What is the sound of one piston slapping?
What is the sound of one piston slapping?
Illustration for article titled E36 328is vs. R53 Cooper S. Help Me Choose.

Hey, so I am in the process of purchasing a vehicle, and it has more or less come down to these two options. Both manual. Both have reasonable miles for their ages and prices. (1998 and 114k and 2002 and 135k respectively). Both cars are priced around $5k.

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I previously owned an E36 328is and very much enjoyed it. I have not yet had a chance to see this particular car however, so I do not know what problems, if any, it might have. The E36 is a private seller, who does not seem particularly motivated. It has been difficult to contact the owner, and I may not be able to see the car for a week or so. It is also out of state, which means there will be the additional hassle of getting a new inspection and registering the car in my state.

I have looked at the Mini, and aside from a tiny rust spot on the rear hatch, and a missing rubber cover for the clutch pedal, it is more or less immaculate. No strut tower mushrooming or any of the other common issues. It did have a rattle from the exhaust which is more than likely a loose hanger, and it had some pulsation in the brake pedal. The Mini is at a small family run dealer, will have both of the previously mentioned issues fixed, and receive an inspection and sticker before I pick it up.

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Any advice would be appreciated.

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