Cool story which very closely matches my own experience but with a 2003 E46 330i Touring, or station wagon in American. This is my best ever daily driver. The similarity extends to me having driven a 2002 tii a couple of decades back, although it was a bit tail happy for my liking.
I think the 330i is perfect. Comfortable, reasonably fast, torquey, great sound when you press on, nothing rattles and the up-spec tan interior has that satisfying BMW solidity about it. And much better than more modern cars, it lets you do things in the order you want, without any annoying beeps or buzzes or lockouts.
It also had flat-spotted tyres and juddery brakes, which might have put other prospective buyers off and helped me knock $1000 off the asking price. I replaced the rear tyres which were nearly done anyway and that got rid of the rumble. But instead of replacing the rotors, I replaced the pads and did a series of 10 hard-braking moves which cleaned up the discs. It’s very rare for discs to actually need skimming or replacing. People get told their discs are warped but that almost never happens in normal use. They just get pad material stuck to them, which you can scrape off as above.
I also replaced the lower control arms bushes (they were shot), replaced coolant header tank, all filters and all fluids. Mine’s an auto. They supposedly have ‘lifetime’ oil but that apparently means 100,000 miles. Mine had done 70,000, so I replaced it. The gearbox oil filter was pretty filthy. Some people have found changing the oil in a healthy autobox has led to problems with the box, but I was careful to select BMW recommended oil (Fuchs) and after another 10,000 miles its been as silky smooth as ever.
The only glitch - the passenger’s side wing mirror doesn’t respond to adjustment, but now I’ve pushed it into the right position I have no need to ever adjust it again anyway, so it remains unfixed.