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cormier 06-17-2014 12:19 PM

New DD: e39 I6/v8 or another e46?
Just curious to hear some insight from Max members! Vote in the poll or read on to get some context:

Had my '01 330xi for about 4 years now, due to a few accidents and now a few dozen maintenance items piling up, it's time for replacement *uzi*. Not meant to be my toy, I have an s52 e30 for that role, but I want to enjoy driving regardless.

It has around 275xxxkm now. I loved the car while owning it. It was my first non-e30 BMW and it served well. Thing is, I'm an enthusiast and I'll always crave something different.

I take care of most maintenance myself, and now have a good amount of working space to use. I'm looking at standard transmissions only. I don't have a problem driving rwd in the winter, and will spend good $$ on good snows. That said, my job requires me to come in regardless of harsh weather. Don't have too much of a must-have list, no kids yet and I'm prepared for fuel consumption.

Due to a new house and extensive Renos, extra cash is a bit tight which limits my options somewhat. Budget is $4k - $8k. I've seen some decent looking examples in this range with 200-220km.

That said, here are my top options:

--> e46 330. Sensible choice. I have a few years left on two sets of wheels for this car, and I can swap parts like my dynavin, exhaust and even my new fuel pump, etc. I wouldn't consider another AWD. I wouldn't consider lower than 330. I'm worried that this would still be too similar to my current car, and I would be temped to move on sooner. Sedan or possibly even coupe.

--> e39 I6. More space. Different than an e46. Looks nice. M54 which I'm somewhat accustomed to.

--> e39 540. The most different. Worried about maintenance being much more extensive than the other options. May give me a bigger smile on my face in the long run.

--> anything else? I've glanced at a few e90s, e60s (hard to find for the $$), audis, X3s, etc. feel free to chime in!

Would love to hear from whoever has an opinion or experience. Starting to look around now hoping to have something in the next month or two.

grapebimmer 06-17-2014 12:52 PM

I was in a similar situation and got an e90 (my first AT in 24-years) That was because I found an amazing car (DD) but paid a bit above my budget. Saying that, I do miss my e46. What I don't miss is the rust, the parts failing, the sub-frame issues etc.

Go with the best shaped drive.


TSI 06-17-2014 03:44 PM

E39 540i. Definitely within your budget, maintenance is deceptively easy, and it will put many, many smiles.

dbworld4k 06-17-2014 06:09 PM

Avoid a high milage non-M V8 E39 like the plague.

Based on your needs outlined in your post; the most sensible, cheapest to own and operate (gas, maint, existing parts supply): the clear logical choice is the E46 330.

Around 8K, you may even find a high mileage early E90 323/325. If it's feasible, I'd get that. You get a change of platform and much newer tech and better reliability than any E46. You can still use your wheels on this.

craz azn 06-17-2014 07:20 PM

+1 on avoiding the 540

BmW1819 06-17-2014 09:10 PM

Yep 530 or 330
If u go v8 say good bye to house renos lol
Not only on maintaince no need gas millage at its all time high

cormier 06-18-2014 11:33 AM

Good. This is what I needed to hear.
Any thoughts on the e39 chassis vs the e46?
I've started to look at a few coupes and verts as well... Not sure about the practicality, will have to check some out in person

TSI 06-18-2014 12:42 PM

I've found the e39 to be an overall stiffer and heavier chassis than the e46. Depending on your type of driving, that could be good or bad. I do all highway, so I actually get quite decent mileage (700 kms to a tank, $100 to fill up at costco yesterday) with the v8--it's really only much fun once you get it above 80 kph. If you end up going with the e39, get one with sport package and, if you can, the shorter diff. It makes it feel much more akin to an e36 that way.

Bullet Ride 06-18-2014 04:21 PM

An E39 530i 5MT with sport and premium packages would be a wonderful DD. My old man has a 2002 530i auto and it's a really nice car to drive, and it has been quite reliable as well.

BmW1819 06-18-2014 09:52 PM


Originally Posted by Bullet Ride (Post 1650973)
An E39 530i 5MT with sport and premium packages would be a wonderful DD. My old man has a 2002 530i auto and it's a really nice car to drive, and it has been quite reliable as well.

Yep perfect smooth dd car and with sport package gives it a nice touch

windwagen 06-19-2014 09:29 PM

I've had 3 E39s, all with MT. All have been great cars with reasonable maintenance costs. First was a 540-6.

540 was a lot of fun for sure... It's got tons of torque all over. 528 touring is a nice ride too, handling is fine and power is adequate, but the V8s are obviously much more fun. Mileage for the 528 is slightly better than the M5. 11l/100 vs 12l/100 combined.

Definitely take a 540 for a test drive before making this decision. You're welcome to try my two...although I don't have a 540 right now.

ghd 06-20-2014 09:18 PM

Is the 3 series big enough for you? Have you found many times that it couldn't carry what you wanted, or just seemed to tight? If not, then for practical purposes, it's big enough, and any more is just carrying around extra metal and weight.
But if you really like the extra comfort of longer wheelbase for extended highway use, then go for the 5 series. But that's mostly for older people, and if you have no kids yet, then 3 series is best for you. Plus more in your price range.

Agree with your choice of RWD. It is more fun to drive and handles better, plus less complication.
If your concerned about winter, you can consider an LSD. Should cost less than the difference for X-drive or 5 series.

2bmwguy 06-21-2014 07:20 PM

I had 2 540s with 200 ks plus and had no big problems with them . On the other side 330s are very reliable cars too, but with less power.

cormier 06-22-2014 11:07 AM

Thanks for all the input guys!

Pretty much narrowed it down to a 330i sport / zhp or 530i. Still wrapping my head around the sport package with the e39, but it looks desirable as well.

Again, won't be seriously looking for another month at least, but it have a fairly good idea of what I'm going after. Will definitely have to take a look at a few and get a feel

As for space... The e46 hasn't been BAD....but there are times when we use the gf's accord because it has so much more room. Makes me crave the 5er. For snowboarding or other big stuff, I have a Thule roof box and racks that will fit either car in question.

Windwagen, thanks for the offer I may indeed meet up over the summer and take a look! I feel like I haven't paid enough attention to e39s at meets and such.

Barnsdale 06-23-2014 10:39 PM

I picked up a N55 135i and haven't looked back, I owned a E46 before that and it was a headache as it aged.

Can't say enough good things about the E82, if you haven't test driven one you should before you pick up a 330i.

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