Posted by KKD on December 29, 1998 at 13:05:13:
I've been in the market for a 323 for a few weeks. This message board has been a great resource to learn about the options I should buy and the kinds of deals people are getting. I just placed an order yesterday. Perhaps this info will be especially useful to people like me who are trying to buy an E46 in the SF Bay Area. Unfortunately I have to wait until Late March to get it since I missed the January Build date.
My car has the following options:
Item Invoice MSRP
Base E46 323 White/Black Leatherette 23530 26400
Destination 570 570
Auto 1140 1200
HK Sound System 575 675
In Dash CD 170 200
Xenon 425 500
Fog Lights 220 260
Floor Mats 88 125
Total 26718 29930
I wanted a really basic car since I'm on a tight budget. I'm a recent college grad who is basically going to mortgage the farm to pay for this car. My mom had a 92 325i which was a great car. The E46 drove even better. I didn't like the ES300 because it was a bit boring to drive (but very smooth). The 99'TL was also an option but it doesn't have side airbags and I don't really like the looks of it. The BMW was the best car overall for me. I got the HK Sound and Xenons as people here also seem to recommend and the Auto so my girlfriend can drive it around. I didn't get cruise control, moonroof, armrest, rear folding seats, computer, power seats, etc since I would never really use these features anyways and couldn't pay several thousand more. The sport was a bit rougher driving over bumps and potholes so I'd rather save money and get a smoother ride without it. I will probably upgrade the wheels to some alloys in the future.
Anyways here is the story of the deal I got:
Stevens Creek BMW.
I went here first since it is close to home, but being a smaller dealership (lower allocation of cars) in the heart of the way over-priced Silicon Valley Area they wanted $2300 over invoice minimum, $1000 non-rendable deposit and 4 months delivery. They seemed a bit arrogant since they could basically sell every car they had near MSRP. I didn't get a good vibe so I passed on it.
I figured not to try the one in Mountain View (Allison?) since it is also in Silicon Valley and probably high-priced.
East Bay BMW, Pleasanton:
My mom bought her car here and got a good deal so I decided to give them a try. This dealership was a lot bigger and very very nice. Unfortunately they wanted $1800 over invoice + Advertising fees ($200-$300) with
March 1 delivery. Wouldn't go any lower. It was interesting that once the salesman knew I was an "internet shopper", he proceeded to write down the invoice prices of all the options I wanted (which matched my numbers), the profit they wanted and then totalled it all up. I said at $1000 over invoice I buy today or else I would shop around. We said goodbye and the search continued.
After getting back from a week vacation, I got a message from the Manager at East Bay BMW saying to call them back to make a deal.
Weatherford BMW, Berkeley:
Before calling EB BMW back, I went to Weatherford in Berkeley. This dealership was also exceedingly nice and helpful. They were more willing to deal since they seemed to have the largest selection/allocation of cars. I say this because he flipped through more pages than the other delaerships did when he was checking the list of cars they have on order. They also have a large indoor wharehouse where the keep all the cars.
The fleet manager at weatherford whom I was talking to wrote down the MSRP 29,930. I gave him the speech about info from the internet, fair profit, bad weather/time of year (There was dense fog outside at the time), etc and offered $28000. He was about to say it was too low but then when he thought about it he paused and realized it was a just right offer. Not too low to quickly dismiss, but a lot lower than MSRP. I then remembered to ask about floor mats and he said those were $125 extra. My offer was 28,000 with mats. He went upstairs to the boss and came back with $28,200 + the mats at cost ($88) with $2000 non-refundable deposit (car is hard to sell without leather/moonroof). I tried to push them down a bit but they wouldn't budge. I told them I had been called by another dealership willing to go lower on a deal. I wound up walking out over $288 but he agreed to give me the same price if I came back a few days later.
I called EB BMW back and told them the offer I just got and that I was willing to put down a non-refundable deposit. The manager there told me they couldn't legally charge a non-refundable deposit on car that doesn't yet exist. If this is true, the other two dealerships tried to pull one over on me. EB agreed to match the offer but since I was still in Berkeley they went $100 lower since it was a half hour drive. The deal was made.
$28188 + $45 doc fees + TTL
$1000 refundable deposit.
This is $1470-$1558 over invoice depending on if you think floor mats are an option or not.
I guess the moral of the story is that you can probably get a decent deal in the SF Bay area if you really shop around and are willing to wait for them to call you back. All this back and forth did cost me an extra 1 month wait, but saved about $600. I might have been able to shave off a bit more on the price, but I was sick of haggling.
We did not sign a sales contract, just a "Preference Order Form" with the options and purchase price spelled out. I can back out anytime and get my deposit back but they can probably just cancel the deal too. I just hope they don't delay my delivery or try to play any games when the car comes in off the boat.