Why My Only Car Is A ‘Boring’ High-Mileage BMW 325i

325i Topshot

I’ll be perfectly honest, I have the most boring garage of anyone at The Autopian. David has his hoard of Jeeps, Jason has a car from a country that doesn’t exist anymore, and Mercedes is gradually collecting enough Smart Fortwos to block every pump at one of those enormous Bucc-ee’s gas stations. In contrast, I don’t even have a two-car fleet, just one slice of depreciated regular-ass traffic — a 2006 BMW 325i. Nevertheless, there’s still a slight strangeness to my vehicle history. So how on earth does someone go from sketchy but characterful claptraps to the Bavarian equivalent of a Corolla? Well, growing up is a hell of a drug.

Crown Vic Slammed 2
Photo credit: Thomas Hundal

My first car, a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham sedan, came with several kilos of hot peppers and was so bad that I had to give it away rather than sell it for actual money. I’m convinced that it only still exists to spite me. My 1996 GMC C1500 pickup truck had its own ecosystem growing on the truck cap and ended up with a sweet Alpine audio system. The seller of my old Crown Victoria dropped a racial slur on the test drive, and I promptly ruined that Crown Victoria by dumping it on its nuts, installing a mini-spool, and having far too much fun. It made it across Canada at this low ride height, only once almost getting stuck in Revelstoke, B.C.

G35 Autech Wheels
Photo credit: Thomas Hundal

Once that Crown Victoria properly and catastrophically broke, it was time for something a bit more sensible, reliable, and less prone to catching on fire. A used compact Japanese sedan with traction control, side airbags, and a slightly more modern crash structure than the taco shell used in the construction of the Crown Victoria. A reasonable form factor to appease my grandmother, a raucous V6, six-speed manual gearbox and limited-slip rear differential to appease me. Yeah, I went online, ticked the boxes for ‘Infiniti G35’ and ‘Manual’, and went to work. While that G35 was a stupid amount of fun and definitely more reliable than my Crown Victoria, it wasn’t exactly reliable full-stop and a few key modifications really sacrificed comfort. So, after two years of ownership, I was just about ready to move on.

325i 4
Photo credit: Thomas Hundal

The plan was a rather stupid one. Can a high-mileage German car like a naturally-aspirated E90 BMW 3-Series be cheaper to run than a Nissan with some fancy emblems on it? Common sense says no, but common sense has no air of optimism. We as enthusiasts don’t buy cars to be sensible, we buy them because we’re hopeless romantics.

Whether you’re in love with chassis tuning or clever engineering, or locking diffs, or having a long enough hood to land a helicopter in the space between your windscreen and hood ornament, you typically buy the car you want and other perks like low running costs and reliability are pleasant surprises. Truthfully, I’ve wanted an E90 since they came out. Period reviews were glowing, and I’ve always found the styling to be absolutely sensational.

Plus, it appealed to maturing sensibilities. Parts support is tremendous, fuel economy is purported to be excellent, and there’s something nice about a well-tuned stock car. However, love isn’t enough to convince everyone. One of my best friends, a great skeptic and keeper of many reliable vehicles, was convinced that an E90 would be a lateral move at best. Obviously, I didn’t hear the “at best” part and thought that a lateral move wouldn’t be so bad as a worst-case scenario.

325i 5
Photo credit: Thomas Hundal

Now, a low-trim 3-Series has a certain air of ill-repute to it. The stereotypical chariot of a dull city boy with some bullshit job who could be easily replaced with any member of Beta Lambda Theta or whatever local fraternity’s known for awful parties. Don’t ask me why I picked that name, I’m a total geed. You can typically find a clapped-out 3-Series with M stripes on the grille, hacked-off mufflers, and more electrical faults than a mixing board with a Solo cup full of Smirnoff Ice spilled on it.

However, the 3-Series exists as an archetype for a reason. It used to be the textbook sports sedan, seven-tenths the fun of a sports coupe with roughly twice the practicality. I mean come on, I lust after a 370Z but know damn well it’s not exactly suited to IKEA runs. Nor is a two-seater the best option if you have friends or cousins or grandparents or anyone you’ll be driving around. Old 3-ers have great naturally-aspirated inline-sixes, manual gearbox availability, and rather feelsome hydraulic power steering, they’re less about numbers and more about joy. Plus, they pack proper refinement.

