The E46 3 Series is extremely cheap right now

3 Series, News | January 6th, 2019 by 9
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If you want a used BMW but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the E46 3 Series is the car for you. It’s an excellent cheap sports car, as it’s great fun to drive, good looking, comfortable and relatively reliable. But not just here in the US. In this new article from Car Throttle, there are three E46 3 Series variables all for under £8,000 ($10,100). One is even under £1,000 ($1,200). So they’re cheap in the UK as well.

The first one is the super cheap one. It’s only £700 ($890), in fact. For that price, you’d think it was an absolute junker. But it might not be, actually. It’s a BMW 330i Touring model, so it has a 3.0 liter 230 hp straight-six in a wagon body style. The body seems to be in good shape and its interior is said to be nice. Its engine is also said to run fine. The problem is that its automatic gearbox is toast. It could be a cheap fix or it might need a transmission rebuild. So it might be worth buying or it might just be a headache. Still, that’s cheap.

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After that, there are a couple of other E46 3 Series models, both 330i coupes, and they increase in price and condition. However, the most expensive one costs £7,595 ($9,600) but it’s in really nice condition and is the desirable Clubsport model and only has 74,000 miles on it.

In America, just browse AutoTrader,, Craigslist or any site where you can buy cars and you’ll see an almost endless amount of E46s for crazy cheap. They make for excellent first cars, project cars or just affordable sports cars. Especially when you consider that the E46 is one of the all-time greats and probably the best 3 Series of all time. If you’re looking for a cheap used BMW, it’s almost impossible to ignore the E46 3 Series.

[Source: Car Throttle]

9 responses to “The E46 3 Series is extremely cheap right now”

  1. Joshua Stein says:

    In my experience used 3 series (e46 specifically) is all up to chance. Ive had one that ran all the way till 250k from my mechanic and drove it until the AC gave out. I had another (330i) that seemed perfect, had records and low milage, head gasket blew. Had a 323i 5MT with the worst paint in the world (clear coat peeling) and looked like a beater, but it was super reliable and really only needed regular maintenance, only had one minor oil leak which was fixed, sadly the car was totaled. In the US at least, every used 3 series is either broken, poorly treated or too expensive. Its rare to find one in great condition these days, what a shame.

    • Honestly, I feel like that’s any car. Between friends and I, we’ve had cars that should be unreliable end up being bulletproof and vice versa. From my experience, though, E46s are typically pretty reliable. E36s, too, but they have annoying cooling issues.

    • Tom says:

      The problem with the E46 is the owner maintained the cooling system, or if they just waited until catastrophe happened. If it is the ladder, you might run into engine trouble way down the road.

      • Mossback H says:

        I agree Tom.
        Although somewhat a pain rebuilding the entire coolant system can be done by an average home mechanic for a reasonable amount of money. YouTube is our friend.

  2. Marcel Lukačić-Marca says:

    Used E46 3 Series is such a good buy. They are cheap and if well maintained, pretty much bulletproof. Best engines IMO are either 2 liter diesels or any straight six. My granddad has an E46 320d for nearly 8 years now, over 270k kilometers, still running strong. No mechanical issues. But, he took care of it.

  3. Andrew Slater says:

    Just sold my e46 330i ZSP sedan for around $5k. Super reliable and good looking car. I bought an e90 335i m sport but I’d buy another e46 in a heartbeat .

  4. Anon says:

    Automatic transmissions are a weak point and an opportunity. Since the transmission fluid is “lifetime” and has no maintenance interval per BMW they never get serviced and start developing issues after 100k miles (not a hard rule, but any car with “shifting issues” past this mileage is running on its factory fill).

    As shown it’s possible to find a car in great condition with a good engine and blown auto transmission. This is a chance to get a car in otherwise good shape that may cost multiple thousands more if in running order, and then just get the transmission rebuilt or swap a manual.

    The engines of the era are bulletproof if oil and cooling system maintenance are followed. I’ve seen a 540i with 600,000+ miles and the only reason it was in the shop was because the manual Transmission finally went.

  5. Bellisarius says:

    anyone tracking the 15 1994 5 e34s found unused in Bulgaria? no mileage? forgotten place?

  6. burritolikethesun says:

    I do skids ERRRY DAY in my 330ci!!

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