I’m going to continue on the M3 theme, and again we’re looking at a ’95. Just the other day, I pointed out how the E36 M3 – even in ‘diluted’ USA form – was a great value for a driver-oriented enthusiast compared to the E30 M3. But that’s not true of all E36s. There’s the Canadian M3 – essentially, a Euro import with all the verboten goodies we didn’t get here, one of which we saw sell last year for $65,000. There the M3 GT, which also upped the ‘special’ quotient quite a bit on the mass-produced M, and also will cost you a pretty penny. But for U.S. specification collectors, there’s really only one option in the E36 catalog: the Lightweight.
Over the past few years I’ve written up several of these cars as speculation has continued to grow that this will be the next logical step in market capital following the E30. Asking prices have been, at times, what most would consider outrageous for the E36. But never quite this outrageous. I hope you’re sitting down, swallow and move the drink away from your computer. Consider yourself warned.
As part of a ‘924 Roundup’ back in late September, I included a stealthy 924S Special Edition model with low miles from an unassuming and apparently unaware second-hand dealer. The good news is that the dealer doesn’t follow our page, where they would have learned that their 924S is more than just one of the high compression motors for 1988 but also effectively a lightweight Club Sport model equipped from the factory with the M030 Koni suspension. It seems not many others have caught on, either, as it remains available with a price drop below $9,000. That’s a lot of limited edition performance Porsche for your money! Someone grab this one before anyone gets wiser.
The below post originally appeared on our site September 30, 2015:
The year was 1994, and BMW brought some pre-production M3s in Dakar Yellow to various tracks around the U.S. to engage their primary target audience; enthusiasts. I still remember seeing them and being both very excited and slightly let down. From a performance standpoint, even in turned-down U.S. form the M3 was a potent small sedan. 240 horsepower was top of the small car market back then and around a track, stock for stock the E36 was easily a match for the outgoing fan-favorite E30. Coupled with an eye-searing color, it was an impressive and modern package that I loved. But I also loved the street-racer aspect of the E30, and that was something that the E36 didn’t capture well….at first. That was remedied later in 1995 with the introduction of the “CSL” version of the E36. Stripped out, available only in Alpine White and with Motorsports GmbH details throughout, the M3 Lightweight channeled both the E9 3.0CSL racers that started the M trend and captured the spirit of the E30 with its giant, adjustable rear wing and splitter. Instantly these began popping up at track events; despite the entire production run of only 126 cars, it wasn’t uncommon in 1995 and 1996 to see 4 or 5 of these special cars turn up and trounce all the other cars with ease. Since new, these limited edition M3s have always held more value than nearly all of the rest of the model run – and as prices of all things M rise, it’s no surprise that it appears the tide is carrying them up as well:
I still remember the first time I went to the track and saw the notorious M3 Lightweight. I had read about it coming in the BMWCCA magazine and it looked exciting. Sure, it still wasn’t the full bore M3 that the rest of the world got to experience, but if you were a track junkie it was a recipe made in heaven. With less weight and some trick aerodynamic aids added to the already stout out-of-the-box E36 M3, it was no surprise that several of the BMWCCA instructors who had other 3-series dumped them to get the Lightweight. They were also a hit in Club Racing, where they were turned up a few notches to make a serious track weapon. Today one such club racer is for sale from the seriously BMW-savvy group at Fall-Line Motorsports:
Generally, when someone says that the price of a car has dropped $10,000 it’s a fire sale. For example, I’ve never bought a car for more than $10,000! But when you’re talking a rare, one of one Ruf BTR Lightweight, a $10,000 price drop means that the asking price is still a staggering $248,500. While this will remain eye candy to nearly everyone who reads this, I still thought it was worth a second look!
The below post originally appeared on our site July 1, 2014:
There are plenty of people that think that the E36 M3 came to the U.S. in neutered form, but if you drive one you’ll realize that they’re pretty capable cars right out of the box. But BMW knew that the M3 would be hitting the track, and right out of the box they offered a more track-focused version. Stripped down and with extra aerodynamic equipment, the Lightweight was an instant hit with club racers and track addicts, but many enthusiasts still felt that they deserved the full-fat M3. However, if the recent trends with the E30 have taught us anything, it’s that even the less-special versions of the special cars will still command stronger money, and the Lightweight is certainly one of the more special E36 cars. Details like the moveable splitter and stackable rear wing, along with those great Motorsport-colored flags and forged wheels; I’ve loved this car since the first time I saw one pop up at the track in late 95:
In an era where successive generations of vehicles get larger and heavier, lightweight specials crop up occasionally to cater to the purist. Porsche has a penchant for lightweight specials, such as the 911 GT3RS and various Club Sport models that have peppered the lineup throughout the years. BMW has been hip to this lightweight game as well, and saw the potential shortly after the introduction of the E36 M3 in the US market. The Lightweight (LTW) was a 1995 homologation special model that saw the deletion of luxuries such as air conditioning, a radio, some sound deadening material, leather trim and the sunroof. Aluminum skinned doors, sport suspension and a revised rear axle ratio gave the Lightweight an edge over the standard M3. A little over 100 of these LTW models were offered to US customers and are highly prized by Bimmer fans today. This M3 LTW for sale in Florida is unlike many in that it has a good amount of miles under its belt.
