View Full Version : Help and Advice on possible BMW purchase

25th Oct 2005, 11:00
Dear all,

I have a dilemma that I am looking for advice on.

I am looking to buy a car due to my previous one being written off in an accident (I was not in the car at the time, someone ran into the back of my legally parked car)

I have decided not to buy a brand new car again as despite a good look around nothing is grabbing me.

So the choice before me is this:

1) 1997 R-Plate BMW 316i SE. Mint Condition, 70,000 miles. Sticker price £3,995 but will to take £3,600 as no Part Ex and also a cash sale. Drives well.
2) 1997 R-Plate BMW 323i, 107,000 miles, Sticker price £2,995. Going to see this one today and test drive it, so no idea how it looks or drives

Now if the 323 is in a bad way then I have no problem simply go for the 316. However, what I am thinking is that if they are both in similar condition and drive equally well is the 323 a decent bet with all those miles on it?



25th Oct 2005, 11:13
At 107,000 miles a BMW should run like new, assuming it has been driven properly.

I had a 1987 325i with an inline 6 smooth as silk with almost 160,000 miles on it a few years ago. Not a single damn problem with it. These marvels of modern engineering will go 300,000 miles easy.

Both your options are good cars at good prices, however if I were you I'd go for the 323 if its in good shape.

Double Echo
25th Oct 2005, 12:09
Do both cars come with 19" chrome finish alloys, 26 speaker sound system with twin decks and 3.8 Gigawatt Bass Sub including pink fluorescent sill-lights, garnished with the obligatory "MaxPower" window sticker and 17 year old scouse bird in the passenger seat, with her norks out?? Or am I being cynical??

PS.. The white powder sachets in the boot are not extra talc for the previous owner's athlete's foot problem.. trust me:E

25th Oct 2005, 13:12
3.8 Gigawatt Bass Sub
I don't think the alternator on the 316 can handle that, you'll stall out if you crank up the volume too much.:sad:

ducks fly higher
25th Oct 2005, 13:19
Buying a BMW??? Really??? Wouldn't it just be simpler in the long run to stuff a couple of big socks down there???

25th Oct 2005, 13:22
just to be Devil's Advocate - are you mad buying either? You may as well have leprosy here in Ireland as an 8 year old Beemer for a trade-in. They're lovely cars, but you'll need a wheelbarrow for the money required to service it, let alone the dosh required to fix stuff when it goes wrong. I have a mate here who's a BMW main dealer mechanic who will keep older ones on the road without a mortgage required, but outside that I wouldn't go near one.

To answer the question if you're intent on one or t'other - there's sod-all difference, the bigger engine would be less stressed, but it does have 30k miles more, so take your pick.

25th Oct 2005, 13:23
Visit the LADA showroom and get a second opinion.

25th Oct 2005, 13:37
Isn't the 316 a '4' and the 323 a '6'?
Insurance group (ie premium) might be the deciding factor (though I'd prefer the six given the funds to run it).

25th Oct 2005, 13:49
If it's in decent nick , the 323i without a moments hesitation. The BMW i6 engines are incredible, you won't regret it.

As for the "it'll cost you the house to maintain" comments, complete sh!te. Mine is almost as old as the cars you are looking at, nothing has failed, the clutch, exhaust etc. are all original, and it's cheaper to service than a Honda, Citroen, Peugoet or Mazda.

I know this because I've owned all the above, and the BMW has cost me the least out of them all, and they've all been fully dealer maintained.

Say again s l o w l y
25th Oct 2005, 14:11
The 323 without a second thought.

The 316 is a bag of bolts in comparison, the 6 cylinder engines from BMW are legendary for good reason. They are virtually bullet proof (unless you count the VANOS problems with certain of the M series cars, specifically the s50 engine) sound fantastic and go like the clappers.

It must have a FSH and be looked after, but if it has, you won't regret it. 200K on some of those engines is not unusual.

25th Oct 2005, 14:29
It must have a FSH

Yep, if the 323 has got at least a majority Beemer service history, then go for that.

25th Oct 2005, 14:36
Dear all,

Thanks for all the help.

A further update on the cars, the 316 has a full BMW service history whereas the 323 was apparently a repossession and has no service history of any kind.

Although the 323 is a bigger (better) engine it has only that going for it. Whereas marks against it are:

No Service History, Lower Spec, Higher Mileage, Less reputable dealership and it even has a less appealing colour (Metallic Ice Blue as opposed to Metallic Forest (Racing) Green on the 316.

