Hooniverse Asks Bonus: Would you buy your old car back? The story of my BMW 325i

Kamil 325i BMW ad

I was browsing Craigslist the other day, looking for the perfect family vehicle to replace my current faultless family vehicle. After coming to a realization that all 4Runners are either overpriced or rusted, I threw in a price limit of $5000 just for giggles. Half way through second page I see a poorly written ad for a car that looked amazingly familiar.

Five years ago I sold my 2001 BMW 325i. With a one year old daughter, and it being our only car (we love in downtown, I walk to work, wife primary driver), the little bimmer was simply too small, too impractical. I needed something bigger, something newer, and with a 100,000 miles on the clock, something more reliable. I replaced it with a 2002 BMW 525i Touring, which was the most obvious choice. But the 325i was always special to me…

[Source: Boston Craigslist]

2001 BMW 325i

That’s what it looked like when I had it.

To me, this was more than a car. I have owned it for more than three years, which in those times of my flipping cars, was an eternity. A lot has happened in the years that I owned this car, which make it that much more special. Here is a quick bullet list of events:

  • I bought it slightly used from a private seller in 2003 and paid cash for it.
  • I was single but dating, lived in New Jersey, and worked in New York City.
  • My girlfriend and I decided to move to Boston; I got a decent job, she had a really good one, and the cost of living was lower than NYC.
  • I managed to fit all my possessions* into this little bimmer, including a 27″ CRT tv, for my permanent move to Boston.
  • I got engaged.
  • I got married.
  • My daughter was born, all while owning this car.
  • Being somewhat frequent on  E46Fanatics.com, I have met some of my best friends.
  • I drove more than 60,000  miles in this car between New Jersey/NYC, Boston, and Framingham, MA where I worked.

2001 BMW 325i int

It was also one of the last cars that I have owned that I did some proper work on. The current owner/seller probably does not know all of it, but this is what the car has, or had, done to it at the time of sale:

  • OEM fog-lights (factory harness and switch, wired by me)
  • OEM 04MY head unit; allows for ipod, Sirius and aux connection
  • OEM auxiliary audio connection (in glove box)
  • OEM Sirius satellite radio (need your own subscription)
  • OEM Performance (ZHP) springs and front sway bar
  • OEM style 96 17” wheels with all-season tires; (17×8) with 225/45-17 tires.
  • OEM M3 strut tower brace
  • OEM Z3 short-throw shifter with leather knob (I took that off, still have it, it’s illuminated)
  • OEM Aluminum interior trim (in place of wood trim)
  • Koni yellow (adjustable) struts and shocks
  • H&R rear adjustable sway bar
  • TMS stainless-steel brake lines
  • Nokian Hakkapeliitta winter tires mounted on factory 16” wheels (I wonder what happened to those)
  • Clear taillights and side-markers, smoked front corner lights (have factory amber lights)
  • Most service and parts receipts (lost some along the way)
  • Original window sticker
  • Owner’s manual and welcome/instruction video
  • OEM Service manual and OEM parts CDs
  • Original brochure and accessories brochure
  • Summer and winter (rubber) floor mats

There was a lot of interest in the car. In the end I sold it to a very hippie/grungy/weird (Hawaiian shirt, shell necklace, gray hair pony tail) guy. He came in a really beaten up E34 which had electrical issues because it was struck by lightning (WTF?). He had cash and the highest offer, more than what I was asking. I knew it wasn’t going to the perfect home and I felt bad about it. He actually didn’t live too far from my in-laws, in a very woody area that I didn’t know even existed even though I passed by it a million times.

I said goodbye to the car, as I dropped it off, wishing it the best of luck. Deep inside I was hoping to never see it again. I had this horrible feeling inside, which I only experienced once before, when I had to put my old sick dog to sleep.

But it lived too close. I have seen it twice, in passing, and it looked worse each time. And now I found this ad.

The poor car now has dents, lots of them. It has 225,000 miles on the clock. Nothing physically has changed on it, even the crappy wooden shift knob I left on it is still there. Do I go and look at it? Do I dare ask to buy it back?

