The time has come for me to part ways with my E34, and I’m reluctantly putting it up for sale. As readers of my posts will know, I’ve been on the hunt for a W126 Benz for a while now. A lovely example has fallen into my lap, and living in DC without off-street parking makes keeping both cars impractical. Hence the sale. It would make me very happy if it went to a fellow enthusiast looking for a reliable and cheap commuter, so I’ve written it up for today’s post.
The E32 750iL is a bucket list sort of car. You know you probably shouldn’t buy one. But life is short and soon you will be dead. So why not? Everyone should own a V12 at least once in their lives. This may be one of the most affordable ways to do so, at least in terms of initial outlay. The E32’s design has aged well, and still commands an imposing presence when seen on the road today (an admittedly infrequent occurrence, since many now reside in junk yards). Taut, handsome, brutish and much more modern in appearance than the W126 S-class, the flagship was the 750. Available only in long-wheelbase iL form in the US, it was powered by the 5.0 liter V12 M70 motor also to be found in the 850i, good for about 300 hp. The engine itself is fairly stout. It’s the electrical components and control modules that will kill these cars. When they fail, they are absurdly expensive to replace. For that reason you can buy these cars very cheaply.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW 750iL on Greenville Craigslist…
Today is an interesting bag of updates for Hammertime; some great values of popular cars, and some extreme heights of prices for special examples. Leading the heights was the 1991 Volkswagen Golf Country Chrome Edition, charging nearly to $25,000 before bidding ceased. Not to be outdone, the ultimate build 1991 BMW 318iS went even higher to $31,200. The low mileage 944 Turbo S from last week hit $25,000, but then was relisted presumably after failed payment (or shill bidding) – I’ll keep an eye on that one. All paled in comparison to the ’68 Porsche 911L which traded hands for $75,000.
On the more reasonable end of the scale, popular Mercedes-Benz models shined. The ’95 E320 Estate went for under $5,000, the great ’83 300SD clocked $8,200, and the ’93 300CE $12,500. Values were also had in BMW, with the ’88 535i at $7,100 and the ’06 330Ci for $200 more. The 1992 Volkswagen GTI 16V hit a somewhat surprising $5,300, while it was no shock that the very nice Audi 80 quattro from the same year was had for the $2,300 Buy It Now.
Finally, the dice-rolling 6.3 Andrew wrote up made it to nearly $18,000, and Mercedes-Benz restoration facilities near the buyer immediately rejoiced.
1991 Volkswagen Golf Country Chrome – $24,800
1995 Mercedes-Benz E320 Estate – $4,900
1983 Mercedes-Benz 300SD – $8,200
1969 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 – $17,890
1991 BMW 318iS – $31,200
2006 BMW 330Ci – $7,300
1992 Audi 80 quattro – $2,300
1988 BMW 535i – $7,100
1968 Porsche 911L – $75,000
1992 Volkswagen GTI 16V – $5,300
1993 Mercedes-Benz 300CE – $12,500
I don’t usually post newer cars, preferring to write about 80s and 90s machinery instead. That’s because I think many new cars are bloated in looks and overburdened with technologies that blunt the driving experience. But there are a few modern cars for which I’m willing to make an exception, like the E82 135iS. Offered in the US for the 2013 model year only (to make up for the absence of the recently departed, limited edition 1M coupe), the “iS” package added M-sport suspension and bumpers to the 135i, while a tune to the 3.0 liter N55 twin-turbo engine bumped power output to 320 hp (an increase of 20 hp over the standard car). Though some find the E82 a bit stubby, I love the look of the car, with its short wheelbase and squat, compact styling, while the hydraulic steering setup offers a relatively old school, connected driving experience. Sure, it’s not quite the unadulterated formula of BMWs of yore (6 naturally-aspirated cylinders, 5 speeds, 3 pedals) but it comes pretty close, and I think the E82 is a closer spiritual successor to the E30 than any contemporary 3-series.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 BMW 135iS on eBay…
As I’ve said before, I usually try to stay away from regurgitation of material. However, there were a few reasons to look at this European specification M3 one more time.
I’ve recently featured a string of Canadian Edition E36 M3s with some sticker shock for fans of the traditionally affordable chassis. The first was a Hellrot model in August with a $35,000 asking price. That car, to my knowledge, failed to trade hands because though it was actively bid upon, the reserve was never lifted in the mid 20K range. The next stunner was the Individual Giallo car in September, which broke predictions at the $65,000 mark. I looked at another Dakar model in November hoping to capitalize on those high asks, with a reported sticker price close to $30,000. It, too, failed to break the reserve.
