Not all M3 racers are the same, though as the saying goes it’s tough to judge a book by its cover. Looking at today’s 1995 M3 one could suggest right off the bat that it looks well built but not appreciably different than most other track-ready E36 M3s that come to the market. But it’s what is underneath that really separates this M3 – one that bucks the suggestion that beauty is only skin deep. That’s because this example is one of the reported 197 M3s produced by BMW Motorsport GmbH specifically for racing when new. They were sold to the likes of dealers and well-to-dos for Group N competition – effectively, a “Showroom Stock” level of racing. But these M3s were anything but stock as they were delivered in component form to dealerships to be built by the racer in the specification that they required. Number 136 has an interesting career, having originally been raced by Frick Motorsport in the Austrian Touring Car Championship by notable BMW factory driver Dieter Quester. BMW even went so far as to have models made of the car, liveried in Red Bull colors and wearing number 3. Since then it was turned into a privateer racer where it has consistently been, rather unsurprisingly, a front runner:
All posts tagged e36
Rightly so, I’ve been accused of comparing everything to BMWs – so for today’s 10K Friday, I thought why not compare BMWs to BMWs? Part of the reason I compare various cars I write up to the alternative BMW products is because for some time they have been considered the benchmark, and their popularity from new to the used classic market means that they set the pricing trends against which others can be judged. That’s especially true of the 3 series; for some time, the go-to performance product from Germany, increasingly many earlier generations of the 3 are being viewed as not only collectable, but indeed as investments. So, what does your $10,000 budget buy these days? I’ve rounded up five examples from the first five generations, covering nearly every configuration the small executive platform has been available in. Which is the winner?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW 320is on eBay
While the BMW E30 M3 is experiencing epic levels of popularity, for yours truly, it’s not my favorite of the lot. No, my favorite would be the E36 M3. I’ve always had a thing for this car, even if it’s heart was based on the M50 inline-6 found in lesser E36 models. There is something about the crisp lines of the E36 that grabs my attention, as the E46 which followed was a bit softer in appearance. Today, we no longer have a two-door M3. Instead, we’ve moved up a number to the M4. Even though it’s “technically” an M3, I’m not too keen on driving a car with the same name as a motorway in the United Kingdom. So let’s take a look at this 1997 M3 for sale in Illinois. Finished in Estoril Blue, this one has yet to cross the 70,000 mile mark.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW M3 on eBay
What’s the perfect commuter car? Well, that varies by your definition of commuter, how far you need to drive and how much traffic you encounter, and what your goal is – do you want high mileage, or perhaps you want extreme comfort and isolation. But I’d like to think that a fair amount of our readership would love to have a dual purpose car. It would be something that wouldn’t be a collector-status car, but yet one that was unique and not often seen. It would combine comfort and affordability. While some would opt for automatics, I’m sure a larger percentage would choose to row-their-own boat. Fuel mileage, while gas is cheap now, would probably still be a consideration, as would maintenance. And finally, when the traffic cleared and there was a empty bit of road, most of us like to squeeze the pedal down that bit further and be rewarded by and entertaining push in the back. That’s a difficult grouping of characteristics to achieve in one package, but I’d like to suggest that this 318ti might just be the car.
The Club Sport was the answer to the question that effectively no one was asking in 1995; depending on the source, BMW sold a reported 200-300 of them in 1995 only. What the option 9530 got you was a 318ti hatchback that had been breathed upon by BMW Individual. Added were 16″ sport wheels, M3 front bumper, rocker trim and mirrors and a special rear bumper. But it was more than an appearance package, because it also received a M-tuned suspension, special steering wheel and shift knob and uniquely trimmed Millpoint M-cloth sport seats. The seller of this car has brought the performance up to M levels, though, with the addition of a PSS9 coilover suspension, double spoke M3 wheels and supercharger to the M42 inline-4:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 318ti Club Sport on eBay
When looking at E36 M3s, there are many different approaches. Do you want the lowest mileage example around in case they go the way of the E30-dodo? Perhaps you’re looking for a driver-quality, mid-mileage example. Is it four-doors or nothing? (For my money it would be!) Or maybe you’re a bit more adventurous and 240hp just won’t do so you’re after some performance mods, maybe even a supercharger?
These are all rational approaches to one of the best performance bargains available today and illustrate what a broad spectrum of driving enthusiasm the E36 M3 can fulfill. For today, however, just one item composed my rubric: WHICH ONE HAS THE BIGGEST WING? Well, folks, I’m confident I’ve found it, and as opposed to the rear-view problems monster wings typically present, this one avoids that problem altogether by just placing the spoiler higher than the roof!
Now, the reason this car has a GT3RS-rivaling spoiler is because it’s been fully outfitted for the track. A supercharger and upgraded exhaust/suspension/brakes combine with a rollcage in the bare interior to make this M3 all about the go, not show. Which rationalizes the wing a bit – sure, it looks silly, but with the S52B30 putting out over 400hp at the crank now, some high-speed stability is a prudent priority. Somehow registered for the street, this complete track build clearly demands a closed course so you can exercise this E36’s full potential instead of garnering Nelson Muntz-ish “Ha Ha!”s from the general public.