1995 BMW M3 Lightweight

1995 BMW M3 Lightweight

For some time, critics have claimed that the E36 chassis was just too prolific and not special enough to be considered by collectors. They weren’t built well enough, they didn’t have the pedigree of the E30 or the power of the E46, and since you could buy one on your local Craigslist for $5,000 (less, sometimes!), why the hell would you pay a premium for one?

It’s been about a year and a half since we last looked at a M3 Lightweight. The ask was $90,000 on a model with below 30,000 miles, and it was no surprise that for many that ask was far too strong, though I suggested opportunities like that weren’t going to come along every day. In that time, we’ve seen some big numbers start to roll in for special E36 variants, like the $65,000 Canadian Edition M3. But all expectations on the E36 market, and especially those on the Lightweight model, were thrown out the window this past March when a lower mile, all original example came up for auction at Amelia Island.

The price? After hot bidding and when the hammer finally fell, it hit $145,750. I was astounded, even though for years I’d been claiming these cars would increase in value in the not too distant future. What does that number mean for the rest of the run?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 Lightweight on eBay

1988 BMW M6 with 32,000 Miles

1988 BMW M6 with 32,000 Miles

What is the price for perfection? That’s a difficult question to answer, but increasingly when it comes to 1980s cars, the level of preservation, originality and lower miles in low-production, desirable models has translated into quite an exacting price. Yet while lofty asking prices have become the norm on many of the hottest performance models from the 1980s, are their figures always justified?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M6 on eBay

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

1994 BMW M3 Euro-Spec – REVISIT

1994 BMW M3 Euro-Spec – REVISIT

As I’ve said before, I usually try to stay away from regurgitation of material. However, there were a few reasons to look at this European specification M3 one more time.

I’ve recently featured a string of Canadian Edition E36 M3s with some sticker shock for fans of the traditionally affordable chassis. The first was a Hellrot model in August with a $35,000 asking price. That car, to my knowledge, failed to trade hands because though it was actively bid upon, the reserve was never lifted in the mid 20K range. The next stunner was the Individual Giallo car in September, which broke predictions at the $65,000 mark. I looked at another Dakar model in November hoping to capitalize on those high asks, with a reported sticker price close to $30,000. It, too, failed to break the reserve.

The traditional, and very valid, argument to paying high prices for these cars is that they’re essentially just a stock Euro model with a number attached to them. Why not just import a much cheaper and more plentiful example of those then? To that point I had twice looked at a non-Canadian Edition but European specification ’94.

This Mugello Red model originally came to our site in October, 2014. With about 83,000 miles and in generally good condition, it was certainly a unique and appealing alternative to the normal M3. It popped back up in June of 2016 with a few more miles, poor photography and a little more wear. It was also boldly offered with no reserve, though the auction ended with an “error in the listing”; eBay seller speak for the bidding not heading in the direction they were hoping.

Well, here it is again. This time, it is listed by the same seller as the Giallo car. It’s been cleaned up and has some great photography.…

1980 BMW M1

1980 BMW M1

In an article I penned for The Truth About Cars last week, I covered some of the development of the Wedge Era and how those spectacular show car designs channeled their design language down to more pedestrian models. One of the stars of that article were the cutting-edge looks from Giugiaro’s ItalDesign – the firm, and man, responsible for some of your favorites such as the basic shape for the Audi Quattro. But while the Quattro launched its brand into the luxury realm and redefined the 80s, the undisputed German star of the wedgey wonders was the BMW M1.

Like the Quattro, the M1 redefined and refined BMW’s core mission, helping to launch the Motorsport division along with the 3.0 CSL and 2002 Turbo. While Giugiaro had also had his hand in the M1’s design, the genesis of the shape lay in the much earlier Paul Bracq designed Turbo concept. Bracq, in turn, had undoubtedly been influenced by the late 1960s creations of both Giorgetto Giugiaro (at Ghia and ItalDesign) and Marcello Gandini (Bertone), as well as the efforts and splash rival Mercedes-Benz had made in 1969 with the C111 concept and record setter.

But while Daimler was hesitant to enter serial production with such a departure from their tried and true sedan designs, the M1 proved to be just the spark BMW was looking for to ignite the fire in driving enthusiast’s minds. It was, at the time, the Ultimate Driving Machine:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW M1 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

1988 BMW 320is

1988 BMW 320is

We try to stay far away from politics on these pages, but there’s a story I have to share with you that has hit the news here in Rhode Island over the past few weeks that in a round-about way is relevant to this car. Rhode Island, if you’re completely unaware of its reputation, isn’t known for having the most…shall we say morally upstanding lawmakers and leadership. A few years ago, twice-convicted felon Vincent “Buddy” Cianci was nearly elected for the third time to run the capital of Providence. So notorious is the corruption on Capital Hill that when RI recently announced its complete debacle of a revised state slogan in “Cooler and Warmer” (reportedly, it cost 5 million dollars for a firm to produce that), people on social media changed the catch phrase to “Lobsters and Mobsters”. That gives you just a hint of context to contemplate the next story with.…

1994 BMW M3 Euro-spec – REVISIT

1994 BMW M3 Euro-spec – REVISIT

Hot on the heels of Craig’s Mugello Blue RS4 Cabriolet, I spotted this Mugello Red M3 that looked quite familiar. A 1994 model, it’s a full European specification 286 horsepower car, meaning it’s the E36 that you wanted but BMW decided was too expensive to import. Back in 2014 when I first looked at this car was it a reserve auction, but as of now the first bid at $12,500 will get it. The current seller has taken a gamble with the no reserve auction format, but no information provided means the buyer would also be rolling the dice if you didn’t have the earlier description we do below. With only 4,000 more miles accrued, this hotter M3 is in above average condition with below average mileage and quite desirable package overall that is very affordable.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW M3 Euro-spec on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site October 12, 2014:

