Déjà vu? 2010 BMW 535xi Touring M-Sport

Just the other day, I wondered what kind of large wagon you could still buy. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class and recently introduced Volvo V90 seem to be the last two holdouts in what was once a robust market of longroof models. Back up a decade, and you could add the Audi A6 Avant and 5-series Touring/Sport Wagon to the mix, and both are still quite desirable in their last form.

With forced induction and plenty of technology as well as a sport ride, both the Audi and BMW entrants into the marketplace were expensive alternatives to the rest of the now traditional “Sport Utility” lineups. And both sold in very small numbers, giving enthusiasts precious few options to choose from when it comes to the used market. In the case of the BMW, the most desirable models are the M-Sport models offered late in the run, and they’re not frequently seen. So much so, that when this one popped up I was certain it was the same 2010 I looked at recently. The color combination of Tiefseeblau Metallic and Natural Brown Dakota combined with the M-Sport package seemed too unlikely to immediately come across again; yet, here we are, with a VIN only about 100 after the recent example. Is this one a winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 BMW 535xi Touring on Seattle Craigstlist

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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