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  #1  
Old 12-15-2004, 10:07 PM
gdhyde gdhyde is offline
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E36 M3 vs 330ci - Purchase Decision

Well, I've got it narrowed down to two cars now: a 99 M3 and a 01 330ci.

Here are the details:

99 M3
65.5K miles
manual
Options: dual power seats, sunroof, cruise control, m-contour wheels
cosmos black/black leather
CPO for 6 more months
Defects: 7mm remain on rear brakes, couple of scratches in plastic bumper strip (front and back), worn leather on driver's seat bolster, several faded scuffs on interior plastic surfaces
Work done between 99 and now: rear strut mounts, window regulators several times, front bushings, clutch, brake pads/rotors, front air damn (2 times), numerous other small repairs
Asking price: $25K (should be able to negotiate down to $21-22)

01 330ci
44K miles
manual
Options: all except ski sack, headlight washers (i.e. sport + prem pkg, heated seats, hk sound, etc.)
artic silver/black leather/wood trim
5 months warranty remaining
Defects: none -- basically showroom
Work done between 01 and now: steering retrofit for heavier steering feel, replacement of engine fan seimens->bosch
Price: $24K
NOTE: this is an original owner car, 60+ yr old male driven

Keep in mind that this car will be a daily driver so maintenance cost is a concern.

So let's hear it. Pro's and con's, thoughts, opinions... I'm all ears!

BTW, should I be concerned that the maintenance records for the M3 are about 2 inches thick. I think it had been serviced/repaired about 15-20 times in 5 years.
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  #2  
Old 12-16-2004, 06:18 AM
PhilH PhilH is offline
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Not to be a jerk, but there's a whole bunch of long, drawn out arguments over the E46 vs E36 M3 here. Brief summary...E36 M3: better road feel, more torque, E46: more luxury, more interior room, better interior, newer, almost as fast.

A few links to get you started...
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...ht=e36+m3+330i

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...ht=e36+m3+330i

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...ht=e36+m3+330i
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  #3  
Old 12-16-2004, 11:33 AM
Wallenrod Wallenrod is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilH
Not to be a jerk, but there's a whole bunch of long, drawn out arguments over the E46 vs E36 M3 here. Brief summary...E36 M3: better road feel, more torque, E46: more luxury, more interior room, better interior, newer, almost as fast.

A few links to get you started...
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...ht=e36+m3+330i

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...ht=e36+m3+330i

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...ht=e36+m3+330i
One small thing that I can add is structural rigidity. Just go over the bump, especially in a cornering situation. It's a night and day difference. Otherwise, E36 is a more involving car to drive. Depends on what one is looking for in a vehicle.
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  #4  
Old 12-17-2004, 02:07 AM
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Pinecone Pinecone is offline
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Also, at 65K miles the E36 is looking at a bunch of cooling system preventative maintenance. Water pump, thrmostat housing, and time to start thinking about the radiator.

OTOH the M3 is a much more fun car to drive than a standard 3 series non-M.
Personally I am biased, but I only own M cars.
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  #5  
Old 12-17-2004, 12:59 PM
Mika Mika is offline
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i had an '01 330ci, and drove a '95 m3 when mi padre still had it. i'd say go with the 330ci unless you enjoy inheriting other people's problems such as maintennace issues - which is what you'd be getting in the 99 m3. not to mention a dated interior and lack of distinction from other e36 non Ms.
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  #6  
Old 12-17-2004, 01:08 PM
TD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinecone
Also, at 65K miles the E36 is looking at a bunch of cooling system preventative maintenance. Water pump, thrmostat housing, and time to start thinking about the radiator.

OTOH the M3 is a much more fun car to drive than a standard 3 series non-M.
Personally I am biased, but I only own M cars.
And E46s have almost all of the same problems that plagued E36s. Maintenance issues are not a factor between these two, IMO.