My old G35 with its stiff coilovers, custom exhaust system, and horrendous seats was a blast on a back road, but rather tedious when slogging down potholed Canadian highways on a cold October night when you just want to sleep in your own bed again. Look, I love a good party, but I’m sort of past the point of wanting to party every waking hour. There’s a certain pleasure in a quiet evening curled up on the sofa with a good book and a cup of tea, and my G35 was really the antithesis of that. Plus, I was finishing up a postgrad in public relations. In my mind at the time, I’d soon be working at an agency downtown and was about to have much less time for mucking about with dampers settings and drone. That didn’t quite work out, but it doesn’t mean that a shift in mindset didn’t happen.

325i 3
Photo credit: Thomas Hundal

So, fully convinced that a 3-Series was the right idea, I started test-driving cars. See, Canada got several variants of the E90 that America didn’t. Early 323is had a measly 170 horsepower, manual climate control, and optional cruise control. Needless to say, it’s not massively quick. Later 323is added a trick three-stage intake manifold and upped output to 200 horsepower, but are still a touch slow for my tastes. The torque curve is alright but not great, plus the cars themselves are still somewhat lacking in equipment. Right, so I knew I needed something with the three-liter N52B30 engine, a six-speed manual gearbox, and rear-wheel-drive. At this point, heated sport seats and xenon headlights were must-haves, as was the rather advanced top-spec audio system that employs a fiber-optic connection between the head unit and the digital amplifier. Oh, and the hardest ask of all, I really wanted a good color. Yeah, this was going to take months.

Flash forward to March of 2020. The whole world was about to shut down and I figured that I needed to do something ASAP. I listed my G35 for sale and strangely enough, found a seller on my listing for the G35. Not only did they own a 350Z drift car, they had multiple Z32s and a well-maintained 325i they were looking to part with. While the initial pictures were terrible, the car held promise behind the mismatched wheels that just needed to function as a square set for winter. It had a new clutch, a new flywheel, a new valve cover gasket, a new oil filter housing gasket, and a general plethora of maintenance items recently attended to. Sure, it had 273,000 kilometers (169,000 miles) on the clock, an airbag light on the dash, and more than a few dents and scrapes, but those are minor details, right? Sure enough, I ended up coming home with a peach of a 3-Series in exactly the spec I wanted. Plus, since temporary registration was extended indefinitely due to the pandemic, I could take as long as I needed to sort out the airbag light for inspection.

325i Interior
Photo credit: Thomas Hundal

After a quick scan, a few little error codes popped up – one for each front seatbelt pretensioner and one for the battery safety terminal. Hey, a battery safety terminal only ran me around $40, so I quickly tended to that issue. Next up was sorting the seatbelt pretensioner codes, which brought a bit of amusement. Someone had jammed a crude homemade bong under the front passenger seat which knocked the plug out of the seat harness. Simply removing the bong, scrubbing the carpet, and popping the plug back in fixed one of the codes. After dropping $379 Canadian on a brand new driver’s side pretensioner and clearing the last code, this bad boy was ready to go. More importantly, this initial wrenching experience validated a hunch. See, most 15-year-old cars in the rust belt will fight you every step of the way with every minor repair. I’ve never seen a rotten E90, so I was rather delighted when every bolt came out perfectly cleanly, ensuring that this car is an actual joy to work on.

325i Film 1
Photo credit: Thomas Hundal

Next came the question of wheels and tires. I’m a huge fan of a bit of chrome and M Parallels, and the online classifieds threw me a really weird bone here. Four chromed E39 M Parallel front wheels. Yeah, I have no idea either. As for tires, I knew I was going cheap. At this point, I was road testing at least one new car every week, and since cars only rarely get brought to Canadian journalists, I knew I was going to flat-spot the hell out of whatever tires I’d get. Fortunately, a set of cheap, reasonably sticky tires typically used as burners went on, and have been proving themselves to be quite competent.

