In the UK, where I grew up, the E46 3-series was available with a Sport package from 2001 onwards. This added M-Tech suspension, an M-Tech II bodykit, sport seats, steering wheel and “M V-Spoke” Style 72 alloys (later replaced by style 135s). The revised bumpers and spoilers definitely lent the car a more aggressive, sporting edge and considerably enhanced the overall look of the car. The package, officially renamed from “Sport” to “M Sport” in 2005, proved immensely popular throughout the E46 production run. As a result, the UK used market is filled with relatively cheap examples. Not so in the US. When I moved here, I soon discovered that the American E46 did not receive the same package until 2003, and only then on the 330i/330ci models. Known here as the ZHP or “Performance Package,” this added all of the aforementioned upgrades plus redesigned camshafts and a remapped engine computer, supposedly bringing power to 235 hp (10 hp more than standard models). Ticking this option box added nearly $4,000 to the cost of the car, making ZHP-equipped models relatively uncommon. As a result, when used examples do crop up they seem to command a considerable price premium.
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$65,000 for an E36? “Bullsh*t!“, most of you are probably saying. That money should be reserved for true classics or brand new models. Heck, you can get a perfect condition, lightly used M4 for $65,000 even in a cool color. But anyone can walk down to a dealer and get a brand new car. You’re an enthusiast, which means you enjoy the purgatory of older car ownership. Few of your non-automobile related friends understand why you like old, smelly, slow, uncomfortable, often in need of repair hunks of metal and plastic. “It’s just a car”, they say. But it’s not just a car to you – it’s an identity, a feeling, a Joie de vivre those who don’t know will never have. It doesn’t matter that they don’t understand, because you understand. So you take that $65,000 that you could have spent on a brand new, ultra-flash and ultra-fast M4 but you don’t spend it on an ultra-obscure two decade-old E36, because they’re not worth that much – obviously. No, you instead spend it on a sure thing, a car that isn’t a flash in the pan, a recession-proof investment-grade BMW like….an E30?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Alpina B6 2.7 on eBay
It’s been more than a decade since the E60 BMW 5 series debuted and most will agree that time hasn’t been too kind to that design. Too often, what is radical and forward thinking at a certain time becomes another man’s dated design a few years down the road. For many, however, the E39 5 series was the watershed for BMW’s mid-sized sedan. It brought us one of the most beloved M5s of all, packing a 4.9 liter V8 mated exclusively to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Offered in both sedan and Touring format with a wide range of engines, the bread and butter model would be the 530i, which could be optioned with a Sport Package for those looking to tart up their ride with some M bits, tighter suspension and more aggressive wheel and tire package. This 530i for sale in Arizona looks sharp in monochromatic Royal Red with the Style 66 alloy wheels.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 530i on eBay
You’re not going to buy this M3. It’s not because of lack of desire; certainly, a limited run European-specification Canadian Edition M3 is already a very hot commodity. Further upping the ante was the BMW Individual “Giallo” yellow color, slightly different than the standard specification Dakar Yellow. While that may seem like a strange choice, it was what the original buyer of this already very expensive ($60,000 in 1994, about $90,000 today) ordered – and that choice made this particular car the only out of production color in the run of 45. Obviously, since they cared a lot about their prized Euro M3, miles are super low and condition is effectively near perfect. But you’re not going to purchase this car, not because of the colors, or the miles, or the low production number, or even because it’s a Euro car. You’re not going to buy this E36 because the asking price is $65,000:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW M3 Canadian Edition on eBay
Along with the 2002, the New Six was BMW’s first attempts at branching out to buyers of other luxury vehicle brands, most notably their domestic rival, Mercedes-Benz. Comprised of the E3 sedan and E9 coupe, the New Six was a bit of a different animal than the competition from Stuttgart, aimed more at the driver than those who were seeking a more cosseting driving experience. A number of variants were offered, with the top of the range being the 3.3 Li. This long-wheelbase model packed a 3.3 liter inline-6 packing 190 horsepower and sharp handling that would put BMW on the map for those looking for a more engaging luxury sedan. This 3.3 Li for sale in Freiburg, Germany is one of a handful of these high-end E3s built, with barely 30,000 miles from new.