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F30 / F31 / F32 / F33 (2012 - current)
The sixth generation 3 series, chassis code F30. 2013 model year 328i and 335i sedans now in production. Read the F30 frequently asked question thread for all your basic question and dive into all the details in the ultimate F30 information thread.

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  #1  
Old 02-22-2013, 10:27 PM
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Advice Needed: Older 3 Series For Fun (and eventually) Son Getting Learner's Permit

My job now requires a one hour drive each way in somewhat low traffic, reverse commute, over a beautiful bridge and through scenic highways.

As such, I'm thinking I could treat myself to a Coupe or a Convertible that could serve as my third car and a) be a lot of fun, b) keep miles off my leased F30, and c) be onboard as the car my son cuts his teeth on as he approaches his 15th birthday.

Since most of you have been through the E36 > E46 transitions, thought I'd ask the group to recommend what you'd think the 'perfect' older 3 Series would be for myself for the next two years and, ultimately, my son for his first three years.

Thanks.

BJ
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  #2  
Old 02-22-2013, 10:33 PM
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Perfect older 3 series
E46 m3 low km.... Stay away from SMG box (SMG = shxt m gearbox)
Or e46 325ci m sport pack ....low km...auto is fine
Or e86 m
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  #3  
Old 02-23-2013, 05:29 AM
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2003.5 - 2005 e46 330i ZHP (ZHP = performance package)

Few will argue that this is one of the best handling 3 series ever produced. It's also a great value. They made it in sedan and coupe form, not sure if they made a conv. Should be some good reviews on it floating around the web.

Edit: yes, they made a convertible

Go test drive one of these cars please!

Last edited by letuz; 02-23-2013 at 05:32 AM.
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  #4  
Old 02-23-2013, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by SilverX3 View Post
Perfect older 3 series
E46 m3 low km.... Stay away from SMG box (SMG = shxt m gearbox)
Or e46 325ci m sport pack ....low km...auto is fine
Or e86 m
I agree with you on the e46m, but it might be overkill for someone's first car- that is a lot of power for a 15/16 year old!
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  #5  
Old 02-23-2013, 06:32 AM
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So we're talking about these three as recommended candidates, yes?

BJ
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  #6  
Old 02-23-2013, 06:38 AM
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This car is for your son eventually? If so, stay away from the M3 unless you really don't like your son.
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  #7  
Old 02-23-2013, 06:49 AM
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I played with the idea of getting an E46 for our children. Instead I got a manual stripped down 2012 Civic. Less fun, more expensive, but less gas and hassles for a daily driver. I didn't want to bother with all the troubles of a 8yo+ car.... specially when my 6yo E90 already gives me some uncalled for issues. In the past I had numerous German 3rd cars... including three Scirocco 16v.... none was easy to keep on the road. Oh, BTW, you will be pleased to learn that the Honda is leased. That's what to do when you get 52% residual 1.99% interest rate after 48mo/60K miles.

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  #8  
Old 02-23-2013, 06:53 AM
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Boltjames, you ought to consider CPO 1 series. You can actually get a nice MT CPO 128i for less than $19k these days. At least you won't have to budget much for maintenance.

Here is one right by your hood > http://www.cars.com/go/search/detail...nal&listType=1

Last edited by bayoucity; 02-23-2013 at 07:01 AM.
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  #9  
Old 02-23-2013, 07:00 AM
Jamesonsviggen Jamesonsviggen is offline
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I would not want a new driver with rwd. The numbers are high that they will have an accident in the first couple of years.

A car for you is one thing, a car for a 17 year old is something different entirely.

With that in mind I would go for a late model '05 ish e46 330xi.
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  #10  
Old 02-23-2013, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Jamesonsviggen View Post
I would not want a new driver with rwd.
With ESP, it is a non-issue. But no RWD without ESP (even for me).
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  #11  
Old 02-23-2013, 07:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boltjaM3s View Post
My job now requires a one hour drive each way in somewhat low traffic, reverse commute, over a beautiful bridge and through scenic highways.

As such, I'm thinking I could treat myself to a Coupe or a Convertible that could serve as my third car and a) be a lot of fun, b) keep miles off my leased F30, and c) be onboard as the car my son cuts his teeth on as he approaches his 15th birthday.

Since most of you have been through the E36 > E46 transitions, thought I'd ask the group to recommend what you'd think the 'perfect' older 3 Series would be for myself for the next two years and, ultimately, my son for his first three years.

Thanks.

