Feature Listing: 2006 BMW 330xi

Although BMW finally equalized the all-wheel drive advantage of its rival Audi as early as the E30, it would take a few generations for the company to offer a truly potent variant of the small four season executive sedan. But when it finally got around to it with the E90, it was a great package. Although the E46 was a hard act to follow, the Bavarians stepped up with an all new 330 model. Now powered by the N52B30 rated at 255 horsepower, it packed even more punch than the outgoing E46. And like its predecessor, the top-of-the-range 330 could be selected with BMW’s constantly variable x-drive all-wheel drive system.

Utilizing a central multi-plate clutch and many computers to monitor vehicle and wheel speed, steering input and throttle/braking, the intelligent all-wheel drive system took the guess work out of poor weather situations. But it was far from the only trick item in the 330’s arsenal. The N52, one of the last developments of the naturally aspirated inline-6 that had been the anchor of the BMW lineup for decades, was a truly special unit. The block was cast from magnesium with an aluminum core. Variable valve timing for both cams meant a guttural screaming at up to 7,000 rpm, yet it was able to return over 30 mpg on the highway. It’s a mind-blowing type of motor that’s just good in every situation and sounds great, too. While the change to the new square dashboard was less driver-oriented, the E90 packed serious computing power beneath its Swiss chalet look; a minimalist design with high quality materials that has stood the test of time well.

Of course, the most desirable of these models were the sport package equipped examples. And, of those, the manual transmission option is the one to get. Welcome, everyone, to just that car:…

Miserly M: 2011 BMW 335d M-Sport

Okay, so diesel has a bit of a bad reputation right now. For an enthusiast, that’s not necessarily a bad thing – and when you weigh the advantages it offers it can be quite compelling. For sure there is mileage; a friend of mine daily commutes in an A3 TDi, and despite a relatively heavy foot he returns a pretty reliable 40 m.p.g.. That’s impressive. But surveying the real world results of BMW’s diesel offering seems to suggest that it doesn’t return much better mileage than our N52 gas motor, which is inexplicably capable of 30 m.p.g. on the highway at reasonable speeds. But what BMW’s first U.S. offering of a diesel in the 3-series does offer is some sport. You see, while M3 owners will shout all day about horsepower numbers, the 335d’s weapon is being pushy. The S65 may be a legendary V8 already, but it only is able to twist with 295lb. ft of torque. In contrast, the 335d offers a bit more in the M57 turbo diesel – a total of 428 lb.ft of torque, with horsepower numbers that nearly match the N55 at 282. Equipped with the M-Sport performance options, this is about as close to a diesel M as you can get:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 BMW 335d M-Sport on eBay

2011 BMW M3 Individual

My search for a Phoenix Yellow M3 consumed years, and along the way I checked out plenty of other custom yellow options. There were plenty of Dakar Yellow E46s and E92s, but it’s always neat to see something a little bit different. Named after a desert in Chile, the color was originally launched on the Z4 – but, of course, that didn’t stop a few imaginative souls from specifying BMW Individual to paint their pride in joy in the orange-yellow tone. It’s no small feat to do so, so while you’re there you might as well tick every option box, right? The results on this M3 are pretty interesting; from a $55,900 base price, the original buyer selected no less than $20,000 worth of options. Of particular interest to me (outside, of course, from the exterior color) is that they also had the imagination to order something other than black inside. Does it work?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 BMW M3 on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 2006 Hartge H50 – REVISIT

Two S85 V10 swapped 3 series in a week? Sure, we can do that! The crazy Hartge-modified H50 built on a base 325 is back and now for sale on eBay. The “Buy It Now” is the same $105,000 asking price as last winter, and with no new photos still this one is still a bit of a head scratcher in a few ways – especially since you can grab a S85 V10 M5 in the $20K range now. But it’s rare, it’s fast, and I’m sure there are still a host of people who’d like it – I’m just not sure at this price, though.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Hartge H50 on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site December 14, 2014:

2008 BMW M3

Four doors, three pedals and eight cylinders. Is there a more exciting combination for an enthusiast when it comes to a daily driver? Honestly I can’t think of one and of the small group of modern cars to offer this configuration, I’d say the E90 M3 is the top dog. In this modern age of turbocharged everything, it is highly unlikely that we’ll ever see another car like this one. A useable back seat and trunk mated with a 4.0L V8 already sounds old school and we’re only seven years on from when the car was initially offered. When BMW announced the whole M3/M4 plan and the news that the new cars would have a turbocharged six-cylinder, I wasn’t surprised. It’s just how things are going these days. The sports car market is completely over-saturated with vehicles that will surely delight their drivers but will they offer the same visceral connection as their predecessors? I don’t think so but ultimately that is for each of us to decide on our own. What I can say with absolute confidence is that the E90 M3 market is rapidly moving in a very wallet friendly direction, great news for those of us who prefer a screaming V8 soundtrack to the artificially enhanced aural experience of a boosted inline-6.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW M3 on Cars.com

2008 BMW 335i

Before I began contributing to GCFSB I was a daily reader. I enjoyed the site more than other used auto blogs because I found that on GCFSB, many of the vehicles were of the more reasonable variety. Perhaps it’s because I grew up flipping through Used Auto Digest far more often than the duPont registry, though I did enjoy doing that once in awhile just for fun. I like to fantasize about $100k + investments in the classic car market just as much as any other enthusaist but I think it’s far more interesting to learn about vehicles which are grounded in reality. So it is with that mindset that I bring you today’s post, an E90 BMW 335i with 3 pedals.

