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Your reasons for choosing an E36 over the E46

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  • Your reasons for choosing an E36 over the E46

    Just wanted to hear some members thoughts on why they chose the e36 chassis over the e46.

    Personally, I’ve stuck with the e36 because of its timeless design and cockpit feel. But the list of mods I have planned for my car are really just trying to make it as fast and modern as a stock e46! Give me some motivation!

  • #2
    I came from an e46 then went down to e30 and now I am in an e36 which is the longest bmw I have ever held to. Here were my issues with e46
    • soft touch plastic and drooping door cards (my e36 lux interior is holding up like new)
    • trunk floor separation (aka subframe failure; all s54s are affected)
    • stupid DISA valve (always experience an RPM dip in the power band)
    • valve adjustments (s54 engine)
    • rod bearings (s54 engine)
    • crayon smell (sound/trunk insulation rot)
    • Crank Case Ventilation System (such a piece of crap, this thing breaks down and leaks more frequently than my cooling system)
    • power (m54 double vanos, zhp cams, and you're telling me you still can't achieve the power levels of a stock s52? let alone an s50?)
    • SMG (s54 - extremely unreliable and no real long term fixes)
    I do like the styling of the e46 m3 and every time I am tempted to pull the trigger and and trade up, I look at the list above and appreciate my e36 for what it is.
    Last edited by bmwstephen; 09-04-2020, 06:24 PM.

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    • #3
      It was cheaper, I liked the colors better (I wanted either red or dakar yellow), Vader seats, I like boxy 90s styling in general.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by bmwstephen View Post
        I came from an e46 then went down to e30 and now I am in an e36 which is the longest bmw I have ever held to. Here were my issues with e46
        • soft touch plastic and drooping door cards (my e36 lux interior is holding up like new)
        • trunk floor separation (aka subframe failure; all s54s are affected)
        • stupid DISA valve (always experience an RPM dip in the power band)
        • valve adjustments (s54 engine)
        • rod bearings (s54 engine)
        • crayon smell (sound/trunk insulation rot)
        • Crank Case Ventilation System (such a piece of crap, this thing breaks down and leaks more frequently than my cooling system)
        • power (m54 double vanos, zhp cams, and you're telling me you still can't achieve the power levels of a stock s52? let alone an s50?)
        • SMG (s54 - extremely unreliable and no real long term fixes)
        I do like the styling of the e46 m3 and every time I am tempted to pull the trigger and and trade up, I look at the list above and appreciate my e36 for what it is.
        Yikes. Most of that isn't as bad as you're making it out to be. You're not maintaining the car properly and haven't corrected previous owner neglect (soft touch) to fully appreciate how much better the E46 can be.

        MSportParts | Braymond141

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Braymond141 View Post

          Yikes. Most of that isn't as bad as you're making it out to be. You're not maintaining the car properly and haven't corrected previous owner neglect (soft touch) to fully appreciate how much better the E46 can be.
          thanks of insinuating that the car was neglected (very brett of you). For those that do know me, I don’t cheap out on anything in my car and religiously maintain all my cars and garage them.

          I am the original owner of my 2004 330i with 175k miles it is my DD so I do know what I am talking about. If you look at all the TSB for the e46 on some of my issues, they are as frequent and common as I do make them.

          heck look at my service records from original ownership (always dealer serviced via warranty and extended warranty). This was not an abused car wither

          my e36 is a 95 with 130k miles. I am 2nd owner and the service records is only a 1/3 of that of the e46 because thats how little issues the PO and I had with the car


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          • #6
            Originally posted by bmwstephen View Post

            thanks of insinuating that the car was neglected (very brett of you). For those that do know me, I don’t cheap out on anything in my car and religiously maintain all my cars and garage them.

            I am the original owner of my 2004 330i with 175k miles it is my DD so I do know what I am talking about. If you look at all the TSB for the e46 on some of my issues, they are as frequent and common as I do make them.

            heck look at my service records from original ownership (always dealer serviced via warranty and extended warranty). This was not an abused car wither

            my e36 is a 95 with 130k miles. I am 2nd owner and the service records is only a 1/3 of that of the e46 because thats how little issues the PO and I had with the car