It all hangs now I think on the test drive tonight of the 323. If it is a dog then the decision will be an easy one.



gas path
25th Oct 2005, 14:43
Whihever one you buy make sure that the front fog lights work and the headlights are adjusted to dazzle everyone else on the road.:mad: :p

Standard Noise
25th Oct 2005, 16:18
No matter which you decide on, check the bushes have been done. The bushes on the E36 weren't great and depending on abuse, may have been replaced as early as 40k. The 323 has a cam chain rather than a cam belt. The belt should be replaced on the 60k service (as far as I remember) but the chain lasts longer. Find out if they've been sorted out. I had a 1998 323 tourer which I got rid of a year ago, and now wish I still had it sometimes. As for mileage, don't worry about either 70 or 107k as long as the car's been looked after. You might want to source a local specialist, I found they're better than the main dealers.

phoenix son
25th Oct 2005, 16:24
Whihever one you buy make sure that the front fog lights work and the headlights are adjusted to dazzle everyone else on the road.

Also see if you can get the indicators removed for an extra bit of weight-saving, after all, you're about to become a BMW driver, you won't be needing them again...:E

25th Oct 2005, 16:25
BHR, buy the one with the all-synchromesh gearbox for goodness' sake...:)

25th Oct 2005, 17:57
Forget BMW, buy one of these :}


Aww...I miss my baby :{


25th Oct 2005, 18:01
Is this the start of a Manta mantra?

25th Oct 2005, 18:03
Wow, 18 posts about Beemers and no mention of an Israeli martial art :E :E

25th Oct 2005, 18:14
You can bang on about the tech specs for as long as you want. There is only one factor to consider when buying a car...the colour. Ask my wife.

25th Oct 2005, 18:15
Cup holders damn it!!! You need cup holders.

25th Oct 2005, 18:15
>There is only one factor to consider when buying a car...the colour. Ask my wife.

How true!

>You need cup holders.

Whatever happened to the Curry Hook?

25th Oct 2005, 18:16
G-CPTN, Had of those too :=


But the Ascona performed better everytime!:ok:


25th Oct 2005, 18:22
Go for a used Bentley.

Ahaaaa...who said Holden?

25th Oct 2005, 19:14
Sod a beemer, get an Audi A4, you get a cup holder with that, for free.
You also get a jack that has been designed by some blackbelt in origami so once you use it there is no way on gods green earth it'll go back in it's wee holder. None.
had to ask for help, now that was embaressing

25th Oct 2005, 19:24
Wee holders?

In a car?

That's bloody brilliant. Up yours, Heston Services.

25th Oct 2005, 19:30
Parker's price guide says...

316i SE 4d 1997/R Average mileage: 80,000 miles

Franchised Dealer £ 3440
Independent Dealer £ 3190
Private Good £ 2870
Private Poor £ 1905

323i 4d 1997/R Average mileage: 80,000 miles

Franchised Dealer £ 4100
Independent Dealer £ 3805
Private Good £ 3420
Private Poor £ 2270

25th Oct 2005, 19:33

Thats why I got a speeding ticket, I was a wee bit over the limit.


25th Oct 2005, 19:39
Having previously owned an E30 1.8i, just sold one Beemer in line six (E36 320i), I could only replace it with...... another, an E46 323. There was nothing wrong with it, but it WAS coming up for its 14th birthday and a pristine 5 year old one came up for a very good price - so I couldn't resist that climate control after this year's hot summer...and that Steptronic gearbox and ....and ... etc.

(BTW, the indicators work on all of mine and were / are used for the purpose they were designed; also I only used the fogs a few times in thick fog, not for fashion reasons or posing).

The BMW 6 cylinder will go on forever as long as the oil has been kept clean and the filter changed iaw the service intervals - the filter has been known to disintegrate in isolated cases but only if badly neglected. The cam chain is NOT generally a problem - if it needs changing, probably ONLY after a huge mileage, you will hear it, unlike a belt which might let go with no warning. The engine should start instantly and be mechanically very quiet indeed, even from cold, as they are superbly engineered.

There was a problem with the Nikasil cylinder coating on some variants, caused by a reaction with high sulphur content petrol in UK only. However, unless the car is very sick, it will have been long sorted under warranty by now.

The best way to check the engine out is to get an emissions test done, looking in particular at the amount of HC present. My 112,000 mile, 13 yr old 2.0 litre showed just 2 parts per million at it's last MOT check. Not surprisingly it burned NO oil but went like a train - I drove it hard, changed the oil when the service lights said so (about 7,000 miles in my case) and it never let me down. Best car engine EVER, imho. You won't need a radio - you will just want to listen to that lovely growl that turns into a glorious howl at about 4500 rpm.

