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OzarkOwen
OzarkOwen New Reader
8/17/20 9:08 p.m.

Found a nice 12 128i coupe manual trans, about 40 k miles, not to far away to go look.

Car looks nice and Carfax good, asking $13,900 at a multi line dealer. After my 97 E36 m3 got a chronic case of throwing cels, I sold it and thought if I ever had another Beemer it would be newer and simpler. This seems to meet my requirements. I searched here but didn’t find anything. There is nothing that I know now that scares me about 128i models, but I don’t actually know very much! Or anyone who has one.

Sorry about the title but as an old one time English teacher I could not go straight to “learn me”.

Semi-pretty-serious about this car. Any hive wisdom appreciated.

 

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/17/20 9:12 p.m.

the 128 is the "one to get".  I think there is a 128 in the GRM fleet?

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
8/17/20 9:19 p.m.

I had an E36 M3 and the 128i I drove felt very similar but with (thankfully) quicker steering. Not as much power, of course, but not shabby.

I have moved on from BMWs but that car is probably the only thing that might lure me back. 

I don’t have first-hand ownership experience, but I’d guess they need normal BMW stuff; gaskets, coils, bushings, cooling systems, VANOS bits. But that’s just a guess.

You have a hard time with “learn me” but don’t have a hard time with the wrong “too.” Sorry, I couldn’t resist (old English teacher myself, and please know I make all sorts of mistakes two) wink

LanEvo
LanEvo Dork
8/17/20 9:24 p.m.

There's nothing simple about a 128i as compared to an E36 M3.

I had an E90 335xi from that same era and it was the most troublesome, unreliable car I've ever owned by a very wide margin. Expensive problems started at 20k miles and only got worse. I was glad to get rid of it at 60k miles.

OzarkOwen
OzarkOwen New Reader
8/17/20 9:55 p.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

Ouch! I deserved that. I even proofread. Thanks to you for pointing it out. I’m just glad it was not two mistakes or too misleading.

red_stapler
red_stapler SuperDork
8/17/20 10:01 p.m.

 N52 based BMWs are pretty good if they arent optioned up.  My friend is almost to 250k!

LanEvo said:

I had an E90 335xi from that same era and it was the most troublesome, unreliable car I've ever owned by a very wide margin. Expensive problems started at 20k miles and only got worse. I was glad to get rid of it at 60k miles.

That's basically a completely different car though. 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
8/17/20 10:48 p.m.

^Exactly, all-wheel drive twin turbo vs NA and RWD.

 

If I had realized the 128i responded so we'll to mods, I would have done that instead of the 135 DCT I had for a year and a half. I still think about looking for one.

The 128 is the "modern" E30.

02Pilot
02Pilot UltraDork
8/18/20 6:05 a.m.

I have one (2009 128i M-Sport), and I think there are one or two others on here as well. As noted, it is not simpler than an E36 in any way, but with the right tools - most notably a BMW-specific scanner of some sort - it may be easier to diagnose in many cases.

Dynamically it is a good platform that can be easily improved with a couple of suspension modifications. The N52 engine can be modified and tuned to considerably higher output; the N51 SULEV doesn't have quite as much room to grow. I find the stock power output perfectly adequate for my use. Interior fittings are not great, but seem to be reasonably durable - I'm at 136k miles and nothing's falling apart.

One option I consider essential is the sport package, specifically for the seats. As you probably know, stock BMW seats are flat and unsupportive, while the sport seats are hugely adjustable and can be made to fit a wide variety of body shapes. I won't own a BMW without them. Other than that, the fewer options the better.

I've had mine for a few years now and really like it. Feel free to ask any specific questions you might have.

PMRacing
PMRacing UltraDork
8/18/20 6:12 a.m.

My wife had one for a a couple of years. Great little car and we sold it due to growing family. However, try the seats out. Ours had base seats. I couldn't stand them.  Also, get the clutch delay valve delete from ECS. It made a world of difference in the shifting. The only major issue we had was a coil going out. The CPO warranty took care of all coils and plugs for that issue.

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 Reader
8/18/20 8:48 a.m.

That's the best modern BMW IMO since the e46. 

RWD, NA 6 cylinder with very similar power to weight of an e36m3 with a much improved interior. Not as simple as an e36 but what is these days?

Like the e36, focus on square tires, light weight, and suspension upgrades.

racerdave600
racerdave600 UltraDork
8/18/20 9:59 a.m.

