When you get enough car experience in life, you viscerally know what cars look good to you and what cars don’t. Then there’s a third category. This is for the cars that just look stunning, to you. A respectable selection from this category may be luxury or even supercars. However, even among those, you’ll find a stock “look-back” car that you can afford.
A look-back car, is a car that when you park it at the office lot, and you begin to walk away, you irresistibly look-back at its visage. Then you smile warmly inside, and think, that’s why I bought this car. Then you head off about your business. Don’t confuse a look-back car with any nice new car. Your look-back car is your look-back car, regardless of its age, or ownership status in relation to you. So, even after you no longer own your look-back car, whenever you see one of its siblings in a parking lot, or on Instagram, you think to yourself, there goes my baby.
One of my look-back cars is the BMW 3 Series (E46). Specifically, those model years from 2000 through 2005. I owned a 2000 version, brand new. I don’t particularly care for the 2006 version; the last year for the E46. Today, I saw one for sale not too far from my place. Of course I had to check it out. It was a 2006, and the miles were almost double what they should be. Plus, it had remarkable cosmetic damage.
From the looks of the passenger side of the car, the suspension was either shot or the ride height poorly adjusted (pro-tip: if you can’t decide or tell, it means it’s likely the former, rather than the latter). Looking at the driver’s side, front tire (above), I sensed the front end was in bad shape. I thought of calling the seller and offering a third of the asking price. However, after running a CARFAX report, I saw enough of a service gap with the current owner that I decided to pass on this E46. Fortunately, I won’t need to buy a replacement vehicle for several months, so there’s no pressure to commit to this one.