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

Feature Listing: 1991 BMW M5

Feature Listing: 1991 BMW M5

It is always a bit of a treat to look back at some alumni of the GCFSB pages, especially so when it’s a lovely example of a special car that was snapped up by one of our enthusiast readership. For years we’ve banged on about the E34 M5, a conundrum of the M lineup. It’s got all the right DNA to be a classic, yet like the similar 944 Turbo has generally languished in value compared to similar products. That may sound like a broken record on these pages, but it’s a tune which is both catchy and sweet-sounding for BMW fans because it means they’re getting more car for their money. Recent market activity in 2015 has started to remix the tune, though, and E34s have been on the rise. Hagerty currently places top value on 1991 M5s at $42,000 – steep sounding given what they’ve traded for over the last few years, but perhaps more in line with their legendary build quality and performance especially when considering their siblings. But in terms of overall value, let’s consider today’s Jet Black 1991. It is nearly 100% original, fully documented, accident free and has under 100,000 miles on the clock – and currently represents the best value of the original M-car experience:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

2001 BMW M5

2001 BMW M5

About halfway through production of the E39 M5, BMW released a series of films from notable directors highlighting their model range. They all starred Clive Owen as the ubiquitous Driver character as the wheelman of a particular model. Some were dark, some were mysterious, but my favorite – and, I believe the favorite of most people – was Guy Ritchie’s Star. For me, it was neither the famous director nor his power-couple wife Madonna that was the star of that particular film, but the Driver‘s M5. Indeed, rewatching the film I found myself comparing the character’s introduction monologue, which ostensibly was about the female character played by Madonna, to the car. The characteristics shared of the dual nature of the iconic singer somehow work juxtaposed onto the M5. That was brought into sharper focus as the film progressed and Blur’s Song 2 – a song that somehow perfectly summed up the M5’s character. A deep base line, rhythmic speed and shouts of “Woo Hooo!” seem to somehow follow the M5 wherever it goes. Over the top? Absolutely, but it seemed that the whole plot line of Star is how most M5 drivers think their daily commute goes.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW M5 on Hartford Craigslist

2011 BMW M3 Individual

2011 BMW M3 Individual

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

1991 BMW M5

1991 BMW M5

I’ve talked about opportunity costs before, and when considering a car such as yesterday’s 320is it bears reminding. There are plenty of people, myself included, that spend a fair chunk of the day dreaming about what super rare car they’d import from Europe if given the chance. And we’ve be Mr. Feelgood for you, supplying a steady stream of somewhat attainable European market goodies over the past few weeks. But does all this dreaming overlook something that’s right at your fingertips? In the case of the E34 M5, I think that might be true. This chassis is still generally overlooked compared to the E28 and E39 models, but those that have spent some time behind the wheel of these well engineered, hand built Q-Ships proclaim they’re one of the best BMW products made. They’ve got plenty of the right ingredients – the last of the S38 motors producing 315 horsepower, Motorsport details throughout, a great subtle look which still is commanding of respect, and limited numbers – only 1,678 were imported. It’s the right recipe for a future classic:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

Less is More? 1990 BMW 320is

Less is More? 1990 BMW 320is

The perfect counterpoint to Volkswagen’s GLi 16V like the one we featured earlier has to be the BMW 320is. Ostensibly, these two cars were aimed at close to the same market although the BMW was a fair chunk of change more expensive than the Jetta. But both were sports sedans, both came only as manuals, both had BBS wheels, grippy Recaro seats and sport suspension, and critically both featured a 2 liter 16V motor. But it’s there where the similarities end, because while Volkswagen rung 134 horsepower out of the 9A, BMW squeezed a seemingly unbelievable (for the time) 192 horsepower out of the lower displacement S14. For some time, the 100 hp/liter mark was considered about as good as naturally aspirated motors got and the 320is was hauntingly close with 192 ponies from 1,990 CCs – proportionately, more powerful than the larger 2.3 and 2.5 variants. We’ve previously covered this model a few times and so won’t go into lengthy detail about the history (plus, some of it is included in the listing), but if you wanted to understand why you’d pay more for one of these BMWs in the late 80s, that engineering feat alone was a good indication. As the E30 market has been red hot and importation becomes possible for more of these cars, we keep seeing them pop up:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW 320is on eBay

Motorsports Monday: 1991 BMW M3 BTCC ex-Tim Harvey

Motorsports Monday: 1991 BMW M3 BTCC ex-Tim Harvey

I’ve given the E30 crowd a fair amount of shtick over the years, mostly because the chassis seems to be the broadest of the bandwagons that enthusiasts jump on to. But the reality is that I’ve always admired the M3 long before I fully appreciated the breadth of its impact on Motorsport. In many ways, the M3 paved the way for an entire generation of homologation specials that now line the walls of automotive Valhalla, and for that alone we as a community should be thankful. To say that the M3 is iconic is a huge cliche, but just as with the other boxflared wonders from Germany – the Quattro and 944 Turbo – the M3 was (and still is) a staple at the race tracks around the world, cementing its reputation as the defacto street-worthy race car. Much of that reputation was built on decidedly un-streetworthy Touring Car races, though, and while the early 90s were the swan song for the S14-engined E30 as regulations and chassis change to the E36 removed it from active competition, there’s no denying that the outgoing race car still had a tremendous amount of appeal as the sun set on its active competition career:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M3 BTCC on Race Cars Direct