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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?