BMW has been selling new 3 Series cars in the United States since the first examples of the E21 showed up here in 1976. Those Bavarians are on their seventh generation of 3 Series now (the G20), but the junkyard 3 Series world in this country is currently making a shift to the early E90 (fifth generation) from the later E46 (fourth generation). That means it’s getting harder for E46 owners to find used parts, while E90 owners now have an embarrassment of boneyard riches for their cars. If the pattern I’ve seen during the last few decades with the E21, E30 and E36 3 Series holds, we can expect E46s to become junkyard rarities within a few years. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of the last E46s sold in North America, found in a self-service yard just outside of Denver, Colorado.
The (non-M3) 2005 3 Series was available in the United States in coupe, sedan and wagon form, with rear- or all-wheel-drive, and with two engine choices.
This car is the least expensive version of the 3 Series for 2005: a rear-wheel-drive 325i sedan with the 2.5-liter straight-six engine. Its MSRP was $29,300, or about $46,968 in 2023 dollars.
This engine was rated at 184 horsepower and 175 pound-feet. The 330 got 3.0-liter straight-six that made 235 horsepower and 222 pound-feet, while the M3 had a 3.2 with a mighty 330 horses.
The base transmission in the 325 cars for ’05 was this five-speed manual, while the 330s received six-speeds. Because this is America in the 21st century, though, nearly all of these cars got the extra-cost automatics on this side of the Atlantic.
This car’s final years appeared to have been lived hard and fast. The emissions sticker on the underside of the hood shows that it originated on a 2003 E46. At least the color is correct.
The electronic odometer means the ECU must be powered up to read the final mileage figure. I’m guessing it was over 200,000 miles.
Signs of deferred maintenance and skipped repairs abound. The right rear door handle is snapped off, for example.
The front passenger-side window mechanism failed while still a few inches from being closed, so it was repaired with packing foam and tape.
We can’t tell what important mechanical problems were “fixed” in the same manner, but we can be sure that a 2005 BMW 325i won’t last as long as, say, a 2005 Chevy Classic if it doesn’t get all its maintenance items taken care of on schedule.
Still, it survived for nearly two full decades.
Anything else … is history. It made sense to set this commercial in 1945 New York City instead of a German city, for obvious reasons.
You could plug in your iPod! Bluetooth connectivity in cars was still a few years off for most manufacturers when this car was new.