2006 BMW M3 Competition Package with 11,600 Miles

2006 BMW M3 Competition Package with 11,600 Miles

To me, this M3 is a very interesting counterpoint to yesterday’s RS6. Many aspects are the same; pristine original condition, lower mileage, mid-2000s leading edge performance car.

It’s there where the similarities end.

While the RS6 represented the stepping over a threshold of performance into a war of escalation, the E46 M3 was, in many ways, BMW’s equivalent of the Porsche 993. It was the ultimate development of the normally aspirated inline-6, and to many (this author included), it was the best of the breed.

The third generation M3 is simply a marvel. It took the basic layout of its predecessor and improved essentially every aspect. The E36 wasn’t aggressive looking enough? Fixed. The motor wasn’t the technical marvel that was the European version? Fixed that, too. And the build quality and plastic materials in the second generation were a bit lacking? Solved that one, as well.

Are there drawbacks to the E46? Sure, it only came in two-door guise. There are also some known weaknesses in the chassis, like the subframe problems that can be a costly repair. The S54 is also a more expensive motor to repair than the S50/52 had been, and requires more maintenance (and, super costly oil).

But enough gripes, because while there isn’t a collector market for 2000s Audis, the E46 never really went through the dip in value that the E36 did. Prime examples have always demanded strong money and appear to be on the rise, with several notable auctions recently hammering for ever increasing numbers. Today’s example comes from the end of the line for the E46, and is about as desirable as they come to market. One of 2943 A08 Silvergray Metallic coupes imported, it has the desirable N51M Imola leather interior, the even more desirable 6-speed manual transmission and equally sought ZCP Competition package, and it’s only traveled a reported 11,600 miles since new.…

Feature Listing: 1995 BMW M3

Feature Listing: 1995 BMW M3

The U.S. version of the E36 chassis Motorsport offering has steadily begun to emerge from its “also ran” position in the category of favored M products. It has languished in value since the introduction of its replacement, the wildly popular and more aggressive E46 M3. Long derided for being a bit too cost-conscience of BMW, the reality is that the car that came to the U.S. might have been a bit better.

Yes, I just said that.

It is true that the North American M3 made due with a less powerful and certainly much less exotic motor. The U.S. S50, based upon the 325i’s M50, displaced the same 3 liters as the European S50B30, but the two differed in nearly all other aspects. Only items like the oil filter are shared between the models; in Euro guise, the engine sang with individual throttle bodies. The engine also sported the trick continuously variable VANOS system to optimize performance. After finally being convinced to bring the second generation M3 to North America, the news came down that the western-bound motor would be less exotic; static VANOS, lower compression, and no individual throttle bodies.

Frustrated though enthusiasts may have been to not be getting the “true” model, many were just happy it was coming here at all. But the amazing thing was what the USA motor offered. At 240 horsepower, it was indeed 46 down on the European cousin. Yet other numbers told a different story; torque was nearly the same between the two, as was weight, and the real advantage of the Euro motor was only quite high in the rev range. That meant acceleration in the real world was effectively identical between Euro and USA models. Sure, you lost a bit of top speed – but where in the U.S. were you hitting 155, anyway?…

2002 BMW M3

2002 BMW M3

My dad’s E46 M3 was by far and away the best car he ever owned (though I guess that’s not saying much, since he mostly owned Fords). It was a convertible and, as a result, the chassis was somewhat compromised – the dash would shake at the slightest provocation from a pothole. Still, it was a great car, mostly because it was such a perfect all-rounder. It was fast, handled like a precision instrument and looked sufficiently aggressive without being too shouty. It was also very practical. If you took it down to the shops to pick up a pint of milk, and resisted the temptation to mash the throttle, it could be a very docile car to drive. But if you did open it up, the sound of that 3.2 liter straight six was pretty incredible. There’s nothing else I’ve heard that’s quite like it. It wasn’t a growl. It was a rasp, a sinister, menacing one. I hope that one day I’ll own one too.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M3 on eBay

Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

I’ve assembled another group of auctions that are all no reserve and should give us a good glimpse into several classic (or soon to be) models. This group is oriented more towards driver-quality cars, as many of the no reserve auctions often are. Still, there are some strong deals to be had if you look…

Click for Details: 1999 Porsche Boxster

I know, the Boxster isn’t for everyone. But the 986 brought Porsche into a new age of success and offered a lightweight, driver-oriented and simple, no-frills convertible to the masses. They were reasonably affordable new, but are quickly becoming the cheapest way into Porsche ownership full stop. While they’re not without their issues, this particular car is a nice color combination and has the dreaded IMS bearing resolved. The accident history and lack of a “S” on the back will keep bidding modest, but right now this car could you yours for $6,000.

