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E46 330ci Convertible Search Begins...Help

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First of all hope this is the right place to post. If not apoligies and hope the mods can move as appropiate. 

Im on the search for an E46 330ci Sport Convertible as per the title thread. Its a 2nd car for the old man as decided by him, me and my brother. Ive done a fair amount of research over the last couple of months but still have the odd things im confused about that i cant seem to find the answers too so hopefully the gaps can be plugged on the forum here.

We have decided to buy a nice one off the bat based on personal thoughts and various bits ive read regards upgrades, changes and oily bits so its: Facelift, sub 60k miles, full comprehensive service history, clean & full mot history & with good paint, bodywork and interior. Expecting to pay 4k-7k depending on exactly what we go for and where we get it from (Retail, Private, Auction etc). I did bid on one on a whim last month that went through the ring with BCA Enfield and looking back it was a good one: 05plate,49kmles,fsh,looked to have every option box ticked out of bmw park lane and was very clean. I backed out at 5.9k+fees in a bidding war as it hit retail prices and just lost out as it went for 6k+fees so time will tell if i regret it or not.


Now as with any car we fully expect to put money into it after buying but I want to be sure of a few things before pulling the trigger on one and where im struggling is Options, options, options! So if somebody can just confirm:

1. Heated Seats & Xenons: Am i correct in thinking that these cannot really be retrofitted cheaply and easily later & so I should make these as an essential item on purchase ? I dont see the point buying a car this old only to spend big money on retrofitting stuff later on when i may have as well paid the extra for a mint one with the extras in the first place. Am i correct in thinking these are expensive retrofit items as tbh id want Bi-Xenons one way or another ? I take it the factory Xenons even in 2017 are still a pretty decent setup ?

2. Powerfolding mirrors: Correct to think that this is an easy and cheap retrofit to factory spec ? Change the mirrors for oem powerfolds, change the module switch, code the Ecu and away you go its just the same as if the factory option box was ticked ? I assumed both non powerfold and powerfold just have plastic covers in your body paint that pop on and off to swap over so correct me if im wrong ? Are they also memory mirrors with the seats ?

3. Sat Nav: Correct to think that this is really a pointless option to worry about in 2017 and in many cases a hinderence if you try any subtle upgrades later where a non satnav option is easier to work with ? We all have smartphones now anyway right ?

4. Interior Trim: Correct to think this is easy to pop out and in and hence replace with a set in different colours off ebay if this is something i fancy ?

5. Tyre Pressure Monitor: Only a small thing and not important but it bugs me nontheless as i see some cars with it and others without ? Was this a factory option and then standard on later plates or something ?


Im happy to spend a little cash on some subtle mods but tbh whatever i do it has to be easily reversed to factory and original spec if i decide to sell later on and id never want to hack into the car. Ive noticed the cars fetching the best money through the auction ring are the unmodded, unmolested & original ones which is understandable. I dont intend going overboard with anything either and in all honesty would rather buy mint up front with everything at factory spec but highly optioned and keep it that way.

Tbh my biggest issue is likely to be the Stereo sounds but i think for now ill leave that for questions another day as my head is in a spin regarding the set up between headunit, amps and speakers in both the normal and Hk setups and then again how this plays differently again depending on whether you have satnav or not. Ive had a good look through the ice section but im going to leave that as the last thing for me to get my head around in addition to any oily bit queries.


Im sure I have plenty else to get my head around but any help here for starters is much appreciated. Thanks guys.

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Heated seats are relatively easy and cheap to retrofit.

Xenons are fairly common on facelift 330 coupes/convertible bi-xenons are super rare.

If the car is fitted with ribbon style cable to the mirrors the ribbon mirror are like hens teeth if your wanting to retro fit.

The satnav is now old hat in e46's probably better fitting a better headunit maybe a dynavin unit.

Interior trims are an easy swap.

My facelift 2005 330ci has the tyre monitor system and the 4 other facelift 330ci's im close to all have this but im not sure if it was a standard feature or not.

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Mine has the poor man's TPM system. It uses ABS speed sensors to monitor inflation. Seems accurate enough to detect a few psi loss though, so is fine in my opinion. I'm not sure which models of what years had the dedicated TPM sensors in the wheels (some did), but to be honest I'd rather have the system that uses the ABS than a system with 10 year old sensors that may very well go wrong and need replacement at a high cost.

