As I posted earlier, I crossed the finish line with the $500 2002 325Xi wagon I bought back in September. NH has state inspections yearly. No rust that is structural or perforates the body, all lights and accessories on the car have to work, the check ball joints, tie rods, brakes, tires etc. Then it hooks up to the computer, no CEL, and all monitors have to be complete and clear. It’s fairly comprehensive, it knocks a lot of older cars out.

Day 1. Looks much better from a distance. Cant’ see the rust and all the broken stuff.
Day 1. Looks much better from a distance. Cant’ see the rust and all the broken stuff.

So what did I have to do to get it road worthy?

  • $120 Battery
  • $305 Windshield
  • $230 4 new rotors and pads
  • $35 Parking brake shoes, screws, springs etc
  • $50 Caliper
  • $88 2 new front axles
  • $208 Thermostat, all hoses, expansion tank and bracket, rad cap, sensors, coolant, misc cooling bits, oil level sensor, cabin filter.
  • $35 Oil and filter
  • $23 Valve cover gasket
  • $48 Intake boots and clamps
  • $146 Rear springs
  • $24 Tensioner and deflector pulleys
  • $250 Dunlop WinterMax SP tires mounted on Ronal wheels
  • $67 Rear window glass handle/switch
  • $60 Radiator fan

Totals up to $1689 in parts I put into it. That doesn’t count misc sandpaper, paint, putty etc for the body work. Also doesn’t count tools I bought, but I never count those since buying tools is awesome and I love having an excuse.


That’s also not counting the Ozone generator I bought for $65. The biggest obstacle to the car being viable for me was the cigar smell. It was FILTHY with cigar butts all over when I got it. I cleaned it really well but didn’t put much of a dent in the smell. Then I talked to a detailer who said they use Ozone generators. Put that thing in there and an hour later the smoke smell was gone. It was magic. It’s been over a month and there is still no sign of the smell.

Add the $500 I spent for the car, and I get $2189 invested before registration/title which was $200. I’m not going to count that, because when I sell this I can transfer it to my 911 which I let the registration lapse on since it sits for the winter.


So what’s the plan now? First, I love the car. I’ve bonded with it over the last few months getting it fixed up. It handles great, has good power and a great transmission. With the tires on it, it’ll be a real winter beast.

At this point, I also have my 2018 Outback which is a lease. I’m over the mileage by about 2800 miles already. So I’m going to put the Subaru away and drive the BMW until March when I will be back at the where I should be on the Subaru mileage wise. At that point I’ll reevaluate. Maybe I’ll keep it. Maybe I’ll sell it. Maybe I’ll put it out there for trade and see what comes my way. Dunno. I certainly don’t need 4 cars especially when 2 of them are AWD wagons. If the Outback wasn’t a lease, I’d put it up for sale. I enjoy this E46 that much.


My commute to work is 80mi each way into Boston, once a week or so. I’m generally between 75-85 until I get to the city. I did it in this car last week and it was great. Very solid, smooth, and comfortable. I’m more than happy to continue doing it in the BMW for a while.

So that’s the text heavy odyssey of the $500 wagon. It is now a $2200 wagon. But it is solid AWD manual transportation, inspected for a year on basically new snow tires with an extra set of (ZHP) wheels. I figure if I put it up for sale I’d get between $1800 and $2000 for it with a little effort. That’s not bad. I didn’t do it for a profit, I did it for the fun of the rebuild, and I’ve had a great time.

Illustration for article titled Kinda scared to add it up...

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