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Old 06-04-2009, 08:59 AM
CT310 CT310 is offline
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Location: Santa Monica, CA
Join Date: Jun 2009
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Mein Auto: 2008 335i Sedan Sport Pkg
Originally Posted by ffej View Post
I guess that depends (E36M3 vs E46330) on what you're looking for from the car. Having driven both, extensively, I will say that the M3 is a much more engaging car to drive and the 330 is a much nicer car to drive. Both are fast/powerful enough to get you into trouble if you're not careful, but the M3 (stock for stock) turns and stops better than the 330 - if the shocks are still good and the bushings are intact.

At 70k miles, things begin to fail on all E36s - Check this list to see what to look for - I haven't looked through this thread in a while, so I'm not sure what's been covered and what hasn't.

I will say one thing, though, if the car has overheated, stay away. There is a likelihood that the headgasket is blown, which is a $2k job for a good independent mechanic, which isn't an absurd charge for a car as fun as the M3. What *can* happen with that, though, is a warped or cracked head, which means a full rebuild, which can cost upwards of $2k ALSO, including the cost of a used head.

That said, if the car checks out (M3) well from a pre-purchase inspection from a good independent mechanic, and you take care of hazards that (s)he may find, the car can serve you well for a long time. I know two people with almost 200,000 miles on their E36 M3s and know of several more with over 200k.

With the E46 you get a more modern build, an equally reliable engine and similar issues with the car as a whole as you'll find in the link above. If the cost to just get into the car (sale price) is close enough, the E46 might be a better option, simply because of the newness of the car.

Good luck
This is perfect for those of use looking to buy our first E36M3. Thank you!

Like other posts here, I was getting turned off of the purchase, given that I plan to track it and can't tell a water pump from an ice cream scooper. But, screw it! Gotta learn sometime.

If anyone has a good BMW mechanic in the Los Angeles area, please post. 1st post BTW; you guys know so much good sh**!
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