42
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330 ZHP.... cough* cough*
find one for $4k and I show you a dead man.
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Old 07-07-2012, 10:01 PM   #43
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this OP is not smart. trying to squeeze an old imported car out of 4,000 dollars is retarded
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Old 07-07-2012, 10:04 PM   #44
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Very cool cars. I had one for a while. The odometer stopped at 230K long before I ever saw the car. It did 30+MPG everywhere it went (I used to keep track of mileage via GPS), and had some decent power for what it was. Big trunk, and even for an '85 it had a power sun roof, power mirrors, AC, OBC, etc. No M-Tech kit on that one though.

They definitely feel old and dated, but are tremendous fun to drive around in.
It's only a matter of time until I bring one home.
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Old 07-08-2012, 06:42 AM   #45
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I am in the market for a used car with a budget of $4000.00 and it will be my daily driver for the most part. For several weeks I have been researching the Porsche 944 as a possibility. However, I then noticed that some high mileage e46s were in my range as well. I have owned BMWs before and loved both of them (2000 Z3 2.8l and a 1990 535). I would like your advice. In my view, I realize with such a limited budget I am taking a risk on whatever car I purchase. In my thinking, however, a high mileage e46 seems like a lower risk than a Porsche 944. Is this correct? Do you have any further advice? I am also considering an e36 as well, but I am less interested in it compared to the other options.

To eliminate possible answers I am: 1. Not interested in cars other than these two (in other words, please do not suggest an older Miata or MR2 or something of the sort). 2. I will be doing some of my own maintenance but probably not all of it.
I'm a survivor of Porsche, BMW and Honda ownership. An old Porsche 944 will definitely cost a pile of money to maintain, and so will an old BMW. The Porsche will cost a bigger pile of money than a BMW. Most of the old rubber-centered Porsche clutches of that era have failed and been replaced years ago, but there is still a bunch of stuff to fail on a car that's nearly 30 years old. 944 timing belts are a 30k mile routine replacement item. The AC is marginal and appreciates frequent attention. Also consider that safety technology has advanced significantly since the 1980s, and that there are minivans that can beat a naturally aspirated 944 at the Stoplight Grand Prix. In the 944 you will have a 1980s supercar that handles wonderfully, and looks fast, but isn't particularly fast. (The 944 wasn't alone in that regard, the 1980s Corvette and Ferraris weren't awfully fast by today's standards.) The 944 Turbo is another story, it's decently fast, it has airbags and it has ABS, but maintenance costs enter yet another dimension.

Neither a $4000 Porsche nor a $4000 BMW will come anywhere close to the low operating costs and reliability of a 2003 Honda Civic.
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Old 07-08-2012, 07:00 AM   #46
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I'm a survivor of Porsche, BMW and Honda ownership. An old Porsche 944 will definitely cost a pile of money to maintain, and so will an old BMW. The Porsche will cost a bigger pile of money than a BMW. Most of the old rubber-centered Porsche clutches of that era have failed and been replaced years ago, but there is still a bunch of stuff to fail on a car that's nearly 30 years old. 944 timing belts are a 30k mile routine replacement item. The AC is marginal and appreciates frequent attention. Also consider that safety technology has advanced significantly since the 1980s, and that there are minivans that can beat a naturally aspirated 944 at the Stoplight Grand Prix. In the 944 you will have a 1980s supercar that handles wonderfully, and looks fast, but isn't particularly fast. (The 944 wasn't alone in that regard, the 1980s Corvette and Ferraris weren't awfully fast by today's standards.) The 944 Turbo is another story, it's decently fast, it has airbags and it has ABS, but maintenance costs enter yet another dimension.

Neither a $4000 Porsche nor a $4000 BMW will come anywhere close to the low operating costs and reliability of a 2003 Honda Civic.
Very helpful. I appreciate it. The problem is that the 2003 Civic can no longer be a daily driver. There are too many things that are on the verge of failing (transmission, electric motor, etc.) that if I fixed them, it would be well over $4000.00.

I know the maintenance costs are going to be expensive with the Porsche or a BMW. So I plan on within the first few weeks of ownership for whatever I get, I am going to assume no maintenance has been done (unless I am fortunate enough to find one with recent maintenance records).
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Old 07-08-2012, 07:17 AM   #47
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E46 all the way! I hate the 924, 944, 928, 968.... Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Porsche fanatic, but I just hated how they designed those front engine models!
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Old 07-08-2012, 07:27 AM   #48
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325es would also be a good bet for him. Decent torque, runs forever, and amazing fuel economy.
Ew no. 318is is a much more reliable and not much less fuel efficient (if at all). The M20 is a leaky dinosaur that needs valve adjustments, and the M42 was the first of modern BMW motor technology.
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Old 07-08-2012, 08:33 AM   #49
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E36.
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:15 AM   #50
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Like most are saying,I would go for an e36. Easy to work on and parts are nowhere near as expensive as the 944s. Some parts on the 944 cost as much as the same parts on a new porsche. To be honest, the 944 takes the twisties better than my 325ci but it is not as powerful. The 325 feels more connected for the driver. Also the porsche timing belt is a big -. I couldnt even find a mechanic that had the special tool to change it. Also if you try to launch it you will probably need a new clutch real soon. Ask me how I know. I will change the clutch in my 325 but not even attempt it in my 944. I love both cars but for that kind of money I would definatly get a e36 if I could do it over again. and I love my Porsche.
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:52 PM   #51
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Ew no. 318is is a much more reliable and not much less fuel efficient (if at all). The M20 is a leaky dinosaur that needs valve adjustments, and the M42 was the first of modern BMW motor technology.
All the reasons you listed for him to not get an M20 powered e30 are easily reasons why he should. Yes, it's older, yes it needs valve adjustments, does this make it a less desirable engine? Absolutely not. Parts are relatively inexpensive and the engine is very, very easy to work on. Great starting point for under $4k if you ask me.
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:07 PM   #52
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Very helpful. I appreciate it. The problem is that the 2003 Civic can no longer be a daily driver. There are too many things that are on the verge of failing (transmission, electric motor, etc.) that if I fixed them, it would be well over $4000.00.

