The BMW 2002 (1968-1976) was one of those hidden classics that wasn’t expensive to buy, maintain, or drive on a regular basis. Prices shot up a few years ago and now the Tii version is stupidly expensive, but you can still find the occasional basic 2002 for a reasonable chunk of cash. Today’s next example has a Gulf Racing paint scheme and some rust, but has some potential. Find this 1974 BMW 2002 offered for $8,500 in Long Beach, CA via craigslist.
Most of the modified/custom cars out on the street are poorly built piles of Pep Boys junk, but this next car is an example of when a car enthusiast takes the original OEM design and improves it with a few subtle alterations taken from other models from the same OEM. I call this OEM+. A manual gearbox wasn’t available in the USDM E38 7-series, the last 7 with a stick was the E32 735i. The central element of this custom is the 6-speed manual from an M5 mated to a limited slip diff, but the builder focused on the interior with a slick M5 gauge cluster install and an OEM style radio nav system. It is shockingly well done. Find this 2001 BMW 740iL 6-Speed offered for $7,995 in Wareham, MA via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
This next car comes as a tip from MikeB who writes: For those of us who are a certain age, the E39 M5 will always be the “adult dream car” (unlike our childhood dream cars like the 911, IROC, Esprit, etc.). This car appears to be in excellent condition and the list of recent maintenance reads like a wish list of things I’d like to do to our recently acquired ’99 540i . . . over the next 5 years. Plus the undercarriage on this car is cleaner than my living room. Good seller, bucket list car, trip to Chicagoland — what’s not to love? Find this 2003 BMW M5 offered for $20,000 in Northwest Suburbs of Chicago via craigslist.
BMW’s 1994 launch of the E36/5 generation 318ti was the first hatchback on a BMW since the classic 2002 Touring was sent to the glue factory in 1974. Styling response was hit & miss the normal folks, but BMW fanboys love the classic 318ti truncated trunk and the fact that it rode on E30 semi-trailing arm suspension borrowed from leftover bits of the previous generation 3-series parts (also used on the Z3). But that didn’t phase BMW planners, because they were aiming to sell cars to a younger demographic and didn’t care of well todo executives didn’t want their little 4-cylinder powered import fighter. Find this 1998 BMW 318ti E36/5 offered for $7000 in Grantham, NH via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
BMW built their fast M3 version of the E46 3-series (1998-2006) in only two-door form…and the closest you could get to an M3 with 4 doors was the 330i ZHP. The ZHP (also available in coupe & vert) added 10 horsepower to the standard M54B30 inline-6, a 6-speed manual gearbox, stiffer suspension, and some fancy alcantara suede interior pieces (that flaked apart like mummy skin a few minutes after you left the dealer lot…according to most people). However, if you wanted a wagon, you had to settle for a basic 325i trim…so the seller of this next car swapped all of the ZHP goodies into a wagon body and the rest is family fun. Find this 2003 BMW 330iT ZHP swap offered for $13,000 in Fremont, CA via craigslist. Tip from Oakland Jeff.
The E39 generation BMW 5-series was one of the last designs from BMW to not be Banglized and overly complicated. Complicated…yes…but not overly..not many issues will need to be solved with a fancy computer talking to other computers…and most things will require a wrench and some RTV. Today’s example doesn’t have the screaming V8 you get in a 540i, but it does have the usability of a wagon and the silky smooth M52 inline-6 good for 190 horsepower and 207 ft-lbs of torque pushed through a 5-speed manual gearbox to the rear wheels. Find this 2000 BMW 528iT Wagon E39 offered for $4200 in San Francisco, CA via craigslist.
I’m not one to go around making blanket statements like some kind of high horse ridin’ pundit…but here goes; the E46 M3 is the M3 you want to buy right now. Before we go any further, I want to state that this isn’t my car, although I have one that is very similar in spec/ color /condition /miles…give or take. Suffice to say, I know what I’m talking about when it comes to M3s and I know a little bit about the M3 market…more later. Find this 2003 BMW M3 E46 offered for $9,500 in Oldsmar, FL via eBay.
I’m not afraid of high mile vehicles, particularly if they are from a known breed that survives into the triple digits without costing the owner his lunch each year in maintenance. The BMW 850 fits in that category of expensive to own, but not Ferrari ridiculous, andthe idea of scoring a deal on a low mile V12 powered BMW is compelling..but you have to wonder if a low mile V12 that hasn’t been driven is scarier than a high mile 850ci…I dunno, but the car collecting hobby has turned into stamp collecting these days and this will probably be worth more than the current ask if you just kept it in your garage for a decade and drove it once a week. Find this 1996 BMW 850Ci offered for $17,000 in San Rafael, CA via craigslist.
Anyone who reads this site knows that I’m not often left speechless…but here I am…at a loss for words. I’m also not one to just put a turd in someone else’s punch bowl just for the sake of it…but I’m also not one to beat around the bush. This is not a BMW 5-series or BMW 6-series…(which you can get for next to nothing) these days…so why would you drive this? Because this is America and we take our freedom seriously and our cars not so seriously…at least you’d have to, if this was your daily driver. Find this 2002 Toyota Solara with a starting bid of $3900 in Versailles, KY via eBay.
I fully acknowledge my love of the BMW 3-series for everyday driven late model cars. And typically, I recommend people search for a used and abused M3 in their price range to get the best bang for the buck because BMW puts so much more love into their ///M models…but…BUT…sometimes the most basic barebones BMW 3-series is the best because who needs all those gadgets and turbos and flappy-paddle-gear-changers and things anyway. All you really need to have fun an a 3-series is a magnesium-alloy engine block and a 6-speed manual gearbox. Find this 2007 BMW 328i offered for $9800 in La Verne, CA via craigslist.