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#4447305 - 07/02/17 10:21 AM E30 or E36
chrisri Offline


Registered: 06/01/14
Posts: 1744
Loc: Rijeka, EU
I'm planning on buying cheap fun car/project in a form of E30 or E36. Budget is rather tight, but good, rust free examples can be found under 2K Euro. I would like to keep everything under 3K for now so here is my question.
Difference between e30/e36/e36 compact? It would be only play car so are the latter cars that dull as I hear, or still decent? I would prefer 6 cylinder but 4 would work for me for now.
Thanks!
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#4447332 - 07/02/17 10:44 AM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: chrisri]
Canadastang Offline


Registered: 12/08/15
Posts: 261
Loc: Ontario Canada
Abused or high mileage E36's WILL tear out their rear subframe mounts, and their front strut towers are prone to mushrooming over time.

Not to mention all the plastic cooling system parts that like to leak with age, and the plastic impellers on the water pumps break apart even at low mileage.

With that said, I do prefer driving an E36 over an E30, and if I could find a well maintained, low mileage E36 in good shape, I would go for that, even with the reliability issues. Just be ready to shell out some big $ if you have subframe issues.

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#4447374 - 07/02/17 11:45 AM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: chrisri]
rooflessVW Offline


Registered: 12/24/11
Posts: 4018
Loc: North Carolina
I prefer the E36 by far. Saw an E36 M3/4/5 for sale for 5 grand the other day. Looked pretty clean.
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#4447403 - 07/02/17 12:22 PM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: chrisri]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 41758
Loc: New Jersey
E30 is the more enjoyable drivers car, but e36 will be more refined and comfortable.

I vote 4 cyl E30.

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#4447417 - 07/02/17 12:44 PM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: chrisri]
Olas Offline


Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 3932
Loc: Manchester, England
E36 cooling system is terrible. The car is overweight and looks dated.

E30 parts can be harder to find but owning & driving is 10x better
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#4447446 - 07/02/17 01:17 PM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: chrisri]
chrisri Offline


Registered: 06/01/14
Posts: 1744
Loc: Rijeka, EU
Thanks guys for help. I have drove number of E30 and few E36s, but quick drive is not the same as ownership.
The M3 is I'm afraid out of my budget, having a 6 yo and plans for house renovation..

So it's going to be either a 318, 320 or if I get lucky 323 ti compact.

Pros for E30:
Better, more youngtimer looks, mostly good examples left on the road.
Cleaner, less plasticky interior.
Lighter, more compact.
Already a classic.
Easier to fix/maintain.
Cons:
More expensive to obtain, body panels are hard to get now.

E36
Pros:
More contemporary drive, better equipped.
Cons:
High maintenance associated with old modern cars( everything plastic)
Not old enough so one can look like trying something in a 2K BMW.
Heavy and big- needs 6 to move.

E36- compact
Pros:
Lighter, more compact car
E30 rear axle means it will oversteer, prefer the drive over other 36s for tracking/playing
A/C are common which is a must.
Cons:
Dorky looking hatchback
Not cool
323 ti hard to find
I'm thinking out loud here, I don't need the car for daily, commute or anything sensible. Just want a light RWD for cheap. The AR 75 was my first choice but they are mega expansive if decent, and being old Italian car there are few and far between left. It is also well balanced so it doesn't oversteer.
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#4447449 - 07/02/17 01:23 PM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: chrisri]
drtyler Offline


Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 404
Loc: GA
I prefer the E30 325i. Very reliable, but the E36 cars were more refined (quieter, smoother, etc.), especially the convertibles.

The early E30 cars had the M10 4 cylinder. Later cars with 4 cylinder had the M42, which was also used in the E36. More power than the M10, but give me the six any day. I've driven both and the six just feels better in both the E30 and E36.

For what you plan to spend, I would find the best car for the money. Drive both and see which you like best.

I've put over 120,000 miles on an '88 325i convertible. It's been a great car and very fun to drive.

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#4447495 - 07/02/17 02:40 PM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: chrisri]
L_Sludger Offline


Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 3947
Loc: Ohio
E30 every day and twice on Sunday.
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#4447734 - 07/02/17 07:23 PM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: chrisri]
Riickk Offline


Registered: 07/01/17
Posts: 4
Loc: Delaware
I loved my '97 328i convertible - get one if you're looking for a fun car.
But, be sure you can, or can learn, to wrench it yourself.
I tell people that the car got to the point of "WHAT is wrong with it *this* week"
But, truth to tell, most things were niggling annoyances.
Major items were new cooling system at 85k
radiator
overflow tank
belts & hoses
water pump (new all-metallic pump)
water pump cover (new aluminum cover)
and swapped OEM fan to electric fan (OEM known to disintegrate & take out radiator & hood)
Whole shebang ran about $360 in parts, and 1/2 day of my own labor.
Only other major item was fuel level sender, since it was integrated with fuel pump.
China copy of pump & sender was around $70, again, self install.
Start hanging around BMW sites, problems with the E36 are many, but KNOWN, & most easily solvable.
Good Luck and enjoy.


