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Classic BMWs Still Worth Driving Today (And Five That Just Burn Money)

Cameron EittreimNovember 10, 2021

BMW 850CSi
Photo Credit: Automobile

11: BMW E31 850CSi

If there’s one BMW model that’s nearing legendary status, it’s the 850CSi. You’ll barely find one on the road today, and if you do, it’ll cost a pretty penny. The E31 was an evolution of the BMW sports car. Featuring more technology than any other BMW on the road, the car was a marvel of design (via Bring a Trailer).

BMW 850 CI
Photo Credit: Car Domain

The V12 engine boasted a massive 375 horsepower, and the interior was far more luxurious. In every imaginable way, the 850CSi was a better car. The design and styling were also far better than anything you could get on the road. In many ways, the 850CSi might just be one of the best grand tourers ever made.

Photo Credit: Gumtree

10: E39 540i Touring

The E39 platform was the birth of the modern 5-Series that we witness today. There were many advancements that went into that car. The styling was some of the best ever seen on a BMW. You couldn’t go wrong, and the 540i Touring is still one of the best BMWs you can get for the money (via Bring a Trailer).

Photo Credit: Gumtree

In the wagon trim, you’ll get all the luxury you’d need, coupled with a lot of interior space. BMW has always been a talented company when it comes to wagons, and the quality shines on the E39. The 540i Touring model is still worth driving today as drivers simply can’t go wrong with it.

Photo Credit: Car and Classic

9: E36/8 Z3M Coupe

There are few cars as mysterious and iconic as the E36/8 Z3M Coupe. The styling was unlike anything else on the road at the time. It was also a departure from the usual BMW philosophy of building cars. The Z3M had a hatchback design and a low to the ground driving characteristic (via ECS Tuning).

Photo Credit: Car and Classic

This created a feeling of speed very few cars can match. Even though the BMW Z3M was not the most powerful sports car on the road, it sure delivered driving exhilaration. To this day, the E36/8 Z3M Coupe is among the rarest cars on the road. If you can find one, this car is definitely worth driving.

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

8: BMW E52 Z8

Take one look at this car, and you’ll know that it’s something special. Like a few other BMWs on our list, the E52 Z8 was unlike anything else on the road. The car was also unusual, which is why you’ll seldom see one around today. The roadster styling has always been a strong suit for BMW, and the few BMW roadsters have been a blast to drive (via BMW Blog).

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

The beauty of the E52 Z8 is what makes it stand out well. Few cars have had this type of styling even to this day. The rarity and mystique of the car make it a treat to drive and enjoy. There’s no denying that the E52 Z8 is definitely a car worth driving today.

Photo Credit: Bring a Trailer

7: BMW E39 M5

The E39 M5 was a winning combination of style and substance as another reveled chapter in the long heritage of the M5. The styling was iconic with early 2000s BMW and proved ubiquitous overall. Performance was also top-notch, with power coming from an optional V8 engine (via Road & Track).

Photo Credit: Bring a Trailer

There are few sedans in this size and segment that can match the performance of the E39 M5. The E39 has proved to be an icon in the BMW community time and time again. From the timeless design to the standard amount of luxury features, this car is still an excellent driving vehicle today.

Photo Credit: BMW Life

6: BMW X5 4.6is

BMW doesn’t get enough credit when it comes to pioneering the luxury SUV segment. Particularly, the crossover SUV segment has become extremely popular today. That crown goes to the original BMW X5. The SUV doesn’t have an enormous following these days, but for the price and performance, you can’t go wrong (via Car & Driver).

Photo Credit: BMW Life

The 4.6is was an especially powerful model, and there is also a specialized M version of the X5. The BMW X5 shouldn’t be downplayed in terms of its contribution to the automotive industry. You can still find a clean X5 that will provide plenty of driving pleasure for the price. We’ve covered several classic BMWs that are absolutely still worth driving today. Now, however, we’ll move on to five BMWs that simply burn money, and not a small amount of it…

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

5: BMW E65

The BMW E65 is considered one of the worst BMWs ever made. It’s not because of a lack of power, as the car drives well when it’s still on the road. But the problem with the E65 is that you could rarely if ever keep it on the road. Dubbed one of the most repair-intensive vehicles of all time, the E65 was a mechanical nightmare (via BMW Blog).

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

Many of these problems had to do with the electrical components in the car. This generation of the 7-Series was groundbreaking in technology and design. However, the model also fell short in many aspects. Driving a used E65 is almost certainly a costly nightmare and one drivers should avoid.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

4: 2011 BMW X3

The BMW X5 was a groundbreaking success for the company as the first SUV model. When it came time to introduce a smaller offering, the result was not as pleasant. The X3 is by far one of the most unreliable BMW models ever made. The proportions of the SUV were a lot smaller than the X5, but the price was right up there next to it (via Auto Week).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Consumers who were in the market for a luxury SUV had a lot of competition to choose from. The X3 didn’t exactly cut the mustard when it comes to a suitable SUV model. With all the electrical shortcomings and reliability issues, it fell short. When it comes to a confusing SUV model, the X3 was right up there with the worst.

Photo Credit: BMW

3: BMW M1

The M1, BMW’s original BMW Supercar, was a startling mix of high-tech design combined with a lack of engineering. The M1 was perhaps one of the most unreliable BMW models ever made. Considering how high the initial price tag was, that isn’t necessarily a good thing either.

Photo Credit: BMW

BMW was going for a groundbreaking sports car, but the end result was anything but (via Car & Driver). There are many notable sports cars in the history of BMW, but the M1 might possibly have been the worst. With the lack of reliability and the high price tag, the car was everything you don’t want to get stuck with.

Photo Credit: Inside Line

2: BMW Z4 Roadster

Another product of the 2000s, the Z4 roadster, was the next generation of the Z3. The problem is that, like most BMWs from this era, the Z4 had several electrical problems. These electrical issues can cost thousands of dollars to repair. Most consumers weren’t willing to go that far in their ownership of the Z4, and thus the car has lackluster resale value (via BMW).

Photo Credit: Inside Line

The performance of the Z4 roadster was also not that impressive, especially with all the competition. Another drawback to the Z4 was the bland styling the car had, which was true for most BMWs from this era. All in all, the Z4 was a black mark in the lineage of otherwise solid BMW roadsters.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

1: BMW E46

The dawn of the new millennium was an important time for BMW. The automaker was moving into the future and its new car models obviously had to follow suit. The new E46 3-Series was a strange car in almost every way. The styling was new and modern, and there were many new luxuries to be had (via Road & Track).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Sadly, like most BMWs from this era, its reliability was questionable at best. The car didn’t hold up to the test of time. This is probably the most overrated and underpriced generation of the E46, and the cost of repairs will definitely cost an arm and a leg. BMW has since improved the quality of the 3-Series models.

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