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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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Old 08-24-2019, 09:38 AM
McLarenBMW McLarenBMW is offline
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Hey guys, I'm a big BMW fanboy who recently got a 330Ci as a first car. Now I'm thinking about getting another older BMW, either an E39 540i or the crappy North American E36 M3. I assume the 540i is probably faster with nearly 300hp vs the disappointing 240hp from the M3, though the M3 has superior handling which makes them pretty equal I guess. What would you pick?

Last edited by McLarenBMW; 08-24-2019 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 08-24-2019, 09:54 AM
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Personally, I think You`d be better served by an E39 M5....now, THAT`S a seriously good car !
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Old 08-24-2019, 09:55 AM
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Personally, I think You`d be better served by an E39 M5....now, THAT`S a seriously good car !
I agree but they're still a bit pricey on the market right now
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Old 08-24-2019, 10:17 AM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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I agree but they're still a bit pricey on the market right now
yes, and the good ones are not going to come down in price. Modern classic already.
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Old 08-24-2019, 10:32 AM
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I agree but they're still a bit pricey on the market right now
yes, and the good ones are not going to come down in price. Modern classic already.
The 540i is a perfect cheap toy to play with despite the M5 being the car to have
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Old 08-25-2019, 05:28 AM
marcozandrini marcozandrini is offline
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The engine is the 540i is not one of BMWs best. It has a tendency to leak, and fixing those leaks is expensive. If I recall properly the engine has a valley (between the cylinder banks) pan gasket thats requires a lot of disassembly to replace.
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Old 08-25-2019, 07:09 AM
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The engine is the 540i is not one of BMW's best. It has a tendency to leak, and fixing those leaks is expensive. If I recall properly the engine has a valley (between the cylinder banks) pan gasket that's requires a lot of disassembly to replace.
From what I've heard, the N62 in the E60 5-Series isn't great either. Did BMW ever make a solid V8 besides the current N63 turbo engine?
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Old 08-25-2019, 09:31 AM
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From what I've heard, the N62 in the E60 5-Series isn't great either. Did BMW ever make a solid V8 besides the current N63 turbo engine?
The N63 is no picnic, either.
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:17 PM
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From what I've heard, the N62 in the E60 5-Series isn't great either. Did BMW ever make a solid V8 besides the current N63 turbo engine?
How about the V8 (now out of production, I think) from the E92 M3 ? It was N/A, 414 HP from only 265 cubic inches, only produced for a couple of years. A friend of a friend let me drive his E92 M3, 6-spd. stick, with this engine, it was very impressive. Not a lot of torque down low, but you could twist it up to around 8400, where the nature of the beast changed dramatically....it had a wild top-end howl and a glorious exhaust note, IMHO a very nicely-balanced package.
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:33 PM
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From what I've heard, the N62 in the E60 5-Series isn't great either. Did BMW ever make a solid V8 besides the current N63 turbo engine?
How about the V8 (now out of production, I think) from the E92 M3 ? It was N/A, 414 HP from only 265 cubic inches, only produced for a couple of years. A friend of a friend let me drive his E92 M3, 6-spd. stick, with this engine, it was very impressive. Not a lot of torque down low, but you could twist it up to around 8400, where the nature of the beast changed dramatically....it had a wild top-end howl and a glorious exhaust note, IMHO a very nicely-balanced package.
Yeah the S65 is cool but it has rod bearing issues like the S85 V10 or so I've heard
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Old 08-25-2019, 05:22 PM
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Of the two the E36 M3 is easier to own. But even they are pricey right now. My brother in law had an 03 540i with 6 speed manual, it was fast. But those engines have timing chain guide issues which can and does grenade the engine. Its expensive to preventatively replace them. I've seen some decent e39 M5's in the 8,000 to 10,000 dollar range, patience is key.
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now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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Old 08-25-2019, 08:18 PM
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Of the two the E36 M3 is easier to own. But even they are pricey right now. My brother in law had an 03 540i with 6 speed manual, it was fast. But those engines have timing chain guide issues which can and does grenade the engine. Its expensive to preventatively replace them. I've seen some decent e39 M5's in the 8,000 to 10,000 dollar range, patience is key.
I'm Canadian, cheapest one I've seen this month is 15k. But you're right, I should wait
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Old 08-26-2019, 07:08 AM
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The S52-equipped E36 M3 might not be all that when bone stock. However, if you toss on the usual bolt-on goodies (intake, headers, single 3" exhaust), some bigger injectors, some hotter cams, a lighter flywheel, and a tune, you'll have a VERY rowdy car. Reliability won't be affected much (if at all) and it will still be good enough to daily.

Alternately, you can get the turbo kit from The Racer's Market (about $6,000) and throw down almost 400 WHP, which is more than enough to spank E39 M5's in a straight line. As long as you don't go overboard when the boost bug bites, it will be reasonably reliable.

Always remember: ANY car can be as fast as you're willing to make it.
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Old 08-26-2019, 07:12 AM
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The S52-equipped E36 M3 might not be all that when bone stock. However, if you toss on the usual bolt-on goodies (intake, headers, single 3" exhaust), some bigger injectors, some hotter cams, a lighter flywheel, and a tune, you'll have a VERY rowdy car. Reliability won't be affected much (if at all) and it will still be good enough to daily.

