Which used Four-Door BMW would be your first?

Interesting | October 20th, 2015 by 24
bmw m5 e39 image 750x500

BMW is a luxury brand first and foremost, so its cars are expensive. That’s a slight issue for many of its fans, however. Car enthusiasm usually starts at a young age, looking though the windows of your parents car watching all of the cool cars pass by. So many enthusiasts are far too young to be able to afford a new BMW. But BMW has had a long history of producing excellent cars, cars that are often preferred over their more modern counterparts. So if you’re a young enthusiast, or even an enthusiast without the kind of money for a new BMW, there are plenty of old cars to choose from, especially cars with four doors (sedans or saloons, depending on where you live).

So the question is, which four-door BMW would you buy as your first car, or even someone looking for a second car, weekend toy or a track car?

bmw E30 3 Series 1900x1200 06 750x500

E30 BMW 320is

There’s the obvious choice, the E30 BMW 3 Series. The M3 put the E30 into the automotive hall of fame, but the standard car is fantastic in its own right. The E30 3 Series is light, quick and fun. It’s also very cheap and can be had with four doors. The E30 3 Series came in many different flavors. The 318i, 320i and 325i are just a few and there was an option of all-wheel drive.

BMW 340i F30 vs BMW 323i E36 60

E36 BMW 323i

The E36 3 Series is another good cheap 3er, as it’s just as cheap as the E30 because it isn’t as desirable as the E30, as it doesn’t have the same level of history. However, the E36 is faster than the E30, has more creature comforts and is a bit bigger. It’s also just as fun, if not as nimble and tossable as the E30. And it’s probably the cheapest and easiest way to get a BMW M3, and who doesn’t want an M3?

Alpine White BMW E46 M3 Updated With Vorsteiner Wheels 3

E46 BMW M3

Though the E46 3 Series is probably the better and more popular 3er. The E46 M3 is thought to be the best M3 ever made and there’s real merit to that claim. But the standard E46 was also fantastic and can be had for only a few thousand dollars. It’s also probably the best looking 3 Series of all, which helps quite a bit.


E34 BMW M5

The E34 5 Series is a car that many BMW enthusiasts start off with, due to its very low cost and easy maintenance. It’s also comfortable and luxurious and has a lot of space. The E34 might not be a big fan favorite, but that makes it easy to find and affordable to attain. The E34 is a better driver’s car than many people give it credit for, so it’s worth looking into.


E39 BMW M5

The E39 5 Series is another 5er that’s worth looking at. The E39 is largely considered to be the best 5 Series in the nameplate’s history. It’s the right size, has an incredible chassis, looks that still work today and fantastic dynamics. The 540i can even be had with a wonderful V8 and a manual transmission, making it the enthusiast’s choice. The 540i is also considered to be a sort of Baby M5, which makes it even more appealing. The E39 M5 is considered by many enthusiasts to be the best road-going four-door BMW ever made. if that’s the case, the E39 might be the best four-door BMW to look into.

There are many four-door BMWs that are available on the used market that can be had for relatively little money. This allows enthusiasts to get a BMW as their first car (much like I did, as I bought a four-door E36 328i), or as a track car or even a project car. BMW has such a long history of great four-door cars that there are many to choose from, many more than what are on this list. So which would you pick if you had to choose a four-door BMW as either a first car or maybe even a project car?

[Article Inspired by: GermanCarForum]

24 responses to “Which used Four-Door BMW would be your first?”

  1. Matt Stokes says:

    E28 5 series, ignoring all the bells and whistles of modern BMWs, the E28 defines how a BMW should ‘feel’ to me, I preferred it to my E30, and I’d buy another one in a heartbeat if I could get a tidy one for a reasonable price as a second car.

    • I love the E28. It’s so often forgotten but it’s so good. It’s my favorite 5, even over the E39.

    • Brendan Smith says:

      I was gonna say this…. My first car was a 528e. E of course stood for extremely slow :p

    • Kaisuke971 says:

      This thing is not affordable though. I searched: i found a 528i, 32k km, 19 900€ damn better buy an M3 E36 3.2 (legend here) for that price :/

      • Matt Stokes says:

        Tidy E28’s are becoming rarer, and more are getting molested by the stance and rat-style brigades, they come up often enough though, from <£1,000 to £30,000

        The E28 528i was a great car, I regret not keeping mine, but I didn't have space for 3 cars and my 635CSI took precedence. Bought an E28 520i years later as a total beater from eBay for £400, it only lasted a year but I do love the old 2 litre inline sixes.

  2. Anon says:

    E46 Sedan would be my choice. Last year for the 3-series with hydraulic steering.. and something about it just feels solid to drive. Sometimes I regret selling my ’03 ZHP and getting the ’09 335i… it just never felt the same… not saying the current cars suck, cause they’re nice and drive well… but.. like Matt says.. getting too many bells and whistles.

