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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, newbi here....

I have no car now, sold the last one and need to have a BMW by mid September.

Here's the background, I'm 6'4" and found that I have no headroom in the coupes so I've narrowed down my choice to a sedan without a sunroof.

I'm looking for either a '98 M3 sedan, E36 325 ('93 to '97) or perhaps a new 330. I was hoping to get a little feedback on my choices.

1. If I order a new 330 now, when could I expect delivery?

2. Would the '98 M3 by that much more "special" on the track than the 330? I've heard different opinions.

3. Should I look for a good E36 325 and mod it a bit to get a bit of extra performance out of it and save about $10K?

Basically, I'd like something nice if my wife needs to drive it but also something fn for the driving clinics and autocrosses. It will not be a daily driver as I work from home.

Carless in California,

Frank
 
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I dumped a '01 330i (SP 5-spd) that I purchased new (at a large loss) to pick up a low mileage '98 M3 sedan (5-spd). The cars are night and day different. But that doesn't mean you'll come to the same conclusion I did.

The 330i/Ci is VERY capable on the track and very capable in general. It is an excellent car. It is a tick or two slower than the M3, but not enough to really matter to most people. And, technically, they both have similar specs in terms of grip.

The only real difference is in the area of feel. The 330 feels disconnected and isolated. If you value luxury during the week (between weekend trips to the track), the 330 may be for you. The ride is softer, more muted and the steering, throttle and clutch inputs are all less direct feeling. That's not to say the car doesn't respond and perform well, it just feels significantly less direct in doing so.

The M3 is also missing a number of gadgets and "features" that are found on the 330s and some may say the E36 M3 looks dated. Others may say the 330 (and all E46s) look feminine and/or like Hondas. Again, this is all subjective. What do you value?

And from order to delivery, a new 330 will take approx 2 months, give or take a couple of weeks. But finding a good, claan used '98 may take that long. I got lucky finding mine.

For me, I hated the detached feeling from the throttle and steering and the floatiness of the suspension (yes, even with the sport suspension). But others here think the 330 w/SP rides much too firmly.

Really, you must drive both yourself and decide based on what you think is important. I love my M3 and cursed my 330. Others have switched from the E36 M3 to the 330 and loved it.

And nevermind the "asshole" thing. It's a long story.
 

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OMGWTFBBQ
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Reed said:
Hi everyone, newbi here....

I have no car now, sold the last one and need to have a BMW by mid September.

Here's the background, I'm 6'4" and found that I have no headroom in the coupes so I've narrowed down my choice to a sedan without a sunroof.

I'm looking for either a '98 M3 sedan, E36 325 ('93 to '97) or perhaps a new 330. I was hoping to get a little feedback on my choices.

1. If I order a new 330 now, when could I expect delivery?
Depends on when your dealer has a production slot. Typical wait times seem to be in the neighborhood of 6-12 weeks.
2. Would the '98 M3 by that much more "special" on the track than the 330? I've heard different opinions.
I went for rides in a 98 M3/4 and a 330Ci around an autocross course on Saturday. The driver of the 330 (CD-55 on this board) was more experienced and turned in faster times than the M3/4 (TD on this board). It's kind of an apples to oranges comparison, but I think that CD-55 would turn in faster times in TD's M3 than his own 330. The bottom line, though, is that both cars are completely happy doing autocrosses and the real limiting factor is going to be the driver.
3. Should I look for a good E36 325 and mod it a bit to get a bit of extra performance out of it and save about $10K?
No one here can answer that for you.
Basically, I'd like something nice if my wife needs to drive it but also something fn for the driving clinics and autocrosses. It will not be a daily driver as I work from home.
For driving clinics and aiutocrosses, you're probably best off buying an old, cheap E30 and modding the hell out of it. Depending on what you look at, getting the old E30 for the track and an older E36 325 for the wife may be in the same price range as a new 330i. Of course, that depends on how much you sink into the E30 and how much you indulge on the 330i options. :D
 

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The Original Dr. Phil
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Re: Re: I have no car.....

TD said:
I dumped a '01 330i (SP 5-spd) that I purchased new (at a large loss) to pick up a low mileage '98 M3 sedan (5-spd). The cars are night and day different. But that doesn't mean you'll come to the same conclusion I did.

The 330i/Ci is VERY capable on the track and very capable in general. It is an excellent car. It is a tick or two slower than the M3, but not enough to really matter to most people. And, technically, they both have similar specs in terms of grip.

The only real difference is in the area of feel. The 330 feels disconnected and isolated. If you value luxury during the week (between weekend trips to the track), the 330 may be for you. The ride is softer, more muted and the steering, throttle and clutch inputs are all less direct feeling. That's not to say the car doesn't respond and perform well, it just feels significantly less direct in doing so.

The M3 is also missing a number of gadgets and "features" that are found on the 330s and some may say the E36 M3 looks dated. Others may say the 330 (and all E46s) look feminine and/or like Hondas. Again, this is all subjective. What do you value?

And from order to delivery, a new 330 will take approx 2 months, give or take a couple of weeks. But finding a good, claan used '98 may take that long. I got lucky finding mine.