Alternately, you can get the turbo kit from The Racer's Market (about $6,000) and throw down almost 400 WHP, which is more than enough to spank E39 M5's in a straight line. As long as you don't go overboard when the boost bug bites, it will be reasonably reliable.

Always remember: ANY car can be as fast as you're willing to make it.
True but nobody wants to buy a riced up M3 that's been mutilated with mods, the appeal of M3s is their beautiful stock form imo
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Old 08-26-2019, 07:53 AM
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True but nobody wants to buy a riced up M3 that's been mutilated with mods, the appeal of M3s is their beautiful stock form imo
Depends how one goes about it. Hanging boy-racer body kits from every panel below the beltline or swapping out BMW M-engineered parts for cheap aftermarket crap "upgrades" is, agreed, not the way to go.

But, if you were to take SPDSKTR's suggestions, consult an outfit that knows how to build out BMWs (e.g., BimmerWorld), and listen to their advice...that's another story. M engines of that era are more-or-less detuned race engines--no one bats an eye at carefully chosen, top-quality improvements if you've clearly done your homework.
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Old 08-26-2019, 08:03 AM
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True but nobody wants to buy a riced up M3 that's been mutilated with mods, the appeal of M3s is their beautiful stock form imo
Depends how one goes about it. Hanging boy-racer body kits from every panel below the beltline or swapping out BMW M-engineered parts for cheap aftermarket crap "upgrades" is, agreed, not the way to go.

But, if you were to take SPDSKTR's suggestions, consult an outfit that knows how to build out BMWs (e.g., BimmerWorld), and listen to their advice...that's another story. M engines of that era are more-or-less detuned race engines--no one bats an eye at carefully chosen, top-quality improvements if you've clearly done your homework.
I think you'd have a harder time trying to sell it modded than stock
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Old 08-26-2019, 08:12 AM
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I think you'd have a harder time trying to sell it modded than stock
Not at all. True, a stock example would most likely fetch more--perhaps quite a bit more. However, as unmodified E36 M3s are already somewhat rare, it's not as though any change from bone stock makes them hard to sell. Even BMW M's engineering could stand improvement in some areas.

As I implied, there are mods and there are improvements. The latter ain't cheap (or all that common).
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Old 08-26-2019, 10:03 AM
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I can make a car go fast and have it look stock. I can even put on some chunky mufflers on a single 3" exhaust system to reduce noise so it's not obnoxious.

Proper go-fast parts does not mean "rice". If I put a giant race wing on it, slammed it, put 20" wheels on it, a fart can muffler, etc., then yes... THAT is rice.

My ZHP looks relatively stock (except it's lowered, has a carbon fiber CSL trunk, OZ Alleggerita wheels, and rolled fenders). Because it's also supercharged, I could probably get $10,000 for it (even with its imperfections) if I wanted to sell it, despite lots of ZHPs selling for much cheaper.
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Old 08-26-2019, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by SPDSKTR View Post
The S52-equipped E36 M3 might not be all that when bone stock. However, if you toss on the usual bolt-on goodies (intake, headers, single 3" exhaust), some bigger injectors, some hotter cams, a lighter flywheel, and a tune, you'll have a VERY rowdy car. Reliability won't be affected much (if at all) and it will still be good enough to daily.

Alternately, you can get the turbo kit from The Racer's Market (about $6,000) and throw down almost 400 WHP, which is more than enough to spank E39 M5's in a straight line. As long as you don't go overboard when the boost bug bites, it will be reasonably reliable.

Always remember: ANY car can be as fast as you're willing to make it.
The Old Hot Rodder`s Credo:
"Speed costs money....how fast do you wanna go ?"
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Old 08-26-2019, 03:34 PM
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I would buy an E39 M5 before I'd spend a bunch of money on cams and turbos for an E36 M3. That version of the M5 is a GREAT car.
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now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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Old 08-26-2019, 03:48 PM
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I would buy an E39 M5 before I'd spend a bunch of money on cams and turbos for an E36 M3. That version of the M5 is a GREAT car.
If anyone ever had any doubts, THIS should put them to rest....
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Old 08-27-2019, 05:29 AM
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Old 08-27-2019, 12:50 PM
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Theres also a video by legitstreetcars on youtube where he bought an M5 with 419k miles! Safe to say they last awhile
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Old 08-27-2019, 01:32 PM
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Safe to say they last awhile
Not the one(s) used in Star! In the otherwise-dull director's commentary, Guy Ritchie mentions that he filmed the jump scene on the first day of shooting; afterward, that car "never worked again." As he dryly put it, killing one of the five cars provided by BMW on the very first day "got some hearts pumping."
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Old 08-27-2019, 02:27 PM
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Not the one(s) used in Star! In the otherwise-dull director's commentary, Guy Ritchie mentions that he filmed the jump scene on the first day of shooting; afterward, that car "never worked again." As he dryly put it, killing one of the five cars provided by BMW on the very first day "got some hearts pumping."
Sprechen sie "Dukes Of Hazzard" ?

Then, also in that first series of "The Hire", there was a cool getaway chase where Clive Owen`s beautiful 740i Sport Pkg. (6-speed manual !) got shot full of bullet holes during the run....
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Last edited by Fast Bob; 08-27-2019 at 02:31 PM.
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