BJ
Funny, the Wife and I just had the same conversation about what are we going to do when our teen son gets his licence. I had the same thought about an E46 model, they seem reasonably priced, safe, not too expensive to insure and a good selection to choose. I am not sure I would go the convertible route for a teen as they are too flashy but the one thing I would consider is a manual trans. I read an article in USA Today few months back that talked about Stick shifts being safer for teen male drivers:

"Subjectively, participants report being more attentive while driving in manual transmission mode," the study concluded. "Objectively, participants drive safer in the manual transmission mode."

http://content.usatoday.com/communit...1#.USjfB6Wkqbw

I do not know what your price for the vehicle is but I seen this 2004 330ci manual with ZHP and Navigation in your neck of the wood (NJ):

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-s...gIndex=1&Log=0
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  #12  
Old 02-23-2013, 07:42 AM
Jamesonsviggen Jamesonsviggen is offline
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With ESP, it is a non-issue. But no RWD without ESP (even for me).
Agreed. But overall for a new driver I prefer understeer to oversteer.
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  #13  
Old 02-23-2013, 07:59 AM
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boltjaM3s boltjaM3s is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesonsviggen View Post
I would not want a new driver with rwd. The numbers are high that they will have an accident in the first couple of years.

A car for you is one thing, a car for a 17 year old is something different entirely.

With that in mind I would go for a late model '05 ish e46 330xi.
Yeah, that's the rub.

He'll be 15 in July '13 and learners-permit age in July '14, a highly restricted daytime licence in July '15 and on his own as an 18 year old in July '16.

So, for him, it'll be occasional weekend use, supervised, in a parking lot for Year 1 and on the roads for Year 2. Won't be able to take the car out on his own until Year 3, won't truly have complete freedom until Year 4.

For me, it'll be every-other-day midweek use for fun and to keep the mileage off the leased F30. As such, this car is 90% for my use, only 10% for his use, likely not going to be much of a car left by the time 2015 rolls around and he could do some serious damage anyway.

BJ
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  #14  
Old 02-23-2013, 08:03 AM
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This car is for your son eventually? If so, stay away from the M3 unless you really don't like your son.
LOL.

Is there a way to get an M3 de-tuned?

Let's say that since the car is mostly for me (Year 1 he's 15 and in parking lots, Year 2 he's on a learner's permit with me riding shotgun) is it not possible that by Year 3 I could bring the M3 Cabrio to a shop and have them do something to cut the power in half? If I eventually sell it I can remove the mod, no harm no foul.

BJ
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  #15  
Old 02-23-2013, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Saintor View Post
I played with the idea of getting an E46 for our children. Instead I got a manual stripped down 2012 Civic. Less fun, more expensive, but less gas and hassles for a daily driver. I didn't want to bother with all the troubles of a 8yo+ car.... specially when my 6yo E90 already gives me some uncalled for issues. In the past I had numerous German 3rd cars... including three Scirocco 16v.... none was easy to keep on the road. Oh, BTW, you will be pleased to learn that the Honda is leased. That's what to do when you get 52% residual 1.99% interest rate after 48mo/60K miles.

Good job on the lease.

Since over the course of the first 3 years this car will be used by myself 90%/80%/70% of the time as his NJ driving privileges increase slowly, I'm sort of the priority and I don't want to drive a Honda on the commute 2x a week. The primary reason for this 3rd car is to give dad some fun on sunny days and keep the mileage off the leased F30.

So I'm thinking that a nice, clean E46 Cabrio would make me happy and give him something to cut his teeth on in a parking lot (2013) and under a supervised dad-shotgun permit (2014). Where we go after that can change, perhaps then into a leased stripped Civic.

BJ
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by boltjaM3s View Post




So we're talking about these three as recommended candidates, yes?

BJ
These, two. The E46 ZHP coupe and 'vert were made for 2004 - 2006. As you know it is not uncommon for coupes and 'verts to be weekend, fun cars, so it should not be too difficult to find one in very good condition with fairly low miles. The ZHP has only a slight power bump, so it would still be suitable for your son and it totally maxes out the cool factor. In the early years of the E46 some automatic transmissions were prone to premature failure, but this issue does not plague the later models, so with 2004 - 2006 models you don't need to worry. One specific thing to watch and be aware of is the coolant tank/reservoir. It will almost certainly crack at some point. Preemptive replacement is highly recommended.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesonsviggen View Post
I would not want a new driver with rwd. The numbers are high that they will have an accident in the first couple of years.

A car for you is one thing, a car for a 17 year old is something different entirely.

With that in mind I would go for a late model '05 ish e46 330xi.
When I was a new driver, and probably you too, RWD was all there was.....except for the Oldsmobile Toronado. (yeah, I'm leaving out the Japanese cars, 'cause back then they didn't have much to offer.)
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:18 AM
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:24 AM
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When I was a new driver, and probably you too, RWD was all there was.....except for the Oldsmobile Toronado.


Do not forget the Cadillac Eldorado FWD too!
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:38 AM
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SARAFIL SARAFIL is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boltjaM3s View Post
LOL.

Is there a way to get an M3 de-tuned?

Let's say that since the car is mostly for me (Year 1 he's 15 and in parking lots, Year 2 he's on a learner's permit with me riding shotgun) is it not possible that by Year 3 I could bring the M3 Cabrio to a shop and have them do something to cut the power in half? If I eventually sell it I can remove the mod, no harm no foul.