No contest, even though the 4 is a very good engine too.

Only one snag - once bitten, always smitten :ok:

P.S. In view of certain uninformed, underprivileged and obviously extremely jealous individuals on this website, I suggest we just call them "Non-Volvos" instead. :E

25th Oct 2005, 20:01
Call them whatever you like love, I know what I call them!!

Boring Middle-aged Wheels .... and much worse :E :E

But if it makes you happy ......

Gotta humour 'em



However, if I MUST..... go for the larger engine; it's less likely to have stressed 'cos to thrash a 2,300 litre engine would probably scare most people silly!

25th Oct 2005, 20:17
Whirls, There's only one possible answer........

Always Likely For Accidents, Rusty Old Millstone's Engine's 'Orrible.

And that's a CLEAN version...... :p

25th Oct 2005, 21:14
>to thrash a 2,300 litre engine would probably scare most people silly

Except that a 323 is 2,500cc!
The logic (!) is that the next one up (the 328) is 2,800cc, and BMW didn't want to admit that it was 'only' 300cc larger. (!)


25th Oct 2005, 21:27
Honest John of the DT recommends:

1. No FSH - walk away.
2. If you don't, buy a warranty online from that company that cannot be mentioned but will sell you a warranty directly.

25th Oct 2005, 21:38
>buy a warranty

Waste of money IMHO. Only covers engine INTERNALS and things that don't go wrong. Limit of £1500 pa wouldn't cover an engine anyway. You're unlikely to get decent cover unless the mileage is about 30,000 miles. Read the small print (if you can) which excludes all the likely claims.

No FSH - bid LOW and use the money saved as 'insurance'. In case of disaster, there's plenty of small specialists breaking low-mileage accident-damaged cars for re-usable major units.

25th Oct 2005, 22:22
And that's a CLEAN version......
OK ShyT,

What's the dirty version. Bet it ain't as dirty as my car ;)



25th Oct 2005, 22:28
I am a very happy owner of a 1992 316i 4 door saloon in Calypso Red Metallic. The engine is the M40 and lacks a bit of guts on hills unless you drop down a couple of cogs. I purchased mine exactly one year ago and have not had a single problem with it. The mileage was 70k and I got it for an extremely good price.

I would go for a 323 next time as long as it had a FSH. The 6 cylinder engine is superior in all respects (except economy). The four banger in the 316 gives me about 40mpg without flogging it to death.

Look around for a 323 with less mileage and a FSH, there are literally hundreds out there. Dont rush into it.

As far as costs are concerned, if you live in London you will pay through the nose for labour but elsewhere it works out at around £70 per hour. A cambelt change is in the region of £205 including labour and VAT.

Choose wisely and dont rush it! You might even want to look at a 5 series.

25th Oct 2005, 22:40
Rather not post any more F words, Whirls. ;)


Can you get a warranty that covers the light fittings dropping out when you slam the doors? I know someone who might be interested...... :D

25th Oct 2005, 22:49
Not after 136,000 miles - bit tricky.

But my Alfred is still going strong - you had to get shot of a Beemer after only 112k? And they're supposed to go the distance? Pah - they don't know what high mileage is!!

Who cares about little things like light fittings when you can have the driving experience and totty-pulling power of a GTV? Don't care how well engineered you say BMWs are, they are character-less, soul-less machines. No more, no less, and they don't know what driving passion is!



25th Oct 2005, 23:15
Ooh.......Did I sense a little nibble just then?

"Don't care how well engineered you say BMWs are, they are character-less, soul-less machines."

But WITH lights......... mind you, having some lights hanging under a car can be very trendy - but most "BarryBoy" cars have blue neons :ok:

26th Oct 2005, 00:00
Ooh.......Did I sense a little nibble just then?
No, more like a cyber-smack in cyber-space!

This is a simple matter of solid, dependable, boring, dull, efficiency AGAINST passionate, thrilling, exciting, stylish flair :p



26th Oct 2005, 00:10
"Pah - they don't know what high mileage is!!"

I've heard a few things about your car, you know what high mileage is with an ALFA, all right.....

"passionate, thrilling, exciting, stylish flair"

You mean those Italian salesmen told you they can give you all that by using spaghetti for wires?