The traditional, and very valid, argument to paying high prices for these cars is that they’re essentially just a stock Euro model with a number attached to them. Why not just import a much cheaper and more plentiful example of those then? To that point I had twice looked at a non-Canadian Edition but European specification ’94.
This Mugello Red model originally came to our site in October, 2014. With about 83,000 miles and in generally good condition, it was certainly a unique and appealing alternative to the normal M3. It popped back up in June of 2016 with a few more miles, poor photography and a little more wear. It was also boldly offered with no reserve, though the auction ended with an “error in the listing”; eBay seller speak for the bidding not heading in the direction they were hoping.
Well, here it is again. This time, it is listed by the same seller as the Giallo car. It’s been cleaned up and has some great photography.…
With its shark nosed, classically cool styling the E28 is a firm favorite among fans of 80s BMWs, but it’s the M5 and 535iS variants that get most of the attention. It’s not hard to see why. The M5 based on this platform was one of the first super sedans, laying down the classic formula for all modern Q-ships: supreme performance packaged in a stealthy, unassuming exterior. Meanwhile the 535iS appealed to those who wanted a bit of flash but couldn’t quite afford the full cream M-car, and was really just a 535i with firmer suspension, bodykit and sport seats. That isn’t a bad thing. The underlying car, introduced as a range-topper in 1984, was a winner, marrying the bulletproof M30 3.4 liter straight six engine (good for about 182 hp, in US emissions restricted form) with a tractable and responsive chassis. A regular 535i with a manual gearbox therefore offers a fun and relatively affordable alternative to the more expensive E28s out there.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 535i on eBay…
The E21. By far, it is the 3-series we feature least frequently (barring new models). In U.S. trim, it is also by far the least sporting 3-series. But don’t throw the baby BMW out with the bath water, because it’s still a classic BMW, it looks nice and it’s quite affordable relative to some other hyperbolic models.
For one, I really like the E21. I’ve even enjoyed driving a few. Of course, never once did I think when driving one “You know what this needs? A M60 V8.” And certainly, even in the very unlikely scenario that idea sprang into my head, there’s no way I would have said “Right, now, off to Dinan to bump it out to 4.6 liters!”
But, if nothing else, this Golf Yellow example of an extreme E21 dispels the myth that they’re all underpowered?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 BMW 320i Dinan 4.6 on eBay…
Alex over at Car Throttle recently posted a neat video entitled “10 Things I’ve Learnt After 1 Year Of E36 M3 Ownership” (h/t to Jalopnik). He talks about lusting after the M3 as an “affordable dream car” only to find that, when he finally gets his hands on one, he doesn’t fall immediately in love with it. All is not lost however: after spending some time with the car (including a number of weekends in the garage spent fixing all the things that go wrong with it), he’s slowly won over by its charms as a car that’s equally at home on the track or loafing across great distances. While US market cars were famously “neutered” by a less powerful motor than the one offered in their European counterparts, even without individual throttle bodies the E36 M3 remains a relatively fast, fun and capable car that can be picked up for not too much money. Increasingly, the challenge is to find one that hasn’t been beat into the ground or saddled with hideous mods.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 on San Diego Craigslist…
In stock form the E46 330i sedan was already a brisk, practical and rewarding car to drive. A capable sport sedan for grown ups, if you will. But when specified with the $4,000 ZHP “Performance Package,” the 330i could be given a slightly harder edge that helped to make up for the lack of a four-door M3 in the E46 range (at least, a bit). Offering a mixture of cosmetic upgrades (M-Sport bodykit, 18″ M-Sport wheels and splashes of alcantara interior trim) and some mechanical reworking – firmer suspension, a remapped ECU and upgraded cams bringing power from the smooth 3.0 liter M54 engine to about 235 hp – ZHP equipped cars remain favorites among enthusiasts and tend to command strong money when they show up on the used market.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW 330i ZHP on Bimmerforums…
So much attention has been levied upon the BMW M Coupe that it’s easy to forget there was a non-M version of the E36/8. Equipped with the grunty, 190 horsepower dual-VANOS 24 valve M52/TU in front, a manual gearbox in the middle, and a standard sport differential in the rear, the Z3 Coupe offered high fun factor that wasn’t really present at the original launch of the model. The M52/TU lightened the load as well, swapping the M50 iron block for an aluminum one also seen in the contemporary E46 model. That was coupled with the dynamic shape of the “Clownshoe”; polarizing in looks, but hardly forgettable no matter your opinion. These have become niche cars that buck the traditional SUV-laden commute, yet are reasonably affordable and eminently practical as a daily driver:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW Z3 Coupe on eBay…
In an article I penned for The Truth About Cars last week, I covered some of the development of the Wedge Era and how those spectacular show car designs channeled their design language down to more pedestrian models. One of the stars of that article were the cutting-edge looks from Giugiaro’s ItalDesign – the firm, and man, responsible for some of your favorites such as the basic shape for the Audi Quattro. But while the Quattro launched its brand into the luxury realm and redefined the 80s, the undisputed German star of the wedgey wonders was the BMW M1.
