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pjoa09
11-22-2009, 04:17 AM
I am 18 years old. I am not going to pay for one. Looking at around $10k for an E34. I have been researching on build quality and customer satisfaction but I always have mixed reviews. Pretty obviously, in this forum, people seem rather encouraging for BMW as a first car. However, general forums (yahoo,etc.) seem to consider BMW as a burden of some sort. I am looking for a car from which I could learn, enjoy, and don't seem as a potential danger. I have been considering 2001 Camrys and 2001 Accords in the same price range as well. But I really want a rear wheel drive car that looks decent especially after trying my friends e39. I have driven front wheel drive cars and they seem very boring compared to the e39. I am just wondering if general forum sites hold some truth when they claim BMW are unreliable, gas guzzlers, expensive to keep, and really if I would be better with a less focused Japanese car.
I will send it to a mechanic and I am looking at around $ 4,000 to fix it up.

I just cant ignore my passion for cars and look forward to an economic Japanese car without considering a car from a company with so much experience in building engines.
Just trying to balance passion with assumed logic. An advice would greatly help.

Wolf-Strong
11-22-2009, 01:11 PM
Quite a budget for a first car! How old are you?

Honestly, these are great cars as long as you are willing to put a little money into them every now and then. My best piece of advice is that for a first car, if you are still a teenage, I would get beater that you wouldn't be too worried if it got trashed. Truth be told, virtually every 'first car' is either sold quickly, wrecked, or trashed. Even if you are a responsible and take care of your car, odds are against you that it will get in a wreck. I say that from personal experiences; I took very good care of my first car, washing, waxing, and everything, but due to my lack of experience in driving, I wasn't able to respond correctly after an old man cut me off, wrecking my car. Now none of it was perceived as my fault, and never effected my insurance, but none the looking back now with knowing how to control a car better, I now know I can avoid that.

I say all this to prepare you because as the saying goes, '**** happens'. It's your first car; the one you should learn on. With all that said, the e34 is a great first car. It is relatively safe, has ABS (another regret I didn't have on my first car), and requires a little more maintenance than most other cars, which I consider a good thing. This let's you either learn how to work on it a bit (and these cars are stupidly easy to work on, even more-so than Honda and Toyota if you stick with a 525i/535i), or learn how to find a good, inexpensive tech very quickly. I would even recommend the e34 over e36 as it wont bring out the boy racer as much.

The key to all this will be learning how to look for one in good shape! Always remember, unless you REALLY know your stuff, take it to be inspected by a pro so you know what you are getting into. Believe me, these cars are old, and will always have their problems, so this will also provide you with ample barging power.

Tourburgring
11-22-2009, 03:18 PM
Before going too far down the E34 road, I'd recommend checking out the insurance cost. Not sure about where you live, but an 18 year-old in any BMW here in Ontario is mega-bucks **********wise.

$10k is a significant sum to spend on an E34 and you should be able to get a very nice reliable car for that sum. Unless you can find a verifiable low mileage car in excellent condition with an iron-clad Service history, I'd be inclined to pay less knowing that you will have work to do. At least then you will know exactly where you are.

Find a local BMW specialist that is trustworthy (BMW Club forums are an excellent source for this info) and whatever you find, pay for a pre-purchase inspection. It may cost you $150 but it is money well spent. If you can drive a stick-shift I would recommend finding a 5-Speed manual as the automatic's have a finite life and are costly to repair/replace.

E34's are GREAT cars, but you cannot expect Japanese-like reliability, regardless of how much you spend. These were complex cars in the early nineties and in particular the electronics are not on par with modern machinery. Having said that, the hassles are worth it for the pleasure and the driving experience these cars provide.

Good luck

Tourburgring
11-22-2009, 03:19 PM
Before going too far down the E34 road, I'd recommend checking out the insurance cost. Not sure about where you live, but an 18 year-old in any BMW here in Ontario costs mega-bucks for insurance.

$10k is a significant sum to spend on an E34 and you should be able to get a very nice reliable car for that sum. Unless you can find a verifiable low mileage car in excellent condition with an iron-clad Service history, I'd be inclined to pay less knowing that you will have work to do. At least then you will know exactly where you are.

Find a local BMW specialist that is trustworthy (BMW Club forums are an excellent source for this info) and whatever you find, pay for a pre-purchase inspection. It may cost you $150 but it is money well spent. If you can drive a stick-shift I would recommend finding a 5-Speed manual as the automatic's have a finite life and are costly to repair/replace.

E34's are GREAT cars, but you cannot expect Japanese-like reliability, regardless of how much you spend. These were complex cars in the early nineties and in particular the electronics are not on par with modern machinery. Having said that, the hassles are worth it for the pleasure and the driving experience these cars provide.