Now, that square steering wheel on the Austin Allegro - that was a bit Italian too, wasn't it? :E

It's no Chianti but Bockbeer for me! :cool:

26th Oct 2005, 00:16
Italian salesmen? In Cold Ash? I don' think so!

Alfa GTV - in black - so sexy, so sophisticated, so classy! (http://www.channel4.com/4car/road-tests/A/alfaromeo/gtv96-03/gtv96-03.html)

BMW 3-series - in silver - so pompous and pretentious! Moi? (http://www.channel4.com/4car/road-tests/B/bmw/3-series98-01/3-series98-01.html)

The only reason the Alfred was marked down was because they've brought out a new model (which I have to admit I don't think is so nice) but c'mon guys - look at the style! Totty in GTV or totty in BMW.

And look what they say - Alfa 156 - a rival!!




26th Oct 2005, 00:19
And there's the one pound Volvo (as per Jeremy Clarke on Top Gear) - saving the dealer 149 pounds in disposal costs.

26th Oct 2005, 00:20
Got any pictures, Whirls? Just the totty, I've got bored with all this car banter....... :E

26th Oct 2005, 00:26
Alright! You can't beat Italian passion and flair, I tell 'ee




26th Oct 2005, 00:40
and then there are really fine cars... Aston Martin DB9...


or a Bentley...


26th Oct 2005, 01:00
Yeah but RollingThunder... you ain't gonna get one of those for under £4k?



26th Oct 2005, 01:06
Yeah but I'm winning the lottery on wednesday so it's all relative. Will buy two, the other one in British Racing Green.

26th Oct 2005, 08:52
Thanks for the pic, MISS Whirls.

You've kept that quiet, you said it was a black Alfa!

26th Oct 2005, 10:48
Dear all,

Thanks for all the advice.

I drove the 323 last night and it seems fine. Lovely drive but not a quantum leap above the 316.

There are several bad points to the 323 example I looked at and only two good points.

Bad Points: 34,000 more miles for a similarly aged car, lower spec (316 is an SE and therefore has CD and AC), no service history, needs 4 new tyres, has small rust spots on both front wheel arches (not major and dealer says would sort these) and the interior is just not as tidy as the other one (e.g. boot lining is loose in a few spots).

Good Point: Better engine and cheaper.

Cheerio’s point about if this car is a repossession it is likely to mean that money was tight and therefore not been well maintained i.e. servicing etc. is likely to be the final nail in the coffin for the 323.

I am having another go in the 316 tonight and making my decision then.

However, any more comments are welcome.



Double Echo
26th Oct 2005, 11:19

Did I tell you I once overtook that particular yellow piece of Italian junk in a 1.6 litre Renault?? :cool: Admittedly it was a Formula Renault single seater race car..:O

As Herr Schumacher once said.. "No, the red shiny bit is Ferrari, that smoking black bit is FIAT" :}

26th Oct 2005, 11:50
Bizarrely I also overtook the same piece of yellow junk (obviously someone else was driving; it wasn't stationary!) in a Formula Renault!! Cracking fun what?



Hanse Cronje
26th Oct 2005, 16:35
Have been driving a somewhat different car of late to my norm and have never realised how much fun Saabs can be. Not in the same league as my BMW but do like the turbo engine on Mrs Cronje's vehicle, tip top fun especially as it is an estate! You get some rather amusing looks from boy racer types who lose at lights.....

26th Oct 2005, 16:46
Bizarrely, I overtook the yellow thingy and all the Formula Renaults in that Le Mans GT racer they had a few years ago. Frighteningly quick that was - shame they don't run it anymore.

If you really want to have fun, google for the sensational motorsport day that Jonathan Palmer offers in Bedford. Truly, genuinely cannot be beaten - makes those Formula Renaults look slovenly.

26th Oct 2005, 17:01
google for the sensational motorsport day that Jonathan Palmer offers in Bedford.

Have twice been given the (free) opportunity to attend the aforesaid event - both times my diary would'nt allow it. :{

It will happen (if there is a ) next time.

27th Oct 2005, 12:08
Bought my first BMW 323 in 1980 never regretted it. In fact still driving it and just did 700 miles over the weekend. Purred all the way. Have had very little in the way of problems over the years. My wife has a four year old 328 and although that is a pleasure to drive I still enjoy mine. Great cars.

27th Oct 2005, 16:45
OK I will bite.

I have to agree that the Alpha in the photo is a nice looking car, not stunning in my book but alright. BUT I have never heard of an Alpha in the past 30 years which was anything but expensive and troublesome to keep on the road.

