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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


View Poll Results: Should I buy an E36 M3 for hard daily use?
Yes! No Worries at all. Great car - will serve you well 31 73.81%
No way! You're crazy for thinking an M can handle that 11 26.19%
Voters: 42. You may not vote on this poll

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Old Tue, Jan-19-2016, 05:50:58 AM   #1
tykluss18
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Question Unique driving situation. Should I buy an E36 M?

Hi all.

First, I have read Nick (fiveightandten)'s thread on this topic already.

I am seriously considering a 96+ E36 M3 as a daily driver. I have adequate space, tools, specialty equipment (such as a lift), and knowledge to maintain the car and have no issues tackling weekend projects. However, an issue with my current situation is that I drive around 34,000 miles a year. My commute is 100 miles a day on the 101 freeway and Pacific Coast Highway from Thousand Oaks, CA to Marina Del Rey. This drive is a combination of 10 mins of city driving with no traffic, followed by 15 minutes of freeway speed, followed by 15 minutes of constant flow at 45 mph, then around 30 minutes of driving between stop and go traffic and 50 mph, depending on the day. Hours running per day is 2:30-3:00. In addition to this, 1-2 times a week I visit my girlfriend which is freeway speed for two hours round trip and once a month I drive a club road rally. Mileage per week averages 650 with around 15 hours of drive time.

Currently, my budget will accept regular maintenance with no issue, but would be strained by a major component failure. I am used to driving older cars on a regular basis, currently I drive a 2000 Ford Ranger 5 speed to commute, and a 1971 MG for fun. I have the 100 mile range for AAA so potential towing costs are not a concern. After driving and working on my friend's 97 M3, spending time with my friend's pristine E28, and realizing that the E36 M is a great fun per dollar car it is on my list of consideration.

I would love to survey you all, real E36 M3 owners on if, in my situation, you would be comfortable driving your E36 to this demand. If you think the M3 is up to this challenge I would also love to hear of any preventative maintenance you would pay special attention to, as well as any other measures you would take to ensure the longevity of the car.

Thanks in advance for feedback!

Last edited by tykluss18; Tue, Jan-19-2016 at 05:55:21 AM.
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Old Tue, Jan-19-2016, 06:02:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: Unique driving situation. Should I buy an E36 M?

not for that kind of duty/mileage imo.

You would be at the pump every 3rd day or so. Id get a golf tdi and call it a day.
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Old Tue, Jan-19-2016, 06:17:13 AM   #3
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Default Re: Unique driving situation. Should I buy an E36 M?

Inb4 obiopan recommends he gets an f10 m5


Negative, These cars are best as weekend drivers. Get a TDI or a hybrid if you are doing such a lot commute.

Also you shouldn't shun away from the 95s, the differences aren't as dramatic as everyone makes them out to be. Just get the cleanest m3 you can find.
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Old Tue, Jan-19-2016, 06:42:24 AM   #4
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Default Re: Unique driving situation. Should I buy an E36 M?

Doesn't sound like an E36 is really the best car for you. I just bought a new VW Jetta 1.8T Sport last year and its a great everyday car. I get 38-40mpg highway and average about 34mpg with a mix of city and highway. Car was around 22k, is quick enough to not feel like a loser on the road, and has every creature comfort I could want; heated seats, sat radio, etc. APR has a tune out for it that adds 100hp if I'm ever feeling froggy.

No better feeling than having a car in the garage to tinker with, and get to drive a nice new comfortable car everyday with a warranty. Too many times in my teens and 20s I would be working on a car and had to stay up all night to get it running because I had to drive it to work/class in the morning.
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Old Tue, Jan-19-2016, 12:50:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: Unique driving situation. Should I buy an E36 M?

If you are keeping a 2000 Ford Ranger on the road driving 34k per year, have AAA Platinum, have a second car, have a shop, and don't mind working on the car at night or on the weekends, you can drive just about anything you want.

