Finding a clean m series is a challenge, that's for sure.
Ask VRausch, he just got one, and he'll probablly tell you the same thing.
I am happy with what I found. I pretty much started from day one with gathering little parts and fluids to service the thing. It's an '02, and had just over 23k on the clock when I picked it up. Tons of maintenance records- mostly cosmetic stuff...
From a maintenance standpoint- It's a lot like the Galant (which I miss): All the little niggles will cost you if you don't sort them out. My approach- cut the maintenance intervals in 2 or 3... I love this car. It MOVES OUT when you want it to, and I'm seriously considering boosting it relatively soon. Wheels? Meh- It'll need more rubber with the added power, but until then the stockers are just fine. Parts, especially performance oriented ones, are indeed pricey for this thing, but there are ways of covering your *ss too. As an example: The VANOS system is a pricey bit to work on, the assembly is like 2k alone, and usually fails due to lack of oil caused by a $14 little filter and o-rings. That, along with the OEM fluid for the diff were the first two things done.
This car is addicting- VERY much like the Galant.
The galant is another similar animal, it's rather unique, not for everyone, and can be quite rewarding when you stay on top of the necessities. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif