RE: BMW 320Ci Cabriolet | Shed of the Week

RE: BMW 320Ci Cabriolet | Shed of the Week

Friday 23rd September

BMW 320Ci Cabriolet | Shed of the Week

Seat covers are temporary, class is forever

As Shed was approaching the end of his Silesian break he thought he would do a quick price comparison between used cars over there and here in the UK.

At an 'auto centrum' in Tychy, the town where Fiat Chrysler has been manufacturing cars for the last 30 years, he found a 9,000-mile 2020 Dodge Challenger 6.4 392 ScatPack Widebody for £49,000, which is about what you'd pay for a similar one over here, and a 2021 Ford Mustang 5.0 GT with 2,500 miles for £40,000, which is actually a bit less than the UK equivalent. 

More interestingly, to him at least, was an 83,000-mile 2016 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 4.2 advertised at the same outlet for just under £59,000. The UK equivalent would be nearer to £31k-£32k. 

At this point two things popped into Shed's crusty old head. One, that there was clearly a lot of respect for used German motors in Silesia, and two, that this week's sub-£1,500 SOTW offering, a clean-looking late-model E46 320Ci, might be worth a fair bit more in Silesia than the £1,490 that was being asked for it in Croydon as we went to press. 

Shed doesn't follow world news much, or at all to be honest, so now he's excitedly researching the idea of setting up a UK-Silesia trade channel for used BMWs. While we wish him all the best with that, let's take a more detailed gander at this 320 ragtop. 

As has so often happened with niche German models there was a substantial overlap between the production of the old E46 3 Series convertible and the new E90 3 Series. By March 2006, the registration date of our shed, the succeeding E90 model had already been coming off the line for well over a year. The engine in our 320Ci will be the smooth and well-liked M54B22 2.2-litre oversquare inline six producing 168hp at a whizzy 6,100rpm and at 155lb ft at 3,500rpm – nice stats when matched up with the five-speed manual gearbox. 

Timing is by chain and reliability should be good as long as the correct maintenance has been carried out and you don't rev the unmentionables off it from cold. Ignore the signs and coking up of the valves can be a problem as can thermostat-related coolant issues. The block is aluminium and there can be trouble with the head threads. Cam position sensors get squiffy too. 

But, as said, looked after properly this is a great drivetrain. 0-62mph comes up in the low eights on the manual and you can go on to 140mph if you like. The official combined fuel consumption figure is 31.7mpg but mid to low twenties is more likely in mixed use.

The mileage on this car is low for the year at 119,000 and the MOT history gives no particular cause for concern. A small oil leak was reported at 98,000 miles in 2019 along with some front end ball-joint play. After that, what comments the testers have made have been related to the sort of wear and tear you'd expect to see on a lightly-used vehicle (damper oil misting, cracking tyre sidewalls). It looks like the front brakes were done earlier this year, so that's a cost neatly sidestepped. 

The ragtop doesn't look that raggy, and the pics show that it goes up and down, a feature that Shed always appreciates in any elegant filly that may come his way. Some owners think that their E46 tops are broken when in fact all they need to do is move the lever under the bootlid into the right position and hey presto it's all fixed. The seats haven't fared quite as well as the roof. It looks like Bob the binman has been doing his collections in it. If that sort of thing bothers you you'll have no trouble picking up a full used set of leathery replacements for as little as £250, or under £400 for M Sport items. 

Summer may be over in the UK, but you can mentally extend the season in something like this. Strike fast before Shed tries to nab it for his first Silesia-bound containerload. 

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Original Poster:

9 posts

46 months

Loving the bubble and squeak on that!


Original Poster:

9 posts

46 months

Loving the bubble and squeak on that!


51 posts

21 months

I Live in central Europe. And cheapest 3series cabrio is 3x the price of this shed.
This is suspiciously cheap.


1,997 posts

191 months

“Spares or repair” doesn’t bode particularly well in the advert….

Sounds like something has broken…

Plus…how many shades of grey can you count on the drivers side?


