1999 BMW 328i Convertible

5I think that one day we’ll look back upon the E36 generation 3-series and regard it as a classic. The “dolphin” body shape continues to age well, and sits atop a finely balanced chassis that makes for a spritely and engaging drive. The six cylinder motors found in these are smooth, stout units that offer satisfying (if not blistering) performance and return decent fuel economy. When they do go wrong, they are quite simple to work on and spare parts are relatively cheap and plentiful. The M3 of this generation is already quite desirable and is a bit of a performance bargain, especially since it remains cheaper to pick up than the E30 and E46 versions that sit either side of it. But clean, low-mileage non-M cars often get overlooked, and I think this is a little unfair. Take this 328i for example. It’s a convertible and an automatic, both potential turn-offs for some. But a 3-series in this configuration is not supposed to be a track car or a street racer. It’s supposed to be a classy little boulevard cruiser. And on that score it’s a winner.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW 328i Convertible on eBay

Wagons Ho! Super 5-door Roundup

Perusing the classifieds for interesting wagons this week, I came across quite a few and thought it would be a good chance to look at some sporty 5-doors. To level the playing field slightly, all are automatics. While that may cause some of you to groan, they make up for a lack of manual with distinctive styling, plenty of power and rarity that will set you apart from the crowd. Which is the one you’d choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 on Portland Craigslist

Feature Listing: 2011 BMW 328i

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Living in a fairly wealthy, urban area, the BMW 3 series seems as ubiquitous as a Toyota Camry. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. These compact BMWs are certainly capable of cars, but as a former E30 owner, the new ones fail to relight my fire, lest I steal a line from one of my favorite Dan Hartman songs from the late 1970s. This 2011 328i Coupe for sale from our friends at Euro Automotion has me doing a double take, however. Sure, it’s saddled with the 6-speed automatic, but considering the mileage and condition, this is a quite affordable option to a well-optioned, brand new subcompact.

Click for details: 2011 BMW 328i at Euro Automotion

10K Friday: BMW 3-series Showdown

Rightly so, I’ve been accused of comparing everything to BMWs – so for today’s 10K Friday, I thought why not compare BMWs to BMWs? Part of the reason I compare various cars I write up to the alternative BMW products is because for some time they have been considered the benchmark, and their popularity from new to the used classic market means that they set the pricing trends against which others can be judged. That’s especially true of the 3 series; for some time, the go-to performance product from Germany, increasingly many earlier generations of the 3 are being viewed as not only collectable, but indeed as investments. So, what does your $10,000 budget buy these days? I’ve rounded up five examples from the first five generations, covering nearly every configuration the small executive platform has been available in. Which is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW 320is on eBay

1996 BMW 328i Individual

I find this car both exciting and perplexing. This comes in part from the nature of the car; well, honestly I find most of the BMW Individual ordered cars to be pretty cool. But this one had me scratching my head just a little bit. It wasn’t over the color; Daytona Violet is one pretty awesome color and suits the E36 pretty well overall, I think. The transmission is the right box, and the Dove Grey leather compliments the car well. No, the question comes down to one of price – and for once it’s not a complaint about EAG’s asking price but specifically the original purchase price. Why? Well, in order to spec your 328i as this one was, you’d be paying more than a M3 that was available for minimal charge in the same color to get it. Huh?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 BMW 328i Individual on Enthusiast Auto Group

2009 BMW 328i X-Drive Touring M-Sport 6-Speed

If you asked a random person on the street which was more rare, an E91 wagon with a manual transmission or an Audi R8, I guarantee you that the majority of folks would say the R8. They would of course be wrong because an average of 1,500 wagons came to the U.S. annually with a estimated maximum of 5% being manuals. That lumps this example in with rare gated manuals like Ferrari F430s or Aston Martins. Of course most people look at this car and just see another AWD wagon suited for life in a mountain town. In my opinion, that is a big part of the appeal and though it’s not nearly as powerful as an Audi S4, I think these M-Sport package cars are equally as special. I have yet to get a chance to drive on with a manual but I know how well they handle and as someone who owned a B7 S4 Avant, I have to say the BMW was more enjoyable for spirited driving. Sure, you don’t get the V8 wail like you do with the S4 or an AMG wagon but the venerable 3.0L I-6 can sing a pleasing song with the right upgrades, particularly an M-Sport exhaust and headers.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2009 BMW 328i X-Drive Touring on Craigslist

1999 BMW 328i Convertible

With summer about to commence, I’m sure we’d all like to have a convertible in which we could worship the sun. What better way to do it with three of your friends than a BMW 3 series convertible? Most of these E36 convertibles were acquired for cruising and thus equipped with automatic gearboxes. However, this one for sale in Pennsylvania is mated to BMWs slick 5-speed manual. This 328i has yet to crack 60,000 miles and for those who like cloth tops better than the new fangled retractable hardtops, you’ll want to look this one over.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW 328i Convertible on eBay

Wagon Week: 2012 BMW 328i xDrive Touring

I’ll be the first to admit that I was very late to the E91 touring party. When it debuted, I was still far more interested in the Audi S4 and Subaru Legacy Turbo. In fact, up until I began to take a healthier interest in the world of BMWs, I didn’t associate the brand with AWD long roofs at all even though they have a storied history within the segment. When I thought of BMW wagons I thought of a ’91 525i that belonged to some friends of my parents. At the time that car seemed like nothing special but oh if I could turn back the clock and get my hands on it now I’d be a happy man. Dark green with a brown leather interior, M Parallel wheels, let me tell you, that thing was gorgeous. The idea that BMW made a nice wagon began to percolate and it wasn’t long before I found myself adding the E91 to my regular internet searches.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 BMW 328i xDrive Estate On AutoTrader

BlueMWs – A Roundup of Newer BMWs

If I’m brutally honest, I’m not a huge fan of most of the newer BMW designs. As my wife says, I’d be happy if Journey was still on the radio and everyone was walking around with a mullet (that’s only half true…). But that’s not it; as I was saying to her just yesterday, I just don’t get excited about most of the new designs that come out. It wasn’t always this way – I remember eagerly awaiting the next issue of the multiple car magazines I subscribed to so that I could immediately flip to the section I found most exciting – the upcoming cars feature. But that enthusiasm has waned as cars have grown more complex, isolating and expensive. Sure, they’re faster – and even basic models do everything much better than even some “supercars” from the 1980s. But I don’t look at them and get excited like I did when the S4 first launched, for example. But, a thought occurred to me – while I’m not the biggest fan of these cars, proportionate to what you used to receive they’re simply a better value and better cars. We can pontificate about the virtues of the E30 M3 to no end, but the reality is that even around a track, the bone-stock 328i all-wheel drive wagon below would give it a run for its money without much difficulty – and in every other aspect, it’s a better car. We’re really still in the midst of a horsepower revolution, but that power is translated to the ground better than before with more sophisticated transmissions and computer aids along with all-wheel drive available in most packages. But it’s not just speed – not only can these fast cars get you to the Alps, they are like the luxury resorts when you get there, with fine materials and fit and finish that are really top quality.…

Spicy or Mild? 1998 BMW M3 Convertible versus 1996 BMW 328i Convertible

Shortly after we had posted it last week, the Estoril Blue M3 Convertible sold. That car set off an interesting debate with our readers about how acceptable an open-roofed M car can be. Most people seem to be in agreement that they would rather have the enjoyment of top down motoring at the expense of weight or chassis flex, as most folks aren’t hitting the track on a regular basis. This M3 Convertible for sale in California has a bit more mileage under its belt, but is also a 5-speed manual example, arguably the more involving gearbox choice.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Convertible on eBay