Edited by Riickk (07/02/17 07:25 PM)

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#4447874 - 07/02/17 10:22 PM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: chrisri]
Carmudgeon Offline


Registered: 04/26/05
Posts: 533
Loc: Under the hood
The four-cylinder E36s are slow, but don't have the same severity of cooling system issues that the sixes do.

Aside from the early profile gasket failures, the M42 cooling systems are bulletproof.

The switch to some plastic components (thermostat housing and a pipe on the rear of the head) on the M44 mean they can eventually fail, but both are external components that aren't that difficult to replace.

But neither the M42/44 have issues with their water pumps, or radiators/expansion tanks that the sixes do. Since they also have remote coil packs and lack the coil-on-plug ignition, coil failure is also not an issue.

And while the sixes are no slouches, something often overlooked is that fours (of both generations) are just so ever slightly sweeter handlers because of less weight over the front axle. (A GM LS V8 weighs less than the BMW sixes--that transplant is also a fun project).

BMW tried a lot of new things with the E36, and eventually patched up many of the issues. While the design is good, interior build quality was substandard to begin with, and only managed to reach mediocrity, though things do look nicer on the later cars. The electronic HVAC controls are more potentially troublesome, though.

Stiff suspensions, poor roads, and/or abuse can cause the rear subframes to tear from the body (something that also affected the E36 7/8 Z3s and continued with the E46s!), but it's not a chronic issue by any means. M3s had the reinforcement plates installed at the factory, and though labor intensive, they're something a hobbyist who can weld can install as well (same with the rear sway bar tab reinforcements; again, something normal cars are unlikely to need).

The E36/5 compact is bit of an odd bird. Some people like that the trailing arm rear suspension makes it more lively than the more buttoned-down Z-axle. But overall, it's not quite as refined in terms of NVH as the other E36s. The interior fittings and HVAC system were also designed with lower cost targets; not a huge difference, but something to note. The long doors (longest of any E36) sometimes manifest themselves in the window hardware failing and causing the glass to derail (but the regulators are still more solid than the Mickey Mouse cable design in the E46s).

If you like the E30, the compact is the closest you'll come to one, in E36 clothes.

To me, the E30 is the last of the old-school BMWs. The doors shut and latch with a raw metallic "snap" like older German cars do. The interior is very clearly driver-oriented. In 318iS form, it's light, very sweet handling, and the last evolution of the E30.

It will probably come down to preference, and finding a good example.

Even an E46 would be ok, before BMW started to lose the plot with the E90 and later.

The company is now ruled by the bean counters (an opinion shared by execs who have departed), and while it's undeniably doing well as a business, the cars don't have the same appeal for enthusiasts.

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#4447948 - 07/03/17 12:03 AM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: chrisri]
02SE Offline


Registered: 12/30/05
Posts: 2723
Loc: The Canyons
I had an E36 M3 from new for a couple years. It was great fun. No issues during the time I owned it.

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#4447972 - 07/03/17 01:57 AM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: L_Sludger]
Lolvoguy Offline


Registered: 02/06/14
Posts: 2324
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: L_Sludger
E30 every day and twice on Sunday.


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#4448067 - 07/03/17 08:03 AM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: chrisri]
CincyDavid Offline


Registered: 03/03/16
Posts: 704
Loc: Cincinnati, OH USA
I can tell you from experience that E30 convertibles leak like crazy, whatever that's worth. I've had both, and STZRONGLY prefer the E30 driving experience. Truth be known, an E28 535i would be a fun toy too.
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#4448369 - 07/03/17 01:45 PM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: CincyDavid]
L_Sludger Offline


Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 3947
Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By: CincyDavid
I can tell you from experience that E30 convertibles leak like crazy, whatever that's worth. I've had both, and STZRONGLY prefer the E30 driving experience. Truth be known, an E28 535i would be a fun toy too.
I still have my leaky E30 convertible LOL whistle whistle whistle whistle
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#4448380 - 07/03/17 02:02 PM Re: E30 or E36 [Re: chrisri]
CincyDavid Offline


Registered: 03/03/16
Posts: 704
Loc: Cincinnati, OH USA
I sold mine to a guy from Alton IL (when I lived in Lake St Louis MO) and he told me he was going to convert it to electric propulsion. I brushed it off, never gave it another thought, until I opened the newspaper one day and there was article about the guy with the electric BMW.

http://thetelegraph.com/archive/35383/news-local-article_fda5e5cc-7a0f-50f6-834d-cf5e0bcaaeee-html



Edited by CincyDavid (07/03/17 02:05 PM)
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