Overall this has been a very reliable car. I drive it hard once up to full temperature and love that 6-cylinder engine :-)
A trait of the early e36's is water pump failure. BMW fitted water pumps with plastic impellers. Over time these break and your car overheats. If you are very unlucky then all the bits of plastic will be sent round the cooling system causing blockages. Also if you don't notice you may overheat and do serious terminal head damage. Read 1000ukp+ to repair.
Why am I saying this? I learnt the hard way! Luckily though all I needed was a new pump. I knew of this fault when I bought the car, but didn't replace the pump as a precaution. If you have a pre 95 with the M50/M52 engine then please change that pump! Its 27ukp from eurocarparts and is very easy to fit. Less than an hours work for an average home mechanic.
I also had a rear wheel bearing done.
The car just flew through its MOT and I was very happy and suprised.
This is the E36 version (91-98)
My cars first owner (chartered accountant) had it for 9 years. The first 3 of those were as his company car and then he bought it from the Lease Company. It's a fantastic spec and has over 5k worth of options. Sunroof, climate, air con, computer, cruise control, auto gearbox, extended wiring loom (???), spoiler. You get the picture! Total cost was 28k, nearly the same as the current 325i!
Second owner had it for 2 years and also looked after it very well.
I bought it in February this year. Even though it is now 10 years old I can say it still drives very well. Rear suspension may need some work soon, but there is nothing of major expense. I've added late e36 coupe alloys, white 'm3 style' light kit, parking sensors, sports interior from a 98 328i sport and my private plate. It looks just like a 98 car now. Tasteful mods I think and nothing overboard or non BMW.
The coupe handles so much better than the saloon as it has the full MTEC suspension. My old e36 318i was a bit like jelly in comparison, but still a nice car all the same.
These cars are currently crashing price wise. Grab a nice one now before the boyracers ruin them and it will last you for years. Much better than a 12 month old boring corsa or fiesta!
To be honest parts and servicing are also very reasonable. I get mine 'oil' serviced at a main dealer and do all the other bits and pieces myself. Last service including full valet and courtesy (e46 316I) car came to 70 quid! The dealer I use is Preston Hall in Stockton.
Go on, buy that BMW you have always wanted :-)