Two years of duty later, and I can proudly say that I’ll never sell this little 325i. I won’t lie, I usually get bored of cars quickly. I just get to this point where I understand the excitement or twist or genius of a vehicle, then start picking apart flaws. Once the flaws outweigh the fun and I no longer love the car anymore, it’s likely time to sell. Despite, this I’m yet to be aggravated by my 325i. It’s been a brilliant companion for early-morning drives and late-night adventures alike. I’ve laughed, cried, kissed, sang, sipped countless cups of tea, and listened to an ungodly amount of indie trash in this car. I’ve cruised along twisty roads with Vipers and 911s, hauled home coffee tables and bookshelves, and visited old friends and family alike in this humble little 325i. It’s been absolutely marvelous. But has it fulfilled its mission? Was it cheaper to run over two years than my G35?

325i Autocross
Photo credit: Tamasuki Nasio

Surprisingly, yes. See, the G35 required $4,895.62 in maintenance and repairs over two years, while the 325i has only needed $2,902.25 in maintenance and repairs over two years. That latter figure breaks down to $1,451.12 or so per year, or about $120.93 a month. Yeah, I’ll gladly take that. Honestly, most of the maintenance boils down to typical old car stuff – tires and wheels to put them on, recharging the air-con, a little driveline refresh, a few bulbs, a set of spark plugs. The only really unexpected repairs were of a used replacement amplifier, two used replacement speakers, and a set of fuel injectors. The gap widens even further when you consider fuel and insurance. Lifetime fuel economy for the 325i sits at 29 mpg (8.1 L/100km) compared to 22.6 mpg (10.4 L/100km) for the G35, while switching to the 325i instantly saved me $30 a month on insurance.

325i 6
Photo credit: Thomas Hundal

So then, who’d have honestly thought that a reasonably reliable yet extremely pleasant one-car solution would be an old German car with more owners on the history report than strings on a guitar? As a bonus, I haven’t really had to mess with it much to get it to where I want. A pair of subtle color-matched front spoilers fill out the chin as a sacrificial lamb for any unavoidable road debris, an OEM ZHP shift knob feels nicer than the stock piece, OE-style alloy pedal covers provide better grip than aged rubber pedal pads, and a silver steering wheel bezel covers some of the chipping on the soft-touch rubberized piece underneath. Other than a cold air intake to add a touch more induction noise, this thing’s pretty much bone stock. As it sits right now, my 325i is still a bit cosmetically grungy and has a few things likely worth tending to, but that’s largely okay. I haven’t tended to the creased hood or scuffed bumpers because they almost function as insurance. Street parking downtown can be a minefield and if someone backs into my car, it’s nice being able to largely shrug it off. The tires could use re-balancing as I’ve found a few wheel weights on my driveway, but the tires still feel balanced at legal speeds, so I’m not too fussed about it for now. I definitely want to refinish the headlights soon though, so expect to see clearer lenses in the near future.

325i Console
Photo credit: Thomas Hundal

Despite the largely visual flaws, the brilliant hallmarks of a 3-Series are still all present. Fantastic seats that feel like slipping into an old pair of jeans, wonderfully accurate steering, a sweet inline-six that rips silk at 7,000 rpm, excellent damping, and all the toys I could possibly want. The color-shifting Arctic Metallic paint still functions as a weather station, glistening blue in the sunshine, green in rainy or mildly overcast conditions, gold as the sun rises and sets, silver when light is lacking, and absolutely elusive to camera capture. The Logic7 audio system still bumps LCD Soundsystem better than premium audio systems in most brand new luxury cars, and the heated seats go all the way up to “Bluetooth vasectomy” levels of hot.

This car serves as a solid benchmark for all the new cars I test, a standard for refinement, seat comfort, headlights, audio system performance, the lot. It’s so good at most things that while I could own a second car, I haven’t found anything reasonably-priced that provides a substantially more joyful experience yet. Until I have proper Porsche or Lotus money to spend on a toy, I’m extremely happy to just stick with my little 3-Series. Even if I do eventually end up in a Boxster or imported S1 Elise, I’ll still keep the 325i because it’s just so damn good. In a way, my 325i is a paradox. It’s joyful yet boring, an agile slice of heaven when the road gets twisty and a comfy sitting room for slogging through rush hour. A durable machine with a fragile reputation. Then again, who ever said that cars have to make sense? What matters is that my 325i balances my current wants and needs perfectly, a sign that growing up isn’t really so bad after all.