There is an Alpha specialist up the road from me where I have my MOTs done, a glance behind the workshop at the number of, not that old, scrapped Alphas due to repairs being uneconomic is scary.

To BMWs. I have owned four of them. Both 3 and 5 series. With large and small engines, ranging in age at purchase from 7 years to new. Age at sale of the oldest was 14 years with 170,000 plus on the clock. I have never broken down in one, I have never had any major work on one. I have owned several Audis and Mercedes. I always come back to a BMW. They are mechanically bullet proof apart from a couple of models already mentioned. They are fantastic cars to drive (apart from the aberration known as the Z3), quiet, comfortable and quick.

The smaller engine versions are adequate if not stunning in performance and my only criticism is the electrical systems on the later models, probably BMW's weakest area.

Main dealers are expensive but once a car is a few years old I personally believe a main dealer service history is a little pointless as long as evidence of regular service is kept. There are many independent BMW specialists.

At the end of the day car choice is very personal otherwise why would anybody have bought a Nissan Cedric or an early Skoda?

Weird too the animosity that the word BMW seems to engender in certain people.

27th Oct 2005, 20:32
M.Mouse.......I have to agree with you. I dont understand either why people react the way they do to the word BMW. I have a 316i and it is my first BMW, its 13 years old and looks and drives like it is one year old. I have never driven a car with a smoother gearbox. BMW is the epitomy of quality, both inside and out and at a reasonable price.

27th Oct 2005, 21:37
M. Mouse,

First off - my Alfa (sic) has done nearly 136,000 miles and I've never had a moment's bother with it. In five years, I've only had the AA out once and that was for a tyre blow-out and as the monkey at the tyre place had done the nuts up so tight, I didn't stand a snow-ball's of getting them undone! So reliable GTVs DO exist (especially the black ones).

Secondly, the reason why other car marque drivers extract the micturation out of BMW drivers is that it's soooo easy. BMW drivers (especially one I can think of!!) rise to the bait so delightfully, that it's almost rude not to have a dig! It's all a bit of fun and I'm sure that underneath everyone appreciates a well-engineered car that is pleasant to drive.



'Sjust that there's other cars I'd rather have!!

Edited to add:
otherwise why would anybody have bought a Nissan Cedric or an early Skoda?
In a situation where "misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows", I ended up having to drive an early Skoda Estelle. Although it had a "stir-twice-and-guess" gearbox, I found its handling to be excellent through the Berkshire lanes and the headlights could light up the whole of Greenham Common!!

28th Oct 2005, 13:04
Rust on a 97 BMW is not normal, so I'd investigate the arches a bit more thoroughly for accident damage.

As for whirly, I had my suspicions about your car knowledge when you mentioned something about a 2,300 litre engine. That's a battleship! My car only has 2.3 litres;) :}

Then you confirmed it by being an Alfa fan! A better drive than a bmw? I assume that's what your dealer mechanic told you as he loaded the car back onto a low loader for it's weekly refit?:=

28th Oct 2005, 13:38
So? she just had it hotted up a bit, wanted a bit more oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooompfh on the motorway:D

28th Oct 2005, 13:54
Exactly Paterbrat - you've obviously seen me drive!!

And Strepsils? How do you know I'm not a European who uses comma for a decimal point and the point as a thousands separator?



28th Oct 2005, 13:59
Oh dear :uhoh: Strep's those Alpha drivers don't take kindly to nasturtiums being cast upon their chosen steeds.

28th Oct 2005, 14:36
Bit like BMW drivers apparently!!!



Biggles Flies Undone
28th Oct 2005, 15:16
So the only possible choice is to buy an Alfa for it's aesthetic qualities and spend more than the national debt on keeping it going, or buy a Beemer and have everyone think you're a http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v511/BFU/Image2.jpg is it?

Nothing like cars to polarise opinions, is there?! :hmm:

28th Oct 2005, 15:49
Now I certainly wouldn't mind one of those, skip on the vanity plate though.:p

31st Oct 2005, 18:49
BillHicksRules, Well, come on, put us out of our misery.......which one did you buy???????????

1st Nov 2005, 10:12

I went for the sensible option, the 316



Standard Noise
1st Nov 2005, 12:46
Ye big wussie!!:p

1st Nov 2005, 13:13

Yah boo sucks to you too:p :p :p

I wanted the big engine one but I did not want the rust, dodgy HPI check or the lack of any toys.

I am totally converted to BMW now so next time I will hopefully have the time to pick a more powerful model.