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Old 03-04-2010, 08:23 PM
 
Location: Dallas, TX
4,464 posts, read 9,965,751 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3 Mitch View Post
But, hell, don't listen to me, I have only been a car enthusiast for about 35 years, what do I know?

I'm a nuclear engineer with a good job, and I consider the E 46 to be heavy, fragile, complicated, and expensive. But if you have better mental and financial resources, hey, be my guest...
I fully agree with you that the E46 probably isn't an ideal starting point, and some of the models have some issues worth being aware of, such as the tops cracking, but the cars that came after the 2002 facelift were solid cars, and as long as you know the ins and outs of the engines they actually provide a good basis for upgrades, not to mention the fact that they drive close to perfectly from the go, if you buy the M-Sport editions.

From what I've managed to gather, it's a golden rule, especially true for BMW's that it's a good idea to buy the latest MY or any chassis type, as they very much have a philosophy of constantly improving and sorting out the kinks in their models as they go along.
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Old 03-05-2010, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
14,155 posts, read 44,702,321 times
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I think you are right that the E46 cars got better and in general German cars tend to get better during a model run. IMHO the E30 M3 is an exception, it lost the "pop out" rear windows, ellipsoid headlights in 89 or 90, and gained a (first gen) airbag (driver only IIRC) in 90.

So I personally prefer the 88 and 89 E30 cars.

I don't know if they ever really sorted the E36, or if the floor pan cracking issues are just the earlier cars.

But as a "mule" to learn about cars, IMHO no M3 is worth considering unless as I said before you have a very serious "sponsor". They are expensive to mod (hell, they are expensive to maintain as stock!) and certainly the E46 version is plenty potent enough as it comes out of the box for most novice drivers.

On the other hand an old VW Golf is a fairly taut chassis, can be bought cheap, and *all sorts* of upgrades are possible, not to overlook factory GTI parts like putting the vented disc brakes on the front, put rear discs on a car that was not "born" with them, and all sorts of skullduggery under the hood is possible. These cars stock are 100 BHP or less, providing the newbie some experience "driving a slow car fast" as opposed to "driving a fast car slow" which is where you end up if you start out with too much car.
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Old 03-05-2010, 02:57 PM
 
14,780 posts, read 35,863,112 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3 Mitch View Post
...providing the newbie some experience "driving a slow car fast" as opposed to "driving a fast car slow" which is where you end up if you start out with too much car.
QFT

I have had some rather potent cars in my time, but suprisingly one of the funnest cars I had only put out 150bhp. It was a 2000MY Audi A4 with the 1.8T and a manual. I upgraded the suspension, brakes and clutch and left it alone except for regular maintenance. It was my daily driver to keep the miles off of the "toys".

I learned more about driving in that car then in any other one I had despite all the track days in my faster cars. Learning how to drive that slow car fast allowed me to become a much better driver when the speeds amped up in the toys.

I think it is spot on advice to start learning in something simpler and slower, before working your way up to something faster. You can get just as many thrills pushing that slow car to its limit as you can driving something faster.
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Old 03-05-2010, 03:47 PM
 
Location: Dallas, TX
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Very true, I've had a ton of fun in my completely stock 1998 Toyota Corolla 1.3L 86hp.
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