Ask BF: What\’s the Best Value in the Used BMW World?

We at BF are addicted to the used BMW classifieds and we ‘re guessing you are as well. Which makes today ‘s Ask BF particularly interesting. It comes from Benjamin Davis; “what is the best used value in the BMW world? ” Here ‘s the full request:

I ‘m hoping to gain your perspective on BMW used buying values. It ‘s been a while since we ‘ve lived stateside, but we ‘re headed back next Spring, with a newborn. We may only get to stay through the summer, so thought I ‘d seek recommendations on a safe, reliable Bimmer. I ‘m willing to do some research and will follow your lead. I ‘m not sure what to say about a price-range. If we need to sell at summer ‘s end–maybe that sets the range?

Price range is obviously important but let ‘s keep it open and hear your thoughts. What ‘s the best used BMW at:

  • $10k?
  • $20K?
  • $30K?

Keep in mind Ben is looking for something that can handle a newborn so a four door is likely a good move.

So with all that said, here are a couple thought-starters:

  • 2004 E46 330i ZHP. Depending on miles expect to pay anywhere from 11-18k. Put plainly this is one those cars that BMW got right in just about every way. The drivetrain is sorted and a joy to commute in or attack the twisties.

  • 2003 E39 540i Sport (six speed). Sense a trend here? Used cars are best at the end of the model run and the E46 and E39 represent solid cars for little money. The 540i Sport gives you a V8 (yes it ‘s made a bit pointless with turbo-charging these days but that ‘s a debate for another day) and a honey of a six speed manual to motivate it all with. Expect to pay between 8k-15k depending on mileage etc. Here ‘s a great example with 63k at $12.9K.

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  • Andys120

    I bought a 2001 330ci/Sport Cabrio in great condition this winter for just 14K. IMO the BMWs of the Reitzle era are great buys because they are great cars and they have lots of stuff you can’t even get on new Bimmers: temp gauges, oil dipsticks, spare tires and tires held up by air, not ultra-stiff sidewalls and don’t forget those wonderful NA motors..

    • GJR

      I agree wholeheartedly with Andy. I replaced an E90 330i at at the end of its lease term with a 2003 E39 530i (sport package, manual transmission on both cars). The over-engineered feel and solidity of the “old” E39, along with the stellar interior quality and build is simply missing in the newer cars. The car also manages to feel just right without the use of complex adjustable and customizable “driving modes.”

  • 6-speed

    2003 was the last year for the E39 in the US. The 2004 5 Series were E60 (sedan) and E61 (sport wagon).

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      You’re right. Typo.

  • les

    I don’t know if it’s the Best Value in the used BMW Word, but if I had a family I would consider a wagon. I’ve always had a sweet spot for the E91.

    There are plenty of E36 sedan around at great prices. Plus, you can easily resell an E36 and you might not be out any money. Image that.

  • tturedraider @ Bimmerfest

    If I was interested in a used Bimmer and had a newborn whose safety was paramount I would look at an E90 or E91. My first choice would be a 2006 330i. I has a great motor and can be mated to a very nice, well matched automatic. Examples in good condition can still be found relatively easily and the price should be right, both for buying and selling. The E90 has a host of safety features that were not available on the E46 or E39, including side curtain head airbags and seat mounted side airbags.

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      They had both airbags as well.

  • Ellinara

    Under 10k= e36 328i, maybe a high milage M3 (E36) that needs some TLC. Under 20 = 330i. Under 30 = E46 M3

  • que

    Got a 02 E39 6 pot M sport with a manual back in 2006, in Canada. Has been solid since 2nd ownership. To this day with over 200K km, still enjoy every start. Struggling if I do replace it, with what? So m keeping it for now. Nice picture of an E39 above.

    • stratomartin

      keep it my friend….superb automobile.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Woolman/1457822510 Chris Woolman

    Any particular reason why you choose a 2004 model year ZHP? I own a 2003 and love it!

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      I had a 2003 as well and was likely the best all around BMW I’ve ever owned. 2004 didn’t have the dead spot in the rev range. Although that was eventually fixed via bulletin.

  • Adam

    I had a 540i M sport, easily one of my favorites. I’d vote low mileage E46 M3 though.

  • http://twitter.com/TheKurtster Kurt Heiden

    I bought a 2000 M Roadster with 29k miles on it. Like new for $18k last year. Best investment in a car I’ve ever made. I’ve put 30k on it already and it’s running like a champ.

  • Evan

    Low-mileage 2004-2005 E46 330i or a low-mileage 2007 328i E90 or E91. I’d avoid 2006 E90s as there are too many random first year issues. I’d love a ZHP though and recommend it wholeheartedly…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Peterson/1678099686 Chris Peterson

    $10k E39 2001 740i with sport package. $20k E90 330i manual and sport package. $30k 2009 X5 Diesel. $25k 135i manual and sport package.

  • ifm

    Nobody mentions the wonderful E39 M5? Sure they’re absurdly expensive to maintain, but… but… but E39 M5!!! For under $30k! The E39s are still beautiful and not as plasticky looking as the E60+ cars.