2001 BMW 325i rear

*sold my furniture

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30 responses to “Hooniverse Asks Bonus: Would you buy your old car back? The story of my BMW 325i”

  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    Unless you're wanting a winter beater, I'd pass on this. If he put 125k on it in five years, and it's this banged up, I'll bet it has rust issues, too – if he let the body go like that, he probably never washed the salt off, either. If someone else buys it, hopefully it will move far enough away that you'll never see it again.

  2. Arco777 Avatar

    Would you want a girlfriend back after similar time, mileage and wear had occurred during your leave of ownership? Probably best to remember her in her prime.

    1. Arco777 Avatar

      I have owned many cars that I later regretted selling. Only once did I see one come up again for sale, though after that one time I learned to quit looking. I always think that I want them back, but never consider what the car's been through since then. If I actually bought one back, I think I would never be able to forget the time that it was in someone else's [far less loving] hands. Again, like a girlfriend… it would just be weird and uncomfortable, and I couldn't ever truly forget about it.

  3. frankthecat Avatar

    Let it go.

  4. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
    Scandinavian Flick ★

    I can't wait to never own my E46 again…

    1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq


    2. ToLiveNDieInNJ Avatar

      Same. I love the 323i's auto transmission. 75% of the time it works all the time *
      *except when I have to reverse out of 7-Eleven, then reverse gives up

      1. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar
        Dean Bigglesworth

        What transmission does the E46 use? I know the E90 uses a GM transmission

  5. ThirdPedalGirl Avatar

    Let it go into the ether.
    It will hurt too much to see what its suffered up close.

  6. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
    Scandinavian Flick ★

    "even the crappy wooden shift knob I left on it is still there"
    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/WRIFMUN.png"&gt;

  7. muthalovin Avatar

    The Daytona was sold so I could buy my truck. Ever since I left town, my dad give me the occasional updates when he sees it around town. Fart cannon, dented to shit, broke down…
    Nah, man, just let it go. Remember the good times, don't try to recreate them….
    Speaking of which, anyone going to go see The World's End this weekend?

    1. Maymar Avatar

      I'm going tonight – I really hope the movie theatre sells Drumsticks – I figure that's about as close to a Cornetto as I can hope to get.

  8. JackScarpino Avatar

    I do really like that color combo though…

  9. Wiremaster Avatar

    You have a choice, and you must choose. This opportunity will not come up again. Either buy it immediately (RIGHT NOW), or let go of the emotional connection. If I were you, I'd buy it.

  10. Tim Hogan Avatar
    Tim Hogan

    I'd let it go.
    Without seeing it there's only vehicle Id want back. My K5. I sold it in Florida and it had a rust free but dented body.. It probably got butchered for the mud bogs.. And Id probably feel differently if I saw it.
    Every vehicle I've let go had either been butchered and parted out, or fallen off the face of the earth.
    I'm most disappointed in my model T. That thing was a savable roadster pickup body on a late 30's frame with a 59A flathead. They sold the engine, installed a Chevy and channelled it within an inch of its life. Now it's not savable.

  11. OA5599 Avatar

    Would I ever want to buy a car I used to own? Sure. For my old 1970 Challenger R/T 4-speed convertible, I'd even pay double the $4200 I sold it for.
    Would I ever want to buy a 14-year-old, not-so-pampered-anymore, quarter-million-mile German car while living in a downtown home without a driveway for the inevitable wrench turning?
    [youtube zRvPoCWElOc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRvPoCWElOc youtube]

  12. tiberiusẅisë Avatar

    I often wax nostalgic for my 85 Mustang. I don't want mine back though. It was pretty trashed by the time I was done with it. 150,000 hard miles.
    A test drive in a time capsule twin? Sign me up.

  13. JayP2112 Avatar

    I'd offer $1700 for it all- track day car.
    Only car I'd buy back would be the Focus SVT and only if it was a nice as I left it.