Does anyone notice that no one ever asks-

'91 E30 M3 vs 1996 328is? They're both $14K. Pros/cons?

It's because we all know that the two cars are nothing alike, even though they are both 3-series that cost roughly the same amount of money.

The same thing applies here.

There is A LOT of difference between an E36 M3 and an E46 330. Maybe not as much as between an E30 M3 and an E36 328. But almost darn close.

They are two totally different cars. If you drive both, your question pretty much answers itself. Either you want the M3 (and are willing to tolerate any cons that come along with it) or you don't. It's really more about the M3 than anything else. How bad do you want it?
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  #7  
Old 12-17-2004, 01:15 PM
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Plaz Plaz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallenrod
One small thing that I can add is structural rigidity. Just go over the bump, especially in a cornering situation.
Shake, rattle, and roll?
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  #8  
Old 12-17-2004, 02:33 PM
TD330ci TD330ci is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plaz
Shake, rattle, and roll?

NO SH*T!! Esp in my convertable!!

But I still love it.

I had both as well and would buy either one again. It is really what you want.

It's all been said before.

sport/lux = M3

lux/sport = 330

Your choice.
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  #9  
Old 12-19-2004, 07:32 AM
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Pinecone Pinecone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TD
And E46s have almost all of the same problems that plagued E36s. Maintenance issues are not a factor between these two, IMO.

Does anyone notice that no one ever asks-

'91 E30 M3 vs 1996 328is? They're both $14K. Pros/cons?

It's because we all know that the two cars are nothing alike, even though they are both 3-series that cost roughly the same amount of money.

The same thing applies here.

There is A LOT of difference between an E36 M3 and an E46 330. Maybe not as much as between an E30 M3 and an E36 328. But almost darn close.

They are two totally different cars. If you drive both, your question pretty much answers itself. Either you want the M3 (and are willing to tolerate any cons that come along with it) or you don't. It's really more about the M3 than anything else. How bad do you want it?
Well, I own an E36 M3 (and have done some driving in a non-LTW 95). We test drove an E46 330Ci with Sport Suspension. There is no comparison. M cars are in a different league. If the choice was mine, I would get the E36 M3 in a HEARTBEAT.

As for the long term maintenance situation I have not seen the same info that they have the same problems as the E36 M3 had with water pumps and such.

But the big difference is the E36 M3 is right at the point of needing this maintenance, while the E46 has a ways to go. Also, if the E46 is CPOd or still in warranty (and you buy th eextended warrranty) you can get that work done for "free".

Lots of reasons back and forth. But when it comes to pure driving pleasure, the M cars win.
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  #10  
Old 12-19-2004, 07:34 AM
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Pinecone Pinecone is offline
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Oh, and E30 M3 versus E36 328, for a daily driver the E36 is better. More low end torque makes it much nicer to drive in traffic.

But I would buy the E30 M3. Know of any nice ones, preferably in red, for sale?
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  #11  
Old 12-19-2004, 08:07 AM
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BahnBaum BahnBaum is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinecone
But I would buy the E30 M3. Know of any nice ones, preferably in red, for sale?
Hmmm. Sounds like you want to be able to do this picture next 4th of July, only this time with each M car being yours....



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  #12  
Old 12-21-2005, 10:32 PM
Mike Moss Mike Moss is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallenrod
One small thing that I can add is structural rigidity. Just go over the bump, especially in a cornering situation. It's a night and day difference. Otherwise, E36 is a more involving car to drive. Depends on what one is looking for in a vehicle.
Are there any available chasis rigidity numbers that bear out this perceived increase in
solidity? I know this comparison has been beat to death, and I know this particular
thread is over a year old, but it's the only one that I've seen that mentions this "difference" in the chasis. I've read that the E36 is louder, rattles more, and
has a more viszeral feel. But after reading recent articles in Bimmer (#49 & 51), I
started to wonder. Bimmer Mag stated that anyone "adding horsepower or cornering
ability, should buy every chasis reinforcement sold..." It mentions everything from
front/rear subframes, front/rear sway bar mounts, and shock mounts as being potential
problem areas. Being that these cars are viewed as being very close performance
wise, though in different ways, this could be a deciding factor for me. I can appreciate
a more direct feel from the M3, but if I have to spend $2500 - 3000 (Bimmer's est)
just to bring it's chasis up to the quality of the 330's, then I had just as soon use that
money to buy the newer car. Since BMWs are just as much, if not more, about
handling than sheer power, the quality/rigidity of the chasis is of utmost importance.
I can handle not being able to take a Corvette in a straight line, but I can't handle tearing
loose suspension componetry while going through a good S-turn.

