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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 03-26-2012, 04:22 PM
wnaegeli449 wnaegeli449 is offline
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Location: Long Island
 
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Mein Auto: Jeep Wrangler
M3 vs 330ci vs 540i vs 335i

Hello all

I am currently a senior in high school getting ready to attend my first year at Cornell university. right now my daily driver is a 1995 lifted jeep wrangler which i absolutely love but am selling shortly. i am looking for a new car that is more convenient than my jeep (i get 8 mpg) to travel back and forth to college in and to do some light driving when at campus. i have always loved BMW's and my next car will 100% be a bimmer. since i was young i have always been fascinated with the e46 m3 but lately i have been a little turned off due to the high maintenance costs. this is why i have started to look at many other BMW models such as 335i, 330Ci zhp package, and 540i m sport package. I am majoring in mechanical engineering at Cornell university and i have a good amount of experience working with engines from working on motorcycles, atvs and vintage cars with my dad. my price range is anywhere from 16k-26k at tops. i am looking for relatively low mileage cars, nothing more than 60,000 miles and i will only buy a manual car i just wanted to get some advice on which car would be the best for me.
if anyone could help me out with more info on the maintenance costs associated with these cars and any other advice i would greatly appreciate it.
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  #2  
Old 03-26-2012, 04:27 PM
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av98 av98 is offline
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My vote is ZHP but I'm biased
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  #3  
Old 03-26-2012, 05:16 PM
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MalibuMafiaV MalibuMafiaV is offline
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Mein Auto: E60 M5 & Stage 3 Audi S4
if your able to spend 26k. Save 4k more and get a E60 M5. Although in that range you could pick up a REALLY nice E46 M3. If I had that much cash to just spend on a car right now and wasn't able to save for my a M5. I'd buy a salvage title E46 M3 for like 10k and than probably build a stage 3 or 4 turbo kit on it to get about 1000hp.
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  #4  
Old 03-26-2012, 05:50 PM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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The bottom line is:


























They`re ALL too expensive for a struggling college student. Save your dough....you`ll need it to spend on all those hot college chicks you`re gonna meet up there....
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  #5  
Old 03-26-2012, 05:56 PM
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charlesberry charlesberry is offline
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Mein Auto: E46 E89 F30(Msport)
I vote for the 330 ZHP. What a great car, and you can maintain it and fix it with basic hand tools!! Could I go get a new 335i, sure, but I can't repair and maintain it like the E46. My car has 161,000 miles and everything WORKS!! I owe a huge debt to the guys hanging around here. Free tech support, the E46 guys can tell ya how to break these cars down, and screw em back together. You won't get that if you go with another model. But in the end............................................Bob 's correct. ^^^^^^^^^
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  #6  
Old 03-26-2012, 06:00 PM
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SJBimmer SJBimmer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by av98 View Post
My vote is ZHP but I'm biased

I would agree with this. It's pretty much the sweet spot, and the maintenance will be much cheaper than an M car.

Last edited by SJBimmer; 03-26-2012 at 06:01 PM.
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  #7  
Old 03-26-2012, 06:39 PM
nfsplayer2 nfsplayer2 is offline
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you can grab 325i 2001-2004 for around 10k.

And save rest of the money for college expenses.
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  #8  
Old 03-26-2012, 10:20 PM
JBimmer92 JBimmer92 is offline
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330...but that's my biased opinion lol

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  #9  
Old 03-27-2012, 04:17 AM
Germane Riposte Germane Riposte is offline
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An E39 540i isn't too terrible to wrench on (a friend of mine owned one), but parts can be more expensive than a non-M E46. As charlesberry has already mentioned, an E9x 335i isn't DIY-friendly.

Find a really nice E46 330 ZHP, and with the extra $$$ budget a minimum of $1K/yr for maintenance & repairs. I've spent closer to $1.5K/yr in the two years I've owned my wagon, but that should taper off a bit. I think it will settle down to the Wiki figure of $1K.