Click for Details: 1976 Volkswagen Van Westfalia

The mid-1970s Volkswagen Vans weren’t the most popular in the run. Today, they take a firm third-fiddle to the more popular later Vanagons and classic earlier Sambas. Yet look past the model year, and you’ll have vansportation for a much more modest budget. This one has undergone a light restoration and looks like a nice driver and weekend van. Bidding is still under $10,000 – for reference, less than the Samba heap we linked last time.

Click for Details: 1966 Volkswagen Squareback

If a bit more classic Volkswagen is your style, how about this clean survivor Squareback? It’s not going to be perfect (*few are!) but with Beetle and Karmann Ghia prices on a sharp rise, the Type III lineup is suddenly the budget option. Bidding here is still below $6,000 with a few hours to go.

Click for Details: 2001 BMW 740iL

Last week it was a sub-$6,000 E32 740iL, but today we’ve got the more popular replacement.…

Double Dose of Insanity: 1988 BMW M3 v. 1994 BMW 325i

Double Dose of Insanity: 1988 BMW M3 v. 1994 BMW 325i

In my usual searches I had an interesting dichotomous reaction to one number: $16,500.

The first I came across was a 1988 BMW M3 with a no reserve auction bid up to $16,500. “Wow! That’s actually pretty reasonable! I thought. Next, I saw a 1994 BMW 325i with a ‘Buy It Now’ of the exact same $16,500. “What the hell is the seller thinking?!? How absolutely ridiculous!” I scoffed.

Yet, neither car was as it originally seemed once the descriptions were opened, and suddenly a comparison was in order…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 on eBay

Feature Listing: 1981 BMW 745i Turbo with 31,700 Miles

Feature Listing: 1981 BMW 745i Turbo with 31,700 Miles

To go up against the established Alpha executive from Germany – the S-Class Mercedes-Benz – BMW’s engineers had to think outside of the box. It wasn’t simply good enough to mimic the go-to large luxury sedan. They’d have to outperform it, to be better than Stuttgart’s best. That was a tall order for the Munich firm, since its last truly large sedans were the 501/2 series cars; the Baroque Angels of the early 1950s. Though they launched at roughly the same time as BMW’s microcar craze, they were really holdovers from another era. The same wouldn’t work in the late 1970s, but primed with the success of their 5- and 6-series models, BMW was ready to face the challenge.

Though the E3 had offered a sizeable sedan, the new E23 really stretched BMW’s platforms. The new 7-seres was 6 inches longer overall, most of which fell in a longer wheelbase versus the E3. It was also wider by a few inches and lower, too. Paul Bracq again provided the styling and it was nothing surprising; it carried the torch of many of the design elements of the 3-, 5- and 6-series cars, and that certainly wasn’t a bad thing. But what BMW hoped would help to set it apart from the competition was technology and performance, along with a high-level of material quality in the cabin. Options included Buffalo leather, an on-board computer system, anti-lock brakes, heated and reclining power seats front and rear, and even an airbag late in the run; standard fare today, but way ahead of the curve in the late 1970s and early 1980s. BMW matched this technology with a thoroughly modern driver-oriented cockpit which made the W116 Mercedes-Benz competition feel immediately antiquated.

Where the E23 really established itself, though, was in keeping with the “driving machine” motto of the company.…

1992 BMW 316i Touring

1992 BMW 316i Touring

The US-market never received the touring (wagon) version of the E30 3-series. But these cars are now old enough to import under the 25 year rule, which means you can find a steady trickle of these popping up on eBay for sale over here, and various accounts of enthusiasts’ attempts to bring them over. And no wonder: the E30 estate is a handsome and utilitarian looking car, practical and quite stylish.

The E30 was offered in Europe with a wider range of engines than we received here, so there a variety of different longroof options to choose from.  There were two four cylinder models (a 1.6 liter and a 1.8 liter), two six cylinder models (a 2.0 liter and 2.5 liter, with the latter also being available in “iX,” all wheel drive spec), and a 2.4 liter naturally aspirated diesel inline six. This particular car is a 316i, the entry level model. While the car is currently located in Germany, it’s being advertised on US eBay to tempt American E30 fans with a taste for forbidden fruit.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 BMW 316i Touring on eBay

1988 BMW M6 with 32,000 Miles

1988 BMW M6 with 32,000 Miles

What is the price for perfection? That’s a difficult question to answer, but increasingly when it comes to 1980s cars, the level of preservation, originality and lower miles in low-production, desirable models has translated into quite an exacting price. Yet while lofty asking prices have become the norm on many of the hottest performance models from the 1980s, are their figures always justified?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M6 on eBay

1984 BMW 745i

1984 BMW 745i

The 745i was the high performance version of the E23 7-series. Produced between 1979-1986, these autobahn stormers were never officially offered in the US. But committed, well-resourced buyers were able to bring them over via the gray market, which is presumably how this one ended up here. Powered by a turbocharged version of the 3.2 or (later) the 3.4 liter M30 inline six – at a time when BMW’s competitors were using V8s and V12s – these cars came from the factory with a 3-speed automatic gearbox. But this particular example has received a 5-speed manual swap, along with a whole host of other goodies. I don’t normally post heavily modified cars, but this one seemed too interesting to ignore.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 BMW 745i on eBay

2001 BMW 740iL

2001 BMW 740iL


The E38 7-series is a firm favorite around these parts, a throwback to the pre-Bangle era in BMW styling’s department, before things got all fussy and bloated. With its angular lines and restrained, good looks, the E38 is a bit like a bouncer in a bespoke suit: brawny but sophisticated looking. Given that many of them were pressed into service as executive transportation, it’s not surprising they mostly appear in subdued colors like black, silver or gray. But every now and again a more adventurously colored car pops up, like this low-mileage example for sale in California.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 740iL on eBay

Imola Overload: 2004 BMW M3

Imola Overload: 2004 BMW M3

I’ll admit that I seem to be unnaturally drawn to yellow M3s. I can trace that back to the launch of the E36 and the twin Dakar Yellow examples that turned up at Watkins Glen International for a HPDE; like a newborn, I was apparently imprinted upon them. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like other colors, though, and this Imola Red example certainly caught my attention. It ticked the right boxes; post-LCI example, low miles, 6-speed, great condition and a fantastic exterior color with the optional Fuchs 19″ Style 67 forged alloys. But even more impressive when scrolling through the images was the interior shade of matching Imola Red leather. Who would have ordered such a specification when the majority of new M3 purchasers were considerably more conservative? The answer was a bit surprising:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW M3 on eBay

Real or Replica: 1988 BMW 320is v. 1991 BMW 318is S14

Real or Replica: 1988 BMW 320is v. 1991 BMW 318is S14

We’ve been witness to an interesting trend over the past few years in the E30 lineup, as manic pricing increases have rivaled the Porsche 911’s market stardom in a smaller audience. For the most part, outrageous bids have been limited in the general enthusiast world to the M3; but within the E30 sphere of influence, outstanding examples of each particular model have reached astonishing levels of pricing. Just the other day, a Hodge-podge of parts assembled on a 325i hit $19,000 on a no reserve auction. Granted, it was a good-looking example, but it shows the massive swing in values of the highly desirable platform.

