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      01-06-2010, 07:19 AM   #1
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E36 M3 vs other cars you've owned

I'm looking to possibly buy an e36 m3 but I'm also considering other cars that I've driven and loved. I want to spend no more than $12,000 on something and it seems that this price cap can still get me a pretty nice M.

I've been looking for an s2000 and an EVO. Yes you can find plenty of good s2000s for that price and if you look hard enough EVOs too now.

The funny thing is out of all the cars I've driven I've never driven an e36 m3. I've always had a soft spot for estoril blue and techno violet etc however. I've been reading that these cars handle amazing and have a good amount of power to go along with it even with today's standards.

I did a little homework on the money shift and some of the issues with the car like the cooling system and suspension components.

What would I be getting myself into with a $12000 m3? If I found one with records that was taken care of should it be a pretty carefree basic maintenance experience for a long time or one of those "over $5,000 in reciepts over the past year" kind of things?

I understand these cars are not Honda accords but I'd expect at least that a well treated one could be kept running in tip top shape for not that much money or is there a certain point where you have to dump thousands into it even if something never broke?

Are they worth it?
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      01-06-2010, 09:10 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by 11Past9 View Post
I'm looking to possibly buy an e36 m3 but I'm also considering other cars that I've driven and loved. I want to spend no more than $12,000 on something and it seems that this price cap can still get me a pretty nice M.

I've been looking for an s2000 and an EVO. Yes you can find plenty of good s2000s for that price and if you look hard enough EVOs too now.

The funny thing is out of all the cars I've driven I've never driven an e36 m3. I've always had a soft spot for estoril blue and techno violet etc however. I've been reading that these cars handle amazing and have a good amount of power to go along with it even with today's standards.

I did a little homework on the money shift and some of the issues with the car like the cooling system and suspension components.

What would I be getting myself into with a $12000 m3? If I found one with records that was taken care of should it be a pretty carefree basic maintenance experience for a long time or one of those "over $5,000 in reciepts over the past year" kind of things?

I understand these cars are not Honda accords but I'd expect at least that a well treated one could be kept running in tip top shape for not that much money or is there a certain point where you have to dump thousands into it even if something never broke?

Are they worth it?
I love mine, if you find one in good shape, good leak down and compression numbers, completely redone cooling system and a cared for suspension jump on it. If the seats aren't in great shape (the vaders tend to wear poorly) you can put some nice aftermarket seats in there for not too much money.

they are a hoot and even more so with boooooost!
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      01-06-2010, 09:13 AM   #3
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Quote:
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I love mine, if you find one in good shape, good leak down and compression numbers, completely redone cooling system and a cared for suspension jump on it. If the seats aren't in great shape (the vaders tend to wear poorly) you can put some nice aftermarket seats in there for not too much money.

they are a hoot and even more so with boooooost!
How do they stack up compared to being in a newer car? Does there age make them a rattle trap? How much abuse can they handle and what are the expensive replacements and how often do they need to be done?
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      01-06-2010, 10:51 AM   #4
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How do they stack up compared to being in a newer car? Does there age make them a rattle trap? How much abuse can they handle and what are the expensive replacements and how often do they need to be done?
Mine is not a rattle trap at all, very solid. I'm sure you can find some that are rattle traps though . You have to remember that the e36's are light cars. Light car = less insulation from road and engine noises. I personally love the noises coming from my car. If your used to a Lexus smooth ride, forget the e36.

they can handle a ton of abuse honestly. They were built for track use just as much as for street use. Upgraded cooling, suspension and brakes and the e36 kills a lot of cars on a road course.

expensive repairs will be cooling, suspension, and god forbid a motor if you blow one but even then you can source parts cheaply.

e36's are cheap to repair ESPECIALLY compared to new cars. I love being able to pick up OEM parts or aftermarket parts for 1/4 the price of my buddies e39 M5....he hates that
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      01-06-2010, 11:07 AM   #5
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They're pretty solid if taken care of. The interior is not up to par, and the door panels have a tendency to fall off... but as Sniz said if the suspension & cooling have been babied/replaced the other aspects of the car wear well. You can do a lot of the work yourself and keep repair/maintenance bills down.

Fun cars, light, well balanced. Smokin hot when modded right.
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      01-06-2010, 11:13 AM   #6
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They're pretty solid if taken care of. The interior is not up to par, and the door panels have a tendency to fall off... but as Sniz said if the suspension & cooling have been babied/replaced the other aspects of the car wear well. You can do a lot of the work yourself and keep repair/maintenance bills down.

Fun cars, light, well balanced. Smokin hot when modded right.
I can agree w/ the interior. Mine is in great shape, but I've replaced several pieces including the front seats. Only thing left is to tackle the standard sagging glove box.
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      01-06-2010, 12:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
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e36's are cheap to repair ESPECIALLY compared to new cars. I love being able to pick up OEM parts or aftermarket parts for 1/4 the price of my buddies e39 M5....he hates that
I wouldn't call them cheap to repair, but cheaper to repair. E39 M5 parts aren't that expensive (a little bitter...)

My g/f has an '97 M3 as her daily/autox car, and she has had cooling and suspention maintenance, as well as broken fog lamps and undertays, and occational gasket leaks that have required replacement.

I borrow her car for some autox events, and I sometimes feel like I drive faster in her 13 yr old M3, than in my 2 yr old M Coupe with a ton more power.

