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?
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
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
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
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.