Good luck

pjoa09
11-23-2009, 04:08 AM
E34's are GREAT cars, but you cannot expect Japanese-like reliability, regardless of how much you spend. These were complex cars in the early nineties and in particular the electronics are not on par with modern machinery. Having said that, the hassles are worth it for the pleasure and the driving experience these cars provide.
Good luck


That sounds a little terrifying as I find many people glorifying Toyota and Honda's reliability. And my parent's camry(70k km, or about around 40k miles) had suspension issues after a 300 km(around 180 miles) journey and I dont know if thats whats expected. The reason why I am looking at the E34 is because I hope for a cheap and enjoyable piece of machinery that with a little of work, could keep up with todays Japanese car technology and have that exhilarating growl at 3,000 rpm. I am buying a 1996 model as well, I feel it would be worth the extra buck and I have given thought to an e39 but it just isnt a car I feel at 18 I should be looking for besides its massive array of toys is scary (has a first aid kit under the passenger seat, to me thats.. what on earth?)

If it does, then would $125 generally cover a month's maintenance? Or should I start looking for a 1996 corolla to wreck?

Thanks for both of the advices, they gave me more confidence in BMW as a first car. But where I live, Japanese cars are very common and if its considered to have 'legendary reliability'(as I have read in yahoo answers) and 'mechanically indestructible'(top gear car reviews) then that strikes as a little worry.

rdc
11-23-2009, 09:55 AM
A BMW is never cheap to maintain. Expect 2,000 a year or more for maintenance. Also, with your attitude, no offense, "that exhilarating growl at 3,000 rpm" your are expecting too much from an older car. At 18, you need a car to learn with, not be an "end all" car. Just the advice of a grandfather. :)

Edit: also check on insurance cost as the op noted. can be very expensive on any car depending on your individual circumstances.

pjoa09
11-24-2009, 04:35 AM
A BMW is never cheap to maintain. Expect 2,000 a year or more for maintenance. Also, with your attitude, no offense, "that exhilarating growl at 3,000 rpm" your are expecting too much from an older car. At 18, you need a car to learn with, not be an "end all" car. Just the advice of a grandfather. :)

Edit: also check on insurance cost as the op noted. can be very expensive on any car depending on your individual circumstances.

So I shouldn't be expecting the growl of an e39? Insurance isn't really an issue over here. And is that maintenance or repairs as well? I am just looking for a decent and fairly big rear wheel drive car. And this is all I can come up with.(I really don't like front wheel drive and I cant find a toyota club of any sort which is scary, like no one wants to spend time on their car) Is transmission going to be an issue at this age? I was thinking of manual transmission but I can only get a 1993 520i or a 1991 520i with a 1JZ turbo engine from a Toyota Supra and probably a Getrag transmission. Both don't have airbags so I don't really think I am getting one of those. This is quite a slippery slope.

Ok, here's the question. Should I really give up on getting an E34 and get myself an Accord 2001 for the same price? Maybe get a new 5 series when I can afford one? Because if maintaining it costs so much, that I realize I have spent so much I could buy a used 2004 Accord or E39, then I must be trying to own a classic while not even have owned a car. Which is reasonable only if I was in my twenties when this car was assembled and I had endured years of desire. What puts this car in front of an Accord for me is it's heritage, driving, and caring pleasure. If the lack of reliability outweighs the pleasure I might consider a dull Accord.

rdc
11-24-2009, 06:45 AM
the "growl" you are refering to depends on the model e34 you want. Most think the early 6 in the US 525i is so very slow with an automatic. Others like the later 535i or 540i with the 5 speed as the only e34 worth consideration. The later m50 6 with an automatic, like I have, has very little "growl" especially at low speed.

If I was buying an e34 for my son, I would consider a late model 525i with a 5 speed. The automatic tranys can fail-just search to see how many are converted to 5-speeds.

Any older car will simply require more maintenaince than a newer car. The e39 is becoming old enough to require more care. If you can afford (and want to spend the time) to keep up an older car, then go for it either the e34 or e39. In my case I can afford most any reasonably priced new car I want. However, L prefer to keep my e34 at a very high level of care.

E36 Phantom
11-25-2009, 01:46 AM
$10k for an E34 at this time is robbery - if you pay that much, the seller will be laughing all the way to the bank. Here's my recommendation, since it's your first car: Buy a 540i/6 for about $4000. It doesn't need to be a gem, just in decent condition. Save the rest for maintenance/repairs. BMWs are NOT expensive to own if you do your own work.

And no, forget the other boards. Most of them are just saying what their best friend's friend's great uncle twice removed's grandfather had happen and don't have any knowledge themselves.

pjoa09
11-25-2009, 02:35 AM
$10k for an E34 at this time is robbery - if you pay that much, the seller will be laughing all the way to the bank. Here's my recommendation, since it's your first car: Buy a 540i/6 for about $4000. It doesn't need to be a gem, just in decent condition. Save the rest for maintenance/repairs. BMWs are NOT expensive to own if you do your own work.

And no, forget the other boards. Most of them are just saying what their best friend's friend's great uncle twice removed's grandfather had happen and don't have any knowledge themselves.

