It’s only been a little over a week since I last looked at an E30 M3. A 297,000 mile example with extensive rebuild work, it brushed up against $40,000 in bidding in the no reserve auction.
Clearly, M3 mania hasn’t died down all that much.
Sellers have taken note; at any given time, there are a plethora of E30 M3s available on the market. Today’s search yielded no less than eight examples on eBay; average asking price? About $64,000. But that’s nothing compared to the nine that Enthusiast Auto Group have, including no less than five Sport Evolutions. If you have to ask….
But not many sellers are laying it out on the line. If the market really is plum crazy for these cars, why are more people not rolling the dice and taking market value? For example, if a nearly 300,000 mile example hits the best part of $40,000, what would a much lower mile example bring?
We’re about to find out.
I believe this is the perfect counterpoint to yesterday’s 968 Coupe. The recipe is much the same, though the result is even more legendary. But what I find so interesting in considering these two cars is not how similar they are, but indeed their opposites. Unlike the 968, this M3 was driven with aplomb, eclipsing nearly 300,000 miles so far. It’s not a particularly special color combination; Diamantschwarz Metallic (181) over Black leather is pretty standard though admittedly it looks very nice. It wasn’t unusually specified, as it carries the normal assortment of M3 options; air conditioning, sunroof, cruise control and electric windows. While yesterday’s 968 was basically factory fresh, obviously with the amount of miles on this chassis, to look anything like the photos it’s had to go under the knife and from the inside out this M3 has been thoroughly rebuilt. But the real tell will be what the hammer falls for in two days. While the immediate reaction of many to yesterday’s 968 was that it was heavily overvalued in asking price, I’m curious to see what the reaction to the bidding on this M3 – already at $28,200 at time of writing – is:
Update 8/22/2017 – Asking price on this M3 Convertible has dropped to $99,995.
I bet more than a few of you think I have it out for the E30. And, true enough, it’s not a chassis that gets nearly the press on this site that it does on others. Perhaps it is the culture which has emerged around the Cult of E30, maybe it’s just jealousy at the plethora of options and availability of parts that are both none existent in the E30 world.
Most likely, it’s because I like to be a little bit different than the crowd, and truth told that’s a hard thing to do in the E30 world.
But I have the potential solution for my problem right here.
In my usual searches I had an interesting dichotomous reaction to one number: $16,500.
The first I came across was a 1988 BMW M3 with a no reserve auction bid up to $16,500. “Wow! That’s actually pretty reasonable! I thought. Next, I saw a 1994 BMW 325i with a ‘Buy It Now’ of the exact same $16,500. “What the hell is the seller thinking?!? How absolutely ridiculous!” I scoffed.
Yet, neither car was as it originally seemed once the descriptions were opened, and suddenly a comparison was in order…
The US-market never received the touring (wagon) version of the E30 3-series. But these cars are now old enough to import under the 25 year rule, which means you can find a steady trickle of these popping up on eBay for sale over here, and various accounts of enthusiasts’ attempts to bring them over. And no wonder: the E30 estate is a handsome and utilitarian looking car, practical and quite stylish.
The E30 was offered in Europe with a wider range of engines than we received here, so there a variety of different longroof options to choose from. There were two four cylinder models (a 1.6 liter and a 1.8 liter), two six cylinder models (a 2.0 liter and 2.5 liter, with the latter also being available in “iX,” all wheel drive spec), and a 2.4 liter naturally aspirated diesel inline six. This particular car is a 316i, the entry level model. While the car is currently located in Germany, it’s being advertised on US eBay to tempt American E30 fans with a taste for forbidden fruit.
We’ve been witness to an interesting trend over the past few years in the E30 lineup, as manic pricing increases have rivaled the Porsche 911’s market stardom in a smaller audience. For the most part, outrageous bids have been limited in the general enthusiast world to the M3; but within the E30 sphere of influence, outstanding examples of each particular model have reached astonishing levels of pricing. Just the other day, a Hodge-podge of parts assembled on a 325i hit $19,000 on a no reserve auction. Granted, it was a good-looking example, but it shows the massive swing in values of the highly desirable platform.
Today I have an interesting comparison to consider. Like the $19,000 example linked above, one of the models I have here is admittedly not original. However, it’s the swap that is very interesting, as the builder managed to source and stuff a M3’s S14 power plant into a 318i, bringing with it the brake and wheel upgrades. Of course, BMW also did this themselves in the Portugal and Italian-market 320is – coincidentally, one of which is also on eBay at the same time. What does the market look like on these two shining examples of 4-cylinder fun?
Alpina mania continues unabated on these pages. And why not? Rather than hastily assembled montages of aftermarket accessories or tasteless timepieces of a bygone era, Alpinas were artfully crafted bits of perfection. They were intended to be, and often were, as good as a BMW could get. The market has recognized this in their value, which when correctly presented far outstrips that of a normal – or even special – model from Munich. But that’s led to a variety of half-baked, poorly presented or just plain questionable examples that pop up on a regular basis. Is today’s ultra-rare C1 2.3/1 a case of the former, or the latter?
Alpina values might be as hard to follow as those in the 911 world. As with all proper marque-specific tuners in the German world, there’s a fair amount of attention being levied upon the Buchloe firm, and some models are demanding outrageous premiums; for example, recently one of the ultra-rare B6 3.5S models sold for a simply staggering 200,000 Euros.
Does it follow, then, that all E30 Alpinas are outrageous money? Some asking prices would seem to equate that, but the asking prices have often failed to be recognized. Take, for example, the 1984 C1 2.3/1 current for sale on eBay. I looked at this car the best part of a year ago when the asking price was an eye-watering $99,000. I suggested that if you were willing to pay that amount for that example, men in white coats may be locking you up. It seems that most agreed with me, as the car has moved to a new dealer and is still languishing, now with a
more reasonable still insane $67,500 asking price.
So, when a more potent version of the Alpina C series pops up with an actually realistic price, we should take note. But should we click the Buy It Now immediately?
It’s been a balmy couple of days in DC, with temperatures shooting up to around 60 degrees. One could be forgiven for wondering where the winter went. It will soon be here, I’m sure. And with it the snow and ice, the city-wide shutdown, and the terrible drivers causing pile-ups around the beltway. What would be the ideal winter warrior for times like these? The E30 325iX quickly comes to mind. A brief search on Craigslist throws up a number of tidy options (as well as the usual plethora of over-priced rust buckets). But one in particular stands out, a bit of a unicorn. AWD? Check. Manual? Check? Wagon? Check! Eye-watering price? Double check!
You don’t have to cast a very wide net to find a modified E30 BMW. Though they’ve been out of production for the U.S. market for some 25 years, they’re still a massively popular choice for enthusiasts – so much so, that they’re a bit ubiquitous and border on cliché.
As a result, we’ve seen our share of modified E30s on these pages with varying results. But today’s example really is something special. It’s not the first time I’ve heard an E30 be referred to as the cleanest, best built car in the country. I clicked the link with my normal base-level of E30 skepticism.
“It’ll be way, way overpriced for what it is. Lipstick on a pig. I’d prefer a stock one” rolled through my head.
You see, if I told you the value on a 318iS was such that it justified a full disassembly and restoration, you’d likely laugh. There could not possibly be a return on that investment, right? And on top of that, a resto-mod in a non-original color in a market which has highly prized only completely original, low mileage and stock examples to date?
Naysayers, bear witness.