What’s the best deal going amongst BMW M cars? One could certainly argue that it must be the E34 M5. With the classic and refined looks of the third generation 5 series comes both great build quality and legendary reliability that helped to solidify BMW’s place in the luxury market today. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that there was an equally legendary series of engines under the hood, and without a doubt the shining star of that lineup and the model range indeed was the M5 with the original S38 motor screaming its last song. Despite the rush on all things M from the 1980s and general good shape that many of the E34 Ms appear in, they’re also generally quite affordable compared to the rest of the examples of BMW Motorsport’s influence. Part of that was that the package didn’t stand out quite as much as either the E28 or E39 M5 did. It was subtle, understated and almost whisper quiet in its delivery of a performance package; out of the box, it even almost looked like it had white wall tires due to the unique two-piece M-System wheels. To solve the perceived lack of gusto compared to the competition, one could turn to BMW specialist Dinan to turn up their luxury rocket ride to 11:
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Much of my affinity for BMW’s Estoril Blue was my introduction to it on my friend’s father’s E36 M3 sedan. It was part of the car’s identity, always referred to as “the Blue car” and perfectly supporting the E36 M3’s understated aggression with a hue that is gorgeous but not extreme. Techno Violet may carry a more intimidating name, but it serves a similar purpose in the BMW palette. It shines a deep, gorgeous purple, but is neither garish nor loud. The E36 M3 sedan is one of my favorite performance values – maybe not moreso than the E39 5-series, but available for even less money.
Today’s M3 looks well cared-for, with just one large blemish: a rust spot in the rear fender from a “low-speed slide into a guard rail,” aka someone hit the gas too hard in the rain. Beyond that, the maintenance records, clean interior, and restrained upgrades (Dinan suspension and chip are no-brainers) make for a high-mileage M3 that’s worth taking seriously. With a Buy-It-Now of under $6,500, it’s clear the seller is serious about selling it, too.
Click for details: 1998 BMW M3 Sedan on eBay
When did the BMW tuning crowd become the new Volkswagen tuning crowd? I must have missed the memo, but it appears that it certainly went out. In my search for modified cars, I come across quite a few; it seems that for every well modified car, though, there are a few examples that leave you wanting for more. More attention to detail, more refined taste, and in some cases more money spent. That money doesn’t have to be spent poorly – we’ve seen, for example, cars which aren’t the best examples but have great photographs somehow be more desirable than good examples with bad photos. Heck, in one Volkswagen post I even pointed out how the seller was at a car wash (and photographed the car there being washed – a new, and also completely pointless, Volkswagen tuning crowd trend) but then failed to vacuum the car out. Well, it would seem that some of the hallmarks of the Volkswagen crowd are spilling out into the all-too-popular 1980s BMW bandwagon. List out loud the details of this E28 and you’ll have the enthusiasts drooling; Zinnoberrot 535is with black leather, Brembo brakes, M-System II throwing stars, Bilstein and Racing Dynamics suspension, Alpina cam and cluster, and a custom 400 horsepower M30 under the hood. But in this case, I don’t think the result is greater than the sum of the parts:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 535is Turbo on eBay
Tavarish’s recent Jalopnik post regarding the performance bargain available in the E39 540i solidified many of my car-brain’s transient thoughts. The 540i is a serious looker, with the E39’s grace and nearly all of the M5’s aggression. They are plentiful around the interwebs, but this example caught my eye with a host of Dinan upgrades, low mileage, and a 6-speed transmission. The Dinan supercharger pushes power slightly above the S62’s with plenty of drivetrain and chassis modifications to keep up. It may not quite trigger that special ///M response, but it will get you 99% of the way there while costing half of what a similar M5 would. At just over $10k, you’ll be hard pressed to find more performance per dollar, let alone in a car that looks this good.
Click for details: 1998 BMW 540i Dinan on Craigslist SF Bay Area
I posted a couple of Laguna Seca Blue E46 M3s yesterday that looked like they were owned and modded by a couple of similarly-minded fanboys. Today, we’ll shift gears and look at one of the most tastefully and maturely modified E46s out there (chrome exhaust surround notwithstanding). Carter featured this car for Tuner Tuesday earlier in the month and it’s received the full Dinan treatment, earning enough points via supercharger, exhaust, suspension, and more to get the official Dinan badge. The badges sit on a custom and beautiful red paint job, with CSL nods in the wheels and trunk spoiler. It has only covered 40k miles in its 10 years and was honored with the cover of BMWCCA’s “Roundel” magazine a couple years back. The seller says its “generally considered to be one of finest E46 M3 in the country,” and it’s hard to argue against that.