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Best BMW for an 18 year old?

Discussion in 'Buy, Lease, Finance & Insurance' started by jhietter, Jul 27, 2008.

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    jhietter

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    Hey, I am an 18 year old guy from the Bay Area in California and need help deciding on a car. Currently my family has a 2008 mini cooper s, a 2000 MB ml320, a '60's MB 230SL, a 1999 BMW 540i sport 6-speed manual (with m body kit), and a 2002 BMW X5 4.4i sport. The plan is for me to take the X5 to college but it is way more car than I need to transport 1 person who rarely, if ever, needs a utility vehicle. Kelly Blue Book says the X5 is worth around $23k. Which BMW is best to replace it with in that price bracket ( + or - ~$3k). I am looking for a fun car, ideally an e46 M3, that I can take to the track or autocross events, but one that isn't too powerful for an 18 year old and is easy on insurance. I am also looking to eventually upgrade the car aesthetically and possibly performance wise.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

    1996 328ti guest

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    E46 M3 an 18 year old? :confused:

    I'd recommend finding an E30 325i/is.
    Then again for an 18 year old, I'd recommend an E30 318.
    I think it would be a good idea to get some driving experience before hp.
    • Member

    jhietter

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    Sorry, you misunderstood, I have an X5 to trade in so I could have $20k-$26k to spend.

    1996 328ti guest

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    At first I thought you were looking for a $3,000 E46 M3.
    But no, I understand.
    Buy yourself a $3,000 car, have fun tossing it around at autocrosses and use the rest of the money for school.

    I'd feel more comfortable if all 18 year olds drove cars with less than 138 hp. :D
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    az3579

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    Insurance is going to kill you, regardless of what you get. Even my 21-year-old beater car would run me $350/mo in insurance if it was under my name, so I heavily suggest you get yourself something older. Use that money to upgrade the car when the time comes, or use it to pay off a portion for that prison you call college.


    And remember, if you get an older car, spend all you can to have it in tip-top-shape, that would probably be better than if you bought a newer car but still had to pay maintenance on it. With the older car, you'd have something that's cheaper to buy, (after you spend money on making it tip top) it would be very reliable, and you'd still have some cash left.

    SLN325i guest

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    Well I disagree that all kids under 21 should have less than 138 hsp, cause I just turned 17 and my parents bought me a 2005 330i ZHP w/ a performance chip! So as for you, whos looking for a fun car id say go for whatever the hell you want to!! Cause you only live once!! More Power To Us Younger People!!
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    MGarrison

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    The sad reality is that all too often a high hp/performance vehicle mixed with teen drivers' inexperience, lack of judgment (&/or making poor decisions), plus a typical sense-of-invulnerability, and hubris, ends up as a lethal combination.

    You see it all across the country, all year, every year - teen drivers killed in fatal car accidents; some through the fault of their own action/inaction, some through the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    So, I hope some of you younger drivers can understand the wariness and skepticism those of us that have been watching the news and newspaper headlines of teen driver fatalities for ten, twenty, or thirty years or more, might have about the combination of a younger driver with a car that has such a high performance envelope that even the most skilled drivers will find it a challenge to explore, even in such a relatively controlled environment as that of a track driving school.

    It sounds like you just don't want the X5, you want something that can be both a track toy and transport, yet not too expensive to insure for being 18 years of age. I doubt there's all that many BMW's that would make for relatively inexpensive insurance for you - perhaps a 528e out of the late 70's or early 80's (which would probably not likely fit into your idea of fun-to-drive), but a 300hp E46 M3? I'm no insurance agent, but I'd have to imagine insurance for you in that car would be through the roof.

    There's nothing wrong with liking any BMW or wanting an M3, of course it's a fabulous car. Ideal for an 18 year old though, I don't know.

    Of course, if you make stupid decisions, you can kill yourself in ANY vehicle; drink and drive? Let's spin the lucky wheel of death today and see what we get! Wheeee! Go for a chirp of the tires while shifting into third when accelerating as fast as possible around the long sweeping highway entrance ramp? Oops, hit a patch of oil? Wheee! Let's spin again!:eek:

    So, you know, you control your own actions and choices, most of the rest of us here (and probably in society as well) likely hope they're responsible and intelligent ones. If your desire to get to a track event is to begin to learn how to become a superbly skilled driver, kudos - BMWCCA driver's schools are one of the best ways to do that. Consider getting to a BMWCCA Foundation Street Survival school too, if you can. In fact, educate yourself as much as possible about driving - it's a potentially life-saving life skill.