I absolutely love mine and its among my favorite cars I have owned.  In many ways, it is more enjoyable than my Boxster S.  So far in 3 years of ownership the only failures has been an O2 sensor and a fuel pump.  It is just shy of 115k and it had I think mid 60's when I bought it.  Maybe closer to 70k.  If I could go back and do it over, I would definitely go for the N52.  Mine is the N51 and although power is plenty for my DD use, it has enough differences in parts prices to go N52.  And don't assume just because you are not in CA you won't find a N51.  They appeared to send them to other states depending on stock levels.  Look for SULEV on the data tag to confirm.  I would not let that keep me away from a good car, but if you had a choice, I would go N52.  Not a M car, but maybe one of the best BMWs built for all around daily duty.

02Pilot
02Pilot UltraDork
8/18/20 10:52 a.m.

In reply to racerdave600 :

Not to derail this, but I'm interested in your comment on how the 128i compares with the Boxster. Given that Caymans are on my radar this is relevant to my interests. Can you expand on your assessment a bit?

racerdave600
racerdave600 UltraDork
8/18/20 11:19 a.m.

In reply to 02Pilot :

If you are talking outright speed, the Boxster wins, everything else goes to the BMW.  Its better built, the steering feel is better, turn in is crisper, driveability is better, certainly torque is better, and the seats are better.  The Boxster is to me, a terrible car to drive around town.  It simply is not much fun with heavy controls and slower reflexes.  Get it out of town and into the mountains however and it comes alive.  It has much better mid corner grip and the sound of the engine near redline is magical.  And of course the top goes down.  I have a certain disdain for Bilstien shocks and it has those on it, so I contribute some of my dislike for its manners to those.  If I keep it, I will swap out the shocks and replace the Hankooks for something a bit better.

In town the BMW is near perfect, on rural back roads the Boxster S is near perfect.  The trouble is, the BMW can come close to the Porsche on the back roads, but the Porsche is terrible in town.  Typically I reserve the Porsche for only joy rides out of town and that is probably why I only put 3,000 miles on it in the past year.  Most of those were put on in several longer trips.  Don't take this as a dis on the Porsche, I do like it,  At slower speeds it is a chore, at higher speeds its a joy.  

The 128, I put 20k miles on it last year, and it still feels like I just bought it.  Every trip is special.  The Porsche just gets tiring after a while.  Maybe I'm getting old.  

A couple of additional thoughts.  I also have a 2012 Cooper S, and it gets about twice the yearly mileage of the Porsche.  The MINI puts a smile on your face with every drive, the Porsche is just so serious.  

02Pilot
02Pilot UltraDork
8/18/20 11:46 a.m.

In reply to racerdave600 :

Thanks, that's very helpful. It sounds as though we feel similarly about the BMW, so it stands to reason that I would likely share some of your reaction to the behaviors and foibles of the Porsche. I'd like to drive one should the opportunity arise and see for myself.

CAinCA
CAinCA Reader
8/18/20 12:06 p.m.
PMRacing said:

My wife had one for a a couple of years. Great little car and we sold it due to growing family. However, try the seats out. Ours had base seats. I couldn't stand them.  Also, get the clutch delay valve delete from ECS. It made a world of difference in the shifting. The only major issue we had was a coil going out. The CPO warranty took care of all coils and plugs for that issue.

Seriously? What the Berk is a clutch delay valve? Is that so people who don't know how to use a clutch don't blow it up?

OK, looked it up. Apparently it IS for people who don't know how to use a clutch. 

CAinCA
CAinCA Reader
8/18/20 12:17 p.m.
racerdave600 said:

In reply to 02Pilot :

If you are talking outright speed, the Boxster wins, everything else goes to the BMW...

Thanks for the comparison. I too have been drooling over Caymans. I currently own a GTI and I'd like my next car to be RWD and FUN. It sounds like the Cayman is only fun if you're wringing it out.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
8/18/20 1:13 p.m.
CAinCA said:
PMRacing said:

My wife had one for a a couple of years. Great little car and we sold it due to growing family. However, try the seats out. Ours had base seats. I couldn't stand them.  Also, get the clutch delay valve delete from ECS. It made a world of difference in the shifting. The only major issue we had was a coil going out. The CPO warranty took care of all coils and plugs for that issue.

Seriously? What the Berk is a clutch delay valve? Is that so people who don't know how to use a clutch don't blow it up?

OK, looked it up. Apparently it IS for people who don't know how to use a clutch. 

Ehhhh, kinda. It's really there to prevent shock loading to the drivetrain from people dumping the clutch like a drag launch. 

