I love driving—and occasionally fixing—my 32-year-old BMW. The various flaws and quirks it has picked up over the decades are part of its charm, its character. But like any old car owner I often wonder what it was like when it was brand new, shining and pristine. One Jalopnik reader just found out by buying a 2006 BMW 325Ci with just 4,768 miles on the clock.
Of course, a 2006 BMW 325CI isn’t exactly as old as my BMW, but still! His E46, one of the best 3 Series variants and modern cars ever, is basically a new car. Save for M-models being stored up by collectors and dealers, this may be one of the lowest-mileage E46s in the country, and certainly one of the lowest “normal” ones.
This story comes to us from reader Cory, who emailed us last night so thrilled over the purchase—understandably—that he had to share it with us. Now I’m sharing it with you, if for no other reason than to prove that unicorns do exist out there.
Cory said he’s a longtime BMW fan, raised among E30s, and his other car is a well loved silver 2001 325i with 175,000 miles. He didn’t anticipate buying another E46, let alone this gem.
Here’s how he recounts the story:
I didn’t actually find this car. My friend did when I showed her the FR-S I was considering purchasing from CarMax. She said “Ew, you can’t drive that” and frantically started to search for a replacement.
What’s wrong with the FR-S? I love those things. Anyway!
I actually loved the Scion because it drove so nice (that shifter tho), but was kind of hesitant because I am nearly 30 and I didn’t want to explain why I was driving “a toy” as another friend put it. Anyways, she found it on cars.com (I never look there!) and it checked all the right boxes: manual, rear-wheel drive, and a coupe. It just happened to be my favorite color, had sport pack, and aluminum (not wood) trim—bonus! Maintenance aside, the 325ci was the more practical daily for me.
I was actually shopping for 996s as well but figured the beast I knew was better than one I didn’t (this is my third E46 so I am well aware of the numerous issues that pop up with these cars). I have the mentality that it is more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow, so the 2.5 motor was plenty for me. I just love the steady power delivery of the NA inline six.
I currently own what I like to call the most E30-ey E46 out there, because it has manual HVAC, no sunroof, and manual seats (wish it had sports pack- then it would be the Jalopnik special). So I own a 2001 325i with all the miles and no options, and a 2006 325ci with all the options and no miles, kind of ironic.
A man after my own heart. On to the new E46:
Anyways, I called the owner of the car and to say he was pedantic would be an understatement. The guy had a car collection and kept this one in storage about 30 miles from my house (it was in the unit with a 93 Wrangler 2.5 with 40k miles). I was able to look at it in the beginning of January but could not drive it at that time. The owner did not want to take it out on wet roads so I could only look. After weeks and weeks of pestering the guy, I was able to drive it last Tuesday. I promptly paid his $12,500 asking price and drove the car away. After a month of playing the waiting game, it was mine.
Here’s the odometer as proof:
Like I said, a basically new car.
Not bad at all for $12,500. For the price of a new Nissan Versa, you get one of the best sport coupes ever made.
But as well all know, not driving a car over a certain length of time can carry its own set of problems just like excessive wear can. And even if a car isn’t driven, components still age. Cory ran into one problem right out of the gate:
After filling it up, I noticed a smell of gas in the cabin. I pulled out the backseat, removed the plate covering the fuel pump, and gas was pooling up on top of the fuel pump! I took it to the stealer and they determined the fuel pump housing had cracked and was causing pressure issues. $900 (gasp) later it was fixed. So all in I am at $13,400- not bad in my opinion for a nearly new E46. I called BMW North America to see if there was anything they could do to help me out since it had such low miles and because I came from a family of 3 series lovers (never bought new), and sadly, but not surprisingly, they said “nope.”
I still love the car and am not too upset because fuel pumps are a known problem for the E46, and just look at it. Perfection.
Curiously the same thing happened to my E30 right after pickup too, for the same reason. Watch out for those fuel pump seals on your BMWs, no matter how old they are.
But shit happens with any car. Cory says he’s happy with this unusual purchase, and already the difference in driving is apparent between his well-worn 325i and this car:
Let’s hope that is the only major issue for a while, but something tells me I am in for a lot of surprises with this car. It drives like it is brand new (I’m guessing. I have never driven a new one, but compared to my 325i, it is night and day) and I couldn’t be happier. On and off ramps are my bread and butter. I absolutely love E46s and to find a “new” one is bliss to me.
Congrats and enjoy the new BMW!