    You have a lot of options, vehicle-wise, with your mentioned price range. I'd think any E46 might be expensive to insure, perhaps an E36 model might be less on insurance. You might consider asking your insurance agent what insurance would cost on various cars. Don't forget to balance out potential maintenance upkeep expense on older models vs. insurance expense. If you shopped carefully, you could be golden, but you could also end up with something that costs way more fixing/modifying/maintaining than you'd be paying in insurance on something a bit more recent.

    Not that it would be practical, but wouldn't something like an old army tank be good for attempting to ensure an 18 yr. old's survival? Would seem fairly crash proof, slow enough that you'd be hard pressed to lose control of it from driving it too fast, and to damage it, it would take what? A semi hitting it broadside at 80 mph?

    Autohaus guest

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    Lets try to narrow it down for you. You obviously don't want a big car, so the X series, 7 series and most likely a 5 would be too big for you. That would narrow it down to a Z series, 3 series (1 series would be out of your price range). Are you looking to trade in the X5 for a CPO BMW? If you do that, you would get less than the $23K book value for the car. You might get high teens IF it is a "perfect 10". Even if you got $21K for the trade in, the only CPO BMW you would get for around the low $20K's would be a E46 325i/xi with maybe only a year left on the CPO warranty. A E46 M3 would be a near impossible find on the CPO lot for under $25K. Now if you sell the X5 and get $23K for it, you will have extra cash in hand. If you aren't concerned about a warranty, then I would suggest either a E36/7 M roadster, or better yet, get the M-coupe. You might be lucky enough to the get the 315 hp version :D. However, for around mid $20K's, it would have high mileage. You might also want to consider a ZHP E46 330i (6-speed MT, 230hp). An E46 M3 is a great car, and if you can somehow get one (not a CPO, but either an 01, 02 model) go for what you want. Everyone here cares about everyone here (we all get along, don't we?:cool:) so that is why alot of experienced drivers here think you should get an E30 or even an E36 BMW just to be responsible. Nobody wants to read a forum/post about a 18-20 yr old totaling a beautiful car (also, we don't want you to get hurt). So my advise to you is that if you can spend around $25K, go for a ZHP 330i, E36/7 M coupe, or buy a garage queen E30 M3 and save the extra $5K (we all know that a perfect E30 M3 can command $20K + with all service/maintenance records) for partying at college ;).
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    az3579

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    You all need to stop assuming he's the stereotypical teenage driver. Nothing boils my blood more than when people make assumptions. We're not all bad drivers, ya know. Let him get what he wants to buy and stop assuming he's going to be one of the few irresponsible teen drivers that we hear about.

    Autohaus guest

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    For his budget, he might not be able to afford an M3, unless it will need work. Kind of hard to get an E46 M3 for mid $20K's. I did suggest him to get the next best thing than an E46 M3 for his budget, E36/7 M coupe/roadster or even a ZHP E46 330i. Though what he has now is no slouch, a 2002 X5 4.4i, but he says that its too big for him and I do agree. I had a 2008 X3 for a day 2 weeks ago and I wasn't too happy with it. Also, the gas would kill him too.
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    az3579

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    I'm not talking about your recommendations, I'm talking about people who tell him to get weaker cars just because he's young. I know there's no way you're going to get a decent E46 M3 for under $23k.

    Autohaus guest

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    That is just the way the world is my friend and its not right. I went through the same problem with my family! :eek:. My mom wouldn't let me drive her brand new 96 Eclipse because I was still 17 :( at the time. Would I let my son drive a F-47 M3 (No more E codes :( MY 2024 M3) with 789 hp when he turns 18? I got him into cars already and he is going to turn 18 months in 2 weeks. I will teach him how to drive, be responsible behind the wheel AND not be an idiot. The key is to not be an idiot behind the wheel. etc... At 15 he will probably get an E30-E46 MT 3 series to learn how to drive. If I have that kind of money, then he will get the F-47 M3.....
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    granthr

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    Hello, I am a little late here, but here are my 02 cents worth. Sorry, but I need to be a bit of a Smart A%*. But for an 18 year old I would suggest a 1983 524td!:D Reliable, easy to work on and importantly, underpowered!:D My first car was a 1986 VW Jetta Diesel, NO TURBO!:D 40 to 50 hp max. I had to "Plan" my passing on two lanes miles in advance. Makes for a good driver!:D You learn how a car handles without getting yourself in too much trouble. The car could hold 100 mph on the highway believe it or not. Did I mention 40 mpg too!

