Thanks for all the great feedback. After reviewing the messages here
and research on the web, it appears that if I want to buy a the best
(performance / comfort)used convertable the model to go with is the
330ci with sport package & SMG? Comments? Any thoughts on difference
between buying 2001-2005. Are there years significantly better then
That's exactly the car I want (330 sport w/ hardtop and SMG).
SMGs *do* exist on 330's, but they're rare. I suspect I'll have to
settle for a manual tranny, which is hard enough to find on a 330. I
think over 90% of 330's have autos, while maybe 2% have SMGs.
I've looked *very* closely at M3s, but the reasons I prefer a 330 are:
1) I own an e36 M3 now, and the suspension is just too damned stiff for
urban driving. If I lived out in the burbs where pavement is smoother,
maybe. But in the busted asphalt of the city, a softer suspension is
unquestionably easier to live with.
2) Mileage will be better on the 330.
3) Insurance will cost less on the 330.
4) The 0-60 times for the 330 are only 1 second slower than the M3 (6.2
vs 5.2, respectively).
5) A used e46 M3 costs about $15 thousand MORE than a used 330.
IMHO, the only attraction of the M3 is the greater likelihood of finding
an SMG. But paying $15k more just for a SMG is nuts.
Then the market is sensible. Why do you want an auto that doesn't work
well? The proper auto is fine for those that want such things, and those
who want a manual buy just this. The SMG transmission does neither well.
*Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things? *
Dave Plowman email@example.com London SW
I want an auto that shifts when I want it to, does not shift down when I
don't want it to, and that does not slow down my car. SMGs do this.
Automatics do not. The most advanced race cars use SMGs to get maximum
performance: Formula, dragsters. etc. The SMG M3 is faster than the
manual M3; probably this is true of the 330 too. Finally, for personal
reasons, I probably should avoid using a clutch.
You argue that, if the masses like something, it must be good. If so,
you should be driving a Toyota Camry.
But you're buying a street car? And not even the most powerful model in
the range? Oh - most dragsters use torque convertor transmissions.
But you said in your last post you'd probably end up with a manual. Do it
- far more fun for a keen driver. And with skill you can also drive it
smoothly at low speeds or when carrying passengers - something the SMG
can't manage. All the gearchanges are rougher than a well driven manual.
I don't even know what one looks like. It's not common in the UK.
I like autos. And proper manuals. What I don't like is a poor compromise
between them. Especially when people say they're used in F1 cars.
*Keep honking...I'm reloading.
Dave Plowman firstname.lastname@example.org London SW
But how often do you engage the over thrusters? If it's only once a
week, is that worth the extra $15,000?
To me, it's not. For half that money, I'd rather buy a REAL rocket sled
(used) -- a superbike. IMHO, my bike is ten times the thrill of my M3.
I happen to agree with you, mostly (I own a Ducati). I just wanted to
point out that "1 second" was not so insignificant. Also, you get a lot
more than the "1 second" difference for the money. But the M3 is
apparently not aimed at you as a buyer.
That observation has interesting implications. If the M3 is not
intended to appeal to a 40-something who gets his speed fix from a sport
bike, then it seems to me that the M3 has a pretty small target audience
-- (mostly) males (mostly) under 40 who are (mostly) willing to part
with $60k to buy a new car that (mostly) doesn't outperform a
significantly cheaper version of the same car. (Based on off-track
performance figures from Road&Track road tests.)
Or is buying an M3 largely an ego/image/youngster thing?
I'm at that crossroads right now. Some time later this week, I'll buy
either a used 330Ci sport w/ manual tranny or an M3 that costs about
The M3 *is* red, it has the nav system, and SMG...
But $15k *is* $15k...
I finally found a BMW!!!. Like people have posted the SMG on a 330ci
convertable is rare (didn't find one nationwide) so I settled for a
2004 330ci with 6 speed manual. After driving several 330's with
steptronic there just was no comparison... So I searched the whole
state of CA and found one in San Diego. 19k miles 6yr/100k warranty
with Premium, Sport, Winter, HK, packages in showroom condition. The 6
hour drive home that normally takes 8 was awesome!!!
Thanks again to all with the great feedback...
Now the questions I have are:
1. What is the best online site to buy parts and products from?
2. Does it really make a difference washing the softtop and weather
sealing with BMW products?
3. Where's the best place to get a removable hardtop?
Nice! Oddly enough, in the past week I bought a red 2002 M3 that's
wired to the gills (SMG, navigation, etc). :-)
I suspect you made the right choice of transmission. The SMG takes some
getting used to, and unless you're committed to having an automatic, the
manual is probably more enjoyable. Compared to a manual tranny the SMG
does feel a little disconnected. Maybe I just need to train it some more.
But gawd almighty the SMG is fast! No human can shift that quick. On a
race course I'd take the SMG in a heartbeat.
And it is nice, as I answer my cell phone, to be able to shift the
tranny from manual to auto mode...
1) I've found useful stuff at www.bavauto.com and www.pelicanparts.com.
2) No idea. I'd just use something better than Armor All. I need to do
3) Ebay, probably. Do they make hardtops for the 330Ci? Seems like
it'd be a damned heavy beast.
Yeah, I found quite a few M3's also but not 330ci convertables with a
SMG tranny. I loved the M3, It was like riding my Yamaha R-6. I just
thought for everyday driving it might get old. I take my R-6 on the
track at 140+ MPH and ride it around town but I wouldn't want to ride
it everyday a couple of hours. Plus, I couldn't afford the tickets.
Which was the same for me between the M3 and 330ci. The 330ci doesn't
have the initial acceleration of the M3 but it still has a great feel
of the road with a more comfortable ride.
I've seen several 330ci convertibles on sale claiming they had the
hardtop for it. Just, looked at ebay and none available. I'll double
check with BMW.
The tricky part about finding hardtops on eBay is they're
frequently in the wrong categories. Someone with the username
"fignewton52" is selling one in Imola Red as I write this, and it's
listed in Parts & Accessories: Other. It's no reserve and starting
price is $1500, which seems to be ballpark for one from what I've seen
(I'm frequently browsing for a Sapphire Black top for the Z4, so run
across others all the time).
2003 BMW 325i Black/Black
2003 BMW Z4 Black/Black
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