IE, it's trying to keep people from breaking stuff through abuse.

racerdave600
racerdave600 UltraDork
8/18/20 1:27 p.m.

In reply to 02Pilot :

You really should drive one, your reactions may be different.  Also, mine is a 986 and later ones do drive differently.

Driven5
Driven5 UltraDork
8/18/20 4:13 p.m.

My experience with the 128i so far has given me a bit more tempered opinion. 

As delivered: It's good, but not great. I like it, but don't love it. They got a lot right, but also totally missed the mark on just as much. A case of 'so close, yet so far'. The stereotypical German 'overly-engineered' stuff is often disappointingly 'under-executed'. It also comes with less 'charater', 'personality', and 'soul' than I have experienced in other, technically inferior but admittedly more niche biased, cars...So I haven't been as quick to connect with it either. 

That's not to say it's a bad car, by any means. Even if it's the best all-around car for the job(s) at hand, there are still just a number of areas in which it simply falls a bit short for me. It is however a good foundation for completing the job BMW started. Tweaking it into the car it could, and arguably should, have been available as from the 'ultimate driving machine' brand.

At that price, I'd feel like I'd be expecting a full compliment of maintenance records, although from a dealership you'll not likely get them. I'll reiterate the suggestion to stick with cars having the sport seats, regardless of whether they're power or manual. Also, if you care about such things at all, watch out for a radio display that becomes unreadable every time it gets warm.

I'd be interested to know what all racerdave600 has done to his to get it to the point of liking it so strongly. I have a rough plan to get mine there for me eventually too, but am always looking out for other ideas/approaches to doing so.

racerdave600
racerdave600 UltraDork
8/18/20 4:35 p.m.

In reply to Driven5 :

Basically nothing.  It is mostly stock, although I do have a set of Konis and decent tires.  It helps I think that I started with a very nice car with no needs, at all.  I paid a bit more than I should have probably, but in this case, it has more than made up for itself.  If you are expecting it to drive like a M car, you will be disappointed.  If you want a great all around car for a daily driver then it excels at that function.  

dyintorace (Forum Supporter)
dyintorace (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
8/18/20 5:35 p.m.

I bought a 2010 128i M-sport earlier this year, primarily as a car for my son. I've owned a *lot* of BMWs and this is one of my favorites. As others have said, it reminds me of the e36 M3s I've owned. Granted, the copy we bought had been thoroughly massaged. See the mod list below. It is a riot to drive around. We hope to get out to an HPDE in it at some point soon!

Factory options:
M sport
Xenons
no sunroof
no idrive
manual seats
6MT

Mods:
SuperSprint Headers with Swain Tech Race Coat
SuperSprint muffler
DISA Manifold
EVOLVE Tune
TCK DA Coilovers
Ground Control Camber plates
Adjustable swaybar end links
M3 Subframe bushings
M3 Rear lower camber link
Euro Intake
Euro BMW Performance intake
BMW Performance CF Spoiler
BMW Performance CF Diffuser
BMW Performance v1 Wheel
BMW Performance Stripe
BBS RGRs with PSS
OE wheels with Alpin PA3
F30 Brake Shield
BMW Blackline Tails
Rear Fogs Enabled
Front Fogs Delete
CDV Delete
BMW Black Kidneys
M5 Illuminated Shift Knob

dyintorace (Forum Supporter)
dyintorace (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
8/18/20 5:36 p.m.

Driven5
Driven5 UltraDork
8/18/20 6:16 p.m.

In reply to racerdave600 :

Interesting. I just ditched the run flats, and I expect upgrading the shocks should definitely be another step in the right direction too. With each carefully selected upgrade so far, the car has certainly continued to grow on me. 

While the hype surrounding these cars may have contributed to some heightened initial expectations, it's ultimately more than just that too though. Unfortunately I also largely fail every time I try to (repeatedly) put it into words.

Then again, coming from Miatas and Mustangs...Maybe I really did need an "M" car.

PMRacing
PMRacing UltraDork
8/18/20 6:18 p.m.

In reply to z31maniac :

True, it is to prevent breaking stuff, but if you know how to drive a manual transmission, and heel toe, it is very annoying and makes smooth launches and downshifts more difficult then they need to be.  My wife, who does not do launches, said it was a night and day difference in just normal driving. 

Edit:. Not implying you don't know how to drive manual :) we just found it annoying until removed.

Driven5
Driven5 UltraDork
8/18/20 6:26 p.m.

In reply to PMRacing :

I'm looking forward to deleting that on mine, in addition to installing a taller clutch stop, as some of the cheap minor improvements to the driving feel.

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