Not all M3 racers are the same, though as the saying goes it’s tough to judge a book by its cover. Looking at today’s 1995 M3 one could suggest right off the bat that it looks well built but not appreciably different than most other track-ready E36 M3s that come to the market. But it’s what is underneath that really separates this M3 – one that bucks the suggestion that beauty is only skin deep. That’s because this example is one of the reported 197 M3s produced by BMW Motorsport GmbH specifically for racing when new. They were sold to the likes of dealers and well-to-dos for Group N competition – effectively, a “Showroom Stock” level of racing. But these M3s were anything but stock as they were delivered in component form to dealerships to be built by the racer in the specification that they required. Number 136 has an interesting career, having originally been raced by Frick Motorsport in the Austrian Touring Car Championship by notable BMW factory driver Dieter Quester. BMW even went so far as to have models made of the car, liveried in Red Bull colors and wearing number 3. Since then it was turned into a privateer racer where it has consistently been, rather unsurprisingly, a front runner:
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Well, folks, I have a new all-time favorite E32. Last time I made that claim it was a beautiful black on black example with M-Parallels and a nice front spoiler. I’ve long been a fan of Alpina’s recent B7s and think they’ve made the last two generations of 7-series much more attractive. Same thing here, with the often-frumpy E32 getting the full Alpina treatment with more power, a great front spoiler, and the classic striping. And the wheels, the evergreen, always gorgeous 20-spoke wheels. The 5.0-liter V12 gets much more than just a chip treatment, with higher-compression pistons and lots of valve work bringing the power from 300hp to 350hp. Lots of show, lots of go, this is a kickass 7-series.
Click for details: 1990 Alpina B12 5.0 on eBay
Rightly so, I’ve been accused of comparing everything to BMWs – so for today’s 10K Friday, I thought why not compare BMWs to BMWs? Part of the reason I compare various cars I write up to the alternative BMW products is because for some time they have been considered the benchmark, and their popularity from new to the used classic market means that they set the pricing trends against which others can be judged. That’s especially true of the 3 series; for some time, the go-to performance product from Germany, increasingly many earlier generations of the 3 are being viewed as not only collectable, but indeed as investments. So, what does your $10,000 budget buy these days? I’ve rounded up five examples from the first five generations, covering nearly every configuration the small executive platform has been available in. Which is the winner?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW 320is on eBay
As E30 Touring imports pick up some steam, we get to see a wider variety of the wagon offerings the rest of the world has known about for over 25 years. We’ve seen the base-model 318i up to the rare all-wheel drive 325ix, each providing a sharp package with fun driving dynamics while enabling hauls that a standard trunk could never hope to handle. With many examples coming from the right-hand-drive UK, you have to decide if such a great overall package is worth the brain reorganization necessary to appropriately traverse our LHD roads.
This is one of those bassackwards drivers but brings a very distinct look thanks to a rare (especially on wagons) M-Tech body kit normally present only on the ix models, complementing the E30’s clean top lines with fender flares, exaggerated front and rear valences, and side skirts. 16″ Style 5 wheels help fill those enlarged fenders resulting in an overall package that looks both clean and aggressive. The automatic transmission is the other main detraction besides RHD, but we’ve forgiven autos on great-looking E34 wagons in favor of good looks and utility, so why not do the same here?
Click for details: 1989 BMW 325i Touring on eBay
The E34 BMW 530i might not be the enthusiast choice in terms of a fast 5er, but looking over this low mileage example, I can’t help but thinking how honest this car is in its mission. Sure, this one has a whole lot of grey going on, but its appearance could best be described as tasteful. And while the M60 V8 produces a nominal amount of horsepower in comparison to today’s engines (218 bhp), you still have plenty of power and a nice eight cylinder to go along with it. Many of the new BMWs are just a bit too radical for my tastes in terms of styling, but there wasn’t a BMW I met that I didn’t like back in the 1990s, including the E34. While the E39 is certainly a favorite, the styling here is just a bit more crisp in nature and a good balance of old and new when it came to BMWs of the era.