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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hi there,

I'm tired of my slow lumbering SAAB convertible and am looking for an affordable 3-series BMW convertible w/low mileage. However, I don't want to go through any convertible power top issues that I've gone through with my old 1995 Saab with it's 6 motors powering the convertible top. Do the 3-series BMW convertibles use hydraulics for lifting their convertible tops--hydraulics seem to be less troublesome? If so, with what year/model did they start using hydraulics? Are there any made with manual tops in the 3-series? Any recommendations for models/year? Any other advice for what I should look for? Thanks in advance for your recommendations.
 

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I Am The Machine
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SIX MOTORS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

No, they have two if I recall, and are not hydraulic. In the US, I think only the 318s had the full manual top, and that would be miserable to drive in convertible form - WAY too much weight for the baby motor. The tops are a little bitchy sometimes but overall they aren't terrible, I wouldn't be too worried about it.
 

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The top works fine as long as the top is in good condition. If the plastic side curtains fall apart or the straps that run the length of the top above the frame don't lose their tension. If one or both fail it could be a pain because the rear portion of the top does not lift high enough for the hard shell to clear it either going up or coming down; in which case you have to do some additional fiddling.

At least the motor is in the correct orientation and doesn't leak oil from every possible seal like the SAAB.

Jack
 

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Can I Scream?
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Six motors, JESUS!!!!!

Are Saab's really that bad? (disregarding that little piece of news I just discovered).
 

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Official Queen of E36 OT
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Six motors, JESUS!!!!!

Are Saab's really that bad? (disregarding that little piece of news I just discovered).
One of my friends had a Saab that would go on "lockdown" periodically and lock all the doors for a few hours, refusing to unlock or recognize the key. Then it'd settle down and unlock one door so you could get in, but all the rest would usually have to wait either a day or a week till they would cooperate again. :dunno:

Good luck OP, you'll love your E36!
 

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Funny post! I own a 2005 Saab 93 SE convertible and a 1999 BMW M3 convertible by coincidence! They are both great cars for different reasons and of course they are very different. The '05 Saab doesn't actually qualify as a lumbering vehicle anymore IMHO. My favorite thing about the Saab is it gets 30 mpg with a peppy turbo 4 cylinder and with a good set of tires it's a pretty nimble handling machine and in sport mode will go from 0 to 60 in about 6 seconds. No problems with my top thus far on the 05 Saab 93. All in all I consider it to be a great car and tons of fun for what it is.

Now the M3 is another story. Once you own or drive an M3 you are ruined for life. No car I've ever driven has the steering response or handling or weight balance of an M3. Combine that with 245horses of power which is plenty fast enough for this car given its weight and intended purpose and the M3 is about as much fun as any car I've ever driven plus it has room for 2 in the back and a bit of luggage or groceries or a fly rod if you like to fish like me!!!!

Here are a couple of things to watch for on BMW 3 series conertibles:

1. The glass back windows (very desireable) first show up in the 2000 model year cars. If you are interested in a later model with a plastic window that's yellowed or torn and needs to be replaced BMW offers replacement windows that can be zippered in and installed by a tech for around $500 to $800 parts and labor. I made the mistake of having my mechanic replace my windshield with an after market windshield of some sort. The installation wasn't elegant or polished. So while the windshield itself zippers in and is nice and clear the fit and finish on the outside of the car is awful compared to the factory fit and finish. I think my local BMW dealer would have charged me about the same for a BMW factory replacement window and I think I would have been much happier with that.

2. The problem described by the other poster with the worn out elastic bands is a very common problem problem especially in later model year cars. My car started experiencing this problem and there is no adjustment. The rubber bands must be replaced and the dealer will charge about $1500 or so parts and labor for this fix. I plan on keeping my M3 for at least a few more year so I had this problem fixed and now my top works perfectly.

Otherwise I don't have any problems to report regarding my BMW M3 convertible top.

Good luck to you. Buying an M3 convertible was one of the smartest and most fun things I ever did.
 

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Defo' go for the Bm SAAB was alright before they went with GM now unfortunately they'll be hung out to dry , unless subaru or someone takes them on . I thought saabs had the hydro-electric motor/pump system ? as patented by karmen of german , maybe that was earlier/later models .

$1500 to change the tension straps , that's a job for when it's time for a replacement soft top , a $2 fix with a pair of bungee cords as a make do till that time is the norm' i think . :thumbup:
 

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I'm also from the saab world. Put it this way....no more horrid tourque steer, no more overly flexy subframe.
The bmw will handle better stock than the saab with suspension parts. This is regarding saabs from around 92-02 for those unfamilair with the car.
The thing with saabs is the easy power made due to the turbo,though
Just make sure before you buy the car you get a ppi(pre-purchase inspection).
I'd also check the waterpump to see if it has a metal impeller.
-mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all your advice--maybe I was too hard on the 1995 pre-turbo Saab but I also own an almost 20 year old miata so I was looking to have the best of both worlds now that I need a back seat to cart around my baby boy. The saabs starting from the 9-3 1999 onward have hydraulic lifts for the top but until that model year it is a cacophony of moving parts which fall out of sync way too often. I've been tired enough of a motorized top to even consider purchasing a 1988-1992 series bmw so I could just use a manual top. Do any of the 3 series have manual tops or are they all power? Didn't realize replacing that pesky plastic back glass or those rubber bands costs so much! makes me want a manual top even more.
 
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