A while back, I wrote up an E30 M3 that gave me weird feelings – I couldn’t tell if it was awesome or terrible. Flat black with an S52 turbo swap and a rebuilt title, it was otherwise pretty straight and seemed to be free from the normal constraints of E30 M3 respect. Well, it’s back on the market, albeit this time with a new paint job and some more eurotuner-appropriate polished-lip, painted-center BBS RCs. Those are pretty much the only changes, other than some further confusion regarding the state of the title. It now stands more as an M3 pushed closer to 11 as opposed to a true oddity, but the core remains the same: it will be a less-expensive, blisteringly fast E30 M3.
A straightforward description:
1988 BMW E30 M3
M52b25 Engine- 140MLS Headgasket with ARP Studs, New gaskets, seals.
e36 M3 cams, Excellent Compression
255 Walbro Fuel Pump
GT35R ball bearing turbo
V-band External 3″ downpipe 42lb injectors
Super sequential blow-off valve HKS
OBX Wastegate Kit 44mm w/ V-band External WG
Treehouse Wiring Harness Adapter
Custom dyno chip
With 5 speed transmission
UUC Stage2 lightweight flywheel with less then 10,000k since install
RACING DYNAMICS Thick Sway Bars front and Rear
LSD Rear- 2.93
D2 RACING RS Coilovers: 36 levels of adjustable damping plus Height
Stainless Steel brake lines
Upgraded Rotors and Ceramic Brake Pads
RACING DYNAMICS Steering wheel
SPARCO Sport Seats
Alpine CD Player
BBS 17” Style 5 RC rims- Freshly Polished with Dunloop tires at about 50% tread life left.
Gauge cluster is 100% working
New windshield. Tinted Windows front and rear
Custom Vented Hood
Fresh Body work: Re-sanded, primered, block sanded and then painted, cleared all with TOP notch PPG Paint. Then Wet Sanded and Buffed out.
The Bad: Has a Salvage/Branded title. Bought it with no engine no interior. Didn’t care as this was a project car for me. Was not wrecked the only reason it’s salvage is because the tow yard could not provide a smog so to save them self’s they wrote the car off.
Biggest issues are fleshing out what the hell actually happened with the title and preparing to deal with scornful looks from the S14 faithful. I think the seller made a good choice getting the car painted in that deep Diamondschwartz, and while I might do without the vented hood and Evo II front lip, they certainly signal that this M3 is packing a lot more heat than the S14 could muster. The lack of S14 and provenance are its downfall as well, and the price will reflect that. Bidding is warm, with 14 bids pushing it close to $8k with 5 days left and the reserve still on. With the pros and cons factored in, I’d say this car is worth less than $15k, but not by much.
At the turn of the millennium, before constantly evolving and critiquing car blogs were around and my car info came exclusively from car magazines, I didn’t even know most people found the M Coupe ugly. The shooting brake has always attracted me, providing a funky aesthetic that wagon nor roadster can achieve on their own. Throw in the curves and aggression of the Mified Z3 and you’ve got one of the coolest cars of the past decade. Today’s clownshoe is one of the slightly less sought-after S52s, but if I remember anything from my friend’s Dinan E36, that engine can be beyond satisfactory. The dearth of information in the ad is counteracted by the attractive numbers: $8k, 84k miles. Let’s do this.
2000 BMW M Coupe for sale on Craigslist Fort Collins
The big question marks here, maintenance and how hard it’s been loved, should be dealt with before laying the money down. The blemishes shown in the pictures may not bode well for the latter, but on the other hand they almost continue the rat-rod aesthetic created by the flat black wheels/vents/grille, which I love. The interior reminds me of a scary clown dream. I could probably get over that though, or get some carbon inserts and new seats. Either way, despite a little necessary love, $8k seems like a good price of entry, and I dig the not-babied-but-awesome vibe it’s got going for it; it could easily be cleaned up, or the tough love could continue. Good times to be had either way.
Sometimes the pieces just don’t fit, even if they’re good pieces. We’ve explored this theme (or lack thereof) a few times, most notably the over-accessorized 740i and the “magnet” Yellow E30 M3 with a turbo S52. Today’s find is a combination of the two, with the confused style of the 740 and an S52 all imposed on an otherwise unsuspecting E30 M3.
It’s not all bad. Sacrilegious as it may be, an S52 and 6-speed in an E30 must be awesome. It’s backed up with other fun goodies like E36 brakes and steering, coilovers, etc. Really the biggest highlight about this car is simply the fact that it’s an E30 M3; again, it’s not all bad.
But it’s mostly bad. All of the swapping and “scrubbing” transmission strike fear in the heart of the maintenance-minded and livid ire from the E30 crew. Even if I liked Hartge wheels, 19s are much, much too large for an E30 and much too bright amidst the (also dubious) smoked theme. And I know nearly every one of these cars has a rough drivers seat, but this one is truly cringe-worthy. And $14,500 for this? We all know E30s are collectible pieces of automotive gold, but this seller has only decreased its value and collectibility.
The thing that really grinds my gears is that this E30 M3 went from a car that was magically and uniquely greater than the sum of its parts to one that is the exact opposite. I’m sure its parts could do well on another auto; they just don’t belong here, nor do they fit together. Make a reasonable eBay offer, sell the parts, and try again.
At first I was excited about this post, but quickly I felt a small pang in my heart. I love E30 M3s, as I know many of us do, and I’ve seen people do some amazing modifications to them. So I’m posting this turbo-S52’d example because it’s impressive and interesting, but something inside says it’s a little bit wrong. Removing the S14 is a contentious issue among E30-lovers, so that hobbles the car from the get-go. Turbocharging is awesome in nearly all applications; but isn’t the only homologated M3 all about directness and uninhibited, naturally-aspirated glory? Then I think the final unsettling lemon-on-top is the exterior, namely the color and wheels. Alas, it’s an impressive exercise in E30 tuning, so I think it’s worth sharing.
I don’t hate this car, and it’s still hovering around $10k, so it’s not like it’s horribly overpriced. It’s just built based on different values and assertions than I hold with regards to what makes the E30 M3 so special. To each their own, and someone will love this. It’s just not me.
The E36 M3 sedan is the first fast car I drove, and, like a first love, has stuck with me ever since. Unleashing a couple of 16-year-olds in a Dinan M3 was perhaps a foolhardy move by my best friend’s dad, but luckily we kept it in good shape other than a few check-engine lights due to impatience with the M warm-up sequence. It was a dream to drive; every pebble in the road gently communicated to the hands, every gearchange a satisfying snick, and every corner was our own railed rollercoaster. E36s in general are fine, but the 4-door M3 has always struck me as markedly sexier than any of its generational brethren. I tried to buy that Dinan a few years ago at $14k, but couldn’t make the finances work (luckily it’s being saved for my friend). These days its not difficult to find them for under $10k, and this nicely modified 1997 sedan demonstrates the accessibility of clean examples.
1997 M3 Sedan for sale on Craigslist SF
I could do without the Supersprint DTM exhaust (Dinan’s looks almost stock but sounds perfect) and I’d raise the adjustable rear suspension just a little, but this is a very clean example with some nice, simple modification choices (I don’t know of a car that looks bad with BBS CHs). 157k miles is on the higher end, but at $9k it’s still a great value, and if the engine goes bad, spend some money swapping in a Euro S52 or S54 and you’ll still have a performance bargain.
Final Note: Thank god it’s a manual. In my mind, automatic E36 M3s might as well be junked.