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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want a project car to fix up, run some autocross and eventually get more power out of. I like the E36 a lot but I'm having a hard time finding a decent one for a sane price. Should I be considering the e46 as well? A buddy had one and it really dogged him on maintenance cost so I'm hesitant.
 

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E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
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In general I consider the E36 platform easier to modify and do HPDE & Auto X duty.
However with the (once) plethora of easily obtainable used parts drying up, this is now problematic.

The E46 was BMW's most numerous platform. That said, many were just driven and poorly maintained. This is where many cost a 2nd. or 3rd. owner much grief.

My best advice is to try to find one WITH DOCUMENTATION of service records. This shows that the PO gave a s#!t.
I also STRONGLY advocate a PPI be done by a qualified shop.

Good luck and keep us in the loop!
 

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2003 BMW 325CI convertible, Oct '02 prod. date, 111K miles
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201 Posts
Look at a lot of cars, patience is your best weapon in finding a well maintained E46 at a reasonable price. Unicorns are out there, but it does take time and effort.
 

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Personally, for autocross, I'd keep looking for an E36,

and then if that wasn't happening, buy a Miata.

The E46 is a porker, an LSD will bump you 3 classes,
and getting the gearing right will make it miserable if
you do much more than drive it to and from the track.

Common wisdom is to go shag cones for a couple mornings,
see what's running locally, talk with a few drivers,
and then buy one of what's locally popular.
Then you have people to play with.
That's why I race an E30 now...

t
 

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Premium Member
E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
Joined
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11,971 Posts
Personally, for autocross, I'd keep looking for an E36,

and then if that wasn't happening, buy a Miata.

The E46 is a porker, an LSD will bump you 3 classes,
and getting the gearing right will make it miserable if
you do much more than drive it to and from the track.

Common wisdom is to go shag cones for a couple mornings,
see what's running locally, talk with a few drivers,
and then buy one of what's locally popular.
Then you have people to play with.
That's why I race an E30 now...

t
Common wisdom is to go shag cones for a couple mornings,
see what's running locally, talk with a few drivers,
and then buy one of what's locally popular.
Then you have people to play with.
That's why I race an E30 now...


101%

EDIT: Yeah, hadn't even considered the differential.... You're right.
 

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2002 330 Ci
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2,743 Posts
If you are mechanically inclined and not afraid to get dirty, do what I do. Find a pos that someone will let go for under a grand and fix it all.

I have the best peace of mind knowing I fixed an entire car. No worrying about what might break soon.

I look for stuff that's mechanically screwed with good bodies. Hmmmm.... kinda how I ended up with so many bad relationships when I was younger.
 

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Premium Member
2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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8,166 Posts
In general I consider the E36 platform easier to modify and do HPDE & Auto X duty.
However with the (once) plethora of easily obtainable used parts drying up, this is now problematic.

The E46 was BMW's most numerous platform. That said, many were just driven and poorly maintained. This is where many cost a 2nd. or 3rd. owner much grief.

My best advice is to try to find one WITH DOCUMENTATION of service records. This shows that the PO gave a s#!t.
I also STRONGLY advocate a PPI be done by a qualified shop.

Good luck and keep us in the loop!
I got one with absolutely perfect records and thoughtful maintenance. Still needed everything at 150k
 

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Premium Member
2001 330Ci Sport, 5 spd
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319 Posts
I spent about the purchase price of my 330ci replacing ALL the wear items for autox and HPDE events. Probably would have looked at other brands if we didn't have the BMW performance center here in Greenville.
Still, parts are relatively cheap and available, and in my case there's enough headroom to clear my 6'7" frame while wearing a helmet.
Once you get hooked, safety equipment will again cost about the purchase price of the car.
 
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