It was only last week when we had the opportunity to see an M5 E39 with 215,000 miles (346,000 kilometers) on the clock and now we get to check out another high-mileage BMW from the same period. This one too is from 2000, but it has racked up far more miles than its bigger brother as the odometer is showing a little over 364,000 miles (nearly 586,000 kilometers).
It’s a US-spec 323i with a manual gearbox from the E46 era, which is personally my favorite 3er of them all, especially if we’re talking about the sedan as it’s the case here. While previous owners of the M5 we keep mentioning spent a whopping €100,000 in the last couple of decades, this 3 Series only cost a fifth in maintenance expenses. Actually, less than that since we’re talking about 20,000 dollars rather than euros.
The pre-LCI sporty sedan is far from being in mint condition as it’s showing its age from just about every angle. Rust has taken its toll on the 3 Series, while the body has quite a few other imperfections. Stepping inside, the headliner looks like it’s about to detach from the roof any minute now and the volume knob maxes out the sound system regardless of the direction you’re turning it. That might explain why the rear sound speakers were no longer working at the time of the purchase, but have since been replaced by Harman Kardon speakers bought from a junkyard.
The check engine light is on, but you’re not going to see it since the previous owner “fixed” it by applying black tape on the plastic lid of the instrument cluster. During the early days with its current owner, the car had some mechanical issues that have been ironed out, specifically the engine was misfiring.
Speaking of the engine, the inline-six 2.5-liter unit made 170 horsepower and 181 pound-feet (245 Newton-meters) of torque back in the day, channeled to the rear axle via a five-speed manual gearbox. Of course, 21 years and 364,000 miles later, the M52TUB25 has lost some ponies, while the rear suspension needs some work since it’s making some weird noises.
While the reviewer mentions the 323i was the base model in North America, it was a different story over in Europe where you could get an E46 with only 103 hp. That’s how much power the entry-level 316i originally made from its 1.9-liter inline-four engine before receiving more oomph in subsequent model years.
Sure, it’s not the most athletic 3 Series Sedan out there, but it could be worse given its age and high mileage. For a winter beater on a small budget, you could do worse than this E46 since almost everything works as it should, with rust and the rear subframe being the only two serious issues.
[Source: TheTopher/ YouTube]