    Hope you found something that makes you smile! Good luck!

    GR

    Arash2002tii guest

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    Try a 2002, excellent learners car. That's what I started on and I highly reccomend it.
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    CRKrieger

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    If he can drive like Graham Rahal did at age 17, then fine. But the odds are he can't. We don't know. Our recommendations are therefore based on what we must assume - and the odds are he can't really drive anything well, much less a "weaker" car. For that matter, the odds are his parents can't, either. The odds are you can't. That's why we have BMW CCA driver schools for everyone, not just the Street Survival course for teens. Absent some competent training and demonstrated experience, I cannot recommend any M car to anyone, much less a 17-y-o.

    FWIW, you can forget about even finding a 524td. They're rare as hell and there are rabid fans of these grease sleds ready to snatch every one that turns up for sale. But there are a lot of 528es and E30s and non-M E36s around for very little cash outlay. It might do him a lot of good to have a simple old semi-beater to maintain and drive. That would leave him with enough cash to take a few driver schools in order to be equal to the challenge of responsibly driving a more powerful car ... and pay for college, too.
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    granthr

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    Okay the 524 td reference was tongue in cheek.:D You are right, I have not seen one in a few years. And the last one I saw at a chapter picnic had the whole veggie oil setup going on. His engine had a very nice sheen! :cool:

    I agree that a drivers school is probably the best thing anyone can do!

    Boy he really opened a can of worms with this question. Hope he can digest it and find a car that works for him! :D

    GR
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    mooseheadm5

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    If you want a daily driver/track toy you will be disappointed on both counts, so here is my advice:
    E36 325 or M3 (or 6 cylinder ti, they are fun and pretty darn fast) AND an E30 325i. Here's why:

    You want to have a street car that is reliable, fast, has bragging rights, etc. The E36 is a great place to start. Why settle for the E46 at the top of your budget when you could get an E36 and mod the heck out of it yourself while learning how to maintain it? Start with a cheaper to insure, lower powered, street setup and gradually add the things you really want. Better suspension, better brakes, ICE, more power. You will appreciate the car more because you will have more to drop on personalizing it.

    Then you get the E30 track toy and spend money learning how to drive at the track. Keep racy tires on it, gut the interior, learn to prep you and it for the track. Nothing worse than driving your daily driver/track toy to the track, stuffing it (whether your fault or not) and having to hitch a ride home! I had a customer that did exactly that with his prepped E36 M3 and he was not a happy camper. He is in his 40s, BTW, and a very experienced driver.I think you should restrain your street driving till you get more track time. I wish I had that luxury when I was younger (not that I am old now.) Having a "slower" track car makes you learn to be a faster driver more quickly because the car won't make up for your lack of talent. Then if you have an on track incident, you can easily replace the E30 and still have your heavily modded street car intact. I am an excellent driver, but my lack of restraint on road in the past gave me a nice, lengthy driving record. Trust me, save the excess speed for the track!

    Anyhow if given the choice to throw money at a car or throw money at track time and mods, I will always go for the latter. Good luck. Just my $0.02
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    mattm

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    Of course from my highly biased point of view, I would recommend an E36 318i. Room for four, great handling, crash worthy, good for an autcross or track day and still get good gas mileage.

    But what do I know? ;)

    _____________________
    my 1996 318i (see the avatar):
    2007 SCCA H Stock Pro Solo Champoinship car (w/148k miles)
    2002 SCCA H Stock Solo Champoinship car (w/80k miles)

    Arash2002tii guest

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    Or even better look for a 318ti. My buddy had one and we had tons of fun in it. It kept him alive through a pretty bad accident (car flipped) so it is definately crash worthy. Once you give it a drive you'll get past the looks. Just be sure to get a manual and good hunting! :)
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    MGarrison

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    Not that it's not worth keeping this thread alive, but isn't it worth noting that the original poster never replied or responded, and posed the initial question a month-and-a-half ago?
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