Today I have an interesting comparison to consider. Like the $19,000 example linked above, one of the models I have here is admittedly not original. However, it’s the swap that is very interesting, as the builder managed to source and stuff a M3’s S14 power plant into a 318i, bringing with it the brake and wheel upgrades. Of course, BMW also did this themselves in the Portugal and Italian-market 320is – coincidentally, one of which is also on eBay at the same time. What does the market look like on these two shining examples of 4-cylinder fun?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 320is on eBay

1992 BMW M5 Euro 3.8

1992 BMW M5 Euro 3.8

It really does feel as though the market is finally waking up to the E34 M5, as values on nicer examples continue to climb. Bring a Trailer recently sold a U.S. spec ’93 with only 14,000 miles for what seems like a staggering $68,000! As they should have, considering the package. The E34 is a surprisingly great driver’s car, even in non-M guise. But in full blown M5 spec, it’s sublime, a throwback to an era of hand-built sport sedans that offer a satisfying analog driving experience. To make it, BMW sent the regular E34 chassis from the production line at Dingolfing over the geniuses at M GmbH in Garching, who dropped in the screaming, six cylinder S38 motor with six individual throttle bodies. In US-spec form, the 3.6 liter motor put out just over 300 hp, although a larger, 3.8 liter unit became available in Europe from 1991 onwards, which increased power output to 335 hp. The 3.8 never reached US shores by official channels, though these cars are now old enough to be imported without the need for expensive modification

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 BMW M5 3.8 on eBay

1999 BMW M3 Convertible

1999 BMW M3 Convertible

The E36 M3 is frequently regarded as the awkward middle child between the classic E30 and the accomplished, grown-up E46. As a result, it doesn’t usually command the kind of values attached to its older and younger siblings. But I think that one day, mint examples of these cars – which are increasingly thin on the ground – will be sought after as classics. The E36’s “dolphin” bodyshape marks an important transition point in BMW’s design history, as the angular lines of the 80s would begin to give way to the rounder, softer shapes of the late 90s and early 00s. The trademark four round headlights are still there, but now set back behind glass panels, and the dual kidneys are now more gently integrated into the front nose, all for the sake of aerodynamic efficiency. The M3, available during this period as a coupe, sedan and convertible, was externally distinguishable from the standard model range only by more aggressive front and rear valances, revised side skirts, and rounder side mirrors. But under the hood was a spritely and free-revving 3.2 liter inline six powerplant. Infamously down on power in comparison with the Euro market S50, the S52 motor in the US-spec car was nonetheless good for about 240 hp and, when combined with the lithe chassis and sharp manual transmission, made for a lively and fun car to drive. The E36 M3 may not have been an out-and-out track monster like its predecessor, but it was fast (for its time), practical and easy to live with on a day-to-day basis.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW M3 on San Francisco Craigslist

Double Take: 2001 and 2002 BMW M5 Dinan S2s

Double Take: 2001 and 2002 BMW M5 Dinan S2s

“Dinan’s latest work of art, he has not only fixed a car that wasn’t broken but also sought to perfect a car that everyone considers to be as close to perfection as is humanly possible: the BMW M5”, Car and Driver wrote in 2002. Dinan had, at that point, already made a reputation for themselves as the premier BMW tuner in the United States to the point where they became offered straight from the dealer. Considering that’s just occurred for Alpina here, the endorsement of the level of engineering from the California firm was resounding. Yet that is in part because Dinan’s modifications are far from just slapping a badge and some wheels on a car and calling it done. Take, for example the M5 S2.

Dinan took what many considered to be a very highly developed 4.9 liter V8 in the S62 and went old-school to up the power; and up it a lot, he did. There was no supercharger or turbocharging here; revised intake and enlarged velocity stacks were met on the other end with tubular headers and a bespoke exhaust. Each throttle body’s bore was increased, too. These changes required a reflash of the computer, but were both lighter and more powerful. As in 76 horsepower more. That’s the best part of a 20% gain on a motor that many considered to be close to peak performance! Dinan further upgraded the suspension, brakes, wheels, and final drive, along with adding a lighter flywheel. As a result, the new S2 was, well, about 20% better than the already awesome M5. But that perfection cost, and it was more than a 20% increase. A lot more.

On top of the M5’s $73,400, if you wanted a fully spec’d out S2 you’d tack on $36,000 to the price. For that amount, you could have grabbed a nice 330Ci in addition to your standard M5!…