1988 BMW M3

1988 BMW M3

It’s only been a little over a week since I last looked at an E30 M3. A 297,000 mile example with extensive rebuild work, it brushed up against $40,000 in bidding in the no reserve auction.

Clearly, M3 mania hasn’t died down all that much.

Sellers have taken note; at any given time, there are a plethora of E30 M3s available on the market. Today’s search yielded no less than eight examples on eBay; average asking price? About $64,000. But that’s nothing compared to the nine that Enthusiast Auto Group have, including no less than five Sport Evolutions. If you have to ask….

But not many sellers are laying it out on the line. If the market really is plum crazy for these cars, why are more people not rolling the dice and taking market value? For example, if a nearly 300,000 mile example hits the best part of $40,000, what would a much lower mile example bring?

We’re about to find out.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 on eBay

1990 BMW M3 with 297,000 Miles

1990 BMW M3 with 297,000 Miles

I believe this is the perfect counterpoint to yesterday’s 968 Coupe. The recipe is much the same, though the result is even more legendary. But what I find so interesting in considering these two cars is not how similar they are, but indeed their opposites. Unlike the 968, this M3 was driven with aplomb, eclipsing nearly 300,000 miles so far. It’s not a particularly special color combination; Diamantschwarz Metallic (181) over Black leather is pretty standard though admittedly it looks very nice. It wasn’t unusually specified, as it carries the normal assortment of M3 options; air conditioning, sunroof, cruise control and electric windows. While yesterday’s 968 was basically factory fresh, obviously with the amount of miles on this chassis, to look anything like the photos it’s had to go under the knife and from the inside out this M3 has been thoroughly rebuilt. But the real tell will be what the hammer falls for in two days. While the immediate reaction of many to yesterday’s 968 was that it was heavily overvalued in asking price, I’m curious to see what the reaction to the bidding on this M3 – already at $28,200 at time of writing – is:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW M3 on eBay

Double Dose of Insanity: 1988 BMW M3 v. 1994 BMW 325i

Double Dose of Insanity: 1988 BMW M3 v. 1994 BMW 325i

In my usual searches I had an interesting dichotomous reaction to one number: $16,500.

The first I came across was a 1988 BMW M3 with a no reserve auction bid up to $16,500. “Wow! That’s actually pretty reasonable! I thought. Next, I saw a 1994 BMW 325i with a ‘Buy It Now’ of the exact same $16,500. “What the hell is the seller thinking?!? How absolutely ridiculous!” I scoffed.

Yet, neither car was as it originally seemed once the descriptions were opened, and suddenly a comparison was in order…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 on eBay

Real or Replica: 1988 BMW 320is v. 1991 BMW 318is S14

Real or Replica: 1988 BMW 320is v. 1991 BMW 318is S14

We’ve been witness to an interesting trend over the past few years in the E30 lineup, as manic pricing increases have rivaled the Porsche 911’s market stardom in a smaller audience. For the most part, outrageous bids have been limited in the general enthusiast world to the M3; but within the E30 sphere of influence, outstanding examples of each particular model have reached astonishing levels of pricing. Just the other day, a Hodge-podge of parts assembled on a 325i hit $19,000 on a no reserve auction. Granted, it was a good-looking example, but it shows the massive swing in values of the highly desirable platform.

Today I have an interesting comparison to consider. Like the $19,000 example linked above, one of the models I have here is admittedly not original. However, it’s the swap that is very interesting, as the builder managed to source and stuff a M3’s S14 power plant into a 318i, bringing with it the brake and wheel upgrades. Of course, BMW also did this themselves in the Portugal and Italian-market 320is – coincidentally, one of which is also on eBay at the same time. What does the market look like on these two shining examples of 4-cylinder fun?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 320is on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1988 BMW M3 AC Schnitzer S3 Sport 2.5