Any comments or info would be appreciated.

Amoss
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  #13  
Old 12-22-2005, 03:34 AM
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BahnBaum BahnBaum is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Moss
But after reading recent articles in Bimmer (#49 & 51), I
started to wonder. Bimmer Mag stated that.......
Personally, I'd be perfectly comfortable with an e36 m car. You're looking at freshening any suspension when it gets to be a certain age, so you're probably looking at doing it sooner with the e36 m3. For normal spirited driving, I'm not sure that subframe reinforcements are necessary, but if you felt it was necessary note that one of Turner's top selling items is their E46 rear subframe reinforcement kit.

My final point: one of the last sources that I'd place any trust in is Bimmer Magazine. They're notorious for providing inconsistent and sometimes just plain wrong information.


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  #14  
Old 12-22-2005, 05:15 AM
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Moderato Moderato is offline
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The E36 M3 comes with an LSD right? That will make a big difference in handling and fun to drive factor. The bottom line is if you enjoy DRIVING you're probably better off with the E36 M3. If you just like to have sporty ride but still want comfort, luxury, & probably more reliability then go for the 330.
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  #15  
Old 12-27-2005, 07:40 PM
DaKine DaKine is offline
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The E46 will love you longer than the M3

...but you will love the M3 much longer than the E46.

If you have some extra cash and time to burn on mantaining it, go with the M3.
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  #16  
Old 12-28-2005, 06:33 AM
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the_s_rabbit the_s_rabbit is offline
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It's been over a year and you haven't made up your mind?

sheesh
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  #17  
Old 12-28-2005, 07:17 AM
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Chris90 Chris90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Moss
Are there any available chasis rigidity numbers that bear out this perceived increase in
solidity? I know this comparison has been beat to death, and I know this particular
thread is over a year old, but it's the only one that I've seen that mentions this "difference" in the chasis. I've read that the E36 is louder, rattles more, and
has a more viszeral feel. But after reading recent articles in Bimmer (#49 & 51), I
started to wonder. Bimmer Mag stated that anyone "adding horsepower or cornering
ability, should buy every chasis reinforcement sold..." It mentions everything from
front/rear subframes, front/rear sway bar mounts, and shock mounts as being potential
problem areas. Being that these cars are viewed as being very close performance
wise, though in different ways, this could be a deciding factor for me. I can appreciate
a more direct feel from the M3, but if I have to spend $2500 - 3000 (Bimmer's est)
just to bring it's chasis up to the quality of the 330's, then I had just as soon use that
money to buy the newer car. Since BMWs are just as much, if not more, about
handling than sheer power, the quality/rigidity of the chasis is of utmost importance.
I can handle not being able to take a Corvette in a straight line, but I can't handle tearing
loose suspension componetry while going through a good S-turn.

Any comments or info would be appreciated.

Amoss
I guess you searched on 'rigidity' and came up with this thread?

Having just gone from a '95 325i to a 2004 330i, the E46's rigidity is definitely a big advantage - on rough pavement. On smooth roads, you will not really notice, but go over bumps and the E46 feels much more solid.

No question the E36 is more involving to drive though, so if fun is the biggest factor, the E36 is the way to go. For me, I was willing to accept the trade-off.
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