BJ
It's not even the horsepower, it's the power delivery and sensitivity of the controls. That car is just not a great car for a new driver. Very sensitive throttle, a little jumpy, and then BAM a huge punch of power and he's got the back end of the car coming out. I certainly don't want to think of bad things happening to your son, but I do know that I've driven plenty of M3s over the years and even as a more experienced driver it still takes a higher degree of focus than a plain-jane E46 325i or 330i.
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:55 AM
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Do not forget the Cadillac Eldorado FWD too!
I had 2 FWD cars during that era. A Mini Cooper S and a Saab 93. The Saab had a 3 Cylinder, 2 Cycle engine (you had to put a can of oil in the gas tank each time you filled up) a 4 speed on the column and "freewheeling" which was a centrifugal clutch that decoupled the engine when you took your foot off the accelerator. The Saabs of that era were very popular in New England because the were very good in the snow. I would put a set of studded winter tires on and never worried about getting stuck.

CA
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by SARAFIL View Post
It's not even the horsepower, it's the power delivery and sensitivity of the controls. That car is just not a great car for a new driver. Very sensitive throttle, a little jumpy, and then BAM a huge punch of power and he's got the back end of the car coming out. I certainly don't want to think of bad things happening to your son, but I do know that I've driven plenty of M3s over the years and even as a more experienced driver it still takes a higher degree of focus than a plain-jane E46 325i or 330i.
Thanks, I'm going to take the M3 Cabrio off the list.

Looks like a ZHP then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
These, two. The E46 ZHP coupe and 'vert were made for 2004 - 2006. As you know it is not uncommon for coupes and 'verts to be weekend, fun cars, so it should not be too difficult to find one in very good condition with fairly low miles. The ZHP has only a slight power bump, so it would still be suitable for your son and it totally maxes out the cool factor. In the early years of the E46 some automatic transmissions were prone to premature failure, but this issue does not plague the later models, so with 2004 - 2006 models you don't need to worry. One specific thing to watch and be aware of is the coolant tank/reservoir. It will almost certainly crack at some point. Preemptive replacement is highly recommended.
Perfect. So I'll look for an '04-'06 ZHP Coupe or Cabrio, won't have any of the transmission issues. Any advice on options? Bluetooth even available back then? Does the ZHP have all the handling goodies that I'd want, or was there some additional ride/handling package that I should look out for? If this is my chance to get back to the 3 Series 'roots', don't want to blow it.

BJ
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:38 AM
Jamesonsviggen Jamesonsviggen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
These, two. The E46 ZHP coupe and 'vert were made for 2004 - 2006. As you know it is not uncommon for coupes and 'verts to be weekend, fun cars, so it should not be too difficult to find one in very good condition with fairly low miles. The ZHP has only a slight power bump, so it would still be suitable for your son and it totally maxes out the cool factor. In the early years of the E46 some automatic transmissions were prone to premature failure, but this issue does not plague the later models, so with 2004 - 2006 models you don't need to worry. One specific thing to watch and be aware of is the coolant tank/reservoir. It will almost certainly crack at some point. Preemptive replacement is highly recommended.



When I was a new driver, and probably you too, RWD was all there was.....except for the Oldsmobile Toronado. (yeah, I'm leaving out the Japanese cars, 'cause back then they didn't have much to offer.)
Lol, I started driving in '97. Most options I had were FWD. I bought a car at 16 but they would not let me drive it due to having v6 power. So I stole my own car for awhile to get out of our '84 Accord. I learned stick on my brothers '95 300zx which became mine in my early 20's. That was my first RWD experience.
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Old 02-23-2013, 10:06 AM
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boltjaM3s boltjaM3s is offline
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Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
When I was a new driver, and probably you too, RWD was all there was.....except for the Oldsmobile Toronado. (yeah, I'm leaving out the Japanese cars, 'cause back then they didn't have much to offer.)


My grandfather bought two Oldsmobile Toronado's simultaneously for himself and his son in 1966, one was harvest gold the other hunter green. I don't remember them (I was all of 2 years old) but I do remember them giving me a plastic showroom model which I played with until I was 10.

My uncle's next car was a 1968 Jaguar XKE, burgandy, which he sold for peanuts in 1975. Still hate him for that. Even though he's dead.

BJ
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Old 02-23-2013, 10:29 AM
Jamesonsviggen Jamesonsviggen is offline
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ZHPs can be a bit rare, but you have time to be a bit selective and hold out for the right car.
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Old 02-23-2013, 10:59 AM
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ZHP's are fantastic cars. My wife has an '04 that has been her daily driver. She just got a '13 335i M Sport. We cannot bear to part with the ZHP. She really likes the new one, but comments about how much fun the ZHP is to drive. Looks like it will be staying in the family for the forseable future.
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Last edited by X5 Tall Guy; 02-23-2013 at 11:04 AM.
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