While derided by some for being a bit watered down compared to its European counterpart, there is no denying that the E36 M3 was a wildly popular model and widened the appreciation and market of BMW and the M brand. This particular model alone – the BG93 North American 3.2 Coupe – accounted for 11,793 examples produced. That’s greater than the total number of M products that had been imported to the U.S. prior to the E36 (E24, E28, E30, E34, and 850CSi) and doesn’t account for the 10,000 plus 3.0 Coupes, 6,300 convertibles and and 8,600-odd sedans. You’d expect, then, that finding good examples of the E36 would be quite simple as there are some 35,000 to choose from. But the popularity of the E36 M3 was in part its undoing, too. The flood of the cars devalued the market; many fell into hands unable to maintain them or who treated them like a pinball, bouncing them off every curb, guardrail or other cars. Additionally, the E36’s shift towards mass production did have tangible effects on the long term quality of the product. It’s not unusual to see rusty examples with the trim falling off and headlights so nebulous they’re useless. As a result, finding excellent examples of the E36 is somewhat cause for celebration and really nice ones have been finding a greater appreciation in the enthusiast world. This ’98 Coupe is certainly one of the better quality examples out there for sale today:
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For those bewildered at the fact that M Coupe prices are skyrocketing, here’s a pleasant surprise. A Z3 coupe with a 5-speed manual for right around $10,000. While it has over 100,000 miles on the clock, it looks tidy enough. It might not have the grunt of the 3.2 liter inline-6, but the 2.8 liter engine with its 190 horsepower is certainly no slouch in such a small package. This example for sale in Houston may be unassuming in Arctic Silver over black leather, but one go in the twisties will have doubters signing a different tune.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Coupe on eBay
When one thinks of rare examples of the W124, the 500E/E500 instantly comes to mind. But there’s another rare piece from the end of the production run that were not too common, which is the E320 Coupe. Fewer than 1,000 of these E-class coupes found their way to the US market in 1994 and after the 1995 model year, they would disappear from the lineup altogether, to be replaced shortly thereafter by the CLK range. This 1994 E320 Coupe for sale in Washington state has a very low 32,000 miles on the odometer and certainly looks the part, in a very period shade of Spruce Green Metallic.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 Mercedes-Benz E320 Coupe on eBay
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.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 318i on Craigslist
Far less famous than its wide-hipped brother and mostly unknown to most U.S. customers, the B2 Audi Coupe was available with quattro all-wheel drive in other markets. It shared nearly all components with the sibling 4000 (90) quattro, including 4×108 wheel pattern and 256mm front brakes – items that were also on the U.S. spec front-drive GT. So, one would assume it would be pretty easy to “swap in a quattro”, as the internet posts usually start. Of course, those individuals who start the posts best be wearing flame-retardant clothing, as they are immediately inundated with responses that kindly (or not so) explain the difficulties inherent in this project. You see, everything aft of the firewall on the all-wheel drive floorplan is different than the two wheel drive units; indeed, as I’ve pointed out previously, even the two wheel drive floorpans were different between automatics and manuals. That means to recreate a rest of the world Coupe quattro, you need the floorpan from a 4000 quattro mated to a body of a Coupe GT. This, of course, makes no sense financially as the countless hours involved eliminate all but the DIYers – and even a fair chunk of those with the talent give up on the project. Yet, it apparently didn’t stop the builder of this rally car, who not only swapped the body, but went one step further and dropped in a turbocharged motor and the brakes and wheels from the big-brother Type 44 chassis. The result is a budget Ur-Quattro rally replica without the flare of the original…or, at least, it was a few years ago before it was parked: