Considering Convertibles E36 v. E46 v SAAB 9-3
Now that my kids enjoy the wind in their hair, I am thinking of selling my A4 Avant and getting a well-loved convertible. Trying to stay under $10K, so am looking at both E36, and E46. It needs to be a daily driver and reliable. The BMW appeals due to reputation for driving dynamics, The SAAB 9-3 appeals for practical issues such as cargo/trunk, and bigger backseat, and better bang for initial buck. That being said, my kids are small (6 & 8). Just gleaning so far on Edmunds and MSN, it seems that reliability is close based on their broad brush data, it looks like the '96 is a good year.
Are these motors timing chains or belts? What is the service interval? Are there other major maintenance items or achilles heals to watch for?
What is your two cents, on the following:
E36 v early E46?
3-series v. SAAB 9-3?