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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > BIMMERPOST Universal Forums > General BMW News and Cars Discussion > E36 Buying Decision - M50, M50TU or M52?



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      09-22-2012, 01:44 AM   #1
Veritable
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E36 Buying Decision - M50, M50TU or M52?

A friend of a friend is looking to get started with BMWs. He is looking into picking up a 6-cylinder E36 manual with LSD, so either a 325is or a 328is. Being the resident BMW owner I was asked for my opinions, but I started out with E46s and always had cars under factory warranty so I wasn't much help

So, I will ask you guys and hopefully learn a few things myself.

He found an M50-equipped car (but we're not sure if it is the M50TU) and an M52-equipped car. The former is $2k cheaper but obviously a few years older and 20k km (12k mi) more mileage.

All others being equal, which engine would you guys pick? From what I can gather, all 3 have similar output but:

M50: breathes the best so a bit more "sporty"
M50TU: has VANOS so torque under the curve is much improved
M52: the best daily driver with more torque everywhere but less "sporty"

Though, with newer technologies come with finicky maintenance. How different are the 3 engines in terms of upkeep?

Thanks in advance for your input!
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      09-22-2012, 03:55 AM   #2
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What kind of M52 to be precise? US or EU? If it's M52 US then that's the engine to keep. True that it's longer stroke make it less sporty, but it's a beautiful engine.
If it's M52 EU (Aluminum block) get the M50 NV. The beefiest and most reliable engine plus due the lack of vanos, it's mod friendlier than others.
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      09-22-2012, 05:05 AM   #3
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a previous E36 325is with M50TU and E36 M3 with S50 owner here.
I would recommend to go with M52. Has so much fun usable torque. However, I would stay away from 1996 year. My friend used to be a tech at a local BMW dealership; they used to see quite few of them with issue. So 1997 to 1998 are good years to look into.
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      09-22-2012, 11:25 PM   #4
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We are in Canada so it will be a North American spec for sure, same as in the US.

He is now leaning towards the M52, but should he be concerned about VANOS maintenance at these kind of mileage? Having that kind of technology seems to be worth it but we're afraid that if it breaks, then $$$$$....
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