Pros: "Very impressive engineering and performance."
Cons: "Older car, some tinkering required"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is the second BMW we have owned. It has over 275,000 miles and we have rebuilt it for continued service. The motor was untouched. It still had excellent compression in all cylinders and there was little leak-down. The transmission was also great - we drained and refilled with SWEPCO 201 and it shifts and holds great. What we did replace was the shocks, struts, springs, clutch, shift linkage bushings, transmission mount bushings, sway bar bushings, steering rack and tie rods, water pump, fan clutch, brake hardware, and wheel bearings. It now runs and handles like new. Very impressive engineering. Great on-line community support for repairs and upgrades - lots of instruction and U-Tube videos. Repair parts are suprisingly inexpensive with the exception of a few dealer-only trim pieces. Definately a car you can keep for 500k miles without cracking open the motor - just keep synthetic oil in it and change every 5k or so. If you find a low mileage car, you can expect to have reliable transportation. Our car had a great body, interior, but was driven by a salesman and he had wore out the clutch, wheel bearings and suspension - so the parts mentioned. The fan clutch and water pump was strictly preventitive. The E36 is best for people who like to perform basic tinkering and maintenance on their own - as the cars age you will have to replace some worn and dried out items (belts, hoses, vacuum lines, etc.). It does not take a lot of tools or skill, but a few hours of BMW mechanic time does add up.
Great car. Lots of fun to drive. 28 mpg overall and cheap to insure."
"I got my 318 when i turn Sixteen in 1996. even then it was used. I drove it through high school and college and even made eight trip from Washington DC (Home) to College in Los Angeles and the car was great and great on gas too. It is now 2009 and I am still driving my little blue convertible that has become such a big part of my life. No major work done all minor over the years and I have never paid more than $400 at one time for anything with the car. Not even tires. Although I am now looking to upgrade to a new BMW Convertible (maybe a 330ci) I will never let go of my 95' model until it dies on me. My car currently has 210,000 miles on it and just made a trip from Los Angeles to Miami for a summer vacation. Great Car!!!"
"I have a 1999 323ic which was purchased new. Fun car to drive, mechanically sound, but.... The interior has plastic parts that have fallen off and I have a jar of them?? My mechanic did ask for one part which I guess I threw away. Convertible top is totally unreliable, which is a bummer in the summer. Paid 2k to fix it and it lasted one season and is not working again. BMW should have the top as part of their otherwise great maintenance program."
"With 150,000 miles on it, this little car is still driving great. Repairs however are expensive. I can estimate to spend about $1000-1500 in repairs per year on this car however (that does not include maintenance i.e. new tires, oil changes, etc.)"
"1996 328is: getting older; various parts expectedly wearing out; to maintain this vehicle and keep up on repairs is significantly more expensive than this car's worth. at this age, it's a money pit. too bad because when it was newer, it was a great car!"