Well the closest to that budget is BMW 316i E30 AT 1988 at USD 4,662. Expect the only 530i here to be over $35k. The cheapest E34 520i at just over $6,000 and 525i E39s ranging from 18k-35k. An average person who doesn't even go through a dealer asks for over $8,000 generally. Maybe its because getting a new 5 series costs around $120,000 here(Ive just realized its incredibly steep after converting it to US). I find it amazing how some have $500-$600 E34s. Though on the good side labor,food,and living is cheap.

I am expecting for total costs of ownership at around 2 years to touch $20k. Sounds steep to me but that's why I have backed off of a used 2003 E39 for around $25k. But the $10k E34s have 3rd party speakers and all that nice stuff so somewhat balances out I hope. And around 8,500 there is a Supra-engined 520i MT which appealed to my native teenage instincts immediately but I don't know who would repair it if something went wrong, and should go wrong.

So I am not sure if I should stick to a $10k budget for one but I fear if I go lower I might find myself doing a rebuild. Circumstances of developing country I suppose.

rdc
11-25-2009, 03:57 AM
Well the closest to that budget is BMW 316i E30 AT 1988 at USD 4,662. Expect the only 530i here to be over $35k. The cheapest E34 520i at just over $6,000 and 525i E39s ranging from 18k-35k. An average person who doesn't even go through a dealer asks for over $8,000 generally. Maybe its because getting a new 5 series costs around $120,000 here(Ive just realized its incredibly steep after converting it to US). I find it amazing how some have $500-$600 E34s. Though on the good side labor,food,and living is cheap.

I am expecting for total costs of ownership at around 2 years to touch $20k. Sounds steep to me but that's why I have backed off of a used 2003 E39 for around $25k. But the $10k E34s have 3rd party speakers and all that nice stuff so somewhat balances out I hope. And around 8,500 there is a Supra-engined 520i MT which appealed to my native teenage instincts immediately but I don't know who would repair it if something went wrong, and should go wrong.

So I am not sure if I should stick to a $10k budget for one but I fear if I go lower I might find myself doing a rebuild. Circumstances of developing country I suppose.

What country are you in? Many of us thought you were in the US. Also, do you have the skills/resources for doing most of your work?

pjoa09
11-25-2009, 07:22 AM
What country are you in? Many of us thought you were in the US. Also, do you have the skills/resources for doing most of your work?

Thailand, yeap, thats why I am interested in the E34. BMWs and Mercedes are by far the most popular brands here. Mercedes first but I dont like them really.

Tourburgring
11-25-2009, 07:45 AM
Given your location and vehicle choices for RWD cars, let me offer my personal experience over the years:

Japanese cars will generally be the most reliable and least cost to fix if they do go wrong. Cars built in the 1980's & early '90's do suffer from terminal body corrosion in many parts of the world (not sure about Thailand).
Mercedes-Benz cars built before 1993 are very well engineered and solidly built. For the most part they are very reliable (especially the Diesel models) and relatively easy to fix. Parts can be expensive although surprisingly M-B sometimes beat the aftermarket for the price of many items and they support the older vehicles very well. These cars are somewhat boring to drive however.
BMW's are by far the best RWD cars to drive and the 3-Series are probably the best of the breed for the enthusiast. 5-Series offer more comfort and room but are considerably more complex and harder (i.e. more expensive) to maintain.


If you are looking for a fun RWD first car that isn't too expensive to maintain, go for an E30 or E36 3-Series BMW. If reliability and low running costs are your priority, buy Japanese.

pjoa09
11-26-2009, 12:11 AM
Given your location and vehicle choices for RWD cars, let me offer my personal experience over the years:

Japanese cars will generally be the most reliable and least cost to fix if they do go wrong. Cars built in the 1980's & early '90's do suffer from terminal body corrosion in many parts of the world (not sure about Thailand).
Mercedes-Benz cars built before 1993 are very well engineered and solidly built. For the most part they are very reliable (especially the Diesel models) and relatively easy to fix. Parts can be expensive although surprisingly M-B sometimes beat the aftermarket for the price of many items and they support the older vehicles very well. These cars are somewhat boring to drive however.
BMW's are by far the best RWD cars to drive and the 3-Series are probably the best of the breed for the enthusiast. 5-Series offer more comfort and room but are considerably more complex and harder (i.e. more expensive) to maintain.


If you are looking for a fun RWD first car that isn't too expensive to maintain, go for an E30 or E36 3-Series BMW. If reliability and low running costs are your priority, buy Japanese.

Yeah, I don't like the E36 styling exactly. I like the E30 one, and they seem rather rusty now, I guess its down to:2002 Accord AT vs. 1995 525i AT:Logic vs. Passion:Reliability vs. Pleasure:Hate vs. Love:Discontent vs. Content.

I am presuming the amount of money I'd spend fixing it would roughly be $10k itself. Is that a good assumption? If its really anymore than $15k I think I should put Logic ahead.