2000 BMW 323 Ci Convertible (299)


What’s not to love about this BMW 323 Ci Convertible? If you don’t just love this convertible you and I need to sit down and have a talk. As Joan Rivers used to say, “Can we talk?”  It seats four and if you’re in the market for a convertible you probably don’t need more seating. In fact I can’t think of another convertible that accommodates more, or seats them better. If there is I’m sure someone will tell me about it.

BMW used to be a high maintenance vehicle and although I cannot attest to an improvement, I will say that it has been my observation from friends who have owned other models of BMW for a few years now, seem to be more trouble free than past decades. When brother John and I owned a repair shop my observation was very negative about BMW. I would never have opted to buy one. I guess the most troublesome cars to keep running were manufactured by BMW, Jaguar, Fiat and Ferrari. The Jag’s and BMW’s were in a lot and cost a lot to fix. Fiat was also in a lot but the cost of repair was low. Ferrari was in often and the cost was astronomical.

Anyway, I do worry about the mechanical stuff a bit. In general, however, most new cars benefit from the latest and greatest technology and that has translated to nearly trouble free drive trains. That is reflected in the fact that most cars don’t need tune-ups until they reach 100,000 miles. The convertible top, on the other hand, is new technology but also untested by Father Time. It is totally new and also totally automated. You just push one button, sit still and in about a minute the top is up or down and neatly stored. Well, I guess you do need to watch the red light next to the button to confirm the top is completely up or down. Additionally, it is so well done that when it’s up, you’d think it were a hard top.

Equipment is abundant and high quality. The dual-zone climate control has an automatic re-circulation control system that switches to inside air when the outside air is polluted and then switches back to fresh air intake when the air outside has cleared.

Handling & Performance:

The engine is smooth and sophisticated. Its aluminum block makes it lighter. The 24 variable timing valves should produce improved low range response but with the short-range low gear it is sluggish off the line. This was the one thing that bothered me and I found I was redlining in first gear a lot. Second was longer but getting there was slow. Aside from that problem, this car is flat fun to drive. Steering is precise and the Dynamic Stability Control system helps out in the corners or when you need to swerve to avoid unexpected road conditions.


I think I’m in love.

Fit and Finish:

Continues to improve over the years.


More than enough, but I’m easy to please.


Enough for some, too much for others.


If you’re in the market for a convertible and the price doesn’t scare you off, you’ll buy this Beemmer. The cars in the competition noted below really aren’t comparable because none are convertibles, but they’re the closest I have.

The competition:

Acura TL $28,400-30,400, Audi A4 $23,990-28,790, Cadillac Catera $31,010, Infiniti I30 $29,465-31,540, Lexus ES 300 $31,505, Lincoln LS $31,415-35,290, Mercedes Benz C Class $31,750-53,000, Saab 9-3 $26,100-44,995, Volvo S40 $23,400.

Good News:

You gotta love this car because it’s clean and elegant. Smooth, fast and handles extremely well when you get moving on the highway, lots of nice features. Great one button top control. Well priced.

Bad News:

Slow off the line was bothersome, limited cargo area because of the top down apparatus.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 170 horsepower inline 6 cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, front and side airbags, power ABS disc brakes, traction control, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, power seats, radio with cassette.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 24 Highway MPG.


MSRP  $34,990.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

Copyright ©1998 – Automotive Love Affair

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