Lead photo credit: Thomas Hundal

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45 Responses

  1. First year E90 is not well known for reliability. the stick likely helped with it staying on the road, but man oh man the Vanos and Coil issues are a pain, even though some say they are easy to fix, you should not have to. the G35 would have been probably more reliable if it had not been mucked with. this one too will fail if mucked with too much.

  2. I had an E91 320d Touring that I never connected with in the same way as the E46 320d Touring before it despite being objectively better in almost every way, particularly the driving position that didn’t cripple me. The rear track looked too narrow which annoyed me every time I got in the car. Changing the standard gear lever for the M Sport version is transformative – shorter throw, perfectly shaped for the hand, and it doesn’t clank on your wedding ring every time you change gear.

  3. I can relate to that. The qualities you find in the 325i are the same I chose my E85 Z4 for, I just turned the sensibility down a notch as I wanted something able to pull off track duty.

    Buttery smooth i6, rwd, decent trunk, good parts and competent mechanics availability… We agree all the way down to the ZHP shifter!

    Also, I don’t know how are the seats in yours but the best “mod” I made was buying a second pair of heated seats with the right wiring harness and having their foam custom formed for my butt. That was a game changer.

  4. I sympathize. And approve of your choice of Transportation Unit which, in reality, deserves a little more credit than you’re giving it, IMO.

    Over a span of more than 25 years, I had a host of shiny new rides occupying my driveway, one — or sometimes two — a week. They included everything from econoboxes to trucks and SUVs, with a fair number of “exotics,” prototypes and Japanese-/European-spec vehicles thrown in for added flavor. In retrospect, I can still bring on the “les-temps-perdu” gloom by replaying the favorites in my head….

    Now that those days are in the Golden Memory Book, my personal ride is about as boring as boring can be. Unlike your BMW, absolutely nothing short of slotting in the proverbial SBC and throwing the chassis and body away could perk it up and, being a Toyota Corolla, it will ensure that I always look forward to the destination, not the drive. Fancy wheels? I might spring for new wheel covers one day.

    That BMW inline-six and manual transmission would certainly make for a more, well, interactive driving experience. The rest of the car would do likewise. Simply put, at its worst the 3-Series does its job so well that the driver often takes it for granted.

    Which car do I miss most? It’d probably be one (or more likely two) of my own machines from a previous life: A Renault 16 — comfortable, useful, weird — with five-on-the-tree, and a 1960 Austin-Healey which was, IMO, simply the single most desirable automobile to ever put tires to pavement….

  5. Well, I very much get the premise, but it just stings a bit as I just today decided to give up on an ’07 328i with an incurable CEL. P0503, ‘Vehicle Speed Implausible’, whatever the eff that means. Otherwise a pretty good car – low mileage, manual, no options. I don’t particularly like it (I need a car to do Something cool/weird/unique, and the 328i is just a base Civic with all the dials turned up 2 notches), but, I get that it’s a great ‘only car’ for the right person.

    But, once upon a time, I did something similar. After a (relatively short) driving career of extremely mediocre cars, it was finally time for a car that I Wanted. I bought a 2005 Mercedes E320 CDI, and it was fantastic. Owned if for 6 years and 100k miles. I spent some money on it, but, mostly on stuff I should have left alone, and I can’t really blame that on the car. At the time I had it, I was routinely driving new high end german cars, and I didn’t fell deprived in any way getting back into the CDI – it was comfortable, capable, and just a treat to be in. I regret ever selling it – it was the right choice at that time, but, still a decision I regret having to make.

    1. That code is probably a mismatch between sensors – a more fully-featured OBD2 device (i.e. not just the code reader) would allow you to monitor all of the sensors in real-time to find which one is reading wrong. Just a thought.

      1. Oh, how I wish you were right. Several local BMW shops, noted for being good at figuring out weird issues on this era of BMW, have thrown up their hands when confronted with the problem.

  6. I hear ya on waiting months to get a used BMW in a non generic color, I did that myself after the pandemic made doing a trip to either coast to guarantee one in an interesting color on budget a nonstarter. Once I had my list set, I still waited 2 months for one to hit Denver with low miles in a nice blue.
    I had never been in a BMW myself until I test drove the one I bought and the only thing I could think of was “So this is what they’re supposed to be like!”

