10 Best BMW for $20,000

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When I was first given this topic by our Editor-in-Chief Horatiu, I thought; COOL! I’d love to write this article, it’s going to be a …

When I was first given this topic by our Editor-in-Chief Horatiu, I thought; COOL! I’d love to write this article, it’s going to be a piece of cake. Even better, I’ll have it done in 2 minutes. After all, there is the spectacular E30 M3, E39 M5, M Roadster and anything else that starts with an “M”. Slap a bunch of them in an article and I’m done. Right? Wrong!

Reality set in during the research phase. There are so many great BMWs that can be had for $20K, ranging from the super cool X5 4.6is to the track-ready Z3 based M Coupe. How in the world can I choose only 10?! This is going to be impossible.

So what if I had a 10-car garage and needed a BMW for every occasion? For example, a trip to the lake, track event, road trip, night cruise… you get the point. What would the contents of this garage look like?

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Here we go.

1. 2004 X5 4.8is.

BMW X5 4.8is 655x491With 355 horsepower and all the torque needed to briskly move the 2 ton SAV, this is almost as much of a cult car as the Z3 M Coupe. With room for 5 people and the ability to haul all your gear to the lake, the X5 4.8is can also dispatch with most cars sharing the same interstate.

2. 2001 BMW M Coupe.

2001 was a special year for the M coupe as BMW put in the S54/2 engine cranking out 321 horsepower for US aficionados. Having driven this car on track and around the interstates, I can say with confidence that this was a must have in any BMW enthusiast’s garage. Fast, agile, and easily tunable to gain more horsepower.

Did I mention fast?

3. 2003 BMW M5.

Arguably the best M5 built-to-date. Having owned one, I couldn’t imagine not seeing one in my garage. 400 horsepower, a 6-speed manual, and room for 4 adults. The next F10 M5 is being called the “Spiritual Successor” to the E39 M5 because of the feel the car conveys while driving it. The E39 M5 is quite possibly the best midsize sedan ever built.

4. 2003 BMW 540i Sports Wagon.

For the Touring fans, this is a no brainer. 282 horsepower, 324 ft-lbs of torque in a wagon capable of going 155 mph. The Sports package available in 2003 gave it M-Sport bumpers, M-parallel wheels and a visible exhaust tip.

5. 2006 BMW 330ci ZHP.

Better known as the Performance Package. I also owned this car and let me say this, it’s an E46 M3 without the engine. 235 horsepower, special aero kit, M wheels, Special Alcantara Steering wheel, and suspension goodies one would expect from performance coupe without the cost of an M3.

6. 2001 BMW 740i Sport.

Also known as the “Sporty Shorty”. BMW gave it a shorter final drive ratio of 3:15 versus the standard 293, a Steptronic transmission, 18 inches M-Parallel forged wheels, Sports Recaro comfort seats and all the suspension tuning of an M Sport.

7. 2004 BMW M3 Convertible.

The perfect top down sports car. A 333 horsepower tanning bed. When this car came out in 2001, I instantly fell in love with it. The E46 M3 Cabrio is a drop dead sexy car with the speed and handling of any other world class sports convertibles.

8. 1974 BMW 2002 tii.

No BMW enthusiast garage would be complete without the great grandfather to the modern 3 Series. The tii model had a fuel injected 4-cylinder engine.

9. 2009 BMW HP2 Sport Bike.

I love the sound and torque of the Boxer engine in this bike. Scalpel like handling, it’s perfect for a romp through the mountains or a blast up the interstate.

10. 2008 BMW Mini Cooper S.

First year for the new turbocharged 4-cylinder and the larger redesigned chassis. Fun to toss around in a go-kart kind of way, The S version is the quickest of the Coopers. I would have preferred the JCW kit, but we do have a budget of $20k. I could have gone for the older Cooper with JCW, but the newer car with the turbo engine makes this newest MINI a blast to drive.

So there you have it, my dream BMW garage is complete. Now all I have to do is find a spare $200,000. Maybe my kids will get scholarships….