    That’s my biggest grip with the i3. I feel disconnected from the car while driving, which I guess was the point.. but I would like the next i-car to be more driver oriented.

  3. FilipMPower says:

    Am I an idiot, or is there really no E46 M3 Sedan (four door)? I am just wondering why its on the list, as it is the best four door list. Maybe I am just fooled by myself.

  4. Kaisuke971 says:

    Since i will be in that case pretty soon (maybe next year or after idk), i think the perfect example is the 320i. The car is cheap af, it has a 6 Cylinder (dat sound though) and 150hp, which is obviously not too much but also not thaat bad as well (it still moves haha).
    The E36 is also known to drive pretty well, and even if it might not be the prettiest and most luxurious car out there, it is just becoming a classic now (yep, 25yo at least !). Also the sedan is imo the first real iteration of a 3 sedan (don’t hit me please), especially with an M on it (but well M3 E36 3.2 Sedan is “rare” af and 15k here hell no plus the fuel, insurance, and maintenance fees damn :/ ).

    • Senne says:

      I will be in that case soon too, I’m saving money and planning to buy my first BMW (first car, which is obviously a BMW xD) I think I’ll go for the E46 Coupe, but I don’t know whether I’m going to buy the 20i with the wonderful inline 6 or the 18i and chiptune it… cause the 6 might be too expensive here…

      • Kaisuke971 says:

        Oh nice tell me when you do so. Normally i’ll have my license next year, but i won’t buy a car until i go to live in Paris, so (if i don’t fail this year haha) in three years from now basically… By that i’ll just drive a diesel corolla lmfao but 250nm of torque haha still nice… I guess…
        But i think the prices will drop a little bit by that time so maybe a 320i E46 will be a better deal actually, in terms of mileage. Sedan though for me. I predict 5k for 120-150k km and leather yup it’s ok

        • Senne says:

          Probably in about 3-4 years as well. It depends, but I will keep saving money and not buy a car before then, because I really don’t want to buy any other car than a BMW. I just wait till I can afford a nice one. :D Good things are worth waiting for. ;) I definitely want leather seats. I will upgrade it with Angel Eyes (they’re so beautiful) and the LED-tail lights, if they’re not already installed. ;) And beautiful rims, the usually stuff. Not too much of course.

          • Kaisuke971 says:

            You’re right haha i think i’ll try to have a good looking one, nicely shaped, so i don’t have to do any mod. Maybe a K&N air filter, for a bit of induction noise but that’s it. I like my cars stock and classy, in a BMW way :)
            The E36 looks so much nicer and classier to my eyes though… I Think i’ll have to search more for a clean one, but damn i love this car :O_

          • Senne says:

            Yeah, I won’t overdo it, it’s a BMW so should be classy in a sporty way. Or the other way around. :) Really? I like the E36 Coupe (I actually considered buying it, but then realized I like the E46 Coupe more…), but I really think the E46 Sedan is still not outdated, whereas the E36 is really outdated. Especially the Sedan, and without LED-taillights. But of course that’s only my opinion. ;) So why do you want a Sedan and not a Coupe?

          • Kaisuke971 says:

            The problem with the E46 is that the E36 has a classic 90s shape. It just screams “look, i’m a classic german sedan !”. The M3 even more, with its badass stance (most badass M ever imo, but coupe is more badass while M is more 3 haha, better proportionned).
            E46 is really, really good looking, but basically only M3… I literally just admired a topaz blue one and wow… The Sedan is just… Not the coupe.
            F80/F30 is the generation when the Sedan came back looking good if you ask me, by good i mean as good as the coupe.
            Back to the E36 : it looks exactly the same, if not slightly better proportioned, as a sedan (an M3 E36 sedan is just… right !). And i prefer sedans anyway haha just because they are.. Sedans ?

          • Senne says:

            I don’t know… Yes, the E36 is good looking, but only in the right colour, big rims and Angel Eyes. Then.. WOW. I really love the E46 Coupe in any form. Any time when I see one I’m like “Wow, so beautiful.” But indeed the F80/F30 are very beautiful. I like Coupes more, because they’re sportier and a bit better handling. I don’t care about less space and difficult rear entrance. I just want a good position behind the wheel ;) But that’s just me! :D

  5. Farhan Hoodbhoy says:

    E46 330i with sport, ZHP if one can afford it. Incredibly reliable, beautiful and very nice drive. Go for a post September 03 for the 6-speed stick. Avoid the lesser engined models, as they are quite slow.

  6. Senne says:

    I would choose the E39, because it’s really great looking and still almost not outdated. It’s a great car. Though I prefer to buy the E46 Coupe as my first car :) Which I will :D

  7. Mateo says:

    e34 for me :D
    I have 520i and 525i (not in good shape though) and I just love them

  8. Mujtaba says:

    I don’t think anyone should get a used, ancient M car as their first BMW.

  9. Mujtaba says:

    E36 318i 4 door sedan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.