I’m not sure what it is, but lately I’ve fallen out of love a bit with most BMWs from the last 15 years or so. I think a lot of it is the continual business travel abroad that I do, always seeing and riding in interesting Italian, French and miscellaneous machines that we can’t buy new here in the US market. In my drive to be different, I usually buy my clothes outside of the US, but sadly, I can not do this with cars. What to do then? Create something yourself, such as this 1976 BMW 2002 with the 2.7 liter inline-6 eta engine swapped in for sale in California. It’s rather interesting that someone decided to swap in the longer stroke economy engine, as it’s not the usual go-to engine for a 2002 swap. But the overall package is quite pleasing.
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By the late 1990s, it was becoming increasingly difficult for tuners to compete with the stock offerings. Tightening emissions and safety regulations made getting turned up models harder to sneak past inspection, while simultaneously manufacturers were producing hotter models. The 540i is a great example, and you don’t need to look much further than the conundrum of the E34 M5 versus the various 540i Sport and especially M-Sport models. While the aluminum V8 may not have had the horsepower of the M5 model but only just, it had more usable torque and was (theoretically, at least) cheaper to run. It was so good, in fact, that supposedly when it came to the E39 model BMW was unsure if a M5 would be necessary in our market. So, it would seem to be the natural and easy choice to modify, right? Well, not so fast – because signature tuner Alpina had a problem. Its tried and true method of increasing displacement wouldn’t work on the M62 because you couldn’t bore out the special Nic/Alusil coated blocks. Game over, right? No. If you’re Alpina, you call up BMW and get them to make you a bigger motor:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Alpina B10 V8 on Vancouver Craigslist
Hot on the heels of Craig’s Mugello Blue RS4 Cabriolet, I spotted this Mugello Red M3 that looked quite familiar. A 1994 model, it’s a full European specification 286 horsepower car, meaning it’s the E36 that you wanted but BMW decided was too expensive to import. Back in 2014 when I first looked at this car was it a reserve auction, but as of now the first bid at $12,500 will get it. The current seller has taken a gamble with the no reserve auction format, but no information provided means the buyer would also be rolling the dice if you didn’t have the earlier description we do below. With only 4,000 more miles accrued, this hotter M3 is in above average condition with below average mileage and quite desirable package overall that is very affordable.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW M3 Euro-spec on eBay
The below post originally appeared on our site October 12, 2014:
Since joining GCFSB, I’ve resisted the temptation to write up an E30, mostly out of irritation at the overbaked market for the 80s era 3-series. Although we’ve recently featured some nice examples on the site, I’m tired of seeing so many rusted out, half-finished projects for sale with unreasonable price tags attached. And while there are some admittedly well-preserved and desirable cars out there, I can only stare at $150k M3s for so long before becoming bored. What traditionally made the E30 such an attractive proposition was that it offered all the best features of a sporty German sedan – a sorted chassis, a zippy motor and a manual gearbox – for not a lot of money. But as their prices have climbed upwards, so that even tired examples are no longer very cheap, the allure of the E30 has faded, at least for me.
I’ve relented, however, for the sake of this example. That’s because it’s so nice to see such an apparently clean, well-preserved and original E30 on the market. The price isn’t too bad either.