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.
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:
Much of my affinity for BMW’s Estoril Blue was my introduction to it on my friend’s father’s E36 M3 sedan. It was part of the car’s identity, always referred to as “the Blue car” and perfectly supporting the E36 M3’s understated aggression with a hue that is gorgeous but not extreme. Techno Violet may carry a more intimidating name, but it serves a similar purpose in the BMW palette. It shines a deep, gorgeous purple, but is neither garish nor loud. The E36 M3 sedan is one of my favorite performance values – maybe not moreso than the E39 5-series, but available for even less money.
Today’s M3 looks well cared-for, with just one large blemish: a rust spot in the rear fender from a “low-speed slide into a guard rail,” aka someone hit the gas too hard in the rain. Beyond that, the maintenance records, clean interior, and restrained upgrades (Dinan suspension and chip are no-brainers) make for a high-mileage M3 that’s worth taking seriously. With a Buy-It-Now of under $6,500, it’s clear the seller is serious about selling it, too.
The E30 before it, the E36 chassis BMW quickly became a fan-favorite for affordable, practical, and sporting German motoring. From nearly its inception I can recall tuned and tweaked models showing up at the track. Relatively easy engine swaps, a plethora of aftermarket tuner and support and with a ton of them produced, it’s easy to see why the E36 is a popular choice for enthusiasts. That said, we’ve seen just about every conceivable swap completed and nearly every permutation of E36 cross these pages; but once in a while, one really stands out. Or, in this case, two:
Well, I hope this will stir some interest, as I think this is a bit of an interesting comparison. What level of performance can you buy for $10,000 (give or take) these days? Surprisingly, there are a lot of options – and those options vary pretty seriously in their execution and packages; there’s a wagon and a sports car, two sedan-based coupes and a hatchback. Engines range from a 2 liter turbo to a V8, with a bit of everything in between. Yet, what appears to be a very strange comparison linked only by price is revealed to be much closer when you look at performance figures:
E36 M3: 240 hp, 0-60 6.0 seconds, 3,200 lbs
944 Turbo: 220 hp, 0-60 5.9 seconds, 2,900 lbs
CLK500: 302 hp, 0-60 5.7 seconds, 3,800 lbs
S4 Avant: 250 hp, 0-60 5.6 seconds, 3,700 lbs
GTi: 200 hp, 0-60 6.6 seconds, 3,200 lbs
The range is much closer than you’d expect – especially when you consider that these figures could easily be equaled in margin of error, driver skill and reaction time. In the twisties, the lower powered cars like the GTi catch up to the higher power CLK and S4. All are, in one way or another, practical choices. Some are destined (or already) classics, while others will likely fade away. So what would be your choice? Let’s start with an M3 we’ve already seen:
If earlier’s Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 911 Turbo didn’t quench your lust for all things purple, I’m happy to offer another Barney-colored treat for you. However, unlike the friendly and more than somewhat irritating children’s star, the object of interest here is the very popular and quickly become a classic E36 M3 sedan. Offering practicality, a stiff chassis with lighter weight than the coupes, this car has turned into one of the more sought after BMWs in recent history. This is especially poignant considering the current state of the rest of the 1980s M market; if you don’t jump on the bandwagon now, you’re likely to miss out. Further heightening the appeal of this sedan is the more rare shade of Techno Violet; a polarizing but popular color, and of course the full spectrum of Dinan S3 upgrades. Take a look at this purple people eater:
Last week’s M3 v. S4 10K showdown wasn’t particularly a success, I’ll admit. No one wanted the question marks behind those two modified cars that were arguably overprice and too-high mileage. I’m back today with another duo, and as always I’ve tried to spice it up a bit. Today we’re going to look at a E36 M3 Sedan versus a E46 M3 Convertible. No brainer? Ah, but the sedan has an automatic and is the semi-polarizing Techno Violet. Not to let the E46 run away with things either, the E46 is the less-desirable convertible with the less-desirable SMG transmission with many, many more miles. Yet, they’re offered around the same price, which begs the question “Which would you choose”? Let’s look at the sedan first:
Feeling brave? The E36 M3 has been a fantastic performance deal for quite a few years, but we’re pretty sure that thanks to it’s dad, the E30 M3, prices are on the rise. A fair amount of these cars were modded to death, driven to death, or became donors for motor swaps into earlier chassis. But every once in a while you come across one that’s covered some miles and been loved – even if it wasn’t the way you would love it. Today’s example is a rare Techno Violet coupe with some light modifications and some not so light mileage:
Engine: 3.2 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 229,000 mi
Price: $5,999.99 Buy It Now
1997 BMW M3 2 door coupe 5-speed with 228,000 highway miles. Car runs and drives like it has 20,000 miles. No issues whatsoever. The paint is immaculate, nice clean, no rust, couple of minor scratches but no dents, very, very clean body for a 16 year old vehicle. The car has Pioneer 7 inch screen with navigation, Bluetooth, a basic sound system with kicker sub in the rear, a back up camera when you put it in reverse. The vehicle is lowered, new glass German headlights with Angel Eyes, HID system headlights and foglights, Euro eyelids, custom two tone suede/leather interior, suede headliner, brand new tires all around, 99 M3 steering wheel, etc. What you see is what you get. No engine check lights, no malfunctions, no leaks and the AC is cold as a refrigerator. Just one sold car with no stories attached. A lot of time and money was spent. Please no crazy low offers, let’s no waste each other’s time. I have a 100% eBay feedback and I stand behind my product.