1987 BMW M535i

1987 BMW M535i

While BMW Motorsport GmbH has a lengthy reputation for conceiving and building some of the most legendary icons of the 1980s, since their inception they’ve also had their hand in clever badge-engineered products intended to bring the magic of M to a larger audience. Starting with the E12 in the 1970s and continuing through today, first to hit the market was the “M535i”. Effectively, these were standard 5-series models with M-Technic bits added for a splash of style, but they lacked the higher-performance “S” (or M88/3, in the case of the M5) motors of their more potent siblings. But they certainly looked the part, with hunkered-down exteriors with deep chin spoilers, side skirts and rear valance and spoiler. Special M-Technic wheels were added to the E28 model which channeled aspects of the M1’s Campagnolo design coupled with hints of the original 1972 Turbo concept wheels. Inside a sport interior was met with more M-Tech details. Just as today, though mechanically these cars were appearance packages rather than performance-oriented, they’re nonetheless quite special indeed:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW M535i on eBay

1 of 45: 1994 BMW M3 Canadian Edition

1 of 45: 1994 BMW M3 Canadian Edition

Conventional wisdom would have it that North America was robbed of the “real” M3; the undiluted, S50B30/B32, individual throttle body, floating rotor, continuously variable VANOS enthusiasts’ dream. Conventional wisdom, though, is wrong. Exploiting a loophole in importation laws, in 1994 BMW Canada commissioned a run of 45 exclusive European-spec E36 M3s. These were the full-fat BF91 rather than the BF93 which would come slightly later to U.S. shores. That meant the full spectrum of Euro goodies were optional on these cars, but most notably the 286 horsepower engine was the highlight. Each got a numbered plaque to commemorate fooling “The Man”, the only real changes from standard specification were the additions of daytime running lights and a third brake light to meet Canadian road laws. Sure, your E36 M3 is special, but these Canadian Edition cars are more specialerer. And this one isn’t in Canada anymore – it’s in the U.S.. Feel cheated no more, E36 fans!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW M3 Canadian Edition on eBay

1997 BMW 318ti M-Sport S52

1997 BMW 318ti M-Sport S52

Nate has been on a run of covering some great classic Alpina models, and it’s very easy to see the appeal of the brand. Their tried and true recipe of taking the motor out of a higher-end model and swapping it into the smaller chassis might have seemed a simple task, but the execution of Alpina was always top notch and the results were undeniable. Coupled with upgraded wheels and suspension and full of lovely details, they always managed to feel like a premium product and today that appreciation is shown in high asking prices. In the same vein as the legendary Alpinas, many enthusiasts have tried to take the motor out of M models and fit them to lesser 3-series and 5-series models with varying success. But if done right, the result can be a very tidy looking and appealing package on a more friendly budget:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW 318ti S52 on eBay

1995 BMW M540i

1995 BMW M540i

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EDIT 3/25/16 – Thanks to our reader Mark who alerted us that this car is misrepresented since he actually owns #4. Further detective work by our readers has shown this is actually an M540i number 3/32 but without its original M540i details. Thanks to our knowledgeable readership for scrutinizing!

Here’s a rare slice of BMW M-car, one of the 32 examples of the Canada-only E34 M540i. These were built by BMW Individual at the time, and were a far cry from the badge-happy ///M340iMsportEfficientDynamics, creating the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too of 90s Bimmers by taking the E34 M5’s chosen-one suspension and brakes and mating it with the 540i’s grunty V8 and 6-speed fun-lever.

So, sounds like an amazing find, especially with a No-Reserve Auction starting at $4,999. A shockingly low number for such a rare 5er, but its had 10 owners in just 101.5k miles, and it needs shocks, springs, mounts, fan shrouds, cosmetics… it needs. The interior looks to be in good shape, as does the trunk, but the engine bay remains a mystery. If you’re handy with the E34 platform, you’ll probably have a wealth of options to take get it awesome, but you could probably have a sharp-looking, now intelligently-modified M540i that lives up to its name.

Click for details: 1995 BMW M540i on eBay

Row Your Own? 2000 BMW 528iT v. 2003 BMW 540iT

Row Your Own? 2000 BMW 528iT v. 2003 BMW 540iT

I have a bit of an interesting comparison today, and I think in many ways it’s harder than it would first appear to be. If you said to most enthusiasts “Would you rather have a manual or automatic?”, the collective ire of autophiles towards self-controlled cars is akin to suggestion a revision to the 2nd Amendment at a NRA rally. And outwardly, today’s two E39 5-series wagons seem quite similar. But they represent two different directions for BMW and I think it will be interesting to see which foot enthusiasts land on. So, what would it be, then – a 5-speed 528i Sport Touring or a 5-speed (automatic) 540i M-Sport Touring?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 528i Touring on eBay