  14. MVEilenstein Avatar

    I would really like to have my 86 626 back, but the last time I saw it was 10 years ago, and the boy who bought it was driving it through a cow pasture. Because that's what you do when you work on a farm, apparently.
    I would also love to have that 77 El Camino again, but it's probably not even running now. It's also probably rusted through like swiss cheese.

  15. 0ToTuttiFrutti Avatar

    $800 for a new clutch in a Bimmer? I'm imagining some worn brake pads JB welded onto the old plate.

  16. humblejanitor Avatar

    Manuel transmission. Is a guy named Manuel that shifts for you in the passenger seat?

    1. longrooffan Avatar

      No, that's my buddy, Manuel Labor.

  17. Kogashiwa Avatar

    I usually don't go many days between wishing I had my old MR2 back.
    I actually saw it advertised once, about two years after I stupidly sold it. It apparently had some problems of some sort, don't recall what, and the price was pretty low. Condition still looked good though. I emailed him immediately but I guess by then it had been sold and he just hadn't bothered to take the ad down.
    The '94 WRX I would possibly not mind having back either, but nothing else. Most of my vehicles were sold for highly valid reasons that didn't get any less valid after they left my driveway.

  18. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    I'd buy back any of my old cars and trucks – in the condition I left them in – in a heartbeat. Except for that Econoline with the seized engine. And the one that the tree fell on… They were great then, and they could be even better now.

  19. vwminispeedster Avatar

    If anyone finds a tan/beige/yellowish 1968 VW Beetle with matching wheels with black trim for sale in California let me know. It had license plates WADLOW. I want it back. Sold it on eBay to a teacher in Merced. I miss that car.

  20. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    I've owned… *counts on fingers* …six cars. Well, five and a half.
    Parts/scrap, LeMons, scrap, sold to a guy 60 miles away in Meth Country (and even farther from where I live now), written off and abandoned at the tow yard, and now my current driver.
    I made sure I'd never see any of my cars again in an unhappy state, and I plan to continue this trend. The only possible exception is my Saab – I've got an agreement with a friend that if I want to sell, I'll offer it to him first.
    Basically, what I'm saying is, unless you're willing to deal with the flood of disappointment and memories and you just plan to maintain it mechanically, keep the rust off of it, and use it as a bash-around commuter and winter car, don't even bother calling. Let it go if you can, as romantic as the thought is of having it back.

  21. Chris Parente Avatar

    Good story. Makes no sense financially, obviously. I'd say No, unless you've got the time and resources for a restoration project.
    If I ever sell either of my M cars, I hope they go to an enthusiast. I think they would, b/c that's who'll pay me top dollar. Less true with basic models.

  22. FЯeeMan Avatar

    My mom bought my step dad a 944. she gave it to me when he passed on. When kid #1 came along, the practical side kicked in, and i gave it back to her. I'd love to buy it back and fix it up, for sentimental reasons, it would be worth the added expenses.
    My dad had a 63 Suburban that's got to have a million miles on it by now (literally). I'd love to get that back, too.

  23. Maymar Avatar

    Several years back, I picked up a rough old '76 CB750 that I meant to get on the road, but my apathy and ineptitude kept that from happening. When I went back to school, I sold it to a friend's dad, who later sold it to a friend. I wouldn't mind a second crack at that.
    Other than that, I sort of miss the old F-150 I used to own (although any basic pickup holds the same appeal), and if I had more space, time, and budget, I'd like my project YJ back.

  24. Christopher G Avatar
    Christopher G

    Being that you took the time to write this amazing story of your beloved car means that this vehicle sure means a lot to you and your life as a whole. I really felt for you as I read this story because I am in a similar position but ar the very beginning. I was recently forced to sell my 07 Grand Prix Gxp due to financial and family reasons and I feared the car goin to someon that would just abuse the car and not give it the loving that I had for years. I would say if this car means so much to you, I would buy it and stick it in you garage and get I back to perfect so that one day your kids will be able to enjoy it just as much as you have. Plus, it sounds like the car definitely needs an owner that will give it the love and care it deserves.

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