Like the Quattro, the M1 redefined and refined BMW’s core mission, helping to launch the Motorsport division along with the 3.0 CSL and 2002 Turbo. While Giugiaro had also had his hand in the M1’s design, the genesis of the shape lay in the much earlier Paul Bracq designed Turbo concept. Bracq, in turn, had undoubtedly been influenced by the late 1960s creations of both Giorgetto Giugiaro (at Ghia and ItalDesign) and Marcello Gandini (Bertone), as well as the efforts and splash rival Mercedes-Benz had made in 1969 with the C111 concept and record setter.
But while Daimler was hesitant to enter serial production with such a departure from their tried and true sedan designs, the M1 proved to be just the spark BMW was looking for to ignite the fire in driving enthusiast’s minds. It was, at the time, the Ultimate Driving Machine:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW M1 on eBay…
The BMW M3 was a massively successful car in terms of sales for the most recent chassis iterations. For the U.S. specification E46 Coupe, that meant some 26,202 were sold. Yet, when I was searching for a nice one to buy, finding a lower mileage, great condition and fully original car was extraordinarily hard. It wasn’t that they weren’t out there – pop on to EAG’s site, for example, and all you need to do is pony up. Pony way up, that is, as most of their E46 inventory is priced above $30,000. However, the delta between really exceptional examples and really poor examples of the model is substantial. Even when not in stock form, such as the 2001 I looked at a few weeks ago, the asking price can be quite strong. However, drop the miles way down and present the car in a rare color, such as this Topaz Blue Metallic example, and sprinkle with some top-dollar modifications, and you’ve got an asking price that’ll get you the much more powerful E92 replacement:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M3 on eBay…
The E30 market is undoubtedly a little overheated. But it’s not hard to see why these cars are so beloved, especially in the configuration seen here. With a tight, sorted chassis, willing six-cylinder motor that sends power to the back wheels, and a snick-snick manual gearbox, it has all the vital ingredients of an 80s German sporting coupe. Simple, fun, unadulterated. The Ultimate Driving Machine. And with high miles, this one may even be relatively affordable.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 325iS on eBay…
It is an interesting update to our Hammertime value guide this week with a mixed bag of results. On the low end relative to its condition was the stunning all-green 1979 Porsche 928, while a few 911s stuck to the middle ground. Trading hands too were two well bought big BMWs, but the two Audis struck fairly high numbers – especially the 1980 Diesel which had run up in price substantially and traded for what I believe it a high water mark for some time at $9,000.
1979 Porsche 928 – $23,035
1983 Porsche 911SC Targa – $46,400
1980 Audi 5000 Diesel – $8,995
1995.5 Audi S6 Avant – $8,800
1989 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 – $35,901
2001 BMW 740i Sport – $11,500
1970 BMW 2800CS – $23,063
The E38 7-series is perhaps the last classically handsome BMW. Its conservative, purposeful design has aged well and serves as poignant reminder of how things used to be, before the advent of Chris Bangle’s fussy futurism. Plutocratically expensive when new, today you can buy an early, high mileage, rough-around-the-edges example for a mere couple of grand. But the question is – would you want to? A $2k car that cost nearly $100k new is bound to be a ticking time bomb of wallet-rending catastrophe. To get a nice one you have to spend a little (but not too much) to get a lot (quite a lot, in fact). Around $10k will buy you a nicely sorted example – still not a lot of money, when you think about it – and just a smidge more will put you into a Sport model, like this one.