Feature Listing: 2008 BMW 328xi Sports Wagon

Feature Listing: 2008 BMW 328xi Sports Wagon

Over the past few years, my wife and I have had an ongoing conversation about what would replace her 2006 Subaru Outback. It’s not that we don’t like the car; in fact, quite the opposite. Subaru really stepped up the quality and look of the fourth generation Legacy and made it close to comparable to the European counterparts. A svelte exterior was matched by a luxurious interior, a great all-wheel drive system, and the theory of Subaru reliability. But there are several places where the Legacy, despite it’s massive popularity, shows its budget origins. The ride is great as long as the roads aren’t rough and are reasonably straight; it doesn’t really like corners much and if there is a bump mid corner prepare for you and your passengers to look a bit like bobble head dolls. Then there’s the transmission; if you went with the Limited spec like my wife originally did, you got the nicer interior wood finish, climate control and leather seats – but the manual was opted out, making them automatic only. Couple that automatic to the 2.5 liter boxer 4 and saddle it with the best part of 4,000 lbs and the result is anemic. But the real thorn in the side has been the reality of fourth generation Subaru ownership; far from trouble free, the Outback has eaten its headgaskets, wheel bearings, batteries and brakes like it’s going out of style. I think when you purchase something like an Audi or BMW wagon, you expect that once it’s outside of warranty there will be a big occasional repair – that’s the trade off for the luxury and performance of the nicer marques. But in a Subaru? It’s then when the other shortcomings really begin to wear on your patience and you begin to think of alternatives.…

2015 BMW M3 Individual

2015 BMW M3 Individual

While purists in part decried the death of the naturally aspirated M3 at the same time that the new nomenclature for the coupe lineup was launched, I personally wasn’t too offended – in fact, I was a little excited. First off, being an Audi fan I was used to name changes – Audi redefined its market lingo three times in just a few years with the change from the 5000 to 200, then again to S4, and once more S6 between 1989 and 1995. So while I thought it was a bit silly that BMW had to introduce a new number lineup for it’s coupe 3 (which, incidentally isn’t always a coupe…), I’m not going to fault BMW for choosing a new market strategy. But the real reasons I was impressed were the changes to the drivetrain and, I suppose it should come as no surprise, the colors offered. The change to the twin-turbocharged S55 didn’t produced much more horsepower than the S65 V8, but it did produce a lot more torque – something BMW was happy to showcase with a series of advertisements showing the new F82 sliding around a series of parked classic M3s. That forced induction was good for a 110 lb.ft boost over the naturally aspirated V8, starting below 2,000 rpms. You could go on and on about the technology that’s been incorporated into this engine – all of which is cutting edge and really impressive – but the chart that I find really amazing is to compare the relative power output versus efficiency of the S55 to the previous generation M3s. What’s staggering is that not only is this car the most powerful, it’s nearly able to match the fuel consumption and emissions of the 2.3 liter inline-4 from the E30. It produces well over double the horsepower and torque of the S14.…

2008 BMW M Coupe

2008 BMW M Coupe

My wife and I had a rather amusing conversation yesterday. It started via text; shortly after Rob’s 2PM post on the 1988 Porsche 911, I received a text message from my wife. “How much does a new 911 cost”, she asked. Now typically I know questions like this are leading somewhere and she’s not a huge Porsche 911 fan, so after some inquiry she asked why the asking price on a 1988 example was over $60,000. She said, and rightly so, why would anyone pay $60K for a near 30 year old example – even if it was quite pretty – when you could just about buy a new car for that amount. After I said that the Porsche 911 market was the new Tulip craze, she said two really funny things. First, she said “Let’s not base our economy on it!”, something that got me laughing. Then she said that if it was so popular, why were manufacturers like Porsche building new examples of their old cars? The answer, as we discussed, was that it just wouldn’t be profitable. Though limited run manufacturers such as Singer and Eagle have seen success building “new” old cars, the reality is that between making cars safe enough and economical enough to meet today’s standards, they’d be heavy and slow – necessitating even more power, which would raise the price. Take the GT86/FR-S/BRZ clones; while critics have loved their handling and prices have been kept reasonable, they’re generally referred to as “slow” cars with 200 horsepower and 2,700lbs of curb weight – nearly identical to what the 1988 Porsche Carrera was specified at.

However, there are options outside of the 911 market for a personal sports 2-door that throwback to simpler times, and I think the M Coupe was one of the best. With a gutsy inline-6 up front, rear drive and a 6-speed manual, the E86 was a classic blueprint for a sports car.…

1995 BMW M3

1995 BMW M3

Last week, Nate wrote up one of my favorite M3s – the 1995 M3 in Daytona Violet with Dove Grey leather Vaders. With low miles and great photographs, it was certainly an impressive sight. Also like Nate, I’ve always loved the subdued look of the E36 M3 since its launch, and the Double Spoke wheels just suit the package perfectly. But Nate’s question was poignant – is the world ready for $25,000 E36 M3s again? In the case of some ultra low mile examples or Lightweights, perhaps it is. But for a normal M3 with moderate miles, the asking price seemed pretty steep even given the condition. Only a week later, then, I submit to you the Budget Barney; a little over triple the miles of the last example but the same color combination in overall very good condition, and importantly available for only about a third of the previous example’s asking price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 on eBay