3,535 posts

172 months

So it’s a non runner then. Did shed mislay his glasses & the shed rules this week?


5 posts

Portofino said:
So it’s a non runner then. Did shed mislay his glasses & the shed rules this week?
It doesn't actually say that though does it?

Probably a day away from some serious failure of some sort though.

No Face

249 posts

170 months

I could probably live with the cable ties holding one of the kidney grilles on, the dodgy paint repairs and the knackered nearside front alloy for that price - but there is no way I’d be going near those disgusting seats.


397 posts

73 months

GTEYE said:
“Spares or repair” doesn’t bode particularly well in the advert….

Sounds like something has broken…

Plus…how many shades of grey can you count on the drivers side?
But of course there's still that old favourite line, "first to see will buy"!


1,962 posts

65 months

The dodgy driver's side paint has me worried. If it was spring it might be fun for nice weather, but this looks a bit risky for winter motoring.


35 posts

7 months

Sub 1500?? Is it a stolen vehicle?


23,920 posts

161 months

This does seem cheap to me, but I'm definitely no expert. There is a lot to like about this for me for the money. It looks grotty inside, but I guess beggars can't be choosers...and you do get a manual 6 cylinder German convertible in return. It is just a shame that the weather has gone down the toilet now in the UK though.


190 posts

137 months

Looking at the drivers seat I'd guess one of the 7 previous owners kept their stash plugged, just not very well! laugh


456 posts

86 months

Think there’s been a rattle can fest going on with this one. Different colour glued on bumpers, aftermarket wheels and looks like someone has had an accident on the drivers seat.

Having said all that I would probably take a punt and at least go and have a look. If there’s not something seriously wrong with it (my guess is rust based on the all the different greys) it could make a nice winter project.


186 posts

111 months

Looks like a whole heap of crap and trouble for £1500....personally I can't stand the blocky styling and front end on these.


49,244 posts

185 months

That seat looks awfully worn for 119,000 miles.


1,390 posts

188 months

GTEYE said:
“Spares or repair” doesn’t bode particularly well in the advert….

Sounds like something has broken…
Seen this a bit more recently. Think it's the new "trade sale" i.e. don't expect any warranty.
I.e. you want to take a chance?
I.e. most likely to bork in spectacular fashion on the way home.


186 posts

111 months

I agree don't the Trade put that to prevent any comeback when the car implodes

Triumph Man

8,009 posts

149 months

I had a 530i with the M54 engine (obviously 3 litre instead of the 2.2 here) it was an extremely tractable engine, reliable, and felt "bomb proof". The only problem I had was shocking oil consumption. It wasn't worn (to the extent that it did not smoke at all), it only had a minor leak but that didn't correlate with the amount of oil it was using. It also sounded glorious when rung out, so I can imagine an E46 with a renowned better sounding exhaust as standard would be even better!

Just don't cook them!


1,202 posts

42 months

I can imagine the owner shopping for the paint for the front bumper "have you got any BMW artic silver code 22527 please?" "No, sorry, all sold out" "that's fine, just give me a can of that random grey radiator paint over there please"


37,352 posts

181 months

At £1500 its an expensive Spares/Repairs if something major needs doing, otherwise its at the cheap end of old BMW convertibles if its fairly minor.

Needs more detail on why its "spares/repairs" to determine if its viable, a decent one is about three grand, really nice examples are 4 to 5.

This is never going to be really nice I dont think, not without a load of paint which unless you can do it yourself to be a good standard takes you into the realms of buying a half decent one in the first place.

Interior is pretty grim, thought with a bit of time and a restoration kit, maybe £120 or so could make that a whole lot better, probably a days work.

Largely all immaterial until you know whats wrong, would just spend a bit more and find a well cared for one, or if I didnt have the money to do that, I wouldnt be buying an ancient BMW convertible and buy a C1 or something, as, if you cant afford three/four grand, running a six cylinder BMW might be a stretch ?

Drove one of these a while back, a 323i convertible, pleasant enough but after turbo stuff god it felt lethargic, just as you felt like you were getting some forward motion it was time to change gear.