Tuner Tuesday: 1988 BMW M3 AC Schnitzer S3 Sport 2.5

Though ultimately not as well known as Alpina, AC Schnitzer replaced the more famous brand a the defacto factory race team in the late 1970s and 1980s. To capitalize on their success at the race track (including the successful campaigns in the DTM), in 1987 AC Schnitzer launched their first brand-specific model based upon the new E32. That was followed by a more sporty E30-based model, dubbed the ACS3 Sport in 1989. It was available based upon either a normal 3-series, or those with a bunch of dough could opt to allow Schnitzer to modify their prized M3. And modify it did; subtle changes outside included revised mirrors, a light change to the rear end and a single-wiper conversion to really channel the DTM spirit. Wheels were either 17″ multi-piece Schnitzer design, or the ever-popular BBS RS model in 16″x8 or 9. As Alpina did, Schnitzer included their own steering wheel (4 options available), a numbered plaque, bespoke suspension 20mm lower than the standard ride height, and a unique rectangular-tipped exhaust. However, the real treat was the full 2.5 conversion, which really packed some extra power in the S14. Schnitzer brought the total displacement to 2,431 cc – just shy of the 2,467 BMW themselves would produce in the 1990 Sport Evolution. Coupled with a revised DME, the S3 Sport 2.5 produced an impressive 245 horsepower. They are exceedingly rare to come across, but our reader Daniel spotted this fully converted 1988 example for sale:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 AC Schnitzer S3 2.5 at Garage Current

Land-locked Drop-top- 1988 BMW M3 Convertible

Land-locked Drop-top- 1988 BMW M3 Convertible

South America has been in the news quite a bit recently, if you haven’t been paying attention. But when you think about South America today, you’re probably thinking of the upcoming Olympics, perhaps the Zika virus, or if you’re well versed maybe the crumbling country of oil-rich Venezuela. Maybe you watched the Top Gear specials and you saw Argentina, Bolivia or Chile appear on your screen for the first time. One country you probably don’t consider is Paraguay. Paraguay sits alongside more famous Bolivia as one of the two land-locked countries in South America. It’s also one of the countries which attracts the least tourism in the West, a legacy of a government that adopted isolationist policies following its independence from Spain in 1811. It’s relatively tiny, too – with a large percentage of the 6 million inhabitants focused in a small area around the capital of Asunción. The top two exports Paraguay is known for are soybeans and frozen meat, and most of those go to neighboring giants Brazil and Chile, along with some to Europe. In short, it’s a religious, agrarian, isolationist country with no ports. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some with money. And those with money have bought cars in the style of the West. In fact, it might just be the best place to buy…an E30 M3 Convertible?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 Convertible 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.…

1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution

1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution

There is nothing that I can say here that will matter at all. I won’t convince you that the E30 M3 is overpriced – maybe, compared to some of the other limited run homologation vehicles like the Sport Quattro and even the asking price on Paul’s 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II two weeks ago this Sport Evolution is downright cheap. Despite that, I could tell you that for the for the asking price of this car you could have a whole fleet of very interesting cars. Heck, you could buy a lesser E30 M3 and still have a huge chunk of change left over to buy many other vehicles and even maintain them. Some houses are less expensive than this car. College for most is less expensive than this car. The average worker at Walmart won’t make in a decade what the asking price is here. But none of that matters, because if you’re even still reading I’m just making you tread water until you can see more photos and drown in the eye-watering price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution on eBay

Going up? Double Take: 1990 and 1988 BMW M3s

Going up? Double Take: 1990 and 1988 BMW M3s

That the E30 M3 has been on a stratospheric price rise is old news. So are the stories of “I could have bought one for $400 20 years ago”. You know what? I could have bought a really nice piece of land near the coast in Rhode Island for 10% its current value 30 years ago, but I didn’t. Old, too, are the stories of what floor some ex-M3 owners got off at; for unlucky examples, it was $10,000 a decade ago, but smarter sellers have cashed in on E30 mania in the past year. Thanks to some big number sales late in 2015, the E30 M3 market is stronger than ever which raises the question of how high it will go. At what point will people say “You know what? This is a 4-cylinder near-luxury economy car that I’m paying $100,000 plus for”? It would seem that every time someone raises the flag of THE END IS NEAR another shockingly priced example clears what appeared previously to be an insurmountable hurdle and Mr. Toad’s wild ride continues. While there’s been a slight cooling in the acceleration curve, it’s still pointed directly towards the Moon today. Hagerty’s Condition 1 price valuation for a 1990 M3 is now $115,000, and the average value of those insured is $55,800. But the market has realized that many of the examples coming to market weren’t condition 1, or frankly even condition 2. Lesser than top-tier example’s value has gone almost completely flat, and now it’s the really exceptional models that are rising to the top rather than the entire crop. So let’s take a look at two of the best out there today and muse over whether this trend will continue to new heights:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW M3 on eBay