1995 BMW 540i M-Sport

1995 BMW 540i M-Sport

Red can be a hard color to pull off well on a big sedan – they sometimes end up looking like the Fire Brigade’s car. But there are some notable exceptions; Red C4 Audis, for example, look particularly spectacular when well polished. Another car that seems to stand apart from other large red rides is the E34 BMW. Just look at this M-Sport model in Hellrot – it’s a brilliant example of how to do the lines of a car properly. I really wish BMW still made sedans in this mold; it was the first step in cleaning up the U.S. specification bumpers into a well-unified design and I’m not sure that they’ve done much better since. While last week I wrote up a E34 M5 that most people seemed to like, today’s example answers at least one of the complaints of those that didn’t with the M60 V8 packed under the hood. Otherwise, this car is as close to a M5 as one could get in 1995:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 540i M-Sport on eBay

1995 BMW 850CSi

1995 BMW 850CSi

People don’t really give BMW enough credit as a risk-taking company, in my opinion. First came the M1, a mid-engined supercar from a company that was producing primarily economy sport sedans. Audi has been applauded for bringing the brilliant R8 to the market, but BMW did it nearly 30 years prior. Then they introduced that same M88 motor into their mid-range sedan and big coupe, changing the definition of sports sedans and bringing GT cars to a higher level. The M3 helped too, and forced Audi and Mercedes-Benz’s hands to make higher performance small sedans that enthusiasts have enjoyed for a few generations now. More recently, the i8 has gone from concept to reality, and stands as one of the most game-changing designs in history. But one that was often overlooked was the i8’s spiritual predecessor, the E31 8 series. A soft, big and angular departure from BMW’s styling in the 1980s, the E31 received a tremendous amount of development and accolades when it was released, but enthusiasts remained skeptical – partially because it seemed the 8’s performance didn’t live up to the promise of the design cues from the M1. Enthusiasts hoped for a high-performance “M8” that magazines taunted but never came. Instead, we received the heavily M-division-modified 850CSi:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 850CSi on eBay

Motorsport Mondays: 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL

Motorsport Mondays: 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL

The “Batmobile” is a legendary car that helped to both define BMW’s place in global motorsports and to solidy its presence in the sports sedan realm. Sure, they had competed successfully for years in touring car and sports car races, not to mention substantial involvement in motorcycle racing. But the bread and butter of BMW’s 1980s reputation was built on their sporting nature, and that legacy was born in the 1970s touring cars. The CSL was a message to the world, much like the Porsche 911RS was – BMW was a major player, and here to stay. They’ve since built upon that racing legend, but enthusiasts look back upon these models as the ones that spawned the dreams of countless children – the lucky ones of which would go on to buy new BMWs in the 1980s. It’s not often that you see a well presented CSL with racing pedigree come up for sale, but there’s a stunning example available today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1972 BMW CSL on racecarsdirect

1996 BMW 318ti M-Sport

1996 BMW 318ti M-Sport

One of the great unsung heros of the E36 lineup was the compact three-door hatchback, sold in the U.S. as the 318ti. Journalists decried the E30-based rear suspension and oversteering tendency of the 318. Enthusiasts were grumpy that it only came here with the 4-cylinder. And practical folks were happy to pass up the rear-drive amusement for a cheaper and better equipped Golf. But in my mind, the proportions of the 318ti were just right – like a rear drive Corrado, this car screamed of the potential for fun and practicality in one little package. The best looking of the bunch were the M-Sport models – though the changes were only cosmetic, they made the hot hatch look great!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 BMW 318Ti M-Sport on eBay

2007 BMW Z4 M Coupe

2007 BMW Z4 M Coupe

Like a lot BMW fans, the styling language implemented across the range has left me with mixed feelings. I try and temper myself and keep receptive to new design, but more often than not, what I’ve seen on the showroom floor over the last decade has left me yearning for the classics. In the case of the BMW Z4 M Coupe, however, BMW hit the nail on the head. While the Z4 Roadster was a little bit awkward, the fastback lines and beefed up haunches of the M Coupe looked sharp. This black Z4 M Coupe for sale in Maryland may be of the new school, but its mission is that of speed and power.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 BMW Z4 M Coupe on eBay

2001 BMW M Roadster

2001 BMW M Roadster

I ran into yet another snowstorm driving from Philadelphia to Washington, DC this past Sunday. Anyone else tired of this winter? I thought so. For those in warmer climates, feel fortunate. Not only because you don’t have to deal with the white stuff, but because you can enjoy awesome machinery like this S54 engined M Roadster year round. For those not familiar, BMW switched to the more powerful inline-6 in 2001, giving this little two-seater a 75 horsepower shot in the arm, bringing it closer to the European variant that first came equipped with the S50 engine, instead of the lower horsepower S52 version that we got stateside. These S54 engined E36/8 coupes and roadsters are quite rare, making this one for sale in Maryland in an uncommon hue of Laguna Seca Blue even more attractive.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW M Roadster on eBay