Many people love the E36 “M3/4/5,” the 5-speed manual, 4-door sedan sleeper. It was the first M-car I fell in love with (and drove… funny how that works). This M3/2/5A is the opposite, the only less desirable version being the convertible. An automatic sedan is unfortunate but perhaps defensible as a family car. This coupe, looking hot in Hellrot and on the perfect Style 22s, deserves to be the Ultimate Driving Machine. Without the lovely 5-speed manual to play the S50 as you please, it’s just not. Dang pretty though.
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For someone who claims to “not get” fast convertibles, I’ve sure managed to post quite a few recently. This one particularly caught my eye first because of the color combination. Imola Red was on the short list of acceptable E46 M3 colors in my search, particularly so when equipped with Imola on the inside. Now, truth told the convertible configuration of this car would probably have turned me off from actually signing on the dotted line, but this car has a lot going for it including $28,000 worth of Dinan modifications. Let’s take a look:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW M3 Dinan S3 Convertible on eBay
We may no longer be able to day dream about owning an E30 M3, but we can at least take a moment to pause and reflect that we’ve been observers of one of the most insane rises in values ever. According to Hagerty, over the last 5 years Councours and Excellent values have increased fivefold, while Good and Fair values have merely tripled. If you took $20k out of the stock market in 2011 and bought a nice E30 M3, your money would have performed over 10 times better than staying with Dow Jones. And that’s during the period of huge economic recovery – DJIA was barely 12,000 at the beginning of 2011.
(E30 M3 Values – Concours, Excellent, Good, Fair)
(Below, the black line is the DJIA)
With that in mind, we must accept that even extremely high-mileage E30 M3s like this 1988 Hennarot example are reaching $40k. It spent almost all of its life with an older woman in SoCal, being well cared for with a high quality repaint in 2009. The current seller is just the second owner and has allegedly owned over 60 BMWs, including 2 other E30 M3s. His fiancée is making him get rid of it (but he’s keeping the new M6, 1M, and 330i ZHP…). It doesn’t sound like money is an issue here and I’m sure the $38.5k asking price is more than he bought it for. But even if E30 M3 appreciation slows down, wouldn’t it still be worth it to pay for a storage garage and let it make you money?
Click for details: 1988 BMW M3 on eBay
My search for a Phoenix Yellow M3 consumed years, and along the way I checked out plenty of other custom yellow options. There were plenty of Dakar Yellow E46s and E92s, but it’s always neat to see something a little bit different. Named after a desert in Chile, the color was originally launched on the Z4 – but, of course, that didn’t stop a few imaginative souls from specifying BMW Individual to paint their pride in joy in the orange-yellow tone. It’s no small feat to do so, so while you’re there you might as well tick every option box, right? The results on this M3 are pretty interesting; from a $55,900 base price, the original buyer selected no less than $20,000 worth of options. Of particular interest to me (outside, of course, from the exterior color) is that they also had the imagination to order something other than black inside. Does it work?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 BMW M3 on eBay
The E36 M3 is hands-down one of the performance bargains out there right now. Even as we’ve seen E36 prices come up a little, they’re still pretty much the cheapest entry point into an ///M car – of any generation. This 1995 Coupe exemplifies this value, looking nearly perfect in black on black after 114k miles, but asking less than $9k. E24, E28, E30, E34, E36/8, E39, E46, E92, etc… all of their ///M models, in this condition, would cost significantly more. The only blemish I see here is some worn paint on the front of the engine, but the interior and exterior both look pristine. I may be partial towards the E36 sedan, but I could do without a couple doors for this price.