            Um, thanks? You're exaggerating some of the issues on both the E46 and the E46 M3. That isn't an issue with me being me.
            • soft touch plastic and drooping door cards (my e36 lux interior is holding up like new)
            The soft touch plastics need to be replaced if you're the type to jab every piece with your fingernails. There's no long term durability issue if you're mindful of this.
            The door panels are FAR FAR superior in the E46 than the E36. I don't know who wrecked yours, but this isn't even debatable... especially since you own a Coupe E36.
            • trunk floor separation (aka subframe failure; all s54s are affected)
            All E46 suffer from this. It is known and there are fixes to deal with it.
            • stupid DISA valve (always experience an RPM dip in the power band)
            This has never been an issue on the two ZHP I currently own or the 4 other M54 powered cars I have owned. The DISA butterfly pin dropping out is valid concern, but the powerband is fine. I'm fully aware of the few people that have complained of this, but none of my cars have had this issue unless there was another issue at hand.
            • valve adjustments (s54 engine)
            How is this is a negative? You want an 8k+ rpm redline, you sign up for solid lifters and the maintenance behind them. It's not even THAT critical to be religious about as the looser the valve (within allowed spec) the more power is shifted from torque (tight valves) to horsepower (loose valves). The valve adjustment process isn't even difficult.
            • rod bearings (s54 engine)
            Basically all M engines at this point (less the US S50 and S52)
            • crayon smell (sound/trunk insulation rot)
            Not a negative and not limited to the E46. The E36 also smells distinct if it spends the majority of it's life outside too.
            • Crank Case Ventilation System (such a piece of crap, this thing breaks down and leaks more frequently than my cooling system)
            It's a 100-120k mi replacement. Longer if you're not fucking with it causing it to break. My mom has 275k miles on her M54 and has put 230k miles of that on it herself. We do the bare minimum to maintain that thing and it basically has zero issues. Your experience with the CCV is not the norm.
            • power (m54 double vanos, zhp cams, and you're telling me you still can't achieve the power levels of a stock s52? let alone an s50?)
            Again, how is this a negative? BMW is forced to strike a cost, efficiency and reliability balance. The 330i I owned for 40k miles felt great to me as a 19 year old. The ZHP I own now is more than satisfying for what it is.
            • SMG (s54 - extremely unreliable and no real long term fixes)
            You're not up to date on the fixes and even if you're over SMG (which is actually quite good) you can convert it to a manual in a weekend.

            MSportParts | Braymond141

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            • #7
              i hated the way my e46 shifted in sport mode. also felt too heavy to be an m3. for me the only real M3s are the e30 and e36. e346 m3 is a great car, but too big for my liking. it felt more like a 2 door m5.

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              • #8
                I just like the E36 better.

                Including all its “quirks and features”.

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                • #9
                  When I was 17, my parents bought a '96 328is....so I was hooked. I owned a 2006 Z4M coupe that I loved. I regret never getting a e46 M3, but I'll never sell my e36 M3. Now with 4 x kids under 4 and all in car seats, another coupe doesn't make sense

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                  • #10
                    My budget at the time would’ve let me buy a nicer e36 m3 or a clapped out e46 m3. I liked the 90s styling of the e36. It seems like a solid mix of a more classic car with just enough modern touches to not be annoying. It’s also pretty simple to work on and consumables are cheaper.
                    That being said, I was pretty ignorant at the time and missed a lot of warning signs when I bought mine. I’ve owned it for 3 years and have been playing catch-up with deferred maintenance ever since.

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                    • #11
                      To me, it all comes down to the looks. I just personally prefer a much more angular, creased, body style. So much so, that even though the E46 M3's I have driven (never owned one) were very engaging and pleasurable to drive, they couldn't make up for the deficit in the looks department. Though there are some absolutely gorgeous E46 M's out there, the E36 M3 just hits all the right buttons for me.

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                      • #12
                        I couldn't pick, so got both

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                        • #13
                          I always found the E36 a perfect blend of E30 80’s boxy and E46 90’s roundness.

                          The E46 is obviously the more modern car, how could it now be as it’s newer.

                          The (specially the last built years) have still plenty of tech and creature comforts.

                          Apart of maybe a cool nav system, which I don’t really need, I’m not really missing something.

                          Of course I have an exceptionally loaded one, but even with aircon and working seat heating, what do you really need?

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                          • #14
                            I chose the E36 because I couldn't afford much at the time. When i was 17, I bought my first E36 M3 for $3,200. A very neglected dakar yellow E36 M3. I played catch up with maintenance throughout my 12 months of ownership and then sold it for personal reasons. After that I bought 3 more E36 M3s and every single one of them was significantly nicer than the previous ones. I sold my last E36 to jump into an E46 M3 because it made sense to purchase an E46 M3 than to S54 swap my E36 M3.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MParallel View Post
                              I always found the E36 a perfect blend of E30 80’s boxy and E46 90’s roundness.

                              The E46 is obviously the more modern car, how could it now be as it’s newer.

                              The (specially the last built years) have still plenty of tech and creature comforts.

                              Apart of maybe a cool nav system, which I don’t really need, I’m not really missing something.

                              Of course I have an exceptionally loaded one, but even with aircon and working seat heating, what do you really need?
                              Tire pressure monitors are nice to have, parking sensors come in handy, phone connectivity, etc, but above all else many American drivers chose E46 over E36 simply because E36 in US had a S52 with only 240hp, and S54 with 343hp and ITBs was just impossible to pass up. Simple as that.

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