  7. I love my 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser with 160K on it. If only I could buy one used with less miles for less than I paid for mine new… Having a popular vehicle is a double edged sword…

    Thanks for the artcile.

  8. I had one of our customers, which I have a quasi-acqaintance relationship pull into the shop with a ’14 JKU he just bought for his kid who’s got his temp license. It was a bit funny to see one with stock wheels and tires, stock ride height, and a FULL roll cage. I’m no elitist when it comes to that, but it was funnier after what he said next.

    He looked at my lifted ’12 JKU, “You drive that thing every day?”

    “Sure, it drives fine. I do all the work on it. I put on adjustable shocks and tuned the suspension tuned properly. Even the local 4×4 shop said it drives better than it should.”

    “How do you do it? This thing is a pig to drive.”

    “It’s probably the solid axles, but if it’s set up right, it’s just fine.”

    We went back and got a little before he declared he preferred to drive his 3/4 ton truck. Which is fine, personal preference and all that. Point is, this thing works fine for virtually every need I could have. It’s capable in the winter, has a Bestop Sunrider front softop for fast convertible use, carries my bike, has decent cargo capacity with the rear seats down, hauls the whole family, plus the kids love it. I have it running in top condition. In fact, it just netted me about 18 MPG in mixed driving with the top down and a 2.5″ lift.

    I don’t know if I’m capable of blindly loving a car like I did when I was younger, but I can sure appreciate and respect the hell out of one.

      1. Parking a full size truck/suv anywhere sucks. I don’t have one, but I see so many moms in SUVs and dudebros in trucks trying to back in and out of parking spots and simply NOT being able to do it without having to creep out, line up, in, out, etc.

    1. I’ve had about 8 jeeps over the years. My absolute favorites were a 99 XJ with 3″ of lift and my current ’04 TJ. I don’t have any kids so the smaller size of the TJ is perfect for me. I am on my second CJ5 and it’s a great car but not easy to live with every day. It’s just a bit too cramped and uncomfortable. The manual brakes and steering make every drive a bit of a workout..

  9. I test drove a 325i6 myself a while back, and it felt almost telepathic to me. I wanted it desperately, but couldn’t get past the memory of my 540i6, which was full of pain and expense.

    OK, whacking the wiper stalk every time I tried to signal a right turn bothered me too.

    Now I have kids so it would be a non-starter, as I am a big guy, and I need reliability as well as room for a surprisingly sizable 9 year old. As well, as much as Sreten is my hero, I don’t have time to “M539 Restorations” a car.

    I suspect your was at the mileage where everything that could go wrong had gone wrong, and got fixed.

    BTW, love the Crown Vic!

  10. After a few years as a BMW service advisor, I think 2006 e90’s are the cream of the e90 crop. Later ones, especially 335’s, had more gremlins in them. ’06 330’s and 325’s were always the one coming in for routine maintenance and not much else. As fun as having a car with “all the options” (whatever that means anymore these days), the sheer reliability of a base car has an allure a true car aficionado can’t deny.

    I’m not a chrome guy…But M Parallel’s are the BEST wheels BMW has ever made. Period. You have excellent taste.

    1. Base cars are ALWAYS the best ones. I had a 2002 VW GTI 1.8T. Everyone loves to talk about the electrical issues, the window regulators, blah blah blah. Mine was base. No sunroof, no nothing. And outside of a coilpack one time? Despite being modded as all get out? That thing was a reliable as all get out. People talk shit on VWs but every one I’ve had WITHOUT a sunroof has been rock solid. I didn’t follow my own advice when I bought my Clubman JCW, but in 30K miles, it’s had exactly zero issues, either.

  11. People never believe me when I tell them that my 25 year old E39 I6 is more reliable than a lot of other supposedly reliable cars are. Maybe I got lucky or maybe with the right maintenance they are actually not bad cars at all. It has been so reliable that I supercharged it 10 years ago and nothing has failed ever since.

    BTW, sand and polish those headlight lenses. It will make a world of difference at night and being hazy like that date the car a lot. Trust me.