I know the maintenance costs are going to be expensive with the Porsche or a BMW. So I plan on within the first few weeks of ownership for whatever I get, I am going to assume no maintenance has been done (unless I am fortunate enough to find one with recent maintenance records).
If you can't afford to properly maintain a Honda Civic, what makes you think you can afford to maintain a BMW or Porsche of any vintage? I understand the desire for such a car, but when money is tight you've just got to do the smart thing, not the fun thing.
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:37 PM   #53
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If you can't afford to properly maintain a Honda Civic, what makes you think you can afford to maintain a BMW or Porsche of any vintage? I understand the desire for such a car, but when money is tight you've just got to do the smart thing, not the fun thing.
Because there is a difference between replacing the transmission, and the electric motor of a Honda Civic Hybrid at the same time, than periodically replacing expensive components on a BMW/Porsche. Sure, I could buy a BMW or a Porsche and have something go bad within the first month which will cost gobs of money. But for the budget I have, I am taking a risk on anything I purchase.
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Old 07-08-2012, 03:54 PM   #54
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I just bought a $6k 2000 323i and within the first 3 months I spent $500 so far and I'm not even 1/4 done yet. The problem with low end E46's is they are usually ragged out by previous owners and you are left replacing nearly everything on the whole damn car. Trust me, my car needs another $2500 to be in the shape I consider decent and that's without doing some body work too! Take everybody's suggestion here and either buy a cheap E36 or get something else. I had the same mindset as you when I bought mine... I can go about replacing everything one at a time. However within the first three months the car needs new tires, control arms, tie rods, pulleys and belts, window regulator, rear suspension bushings, new shocks/struts and when I bought the car it really only needed new tires and control arms. Everything else has popped up since buying the car. Of course I can't blame the car because it has 142k miles on it and all of what is listed is typical old car stuff, but it will get expensive. Trust me.

How much longer can you drive the Honda in it's current condition? Might be best to drive it as long as possible and save up more cash to get the car you really want. I don't like E36's at all but they would be a better choice than the E46 or a Porsche.
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Old 07-08-2012, 04:09 PM   #55
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For $4000 any 944 you will get will be complete crap, non-turbo, and I really can't see what that car has going for it other than a name. Not even a real Porsche engine.

Your answer is the E36. Plenty you can find for that budget that are still good looking, well maintained, and decently reliable. They are also plentiful in the junkyards.

Option 3, drive the civic hybrid a bit longer and save up for something better altogether.
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Old 07-08-2012, 04:23 PM   #56
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Seems you only want a car for the emblem on the hood!
Cristal dreams with a Bud Light budget!
I hope you find a decent car but with a $4,000 budget your asking for problems.
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Old 07-08-2012, 07:11 PM   #57
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I just bought a $6k 2000 323i and within the first 3 months I spent $500 so far and I'm not even 1/4 done yet. The problem with low end E46's is they are usually ragged out by previous owners and you are left replacing nearly everything on the whole damn car. Trust me, my car needs another $2500 to be in the shape I consider decent and that's without doing some body work too! Take everybody's suggestion here and either buy a cheap E36 or get something else. I had the same mindset as you when I bought mine... I can go about replacing everything one at a time. However within the first three months the car needs new tires, control arms, tie rods, pulleys and belts, window regulator, rear suspension bushings, new shocks/struts and when I bought the car it really only needed new tires and control arms. Everything else has popped up since buying the car. Of course I can't blame the car because it has 142k miles on it and all of what is listed is typical old car stuff, but it will get expensive. Trust me.

How much longer can you drive the Honda in it's current condition? Might be best to drive it as long as possible and save up more cash to get the car you really want. I don't like E36's at all but they would be a better choice than the E46 or a Porsche.
I guess I should have explained my circumstance in a little more detail. At the end of August, I will begin driving to a new job and I must have reliable transportation. As for the Civic, I think it is a ticking time bomb and could leave me stranded. On the other hand, it might run for several more months if it is not a dd. What I had planned on doing is buying a Porsche/BMW and I figured that between the Civic and the Porsche/BMW, I would have transportation.
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Old 07-08-2012, 07:25 PM   #58
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If that's the case I would go for a E36. An Autotrader search in my area brings up quite a few nice ones that have looked to of been well maintained. It's rare to see a Honda owner have issues with their cars, but I've never seen a car that was perfect - including brand new ones!
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Old 07-08-2012, 07:26 PM   #59
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If you need reliable transportation quick on that budget, I'm afraid BMW probably isn't for you... You might need to pick up another Civic.
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Old 07-08-2012, 07:28 PM   #60
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^ I was thinking the same, but the OP seems pretty dead set on a BMW. If you decide to go another route and get something cheaper to maintain, check out '98-'02 Honda Accords and '97-'01 Toyota Camry's. I had a '00 Camry and all it ever needed was oil changes and tires. Best car I ever owned as far as reliability and maintenance goes, and you can definitely score either for around $4k. I prefer the way the Accord's drive though.
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