They are great cars.
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      01-06-2010, 01:03 PM   #8
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I wouldn't call them cheap to repair, but cheaper to repair. E39 M5 parts aren't that expensive (a little bitter...)

My g/f has an '97 M3 as her daily/autox car, and she has had cooling and suspention maintenance, as well as broken fog lamps and undertays, and occational gasket leaks that have required replacement.

I borrow her car for some autox events, and I sometimes feel like I drive faster in her 13 yr old M3, than in my 2 yr old M Coupe with a ton more power.

They are great cars.
thats because your suspension was lifted from the e46 M3...not specifically made for your car


or so I was told . One of the guys in my local club has a Z4M roadie w/ the Dinan strut brace and Dinan supsension, he has spent countless hours trying to get Dinan to fine tune the suspension but it seems to be just the wrong geometry so he's been told.

autox is ALL about suspension setups and weight as you well know.
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      01-06-2010, 02:19 PM   #9
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I can agree w/ the interior. Only thing left is to tackle the standard sagging glove box.
lol, I forgot about the saggy glovebox. Always reminds me of an old woman's tatas sitting so low...
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      01-06-2010, 03:05 PM   #10
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lol, I forgot about the saggy glovebox. Always reminds me of an old woman's tatas sitting so low...
mine has lopsided boobs.....right side is hanging low the left side is still nice and perky
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      01-06-2010, 03:46 PM   #11
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Need a back seat? If not, and if you don't mind "ugly" cars, consider an M Coupe. I have a 2000 M Coupe, with the S52. It's more entertaining to drive than the E36 M3's I've driven, it just feels more raw and connected, but it has a small gas tank and can feel a little nervous on longer drives, and while fun on the track, tends to be a bit squirelly without some suspension tweaks.

The funny thing about it is that it's better at carrying larger items like boxes and kegs than the 135i, gets better mileage and certainly gets more attention and comments. I've got 118k problem free miles, aside from tires, fluids and basic preventative maintenance, it hasn't consumed anything. They do have weak rear-subframes, but so do E36 cars, but it is worth having it inspected, and consider doing the aftermarket fix to add the two eared rear diff hanger to replace the single ear OEM version.

You'd likely get a lower mileage E36 M3 for the same money as a 1999 or 2000 M Coupe, but if you don't need the back seat and don't mind the styling, my experience is that you'd have more fun. Of course, for $12k, I'd be tempted to try to find a decent E30 M3 over an E36 too, but that's a whole other story.

Oh yeah, I've done the glovebox fix on my M Coupe too, I guess all BMW's of that era had lame glove box supports.
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      01-06-2010, 04:20 PM   #12
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Ever consider a GTO? You can get an '05 pretty close to that price. 400Hp LS2, 6 speed T56, solid interior, and simple to work on. They're also one of the best GT cars around for the money, and the aftermarket support for the powertrain is huge because it's shared with the Vette.

It's a larger, heavier car of course, and if you're planning on autocrossing it it's probably not what you're looking for, but it handles well for its size, is predictable, and your right foot can put the tail out anytime you want.
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      01-07-2010, 06:02 PM   #13
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I think I would have no problems loving the car but that my major concern is whether or not I could find a solid example for $10-12000 that I will be able drive hard as a daily, change fluids and be good to go for a while and when something does need to be updated it won't break me. That is what the BMW badge does to me, intimidates me into thinking it'd be great to have bud but you can only drive it til a check engine light pops or it acts weird or idles rough or needs work then have fun watching it sit...

It just strikes me as a fun, finicky can't count on it to turn key and bomb around any day of the week loaded with expensive surprises that make life suck kind if car

I am located in central pa currently, I honestly drool over estoril and techno etc, clean e36 m3s make me turn my head harder than z06's but my main
concern is if I can COUNT on an e36 m to run and be good to me as a
daily as it will be my only car.

For those coming from s2000 or having other newer cars how do these hold up fit and finish wise? I've heard they are now cheap broken plastic with door panels falling off and they just FEEL old and worn down...

I'd love it if they still had that nice solid feel inside like I usually feel from German cars.
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      01-11-2010, 12:21 PM   #14
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Most E36's you get are going to be older now, with higher mileage, so maintenance will come along with that. Generally, when all is running smooth, you should be able to use it as a DD no problem.

They're pretty simple to work on as well. My E30 left me stranded this weekend and it took me all of 4 hours to get the problem sourced and another two hours to remove & customize a new fuel pump (Mustang 5.0 GT sourced... lol), mount & install the sucker. The E36's are also relatively easy and shouldn't bring large shop bills if you have a little general knowledge of engines.

One of the things I find on my E30 (I've been using it as my DD for almost 3 years now) is there are certainly things that are needing to be replaced here and there, and you're going to find the same with an E36. After so many years, things are just going to break, or tear, or fall off.... etc.

They won't be as solid as a Honda... end of story. But they should be somewhat reliable all in all.
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      01-11-2010, 12:39 PM   #15
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They are great cars for the money. They still look and perform great even after all these years. They can get expensive on the repairs so you really need to look into whats been done to the one you plan to buy. Ive owned two in the past couple of years and one of them was a complete nightmare. It seemed to hit that spot were everything starts to go out. Bushings front and rear, water pump, various oil leaks etc... The parts arent that pricey but if your not doing the work yourself you can find your self putting thousands into a car that might only be worth 10-12k.
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