Today started off badly. Plumbing issues led to renting a huge power auger and cleaning out my sewer line. After finishing up, I was sitting in line waiting for a coffee and saw that I had a Facebook alert. I have a habit of looking at sub $2k cars on FB marketplace, and they know their audience.

What do I see but a 2002 E46 325XI Touring with 212k miles and 5 Speed manual for...

$500!

Description has the standard stuff, needs a few tings, runs and drives, has been a daily driver for last 9 years until this last Wednesday. In a desperate attempt to improve my mood, I send him a message that I’ll come get it. I never expected to hear back. Amazingly enough, I did, and went down and bought the car.

It’s got needs.

It’s got some needs. It drove home fine, runs perfectly, smooth and steady at 80mph, no weird noises, shifts well, cruise control works. Clutch is good, the PO did maintain it over the 9 years he had it. So what’s the list?

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  • Battery is dead. Needs jump everytime. It’s the original.
  • Tires are junk
  • VERY dirty inside, smells like smoke, cigar butt in ashtray
  • Windshield cracked
  • One CV boot torn (axle is fine)
  • Thermostat is stuck open
  • AC doesn’t blow cold
  • Driver window regulator on the way out
  • Various spots of body rust, none are rusted through.

What’s the plan, Stan?

So what should I do? First, this is a unicorn car for me. My favorite generation of 3, favorite body style, favorite transmission. I have 0 need for another car though. I’m more than capable of fixing everything myself. I have a 4 car garage, and this makes 4 cars, so storage isn’t an issue.

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First instinct is to clean it, it’s full of trash and grime, and do a quick flip, doubling my money or more. I’m confident I could get $1000-$1300 as it sits if it was cleaned. However, it IS something that really speaks to me, and I love a good project.

Biggest issue I see is the rust in a few spots around the windshield frame. It’s not rusted through, mainly just some bubbles here and there with a few slightly worse. It also needs that windshield, so the 2 kinda go hand in hand. I could have Safelite come out and pull the windshield, then spend a couple weeks fixing the rust, then have them come out and put a new one in. The price is $229 for a replacement, so it’d total a bit more than that to have them make 2 trips, but if I keep it around I’m not going to live with that rust.

It does have those nice ZHP 18" wheels on it too. Those are worth some money. There are a bunch of sets of snow tires on CL on stock BMW wheels that I can pick up for between $250-$400, and Winter is coming, John Snow. This thing would be a winter beast on good tires and I bet I could sell the wheels on it for as much as I spent on the whole car. That’s not even counting the factory roof rack on it, that’s got to be worth money.

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I feel like I’d enjoy having it, and at $500 investment, there is no way to come out behind if I bail on it now, or even if I put another $500 or so into it, which is exactly what it’d cost me for the parts to do everything it needs aside from tires. Making it harder is that I have the world’s most permissive wife, and she’s told me to keep it. I just don’t have any need for it with my Outback and 996 also in the stable.

I dunno. I’m definitely going to clean it up, do the battery and window regulator and see where I’m at. Maybe put it up for sale at that point and see what bites I get, or maybe offer it up for trade and see if I could score a 4Runner, which is why I’ve been clicking on the cheap car ads on FB and CL.

One thing is certain. I’m either very brave, or very stupid.

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