1988 BMW M3

1988 BMW M3

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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)
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(Below, the black line is the DJIA)
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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

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

1990 BMW M3 Convertible

1990 BMW M3 Convertible

The automotive ‘Field of Dreams’, it seems these days that if you post it, they will come. Potential buyers (read: mostly tire kickers or keyboard warriors who pontificate about what they’d buy with when banks finally allow them to cash their internet checks) play the roll of Ray Kinsella, cutting through the field of vanilla cars, driven by a ceaseless desire to find their magical dream team. Playing the roll of ‘Topless’ Joe Jackson in today’s lineup is a 1990 BMW M3 – a car you could have gone to the driveup in to watch my topical movie. Now, truth told I’ve previously spoken about how fast convertibles don’t really make a tremendous amount of sense to me, and I have to point towards the E30 M3 Convertible as one particularly odd topless choice. What BMW did was infuse your normal 3 series with race-bred DNA, winding up the motor with the revtastic S14 and stiffening the suspension to handle all of your curb-hopping, door pounding action. And then, they chopped the roof off, adding 400 pounds to reinforce the chassis and utterly transforming the car from a potential podium to a potent pocketbook. Alright, that’s a huge exaggeration, but still, it just doesn’t make sense to me. It does, however, make sense to those who are happy to part with a fairly substantial chuck of change to jump into this pristine example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW M3 Convertible 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

1988 BMW M3 Europameister with 28,000 Miles

1988 BMW M3 Europameister with 28,000 Miles

Seller boisterousness and bravado is always a thing which interests me, and its something which comes out in droves when we’re talking about rare cars. In the U.S. market, many people consider the M3 to be rare, though it’s very far from being the most rare M product from the 1980s and it’s not hard to find multiple good examples for sale any day of the week. But rare does describe the limited edition models of the E30 M3. In total, 7 different limited edition models were produced. The best known are the Evolution series, but there were others that did not get the performance boost of the Evo models. One such example was the Europameister model shown here. They were built to celebrate Roberto Ravaglia’s successful seasons in both the European Touring Car Championship. Painted only Macao Blue Metallic with Silver Nappa leather, they were effectively loaded luxury versions of the normal M3. With only 148 produced, they’re indeed quite rare to see – especially stateside:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 Europameister on Classic Driver

1988 BMW 320is

1988 BMW 320is

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I’ve focused heavily on the now-importable forbidden fruit of Volkswagen recently, but the models VW kept from us tend more towards the funky instead of the fast. One of the tastiest BMW offerings that never came across the Atlantic is the “Italian M3,” or E30 320is. As a reminder, these were standard E30 chassis heavily upgraded with M parts, including the M3’s S14 but with a shorter stroke to circumvent Italy and Portugal’s heavy taxes on engines over 2000cc. It produced almost as much power as the M3 with a little less torque, and the same Getrag dog-leg gearbox ensured a powertrain experience as close to the all-conquering M3 as any. The suspension setup was similar as well, but an M-Tech II bodykit provided a much more subtle, gentleman-racer look compared to the E30’s legendary box flares. Carter featured one of the few in the US (and one of 2,542 in the world) a while back. It was for sale by the oft-derided Enthusiast Auto Group, well known for snagging low-mileage examples of rare BMWs and proceeding to ask exorbitant amount of money for them. That car with 50k miles was left on the auction block despite a high bid of $29k. It was also pretty much all-original, which is not the case here.

This 320is has had quite a few owners, starting with 3 in Italy, two in Germany (including the current seller), and 8 years with one in the UK. The British owner spent heavily to elevate his 320is to a true track weapon with an FIA M3 roll cage, race seats and 4-point harnesses, and a fully upgraded suspension. Other OEM+ items like E30 M3 rear brakes, E36 M3 chain tensioner, and M Coupe differential cover complete a package that is well thought-out and is surely an exceptional performer on road and track.…