1998 BMW M3 Sedan

1 While the E36 M3 coupe is known to be a relatively quick, dynamic and fun car to drive, it’s often hard to find a good one. That’s largely because so many of the coupes have ended up as thrashed track-rods with dubious modifications. On the other hand when they do turn up for sale, the relatively uncommon sedan versions are more likely to be found in stock, unmolested condition and as such have tended to keep their value. This is probably because they’re more likely to have been used for trips to the organic grocery store rather than to a track. (There’s an Arctic Silver one with Yakima roof racks that I often see where I live in DC, parked near a place colloquially known as Whole Paycheck, and yes, I eye it jealously every time I see it). The two extra doors do not fundamentally alter the M3 package, except to add a healthy dose of everyday practicality, while the M-tech bodykit that distinguishes the Ms from ordinary cars lends the already handsome sedan body shape just the right amount of sporting aggression. I think these cars are well on their way to becoming a bit of a cult classic. This M3 has those two extra doors plus the all important 5-speed manual gearbox, making it an “M3/4/5” in enthusiast-speak.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Sedan on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1998 BMW M3 Coupe

While derided by some for being a bit watered down compared to its European counterpart, there is no denying that the E36 M3 was a wildly popular model and widened the appreciation and market of BMW and the M brand. This particular model alone – the BG93 North American 3.2 Coupe – accounted for 11,793 examples produced. That’s greater than the total number of M products that had been imported to the U.S. prior to the E36 (E24, E28, E30, E34, and 850CSi) and doesn’t account for the 10,000 plus 3.0 Coupes, 6,300 convertibles and and 8,600-odd sedans. You’d expect, then, that finding good examples of the E36 would be quite simple as there are some 35,000 to choose from. But the popularity of the E36 M3 was in part its undoing, too. The flood of the cars devalued the market; many fell into hands unable to maintain them or who treated them like a pinball, bouncing them off every curb, guardrail or other cars. Additionally, the E36’s shift towards mass production did have tangible effects on the long term quality of the product. It’s not unusual to see rusty examples with the trim falling off and headlights so nebulous they’re useless. As a result, finding excellent examples of the E36 is somewhat cause for celebration and really nice ones have been finding a greater appreciation in the enthusiast world. This ’98 Coupe is certainly one of the better quality examples out there for sale today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Coupe on Providence Craigslist

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1998 BMW M3 Sedan 3.6 Widebody 6-speed

Here’s an interesting one that has had me scratching my head quite a bit. What originally caught my eye was the bright Estoril Blue Metallic sitting on some refinished E46 Style 67 wheels. It was worth a second eyeball, which resulted in me noticing it was a 4-door. CLICK – I’m interested in seeing more. Once in the posting, the title became even more interesting – Racing Dynamics RD Sport? Lesser known than Alpina or Hartge, but still producers of some pretty trick products. 3.6 liter motor? 6-speed? TELL ME MORE!!!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Sedan 3.6 Widebody 6-speed on eBay

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1999 BMW M3 Convertible

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The E36 M3 has a curious reputation. Not quite a legendary track machine like its predecessor, the E30, and not quite a sublimely complete driver’s car like its successor, the E46, the E36 is the awkward middle child of the M family. Even BMW themselves seemed only half-heartedly committed to the car in America, choosing to offer it here with a less powerful engine than its European cousin. The resulting antipathy felt toward the car by some M-purists, who regard it as little more than a 328i with M-badging, has kept values low on these for quite some time. As a result, many of the used examples you find on Craigslist have been bought cheaply and thrashed, crashed or otherwise abused.

Still, they are very good cars – torquey, well-balanced and offering a dynamic driving experience. It’s always nice to come across a low mileage example in mint condition that has been kept in stock form. This convertible in stunning Techno Violet is such a car.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW M3 Convertible on Hemmings

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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

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1991 BMW 318is S52

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The 318is usually receives praise for being the entertaining baby of the E30 family, underpowered but a handling master. This Wee30 has received the popular S52 swap from an E36 M3 automatic, thankfully mated here to 5-speed from a 328i. The modifications don’t stop there as the seller went OEM+++ with items like E36 M3 front control arms, E30 M3 rear suspension and brakes, and a tight Z3 steering rack. The list continues with great non-OEM upgrades like Ground Control coilovers and a custom intake on the cold side with new headers and a straight pipe on the hot. The slicktop body is straight despite a rear-end collision in its history, and the whole thing received a decently-done fresh coat of Brilliantrot two years ago.

With a reserve auction and Buy It Now of $10,500, this extremely well-done E30 will likely go for less than $10k.

Click for details: 1991 BMW 318is on eBay

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1991 BMW 325i S52 Supercharged

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As the supply dwindles, I’ve been spending time looking at various clean, mostly original E30s. Today, however, we have a 1991 325i that has received the business under the hood, namely an S52 swap from an E36 M3 plus an Active Autowerk supercharger. That heady combination puts out 357 horsepower at the wheels and 411bhp at the crank, plenty to make this 2800-pound coupe punch well above its weight class. The mechanical build is too plentiful and thorough to fully recount here, but it has Raceland coilovers, Stoptech brakes, and just about all the bushings, mounts, and miscellaneous performance parts you can stuff under an E30 to help handle 250% of its original power. The interior looks ready to rumble too with black suede Recaros and NRG wheel and some other subtle racy bits, but this car is about go, not show. The exterior has a little clear coat peel and dents but the deeper front lip and M3-esque Zender spoiler should distract any passerby. It all adds up to a package that looks pretty standard-modded-E30 good but will smoke just about any non-exotic on the road.

Click for details: 1991 BMW 325i on eBay

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1997 BMW M3 Sedan

Time to look at another infrequently selected color on a popular affordable enthusiast car! I’ve run through a few different shades of M3 Sedans recently and today another one graces our pages. It’s been a bit since we’ve looked at either Daytona Violet or the replacement Techno Violet Metallic but they’re hues I love to see every time. Unlike last week’s automatic Byzanz Metallic, this Techno Violet sedan is a sought after manual sedan and thankfully doesn’t have the rear spoiler which often looks clunky on the design. It’s also one of only a claimed 227 manual Techno Violet sedans:

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1997 BMW M3 Sedan

It’s nice to back away from some of the more exotically priced cars from time to time and look at a more reasonably priced enthusiast car like the E36 M3. For under $10,000, you can still find some pretty good examples of the breed and they offer a lot of bang for the proverbial buck with plenty of aftermarket support and an enthusiastic community full of model-specific hacks. Let’s take a look at another wildly colored example that caught my eye this week – one of the claimed 88 Byzanz Metallic Sedans imported:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW M3 Sedan on eBay

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1997 BMW 318ti with S52 swap

I never understood why, but hatchback seems to be a dirty word in the US. So many of my friends eschew these vehicles, whether in three or five door form. Curiously, SUVs are popular here in the Land of the Free. So it seems Americans might not be all that averse to practicality, just as long as it is jacked up and classified as something more butch than your average passenger car. BMW dabbled with the idea of a hatchback 3 series for a number of years across two generations, however, only the E36 318ti, or Compact as it was known as, was sold stateside. While there were a number of different options you could spec a 318ti with, you had one choice of engine, the 1.9 liter inline-4. Customers in other markets, however, had access to the 2.5 liter inline-6 in the form of the 323ti. Enthusiasts took note of this and we’ve seen a number of six-cylinder ti swaps appear over time. This example for sale in Miami has an S52 from a 1999 M3 under the bonnet. It looks to be a rather tidy swap, with its look enhanced by the BBS RK alloys.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW 318ti on eBay

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