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BMW 3 Series E36: ​​Now it's time to buy it as a youngtimer

The BMW 3 Series E36 as a youngtimer
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Big shoes were what the B MW 3er E36 had to hatch in 1990. Its predecessor, the no-frills, graceful E30, was a bestseller and drove its way into the hearts of fans with sensitive handling, high quality and, of course, lively engines. The Dreier was, by the way, the most important car at BMW. Because it brought most of the money into the cash register with large quantities.

BMW 3 Series E36 with top engines

And now E36. Sanded down, taller (which wasn't a mistake given the tightly cut E30 interior), and ready to cut off old braids. As the first modern BMW, it no longer wore undisguised double headlights, but hid them behind a Plexiglas pane, as did the 7-series E38 in 1994 and the 5-series E39 in 1995. In addition, there was a dashboard that was initially heavily criticized by fans, which retained the driver-oriented right-hand twist of the predecessor, but with smaller instruments and tiny push buttons for ancillary functions was not what the three-person community would have liked best: an E30, just a little different and even better.

BMW managed to do the 'even better' thing perfectly: Right after its launch in 1990, the BMW 3 Series E36 delighted fans and press with very agile handling, good comfort, sufficient space - and just what the M in the brand name stands for: the finest engines. This was true on the one hand for the four-cylinder 316i and 318i taken over from the predecessor, but especially for the six-cylinder of the new generation M50, which replaced the two-valve M20.

Four valves per cylinder and two via a maintenance-free chain operated camshafts characterize these modern units in the BMW 3 Series E36, which were also used in the 5 Series and later in the Z3. Silky running, revving and determined tackling the engine speed cellar (which became even better in autumn 1992 with the revised M50TÜ engines with the Vanos variable inlet control) went hand in hand with reasonable consumption and, as we know today, very good long-term quality. Quite a few six-cylinders are still running today - with more than 300,000 km under their belt - unopened.

Engines from 90 to 321 hp

There was criticism after the sedan went on sale due to increased wind noise, a somewhat fickle straight-line stability and disappointing workmanship. But BMW improvedpersistently, eliminated deficiency after deficiency and expanded the model range: In February 1992 the sedan was joined by the coupé, which, unlike the E30, was more than a two-door notchback. The slim line of the sedan with the retracted, initially unpainted sill panels benefited from a lowered roof section with sloping A-pillars and a filigree rear with a flatter trunk lid.

In April 1993, the cabriolet appeared with a better one We liked the soundproof convertible top and automatic rollover protection through extending rear headrests. In the spring of 1994 BMW entered the Golf class with the Compact and was the only manufacturer with rear-wheel drive to shine. In the Compact, which as the 323ti with 170 hp is a particularly active highway robber, the simpler rear axle of the BMW 3 Series E30 also survived, while the Touring, introduced in January 1995, continued the tradition of the lifestyle station wagon: others should offer plenty of luggage space, but it leaves it at that basically ridiculously little storage volume, but a pleasing line.

The history of the BMW 3 Series E36 naturally also includes the diesel versions, of which the six-cylinder 325 td (naturally aspirated diesel, 115 hp) and 325 tds (turbodiesel, 143 hp) shine brighter than the four-cylinder 318 tds. With 90 PS and at least 190 Newton meters, it is still more than a feeble makeshift.

And of course Alpina in Buchloe in Bavaria took on the BMW 3 Series E36, as did the specialists from Baur in Stuttgart laid a four-door landaulet on the keel of the TC4. These models have a small, albeit very loyal and enthusiastic fan base, while the hot M models are already indicating a near classic status due to steadily rising prices: the M3 Coupé appeared at the end of 1992, the Cabriolet at the beginning of 1994 and the sedan in August 1994. Initially sat under the hood, thanks to individual throttle valves, three-liter with 286 hp hanging on the gas, later the displacement increased to 3.2 liters for now 321 hp and a smooth torque curve.

The M motors, which were used on the 3, 2-liter could also be combined with a rather jerky automated manual transmission (SMG), they have in common non-durable connecting rod bearings, which have to be replaced after barely more than 100,000 kilometers of mileage if treated brutally. But today it's supposed to be about the more bourgeois versions of the BMW 3 Series E36.

Because of its dynamic qualities, the E36 fell into the hands of inexperienced people, which its talents for entertaining drifts or its suitability as a cheap racing roll for Make full use of adrenaline-filled weekends on the Nordschleife. The BMW 3 Series also had to be used as an ice cream parlor poser with a nasty look on the headlamp cover, thick accessory exhaust systems and cheap wedge-shaped chassis with absurdly wide tiresServe E36. In short, it wasn't easy for him in his third, fourth or fifth life. That doesn't mean anything good for fans today.

BMW 3 Series E36 only rarely in original condition

There are hardly any untampered specimens from carefully first or second hand. If so, they are most likely to be found in convertibles, as open cars are generally treated more gently. But basically there is little to be said against buying a BMW 3-series E36 that has been tinkered with in moderation, because the spare parts situation is very good and the restoration to the original condition is usually inexpensive, as there is a flourishing used parts and butcher scene However, it is always advisable to check the partially tuned copies before buying whether all changes have been entered. Springs, chassis, exhaust systems, headlights are not the only points that should be considered. It is not uncommon for a 325i engine to be built into a 320i because everything runs according to the plug-and-play process.

During the test drive, one should also be very careful to listen for rattling noises from the rear axle (worn support -, trailing arm or barrel bearings) and pay attention to the behavior when braking harder. The brakes of the BMW 3 Series E36 are not particularly generously dimensioned, so the discs often hit. The filigree front axle can also cause problems in old age. Wheel guide joints, wishbones or bearings are often the reason for a driving and steering behavior that takes away a good part of the E36 fun for the driver.

The engines are basically not very capricious. The early M40 four-cylinder (until 1993) still have a toothed belt drive and occasionally suffer from worn-in camshafts or ailing connecting rod bearings as they get older; the M43 four-cylinder then inserted can oil the timing chain housing. The M43 engines are very robust, but watch out for maintenance jams: The valve clearance is adjusted using shims, some previous owners save on expensive workshop work.

The six-cylinder engines were upgraded to the M52 generation, which is lighter thanks to the light metal block, in 1994/95 changed over, whose powerful and melodious coronation sits in the 193 hp 328i models. Like the M3, you occasionally have problems with the Vanos camshaft adjustment. A brief snarling after the start is normal, but then it has to be quiet. Trifles basically, like the search for rust nests in accident-free or professionally repaired E36s is usually short.

The price of a BMW 3 Series E36 is now an average of 2,000 euros. However, a lot of handicrafts make it difficult to quantify the actual value of many cars. Well-maintained M models are invariably just below the 10,000 euro mark. Nevertheless, today, if at all, only the image speaks against the BMW 3 Series E36. But that gets a little better every day.


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