For me, I hated the detached feeling from the throttle and steering and the floatiness of the suspension (yes, even with the sport suspension). But others here think the 330 w/SP rides much too firmly.

Really, you must drive both yourself and decide based on what you think is important. I love my M3 and cursed my 330. Others have switched from the E36 M3 to the 330 and loved it.

And nevermind the "asshole" thing. It's a long story.
Tom my compliments on a non-slamming comparison. Thank you for pointing out the positives of the E46 as part of your response.
 

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OMGWTFBBQ
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Re: Re: I have no car.....

Originally posted by clyde325xiT
I went for rides in a 98 M3/4 and a 330Ci around an autocross course on Saturday. The driver of the 330 (CD-55 on this board) was more experienced and turned in faster times than the M3/4 (TD on this board).
[/b]
Um, TD wrote his thing while I was writing mine...go figure :D
 
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Re: Re: Re: I have no car.....

clyde325xiT said:


Um, TD wrote his thing while I was writing mine...go figure :D
BTW, I never tracked my 330, so I cannot compare that. But, as you (Clyde) point out, CD-55 does quite well at autox in his.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I appreciate the feedback so far and the comparison was enlightening. I had a '90 twin turbo z and my wife has her own Sequoia mainly used for transporting our 1 year old. While the BMW would mainly be for me around town and for autocrossing a bit and for performance driving clinics, I'd like to do 3 this coming year, it won't get much mileage. It has been tough finding the right M3/4 and past care is always a concern. With a new one I'd know exactly where it has been and how it has been driven. I was realy concerned about the differences in performance vs. luxury and if I'd be missing anything by choosing one or the other.
 
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Reed said:
It has been tough finding the right M3/4 and past care is always a concern. With a new one I'd know exactly where it has been and how it has been driven.
It was this logic that led me to pick the 330i SP back in 2000 (I got one of the very first 330s). I figured, on paper, they were very simialr. Give me a car with a full warranty and clean (no) history. And I lived to regret that decision. But you may not.

I reiterate- DRIVE THEM BOTH as much as you can. There are a some 330i/Ci SP 5-spds out there (not a lot, but some). The coupe and sedan essentially drive the same, so drive whichever you can find. And there are plenty of used M3s out there. Again, for feel, it doesn't matter if you test drive a 2-door or 4-door (and 2-doors are MUCH easier to find).

Good luck. Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions. Or keep the thread going and post them here.
 
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Re: Re: I have no car.....

TD said:
I dumped a '01 330i (SP 5-spd) that I purchased new (at a large loss) to pick up a low mileage '98 M3 sedan (5-spd). The cars are night and day different. But that doesn't mean you'll come to the same conclusion I did.

The 330i/Ci is VERY capable on the track and very capable in general. It is an excellent car. It is a tick or two slower than the M3, but not enough to really matter to most people. And, technically, they both have similar specs in terms of grip.

The only real difference is in the area of feel. The 330 feels disconnected and isolated. If you value luxury during the week (between weekend trips to the track), the 330 may be for you. The ride is softer, more muted and the steering, throttle and clutch inputs are all less direct feeling. That's not to say the car doesn't respond and perform well, it just feels significantly less direct in doing so.

The M3 is also missing a number of gadgets and "features" that are found on the 330s and some may say the E36 M3 looks dated. Others may say the 330 (and all E46s) look feminine and/or like Hondas. Again, this is all subjective. What do you value?

And from order to delivery, a new 330 will take approx 2 months, give or take a couple of weeks. But finding a good, claan used '98 may take that long. I got lucky finding mine.

For me, I hated the detached feeling from the throttle and steering and the floatiness of the suspension (yes, even with the sport suspension). But others here think the 330 w/SP rides much too firmly.

Really, you must drive both yourself and decide based on what you think is important. I love my M3 and cursed my 330. Others have switched from the E36 M3 to the 330 and loved it.

And nevermind the "asshole" thing. It's a long story.
I agree with PM--that's the best comparison I've read. Let's keep that in the clipboard and save that for all further E36 M3 v. E46 330 discussion!
 
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Reed said:
I appreciate the feedback so far and the comparison was enlightening. I had a '90 twin turbo z and my wife has her own Sequoia mainly used for transporting our 1 year old. While the BMW would mainly be for me around town and for autocrossing a bit and for performance driving clinics, I'd like to do 3 this coming year, it won't get much mileage. It has been tough finding the right M3/4 and past care is always a concern. With a new one I'd know exactly where it has been and how it has been driven. I was realy concerned about the differences in performance vs. luxury and if I'd be missing anything by choosing one or the other.
The E46's will also be safer than any previous generations, simply because of research and new technologies.
 

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i tell ya, i rode right behind a e36 m3 for 4 hours on saturday at a minifest we had, we were driving very trackish, high speed, and hugh windy roads, both cars are equally quick and fast (m3 slight slight advantage) and i agree 99.9999% of it is the driver, but i think the 330 handles every bit as good too. they are very similar in performace, with the 330 a nicer highway cruise ride comfort lux thing :D

i personally would get the 330 due to e46 are gorgeous cars, but e36 look awesome too, sooo.... id almost flip a coin in your shoes
 
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