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Thread: Thinking of Buying old BMW (maybe M5?)

  1. #1
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    Default Thinking of Buying old BMW (maybe M5?)

    Hello, new member here, and new to trackdays in general. I've been to a few trackday events in southern California recently and am looking for a better car for that purpose than my 2005 Mazda3. I'd like to find something that's pretty cheap, but more track-oriented, and I'm thinking about high-mileage BMWs. My target is around $15k, which makes my options something like this:

    E46 M3 (year: ~2002)
    E92 335i with N54 engine (year: ~2009)
    E39 M5 (year: ~2002)

    All of these would need to be high-mileage 100k to 150k+ to meet my price target. But the 335i I could find with less on the odometer than the M cars.

    My feeling is that the M5 might be the best of the group, except that it is heavy, 4000 lbs. while the M3 is 3515 lbs and 335i is 3760 lbs.

    From what I can gather, the E39 M5 is well liked: see Jalopnik: Required Riding: E39 BMW M5

    Horsepower-wise: the cars are 333HP, 300HP, 396HP, with the M5 in the lead with its naturally-aspirated V8. The M5 also has the quickest 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds. Alternatively, the 335i looks like it can be tuned ~30% higher power with cobb accessport ($900), which would make it the fastest of the bunch, if true.
    https://cobb.app.box.com/BMW-N54-Map-Notes


    Is the older, big V8 more reliable than the twin-turbo I6's? Specifically when buying high-mileage examples? (No turbos, no direct injection, more traditional car = more reliable?)

    Anyone care to share their thoughts?

    Thanks a lot,
    John

  2. #2
    Administrator ucfbrett's Avatar
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    You always want to go with the lowest weight you can for a car that will be used for track days. It's easier on tires and brakes and much more fun. Of your options, the M3 or a 335i are the way to go.

    Of course I have to suggest a good used Miata, which would cost you a lot less. You could spend the remainder of your budget on track time. In other words, the answer is always Miata.

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    They really are.

  4. #4
    JJ1
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    S2000

    If your budget minded, none of those cars are great. E46 m3 is pretty good and makes a great track car IMO but that 15k car will need a good chunk to make it track ready. I love e39 m5s but track car? Probably cost 15k/yr in maintance. (I'm exaggerating but still) The simplest lightest cars are usually much cheaper to run.
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    LOL. That didn't take long for the miata and S2000 cries to start.

    Nay on the 335 and M5. The E46 M3 with some cooling upgrades is the way to go. Manual, not SMG. Make sure and have the rear subframe mounts checked. There are so many E46 M3 cars being tracked so the knowledge base is good and there are a plethora of aftermarket parts suppliers.
    AiM Data and Video systems, Suspension Setup, Race car builds, support, and rentals. At your beck and call.

    Mark Nichols
    Iron Canyon Motorsports
    http://www.ironcanyonmotorsports.com

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    Replacing your fully functioning Mazda for a high mileage, old BMW to take it to the track is a bad idea. Specially if it´s going to be your daily driver.
    If you are dead set on those 3, markn just nailed it. Consider some money to make the E46 track worthy, and some other chunk to keep it alive.
    If you´re open to other ideas, there are options which may make more sense, but depends on what you need.
    Less powah is better

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    Not sure where you're from (Cali?), but here's an alternative;

    Easy way (for Cali);
    1. $700 E46- shell; https://orangecounty.craigslist.org/cto/5220617715.html

    2. $1800 OR, if it has to be a 2-door; https://orangecounty.craigslist.org/cto/5225237111.html

    3. $8000 430hp LS3 E-Rod; http://www.summitracing.com/parts/nal-19257230

    4. $5200 to $6300 for wheels and suspension/all the little sh, um, stuff

    Everywhere else;

    1. $300 to $400 -Pull an LQ motor/harness from salvage yard

    2. $850 Corvette C5 6 Speed Manual Transmission Tremec Borg Warner Trans T56 | eBay

    3. $700 E46 shell

    4. $8000 to finish it/ 5K for fun!

    BUT, you're new to this, so imma agree with everyone and say, get a Miata! And yes, this is SO basic an outline, but you get the idea!
    Last edited by 2GRX7; 09-20-2015 at 07:03 PM.
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    Senior Member slodrew's Avatar
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    I've got a 97 e39 540i 6 speed with 130k miles that I would sell for $3,500 cash lol.. 3800 lbs..

    then I'd take the $3,500 and buy a miata lol
    J. Tyler, JJ1 and Schmoe Money like this.

  9. #9
    JJ1
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    ^I saw your car at BW. Car looks menacing!

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    Junior Member Mahjik's Avatar
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    I would recommend taking a look at an E36 M3. You can find ones already track prepped within your price range, and the aftermarket is still booming for them (especially in the track area).

    Something like this: FS: 1995 E36 M3 S50 Avus Blue Sorted Track HPDE Car - BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)

  11. #11
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    LS powered RX7
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    Mahjik hit the nail on the head, the e36 has a very robust aftermarket support while still being cheap to maintain. It was the largest run group of any 3 series with the most interchangeable parts. The e46 M can be had for cheap now a days while it will be faster and have wider track that supports larger tires. It will be be more to maintain and build.

    I would consider non-m e36's as the S50/52 bolt right in that way you can develop the car and then add power once needed. Both cars class great in GTS2 and GTS3.

    Are you keeping the Speed 3 as DD?
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  13. #13
    RaceTape Ninja Force McCocken's Avatar
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    Here's the deal on the Bimmers; they don't like having their maintenance deferred. If you are taking a street car and making it into a track car, especially the BMWs, you will need either a really clean example to start with or one that needs a lot of updating to make it safe and reliable. I would stay away from the e39 M5. Although intoxicating, it is an extremely sensitive and expensive car to maintain.

    If BMW is your thing, an e30 or e36 is your ticket. If the car needs to be registered in California, e36. While the e30 can be retrofitted with virtually everything good from an e36, CARB will be your downfall. I drove a few e30s with S52 swaps and one with an m60 (v8), I can only imagine the ****storm that would rain upon you should you try to get it to pass inspection.
    SteveLevin likes this.
    Yer pal,
    Force

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    Master of Disaster SteveLevin's Avatar
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    The correct answer is:

    Volvo 240

    With either a built up turbomotor or a 5.0 Ford swap in.

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveLevin View Post
    The correct answer is:

    Volvo 240

    With either a built up turbomotor or a 5.0 Ford swap in.

    Steve
    Why not an LS?

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  17. #17
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    I track an e36 M3 and I am in for nearly 3x's the cost of what I paid for the car. With higher mileage BMW's and the shear number of bushings they use, I think I dumped a few thousand in bushings just getting it back to a state that felt like a BMW again. Look up the common problem areas for each model BMW and sooner or later you will encounter all of them as you track it. But it sure is fun! The shoutouts for Miata and S2000 are not in vain. I have an S2000, and the more I drive it, the less I want to drive the BMW...
    JJ1 likes this.
    How can I do?

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