BMW Convertible As My Beater Car

Life is too short to drive boring cars

I bought a 2015 BMW X5 Dec last year, it has been half a year so far (with 2 months she stayed inside the garage for most of the time due to the pandemic), I am pretty satisfied with it, her condition is absolutely excellent, everything works, yes you see it correctly, after 5 years of its life, there was nothing broken, as BMW vehicle built in recent years, this is something not VERY easy. My plan is to keep it as long as possible before it turns into an endless money pit, and keeping her value as high as possible, one of the major reason I bought her was its AWD and comfortable so that I can drive it to Lake Tahoe often during winter season, for other seasons I was seriously thinking about buying a beater car, to put my mileage on it instead of this pricey Bimmer.

My requirements

I’ve considers are listed & ranked below:

  1. Must be a stick shift
  2. Must be a convertible (I rented a few times but never owned one)
  3. Must have two rows of seats
  4. Below $5k (unless outstanding condition)
  5. Must look very cool to me
  6. Color is NOT one of: red (sir, pull me over, aren’t you see I am shining and I am driving aggressively?), dark green (especially late 1990s green, on gosh, I couldn’t tolerate it), black (I like sunshine and I keep extreme hot all around the year, and I work even hotter for convertibles ^_^, yes since I am in bay area).
  7. Gas saver

(Reliability is mandatory, I didn’t mention it because majority of the case, an old manual transmission car is much more reliable than an auto one).

My ideal candidates were: Toyota Celica, BMW E46, Ford Mustang, Nissan 350Z, Mercedes Benz CLK and SLK (yes since it looks gorgeous to me and if it is a manual I can compromise on #3 above)

Wait!! Mazda Miata?? I am really sorry I have so many friends who are Miata lovers, but due to #3 above, I didn’t look for it(in the future for sure).

We met with love

After 3+ months of patient (hours after hours) market search, I bought this beautiful 2001 BMW 330CI on May 28 2020:

It got 166,6xx miles on it, and I paid $3800, plus $15 DMV title transfer fee. Her body style was originally designed by DesignWorksUSA back to 1990s and she still looks gorgeous and very stylish to me, believe it or not, even after 19 years! Especially compare with modern BMW models:


This legendary bimmer is equipped with a naturally aspirated inline six M54 engine (which many people believe it was one of the best engine BMW ever made), it produces a very respectful 225HP, 214 ft-lbs. @ 3500 rpm, 0-60 miles takes less than 7 seconds.

The condition of this car is really decent, all the major components should work are working: engine/manual transmission runs strong, all the fluid are well maintained, tires/breaks have some life left, painting is shining, the rest nice to have features were broken: convertible top sometimes failed (I had to operate manually), cruise control not work at all, passenger side turn light was broken, and driver side turn light got dropped and flied few days ago while I was “flying” on highway 101^_^ Battery T bolt was missing as well.

So I ordered the following:

So far I’ve driven it for about 100 miles so far about 1 week, I can simply describe my experience as: a stick shift, a steering wheel and a smiling face:smiley:. Compare with my X5, due to 330CI’s lighter weight, lower gravity point, I admit: it is much more fun of driving this 330CI convertible! And since it is my beater, my plan is to drive it for at least another 5 years.

Side story with 2020 740i

A side interesting story, the convertible top was broken after only two days, so I made an appt at BMW of Mountain View and had them inspected it. They charged me $256 for manually closing it, and estimated $500-600 parts + 10 hours of labor = $3200 for fixing the top, no doubt, I even didn’t bother negotiating… However, since it was weekend and they were pretty short of mechanics, so while I parked my car there, they said they can provide me a loaner car, I asked without thinking: “well, please give me M2 Competition”, the loaner car manager said: “sorry sir, you got the right choice but we don’t have it at the moment”, he recommended me this 2020 740i, it is too luxury… With BMW driving assistance (similar with Tesla’s auto pilot), I probably would never buy a luxury car like this:sweat_smile: Unless there is a right person who encourages me to buy one:wink:

Drive through Golden Gate Bridge

Driving my beater 330CI With my buddy - Teddy

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