I see no reason why you could not drive an E36M3 for 500k miles. You will replace a lot of parts, but that would be true of any older car. Buy one, redo all suspension bushings, ball joints, mounts, end links, etc. Next, redo the entire cooling system including every hose (that will leave the heater valve and heater core for the future). After that, I would eventually expect a headgasket and a clutch. Little things like engine accessories will also go but can also be replaced.

I have done all of this work on my car.

The interior will get ratty with lots of use if it is not ratty already. You may want to address that also, but it can be done as well.

On the other hand, keeping an 17-20 year old car performing well and reliably with lots of mileage is harder than for a new car. If there is a new car you can afford that would be just as much fun, consider it. I would consider a 135i or 335i from 2011 on with 8 speed automatic, and I would mod the car to about 350 rwhp. I would also consider a 335d with a burger tune. But bottom line is that the more I drive, the more I want the car to be one that I like driving. No parking the nice car most of the time while I drive a beater for me.
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Old Tue, Jan-19-2016, 01:54:45 PM   #6
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Default Re: Unique driving situation. Should I buy an E36 M?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pbonsalb View Post
If you are keeping a 2000 Ford Ranger on the road driving 34k per year, have AAA Platinum, have a second car, have a shop, and don't mind working on the car at night or on the weekends, you can drive just about anything you want.

I see no reason why you could not drive an E36M3 for 500k miles. You will replace a lot of parts, but that would be true of any older car. Buy one, redo all suspension bushings, ball joints, mounts, end links, etc. Next, redo the entire cooling system including every hose (that will leave the heater valve and heater core for the future). After that, I would eventually expect a headgasket and a clutch. Little things like engine accessories will also go but can also be replaced.

I have done all of this work on my car.

The interior will get ratty with lots of use if it is not ratty already. You may want to address that also, but it can be done as well.

I think and E36 M would be a great choice for the roads and type of driving you describe. If you were commuting in bumper to bumper traffic for an hour a day I would say get a hybrid. For the area you're talking about get something you will enjoy driving for the 30k miles per year.

It is the cheapest M car to own and is easy to work on with great internet support and parts availability.

You will get better mileage with a new car, but it will depreciate like a lead balloon with the mileage you are racking up. That will eat up the cost savings on gas and then sum, plus more expensive registrations and insurance.

I'd think you will be shopping in the $7-$9k price range for an M3. You don't need a low mileage, super cherry car for what you are planning to do. Budget another couple grand to take care of any and all deferred maintenance, bullet proof the cooling system and enjoy.
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Old Tue, Jan-19-2016, 03:33:58 PM   #7
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Default Re: Unique driving situation. Should I buy an E36 M?

very easy to work on, cheap, fun to drive, the S50/S52 engine is very reliable - I don't see the problem.
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Old Tue, Jan-19-2016, 04:55:25 PM   #8
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Default Re: Unique driving situation. Should I buy an E36 M?

I drove mine 30k a year for 3 years... Supercharged with 10psi. These cars handle it just fine.

There are more fuel efficient options though.
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Old Tue, Jan-19-2016, 05:43:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: Unique driving situation. Should I buy an E36 M?

With that much highway driving, why not get a diesel? Prices are pretty low right now too with dieselgate going on. My MK6 Golf TDI gets 45-50mpg depending on how cold it gets in the morning driving on the 126 in SoCal. If you can wait a little bit, recall details should come out.

There's other brands too, BMW diesels are nice.

Last edited by Earthwormjlm; Tue, Jan-19-2016 at 06:10:04 PM.
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Old Tue, Jan-19-2016, 05:45:30 PM   #10
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Default Re: Unique driving situation. Should I buy an E36 M?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamGrant951 View Post
very easy to work on, cheap, fun to drive, the S50/S52 engine is very reliable - I don't see the problem.
This. Swapping in a 6 speed should give you some extra freeway range as well. As far as major components failing...yeah it can happen. My diff blew itself up at 80k. Engine and tranny are reliable though. Just make sure your cooling system gets changed every 60k or so or go with quality aftermarket parts.
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Discussing Unique driving situation. Should I buy an E36 M? in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)