I bought the car 2 years ago from someone who had it for 11 years and never drove it in the winter. The car is near perfect condition with a few modifications ( the previous owner liked to go fast ). M3 cam, header, M50 intake, AA chip and 3 inch exhaust, full locking diff plus new adjustable suspension.
The ride plus handling is tight.
This is actually my first car, and I love it. It's fun, and has been reliable. The car is quick, and can corner great. The only bad thing is the cup holder, which is the only thing in suggested improvements.
The bits are a bit expensive, such as the dash lights. This isn't just great because it's my first car, one of the cars in the house is much faster and is for wheel drive.
Not a whole not of trunk space, but I can fit my guitar in it, and really anything I need to fit in it. The back seats also lack a bit of leg room.
Nothing I can say is bad about this car, so I do recommend this.
Convertible top obviously
It's fun, and corners well
I like walking up and seeing the car.
The one and only suggestion is to switch out the cup holder for something else. This is literally the worst cup holder ever in the universe. The up holder is to small for anything to go in it, and not just by U.S. standards. Anything that you put in it will fly out in the corners, so the only drink you can safely have in it has to be bottled.
Not only can the cup holder not fit any drinks in it, if there is a drink in it, it gets in the way of shifting. You can't shift without hitting whatever is in the cup holder.
All in all, if you can find something to replace the cup holder, then do so.
The BMW 323is (chassis code: E36) is a very reliable automobile with exceptional fuel-sipping properties. Naturally you'll have to replace some parts along the way, however they are not as expensive as most would have you believe. Most repairs can be done by even the most novice of home mechanics. The cooling system should be overhauled every 60-80k miles but even with OEM parts the whole task should cost the DIYer no more than $350-400 (radiator, thermostat, water pump, hoses, etc.). The engine is brilliant and I still see 27 MPG as my overall avg. As mentioned in the title, I am currently at 210,000 miles and still on the factory clutch! I will keep this car for at least another 100k.
How it drives and the sound of the inline-6 engine.
With out a doubt the BMW e36 M40 engines are a very reliable engine. These cars require routine maintenance such as oil changes with synthetic oil, oxygen sensor replacement every 30,000 - 60,000 miles for best fuel air mixture ratio and mpg performance. The cooling systems are prone to wear due to plastic BMW OEM parts however, replacing the thermostat, water pump and radiator with full metal parts is highly suggested.
BMW parts for the E36 series are relatively inexpensive and can be found on the internet comparable to the price of Honda, or Toyota parts. I bought my 1998 BMW 318I in August of 2012 with 176,000 miles. I have not had any mechanical issues with it. I do my own maintainence
Style, performance, gas millage, performance
Idle Speed Control Valve
ABS Pump Relay
Wheel Speed Sensors
Power Steering Hose
Rear Shock Absorber Mount
Outer Ball Joints
Inner Control Arm
I bought my '98 323is in September of '11 with 55,400 original miles.
It has been about 90 days and the car has been a pure joy to drive and own.
The M52 is the least powerful of the 2.5 I6 engines available but is still reasonably quick with a wonderful smooth character and a good amount of torque.
The balanced feel and handling put a huge smile on my face in every corner.
It is also comfortable and reasonably quiet on the highway inspite of its tight, sporty character.
This car was well maintained by its previous two owners and it shows.
I now understand why BMW calls their cars the "Ultimate Driving Machine".
Extremely high quality feel.
Brilliant to drive.
Components designed to be DIY friendly in regards to repair and maintenance.
Highway driving at 75-80 mph nets 25-30 mpg and a 0-60 time of 7.1 seconds...what's not to like?
Cup holders were a distant afterthought, the Germans take their driving very seriously and don't understand our desire to consume refreshments while we drive.
Glove box design not terribly robust.