For heated seats you can find usually find donor seats easily enough, most might be worn now though on the bolsters. You'd need the switch unit, possibly a loom, and to code the switch in using PA Soft or similar I would have thought. If they're an unusual colour though it will be tricky, mine has burgundy leather (garnet red) and they are non heated, I gave up trying to find any second hand heated seats in the same colour I could fit.

For Xenons I think the bi-xenons are good by modern standards if they have relatively new bulbs, and the reflectors aren't perished (BMW used two suppliers, I think the Bosch/AL Lighting ones are less prone to deterioration than the ZKW ones). To retrofit bi-xenon will cost over £500 and hours of work. Personally I've got a 4300K retrofit kit and I'm happy enough with it.

For a stereo I would consider the Android units, but some are a bit flaky - common faults are poor FM sound quality (not the actual reception), hands free bluetooth microphones not working, poor sound quality, long boot time (about 30 seconds). There are newer units out that might resolve all these issues (the new 8 core or Intel ones), mine is about 18 months old. If your dad is not too tech-savvy I think it might be a bit daunting for him. In that case, I would look at a non Android unit that has built in sat nav, or perhaps some of the updated BMW units that some companies still supply for the E46.

Yes the facelift models have ribbon cable mirrors which are unreliable to be honest and hard to track down second hand. Personally I think the E46 folding mirrors (non M3 spec.) look odd, they don't fold in, they fold up, almost like an invite for someone to rip one off.

I think you're on the right track looking for a mint one with good history, rust is the main thing to look very closely for, on both front and rear arches. One you get one I would spend a day underneath rust proofing, remove the front arch liners and side skirts.

Cooling systems and suspension bits often need replacing over time (radiators sag, water pumps break, coolant tanks split), suspension springs and the lollipop bushes and RTAB bushes can go bad), nothing too expensive. I would check the DISA valve for play and vacuum function, and the CCV too (check the oil drain to the sump is not blocked - pull off the rubber pipe and have a look, and check there's not a massive vacuum when you remove the oil cap with the engine running). To replace either of these isn't massively expensive either.

Yes interior trim is replaceable fairly easily, although to replace that around the armrests might need some disassembly of the doorcard and rear trim.

Mine's got an amp in the spare wheel well, and a sub in the ski hatch. With the stock speakers it sounds reasonably good, the bass heps to richen up the sound, even though my Eonon Android head unit has a pretty poor sound processor chip inside it.

Mine has about 150,000 miles on now, it's a 55 plate. I've spent the last 18 months doing small jobs to tidy it up. It drives extremely well now and is quiet and smooth, and I've no doubt it should go on for another 100,000 miles without any terminal faults. Lovely car to be honest, it still has some class, is relatively reliable, nothing is majorly expensive to replace, and the engine and gearbox should be bulletproof, goes very well, sounds good, and can give over 35mpg on the motorway fairly easily.

The only car I would want to replace mine with is a 2 series or 4 series convertible, but they cost £15-20K more than mine's worth with the 3 litre petrol.

Good luck with the search!

Edited by Tim-Ci

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9 hours ago, Tim-Ci said:

To retrofit bi-xenon will cost over £500 and hours of work. Personally I've got a 4300K retrofit kit and I'm happy enough with it.


A member on here bagged a set of genuines off eBay for £92 ;)

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That's a great deal, I've never seen facelift Coupe/Convertible Bi-xenons for sale for that price, or anywhere near. It's worth mentioning that there are looms required, ballasts, the level sensors that go under the car, and also coding to activate the Bi-xenon features.

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Thanks for the feedback Tim-Ci and others. Weve Not wasted time and travelled to pull the trigger on one yet but did just miss out on the following pair that went before i had time to travel as they were a few hours away. Looked good ones though so can see there are still the odd mint top speccers on low miles out there at a fair price before these become super rare in this kind of condition and spec:




Cant seem to paste an image in the thread here but a quick click above should show just how nice these pair were.


Think I might of got either for around the £7k mark and regret in particular not getting to the Brass Metallic one to look at and buy as although the price was strong it did have the Hardtop and Nappa Leather interior & looked super clean with nearly all options ticked. Nice to see a couple of super duper ones have popped up recently at the right prices anyway so I think im going to hold tight and not feel rushed to get the old man to get one just because summer is now arriving. Although we want one asap we will hold and hold till the end of the summer if it means getting another like the above too as on balance I think one in this kind of spec wont cost anymore in the long run than paying less towards the bottom of the market on higher mileage runners. He wont do more than 3-4k a year so we should be able to retain the mint spec and most of the purchase price on such a runner over the next couple of years at least. Hope im right and we are lucky too ;)

Edited by lenahan

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