This also assumes you'll have a suitable place to work on your car. You don't want to have to change a water pump in the dead of winter in a parking lot - been there, done that while at school. Not fun!
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  #10  
Old 03-27-2012, 04:50 AM
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cwsqbm cwsqbm is offline
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If dad is paying for the car and college, get the 335i. Otherwise, stop looking at BMWs until after you graduate, have a real job, a home of your own, and some savings. Trust us older folk - we've been there, done that.
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  #11  
Old 03-27-2012, 06:51 AM
drrpm drrpm is offline
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Its an old fashioned idea, but you don't need a car in college. Your parents drop you off at the beginning of the semester and pick you up at the end. In between you walk or maybe ride a bike. Hopefully you'll graduate in 4 years and you can buy a car when you get a job. If you're lucky maybe your parents will give you the car as a graduation present. Either way you'll have a newer, better car at the end. Option #1 is what I got. I have to admit that I did let my oldest daughter take a car to college. Its a 2008 Honda Civic sedan, which is a good choice for a young adult.
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  #12  
Old 03-27-2012, 01:14 PM
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jvr826 jvr826 is offline
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Ever been to Ithaca, NY in the winter? Not much walkin' or bikin' going on.

ZHP + proper winter tires (get a separate set of wheels with narrower 225/45/17 tires on them) will get you through. Just make sure it has a strong cooling system and bum warmers.
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  #13  
Old 03-28-2012, 10:05 AM
drrpm drrpm is offline
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No, I've never been to Ithaca, NY in the winter. I went to college in central Wisconsin during some of the coldest and snowiest winters ever. If it was possible for us to walk to class and town then its still possible today.
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  #14  
Old 03-28-2012, 10:32 AM
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Coconutpete Coconutpete is offline
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Besides the fact that any of the 4 cars suggested is not a very friendly car for a student on a budget you really need to ask yourself first:

"do I want 2 doors or 4?"
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“They are” should always be able to replace “they're.”

Extra credit: It's "I'm looking for an M3" not "I'm looking for a M3".
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  #15  
Old 03-28-2012, 11:35 AM
Nervous Nervous is offline
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Who pays for insurance? Insurance for teenager on bmw (esp M) will be WAY too high.
Who pays for gas? Most of the cars you listed like to drink a lot of gas and gas is not going to become cheaper any time soon.
Who pays for maintenance and repairs? You'll need plenty of [preventative] repairs (if buy bmw). Even if DIY - tools and parts are pretty expensive.

As a father I'd never buy my late-teenage son anything like 540, 330, M or 335: I still love him and want him to stay alive. The car will be beaten a lot and it should be safe, slow, big and cheap to fix.
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  #16  
Old 03-28-2012, 11:39 AM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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Originally Posted by Nervous View Post
. The car will be beaten a lot and it should be safe, slow, big and cheap to fix.
In other words, a Camry....
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  #17  
Old 03-28-2012, 11:43 AM
Nervous Nervous is offline
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Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
In other words, a Camry....
Yes, if you want. Camry or Accord are the perfect choice for the student car from price, safety, reliability points of view.
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  #18  
Old 03-28-2012, 12:06 PM
NoGuts NoGuts is offline
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Originally Posted by Nervous View Post
... The car will be beaten a lot and it should be safe, slow, big and cheap to fix.
Don't forget the vomit/food/liquid/sauce seat to a point of "i don't give a sh!t" factor into the said car. It's not just you that goes to collage, the car has a collage life too.
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  #19  
Old 03-28-2012, 12:10 PM
Nervous Nervous is offline
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Originally Posted by NoGuts View Post
Don't forget the vomit/food/liquid/sauce seat to a point of "i don't give a sh!t" factor into the said car. It's not just you that goes to collage, the car has a collage life too.
Ha-ha, very true!
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  #20  
Old 03-28-2012, 02:23 PM
TRIPLE_O TRIPLE_O is offline
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I go to school upstate and have been to Cornell a lot during the winter. I would recommend keeping the Jeep for school as well because those hills during the winter will be quite a challenge. Try to find a 330ci for about $12k and save the rest of the money to put towards repairs/mods.

*This is assuming that college tuition will not be an issue which it looks like it won't be*

^My .02
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  #21  
Old 03-28-2012, 02:33 PM
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Rocky_Charles4 Rocky_Charles4 is offline
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If you're a struggling college student buy a car you could maintain first. If you dont have m3 money and struggled to get it WHILE in college... Then its not for you.

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  #22  
Old 03-28-2012, 06:17 PM
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Chris90 Chris90 is offline
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Man, mechanical engineering school sure pays a lot more than when I did it! When I was in college most kids didn’t even have a car – now they’re all driving Lexuses and BMWs.

Cornell has crazy steep hills, I guess a BMW would be ok if you put Nokian snows on it or something.
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