For those folks that are on the casual observer side of the automotive world, this car doesn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary and in some ways they’re right. It’s a RWD, Grey over Black four door sedan with pretty basic features and a manual transmission. It doesn’t demand attention the way an E90 M3 does, what with its vicious soundtrack and more muscular body but I think that’s part of what makes it attractive. The 335i is no slouch in the power department, with the N54 powerplant producing 305 hp/295 lb-ft of torque it always seemed to me like a more grown up RWD, ’11+ STi sedan. Now I’m sure Subaru fans would love to rip me to shreds for comparing their beloved rally machine to this UCLA graduation present but I’d be quick to remind them that it’s really a matter of numbers and function rather than the spirit of the vehicle. Spiritually the STi and the M3 have much in common but they’re vastly different in price and performance so I think that an unfair comparison.…

Two Turbos or None? BMW 335i v. M3

A few months ago at a gathering of friends, two BMWs were present – my friend’s E46 M3 and his acquaintance’s E82 135i. A bit under my breath, I mentioned to him that I still couldn’t get over how unattractive the 135i was compared to the M3. I may have said that the E82 looked a bit like a really poor quality bodyshop repaired a E46 that had been both in full frontal and rear crashes – poorly. But my friend countered that if anything, that 135i was faster and more fun to drive than his M3. Looking back, I paused, and thought “Could I?” The answer remains no in my book, but it does raise an interesting question – with E92 335i prices dropping within reach of the higher E46 M3s, which is the better choice?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 335i on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 2006 Hartge H50

While engine swaps on BMWs seem downright commonplace, there are the normal engine swaps (the well played out S50/52 comes to mind) and then there’s Hartge. The history between the two premier BMW tuning firms in Germany – Alpina and Hartge – is interesting. They’ve vied for the top spot for several decades with slightly different design philosophies. During that time, they’ve also seemingly flip-flopped; originally, Hartge took a more conservative route than Alpina, whose wild turbocharged creations challenged BMW’s own offerings. But after they were granted full manufacturer status in Germany in 1985, Hartge really came into its own and hasn’t looked back since. While like many firms they offer a line of aerodynamic tweats, wheels, exhausts and engine management chips, their party-piece is taking motors from the larger BMWs and popping them into the 3-series models. None of these conversions is more notable than the E90 H50 though. While the E46 H50 took the V8 out of the 5 series, the E90 had a V8 available in the lineup in the M3. Hartge therefore moved up the food chain to the E60 M5’s S85 V10. With a staggering 500 horspower out of the box and even 50 more with Hartge’s tuning, they transformed the rather mundane small executive sedan into a supercar:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Hartge H50 at Turner Motorsports

Feature Listing: 2007 BMW 328xi Touring 6MT Sport

Upon my urging, an old friend of mine in the Boston area purchased a BMW E91 Touring with a 6-speed manual gearbox after he learned his first child was on the way. His wife desperately wanted an SUV but in the end, the long roof 3er argument won. He had previously driven a 2001 325xi sedan with an automatic, and a 1992 325i sedan with a 5-speed manual and always missed the joy of rowing your own during his E46 ownership, especially when it came to the smooth gearboxes we’ve come to know from the boffins in Munich. If it’s 3 series driving quality you seek but need a bit more practicality in the mix, our reader Dave is offering his very mint 2007 328xi Touring with the Sport package and 6-speed manual gearbox. BMW isn’t offering three-pedal Tourings stateside, so now is your chance to get them while there’s still a few lower mileage examples out there.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 BMW 328xi Touring 6MT Sport on E90 Post

Snow Patrol: 2008 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Avant S-line v. 2007 BMW 328xi Touring

We had a bit of a surprise a this past week in New England – snow fell early in November throughout most of the area. I promptly updated my calendar for this weekend to change over snow tires – always a bitter-sweet time of year. As much as moving all that snow is a pain, if you have the right car it sure can be fun to drive in! In my case, I’ve been suffering a 8 year quattro drought, but thankfully my wonderful wife lets me sling her Subaru Outback through some parking lots from time to time – and importantly, she lets me take it to winter driving schools. Winter driving schools in general are one of the best ways to learn car control. Effectively, the same things occur on ice and snow that occur on the track – they just occur at a much, much lower speed. Ice and snow point out both strengths and faults in the chassis. Few people drive away from these events without a giant smile on their faces, even when they arrive afraid of driving in the white stuff!

You can buy many cars that are good in the snow or you can slot snow tires onto your winter ride; but if you want to combine some sport, some utility, and fantastic performance in the snow into one package, few do it better than these two. Unfortunately for American consumers, the days of Audi wagons in the U.S. are gone; we’re currently limited to the A4 Allroad. BMW still offers the wagons but at over $40,000 new without options, they’re not exactly affordable for most folks. What’s a German car fan to do? Well, you can look back a few years and find some great options – such as today’s A4 and 328.…