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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E36 (1991 - 1999)

E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 07-28-2013, 06:06 PM
GF235 GF235 is offline
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Recommendations for 16 y.o's first 3 series

My 16 year old son has been helping me with major repairs and improvements on my 2001 540, keeping it a great car for road and autocross. Being 16, and becoming a 'bimmerhead', he is now ready for his first car and has been saving and researching for a manual E36 3 series. That said, we’re looking for any recommendations on what he should be targeting that fits in a budget around $3K.
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  #2  
Old 07-28-2013, 06:23 PM
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FenderBender FenderBender is offline
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Re: Recommendations for 16 y.o's first 3 series

Get any of the I6 E36s, they're pretty much all the same.

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  #3  
Old 07-28-2013, 07:21 PM
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If you go OBD1 you will be better off, IMO. The M52 torque is nice n all but the simplicity is nicer, especially for a first car. Sounds like he's pretty smart when it comes to wrenching, which is good because a used E36 tends to be a maintenance whore.

Make sure he does all his reading up on the common problems, and the big problems such as the rear subframe tearing out. For 3k, you're looking at 150-180k miles, should be relatively rust free. Make sure it is rust free or very close to it, being uni body cars any rust underneath can be bad news bears (especially on the jacking points). Looking on bf.c for an enthusiast owned car is a good place to look, they tend to take good care of their cars. Of course, you may be hard pressed to find a well maintained car for sub 3k
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  #4  
Old 07-28-2013, 07:45 PM
GF235 GF235 is offline
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Thanks, that's the feedback we need. For $3k we can handle typical component wear and R&R, but rust is another matter. I need to find the "what to expect" list here in the E36 forum. Would be ideal to find an enthusiast who wants to sell it to someone who cares, to make room for their new M3. Interesting note on the OBD1, simplicity does have an advantage.
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  #5  
Old 07-28-2013, 07:48 PM
Slowgan Slowgan is offline
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Recommendations for 16 y.o's first 3 series

I am 17 and I just bought a 95 325is. So far it's been pretty good. I have the manual version which I think is more fun and connects you to the car better. If you get one with a manual it could make him a better driver in the long run.


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  #6  
Old 07-28-2013, 09:25 PM
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southpark11235 southpark11235 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GF235 View Post
Thanks, that's the feedback we need. For $3k we can handle typical component wear and R&R, but rust is another matter. I need to find the "what to expect" list here in the E36 forum. Would be ideal to find an enthusiast who wants to sell it to someone who cares, to make room for their new M3. Interesting note on the OBD1, simplicity does have an advantage.
The list you are looking for is in the stickies. http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=533803
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  #7  
Old 07-28-2013, 10:10 PM
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Are OBDII E36s really significantly more difficult?, I would think that what with blue tooth devices to connect a smart phone instead of a special code reader you'd be better off.... until he decides to do an engine swap, at which point EWSII will need to be killed.

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  #8  
Old 07-29-2013, 02:41 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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  #9  
Old 07-29-2013, 10:50 AM
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I got my first car, a E36 325i right when I turned 17. You can find nice 325i's for around $3k.
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  #10  
Old 07-29-2013, 11:14 AM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is offline
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I'd go for a 323 or 328 if it were my kid. OBD2 is not a problem, and this car probably won't be getting tuned extensively anyway. I'd rather have the extra power. The '98 and '99 model years came with side airbags, which is probably a good idea for a new driver. Otherwise, just make sure you have whatever BMW you want to buy inspected before you take it home. Maintenance is super easy, but many (i.e. most) E36s have been neglected by their owners, so you tend to need to replace a lot of worn out parts right from the onset, which gets expensive (but is very reasonable if you do the work yourself). Once you get it squared away, they are cheap and reliable to keep on the road.
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  #11  
Old 07-29-2013, 07:38 PM
GF235 GF235 is offline
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Appreciate all the feedback and advice. It looks like for $3K we have some options and if we take our time sounds like we can set him up well. With all that he has done with me on the 540, he'll be able to tackle a 323/325 that needs some work but is safe/drivable in the interim. The E30's have definitely caught his attention at the autocross as well. I like the side airbags aspect of the 98/99 E36. Now just have to find the right deal.

Thanks
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  #12  
Old 07-29-2013, 08:29 PM
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If you're going to consider an obd2 car, 328 is the way to go. the 323's are choked up, he will be much better starting with a 328. better exhaust, little larger displacement, more powerful (but not substantially - a 328 was rated for 191 hp brand new).

I personally hate obd2, mostly because where i live any obd2 has to pass emissions and cant have any codes and i hate the secondary air pump cause it looks like a poop stain (same with the evap shyt), and then tuning sucks cause it has to be a reflash vs buying a chip. if you ever have a problem with EWS2 you'll hate yourself cause there really isnt a way to defeat it without INPA/DIS.

E30s are awesome cars, I had one as my first BMW. fun to sling around, they arent terribly fast but they are great in corners, not to mention easy to work on. The M20 will run with most of the sensors unplugged, and they're relatively cheap. But, then again they dont have VANOS and i do love me some VANOS...
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RIP Ben "Jever" Doebele, we wont forget you

Please, call me Chadley

1997 328iS... HR coilovers, Brembo F40 calipers, camber plates, it needs a CUMMINS!!

1990-somethin Chevy K3500... Cummins, cab swap, 5 speed, and lots of motor work. 20 MPG, 40 PSI, 507 ft/lbs torque
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  #13  
Old 07-29-2013, 09:48 PM
GF235 GF235 is offline
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Have been eyeballing a 328 Sport this evening w/ relatively low mileage (140K), though definitely can appreciate the OBD2 issues. Seems INPA/DIS needs to be part of the standard toolbox with those systems.

Will post a pix of what we ultimately pick up.
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  #14  
Old 07-29-2013, 11:31 PM
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Jakobie1086 Jakobie1086 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GF235 View Post
Have been eyeballing a 328 Sport this evening w/ relatively low mileage (140K), though definitely can appreciate the OBD2 issues. Seems INPA/DIS needs to be part of the standard toolbox with those systems.

Will post a pix of what we ultimately pick up.
My second car and my second BMW at 18 was a 328i with 173k. OBD2 isn't a big deal at all. Just have access and/or own a scan tool for check engine lights.
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