What is the average college male’s main objective? Girls. College guys will do absolutely anything to gain the attention of the opposite sex. So what do they usually do? Buy nice clothes, good cologne and bring good booze to parties. But one thing that can often be overlooked — a cool car. Not only just for picking up girls, but for looking cool to friends as well. A cool car is a must for anyone in college. Not only does it provide freedom, any car that runs can do that, but it provides confidence as well and confidence is everything to a youth. Cars are a fun and safe (as long as you don’t race) hobby for any young person, regardless of gender.

So what car? Picking a car is no easy thing. What you drive speaks volumes about your personality, whether you realize or not. You wear it as much as you drive it.

So is there a perfect first car for a young college student? Yes, and I’d argue it’s the BMW E46 3 Series.


The E46 started life in 1999, replacing the aging E36. Gaining upgraded suspension, brakes and both interior quality and space. It went on to become the best selling BMW of all time. Which is precisely why it’s such a good first car.

Because there are so many out there for sale, value has gone down so they can be gotten on the cheap. Search Craigslist for five minutes and you’ll have no problem finding nice examples of one for under $8,000. It’s also quite reliable, as BMW fixed many of the issues that plagued the E36. But in case anything does break, being that there are so many E46s out there, there are an abundance of parts for reasonable prices. Junkyards have more E46 parts than they know what to do with.


All of the reliability and low cost stuff is all just icing on the cake. The real reason to buy an E46 is the way it looks and drives. Many say that the E46 is the best 3 Series ever made. Cadillac even benchmarked it when developing the ATS. That’s some high praise when an automaker benchmarks a thirteen year old car for their newest sport sedan. It’s simply sublime to drive. It perfectly blends the line between comfort and performance.

It’s available with a variety of different inline-six engines, depending on the year. A 2.5, 2.8, or a 3.0 liter engine were available in the 325i, 328i and 330i, respectively. All are buttery smooth with great power and rev fast. Plus each variant is available with a 5-Speed manual or a 5-Speed auto. All-wheel drive is also an option for bad weather areas.

The E46 is also one of the more handsome and classy looking BMWs. With short overhangs, high beltline and smooth body lines, it exudes a feeling of luxury performance.


All of those qualities in a car which costs less than $10,000 makes it the perfect first car for any young person looking to make an impression.