  12. The E90 was PEAK CAR. You’re right to never get rid of it. And they ARE quite easy to work on. Buy all your parts from FCP Euro and they’re guaranteed for life, too!
    I’ve had an E90 335i (I miss it), 330xi (what a beast in the winter), and currently have an E82 128i that I have no plans to part with. You should consider doing the 3-stage intake conversion and associated tune to get you up to 255-265 hp (depending on whether you go with OEM or aftermarket tune) like the 330i’s had. It really wakes up the top end of the rev range! A limited slip is also a huge upgrade, but they’re very expensive on these cars due to the ring gears being welded rather than bolted on. About $3k USD. I put a 3.64 3-clutch LSD on my 128i and it transformed it.

  13. Oh how you make me long for my 2006 325i E90 that I gave up on too soon.

    Mine was full poverty spec (manual heated seats covered in vinyl) in the generic dark grey but was such a wonderful car to ride long distances in. Mine had window regulator failures and a battery failure which caused a bunch of random errors, not least of which was being bricked by the electronic steering wheel lock. On the 2006 if that failed it was a new steering column. Sold it for a Wrangler, and while I loved that one too I should have just kept both for an ideal garage.

  14. The only thing better than a 6spd, RWD e90, is a 6spd, RWD *e91*, aka the station wagon version of that generation 3-series. I made the big leap and ordered one for European Delivery in 2011, and I still have it. Also pretty low spec, no iDrive or other electronic fanciness, though I did go for the Harman/Kardon stereo system that succeeded Logic 7, A grand total of 51K on it to date, and it is as reliable as sunrise, death, and taxes. My only out of pocket repair in 11 years – a new battery two years ago. It just does everything perfectly, from going out to dinner to a long highway run to bringing an assembled grill home from Lowe’s to going around a race track at speed. I cranked the drama level of mine up a couple notch the day after I got it back from BMW by adding the BMW Performance Exhaust and Intake – it doesn’t just sing to 7K rpm (peak hp is right at the 7K redline in these cars) but it sings Wagner with all the Sturm und Drang you could ever want in a car that will cross a continent with civility.

    I too have that ZHP shift knob – the car presenter at Der Welt looked at me like I lost my mind when I yanked the shift knob off the right there on the floor. But smiled when I pulled out the replacement. I special ordered mine without the \\\M though, just plain 6spd pattern. LeatherZ.com will make one for you that way.

    I like it so much I plan to be buried in it. And a couple of years ago I picked up a same year little sister – a 128i convertible, also with 6spd. Which I love almost as much. I need to order another ZHP shift know though!

  15. Thomas this was much more interesting than you probably think. It’s great to have it all distilled down to a short article. I’ve heard so many opinions over the years it’s hard to remember what was good and what wasnt.

  16. Owner of a 2000 328 here, and I endure considerable flack from the wife over keeping it.
    I have a 2021 ranger, purchased to placate her ( so I have something reliable to drive )
    And a 2001 ranger ( down for a clutch job atm ).
    Back to the bimmer. Only way I would get rid of it would be if I could get something better.
    Which would probably be an M version of the E46, or maybe a newer BMW.
    Got to be a manual.
    I had the use of a 2013 Mustang GT for about a year but I have to say that the 328 is more fun to drive. The mustang had acceleration like no one’s business, but it would not corner for anything. I owned a 1996 mustang back when 1996 was a thing, it handled better than the 2013.
    I do the work on it myself, for the most part. It has not cost much on the routine maintenance front.
    I have upgraded the suspension to poly and am collecting parts to update to monoball.

  17. This is why Thomas felt like a similar soul when he was asking me about my Evo. Wildly different cars, but they inspire similar feelings.

    And Thomas, when you clear up those headlamp lenses, spring for some Lamin-X film for them. They offer precut overlays for most cars. That stuff has kept the lenses on my Evo looking like new. I just pulled the old ones off and put fresh films on recently.

  18. Nice to see someone around here who actually has a nice looking, functional car that isn’t a pile of crap or some oddball for the sake of having an oddball, and takes good care of it.

    More of these kind of articles, less “here’s one of my piles of crap that I left to fester everywhere” please.

