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Re: Buying an E36 convertible and need some help (archive)

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Posted by ...bill on April 25, 2000 at 12:17:15:

In Reply to: Buying an E36 convertible and need some help posted by Got 20K and dunno what to do on April 25, 2000 at 01:02:09:

I have a 94 325iC and I've had it for 3+ years. these are wonderful cars, but need a bit more care than a hardtop version. I know everyone likes to add goodies to their cars (springs, intake, chips, etc.), but in used car land, mods can be a negative factor as not everyone is a master mechanic. A car with no mods and good service records is a good start. The big thing with a convertible is the condition of the top. Be aware that there are 3 different versions of the fold down mechanism: A completely manual top can be found on some 318's, most 325's had a semi-automatic electric top; that is you unlatch the top manually and push one button to do the rest. The later models have a completely auto electric top that latches by itself. Both electric versions are very nice; stay away from a manual top. When you look at a car, make the top go completely up and down 5 times to make sure the mechanisms are working OK. These are complicated mechanical marvels and can have problems. With the top half down, stop it and look at the interior of the top near the back window for broken cable strings. Check the back window for cracks especially at the edges where it folds. Minor scratches can be removed, but deep scratches, yellowing, or severe clouding cannot. Back windows are crystal clear when properly maintained.
These tops don't leak whe they are in good shape. Leaking isn't an issue.
As the convertible is heavier than the coupe, you might want to think about the performance of the 4 cylinder 318 as opposed to the 325/323/328 6 cylinder version. The 94 325 has "adequate" power, but you aren't going to win any drag races. With a chip and exhaust upgrade, the 325 is "OK" and will keep up with all but the most powerful cars. A 318, in my opinion, us way underpowered as a convertible. If this doesn't matter to you, get a 318 as it's still a sexy convertible. By the way, the 318 has the old rear suspension from the previous E30 model. Another thing you might not care about.
When you get your car, be sure to get a windscreen for the back seat. This makes a huge improvement going fast when the top is down.

Good luck,

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