Better, faster, lighter. From competitive running to software, this is a mantra many strive after. And so it goes with motorsport, as teams seeking to shave a few seconds off a lap time instantly consider what could be left out of the equation in the constant drive to add lightness. As the second generation M3 got into full swing, BMW introduced a harder edged version of the fast 3er, dubbed the M3 Lightweight. With under 100 sold in the US, these are not for the everyday club racer, as many of them have been stashed away before the miles piled on. This M3 Lightweight for sale in California is one such car, having survived four owners and zero track use.
Model: M3 Lightweight
Engine: 3.2 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 37,700 mi
Price: $54,990 Buy It Now
1995 BMW E36 M3 Lightweight (LTW / CSL)
VIN # WBSBF9322SEH07255
Alpine White on Motorsport Cloth Interior
Clean and Clear California Title
No Accidents/Original Paint
Not very often does a low-production, race-bred, collectible come along at an affordable price. With approximately 120 produced for the world and only 85 coming to the U.S., it is no wonder these cars are becoming so sought after.
History of the Lightweight:
The 1995 M3 Lightweight (BMW NA model code 9520) was produced between 8/95 through 10/95. A small quantity of these M3 LTWs were produced, aimed at the performance purist and/or active competitor. This street-legal model (as delivered to the dealership) eliminated several comfort and convenience items for weight reduction purposes, which were normally found on standard M3 models. The M3 lightweight came with several performance upgrades based on the European M3 GT homologation series for worldwide GT racing.
Another 1973 911E? Yes, another 1973 911E. My previous post was a beautifully restored Yellow 911E that was almost completely original. For this post, I’ve swung the pendulum entirely in the other direction with this autocross prepped Porsche 911 located back in my native state of Georgia. While this car began its life as a 1973 911E, that is of little consequence with regard to its current state, other than the body design. The engine is a lightly modified 3.2 liter flat-6 from a 1987 Carrera, which has been mated to a 5-speed manual from the 911SC. Along with a variety of body panel replacements, the interior has been fully gutted, leaving only the essentials. I’m a big fan of light cars so a build like this that placed a particular emphasis on lightness has great appeal to me. That lightness does, of course, come with a price because as the seller notes, while the car can be street driven, this is not a car for the street.
Engine: 3.2 liter flat-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 100,000 mi
Price: Reserve auction
I built this car for Porsche Club Autocross competition and an occasional track event. Nothing exotic, just a light car with a bullet-proof engine. It weighs 1988 lbs and has approximately 225 horsepower. I spent a great deal of time removing extra weight from the car. As Colin Chapman once said: “Simplify, then add lightness”. The engine is from a 1987 Carrera. It was carefully rebuilt with just light modifications, to keep it tractable and reliable. It starts easily and runs cleanly to redline. If you like to spend all day fiddling and adjusting to keep things running, this is not your car.
These E36 M3 Lightweights are a tricky game. Rare M3s are always cool, but E36s are the most vanilla of M3s and the LTW special edition lacks the cache of the E46 CSL or E30 Evos. LTWs are probably best suited for some track fun, but if that’s your bag why not strip-and-cage a normal M3? As such, many of these have been tucked away as investments, owners’ fingers crossed for appreciation. Today’s LTW appears to have had no such luck. Somewhere along its 66k miles it picked up a salvage title but has since “passed inspection.” Not ideal, but with only 120 of these produced, I’m glad it’s still on the road. Sometimes a bumpy past can help drop pretentions in favor of just driving the damn thing.
From the seller:
completely stock except for sway bars and BBS lug nuts, removed the radio cover and installed a stock radio, owned since 2006, was driven once a year to Euro-fest, now driven once a month, stored in garage under cover, perfect paint, repainted the front & rear ends, so chip free, repainted the rear because the checkered flag had age cracks in it and the sun had burnt the original flag into the paint, runs and drives perfectly, shifts good, everything functions perfectly, the trunk kit is installed (dual pickup oil pan, front strut brace & rear spoiler), very nice interior, carbon-fiber trim above the glove-box is missing, very-minor paint marks, A pillar paint crack, may have been in an accident (prior to my ownership), previous salvage history but passed a rebuild inspection, the headliner is starting to sag, missing the adjustable front spoiler that came in the trunk kit, previous owner put a 97-99 grille bar on the car as an upgrade, needs a little bit of work to be 100% perfect.