  19. I had every intention of buying a 2006 325i, but when I went to sign the paperwork, production had swapped over to the 328i. I just had the sport package, heated seats, and HK stereo. I did the Performance Center delivery option down in Spartansburg and I had nothing but positive experience with a car for the two years that I owned it. Of all the cars I’ve owned before & after, that’s the only one that I feel like I could’ve continued to enjoy. But if I had kept it, I would’ve missed out on all of the other car ownership experiences I’ve had since then, which were all critical in shaping my tastes today.

  20. Love this take. Probably moreso because I just bought my own 3er. ’09 328i with xdrive, a 6-speed, and only 68k miles. A bone stock base model with curb rash on the wheels and bumpers, California-sun-faded paint, and yet nothing really to complain about it. It’s the perfect second car (although the child seat will fit in the back if needed) and it brings lots of smiles. That I6 is just glorious.

    I hope to keep this one at least until it hits your mileage, another 100k or so!

  21. I could not relate any less to your vehicular decisions, but that’s why they’re called tastes. It seems like you’re really enjoying them though, and that’s all that counts.

  22. All the reasons highlighted here are why I love my 2007 328i sedan. It’s a car that just “clicks” for me and has never left me stranded, even over 265,00 kms. I’ve had to do the odd repair here and there, plus have a shop take care of some bigger jobs, but overall it’s been as reliable as the sun. Regular maintenance is super-easy if you’re inclined to DIY the work and parts are so readily available. I have no regrets holding on to the car and jumping through the hoops to import it once I moved to Ontario from Chicago over 5 years ago.

    I do wish mine had a few of the options Thomas talks about, mainly the Logic7 (or better yet, Individual) sound system and sports seats\steering wheel, but maybe I’ll retrofit those at some point. My plan going forward is to replace the suspension bits with M3 parts when they wear out and upgrade to the euro intake\three stage intake manifold. I have an OEM M shift knob similar to the one Thomas has with the OEM short shift kit and it made such a difference in the feel of the car.

    I’m saving up for a 911 or Boxster at the moment, but I’m never getting rid of my E90!

  23. There’s nothing sweeter than finding a forever car.

    Mine is substantially less practical, being a 1990 Mazda MX5, but I’ve owned it for around 7 years now, as my only and daily driver and I couldn’t imagine living without it and I’ve put so much unique character into the car over the years, buying another one just wouldn’t feel the same if I had to replace it. I’ll definitely never not own an MX5, I just also hope I never don’t own this one.

    1. Same for my’96. Although I don’t want it to be my only car—we salt the roads here in the winter, I do need more cargo capacity from time to time, and dammit sometimes I just want to chill out, which is something the Miata cheerfully refuses to do. It’s my main ride nine months out of the year though, and I’m never gonna stop taking care of it.

      In the two years I’ve had it I’ve put in a new top, replaced a faulty airbag module, done the timing belt and water pump, added Bluetooth audio to the stock system via an FM modulator, installed Koni yellows and progressive springs, replaced the exhaust, replaced the radiator and cooling hoses, and on and on. It’s been a fantastic platform on which to learn to wrench, and a fantastic one for tooling around on back roads. It’s a great little car which just seems to want to love me back for all the time and sweat I put into it. I’m looking at a Mazda3 Turbo right now as a more sensible second car, but the Miata isn’t going anywhere.

      1. I’m in Australia, I’ve never had to deal with a salted road in my life, thankfully.

        My ’90 is as stripped as they come, with no AC or power steering. It’s just raw driver’s car and even if it’s not always comfortable, driving something that visceral just brings me so much joy. I started my mechanical apprenticeship around the same time, almost all major repairs I taught myself first on this car before applying them at work and I’ve continued to modify it over the years. In its current state it’s running coilovers and 16x7s in an offset that prevented body modification, still has a 1.6L, but I’ve fitted it with a Haltech ECU and 4AGE ITB kit (my display picture) and have gifted it a handful of platform modifications like a half cage and underbody bracing.

        I don’t care if it never makes over 110hp at the wheels, it points exactly where I ask it, exactly when I want it to and that’s why I fell for it.

        I want to get a Mazda6 or 626 to cruise around in sometime, but my partner has a sensible car, so it’s not a stress for me to just steal their keys when I need to.

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