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1997 BMW M3 Sedan

The first BMW to arrive in our family was an Arctic Silver E36. My dad bought the 318iS coupe from the British telecom giant he worked for, some time toward the end of the 90s. It was a manager’s company car and after three years serving on the fleet it was to be sold off. Ever since then, I’ve always enjoyed seeing arctic silver paint on this generation 3-series. Despite articles proclaiming that silver is the new beige, I think the color really suits the clean, crisp lines of the “dolphin” body shape. But the paintwork isn’t the only thing to admire about this particular car – an M3/4/5 (a four door, five speed M3). The sedan version of the E36 M3 is as fast and finely balanced as the coupe, but adds the practicality of two rear doors. A pocket rocket for those with a family to cart around, these cars are fun and practical, even if they are notably down on power in comparison with their Euro-spec counterparts.


Year: 1997
Model: M3 Sedan
Engine: 3.2 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 43,095 mi
Price: Reserve auction

Goodman Reed Motorcars


Offered for sale is a gorgeous, 43k mile, 5-speed manual, two owner 1997 BMW M3 (E36) Sedan, finished in desirable and timeless Arctic Silver Metallic (#309) over Grey leather. Sold new by BMW of Honolulu, HI to a retired manufacturing executive and philanthropist from Illinois, he would use the car sparingly for six months out of the year at his vacation home in Lahaina, always keeping it well maintained and garaged. Advancing age eventually prevented the family’s twice yearly trips to Hawaii, and in 2006 he traded the car in to BMW of Maui.

The second owner’s close friend was the service manager at one of Southern California’s largest BMW dealerships and he threatened to buy the car himself if his friend didn’t pull the trigger. Having been looking for a low mileage M3, the second owner couldn’t believe his luck when one turned up in Hawaii – let alone on the very island where he lived – so he bought the car and continued the original owner’s sparing use and care, clocking less than 3k miles per year until we were fortunate enough to acquire it earlier this summer.

A testament to the prior owners’ careful use, the car remains in very clean condition. Never in an accident, the body is entirely straight, with factory correct panel fits and gaps throughout. The finish is in great shape: deep, lustrous and marred only by minor imperfections, none of which are significant enough to really appear in any of the photographs. There are minor imperfections on the door rails, a scuff on the passenger side of the front valence and at the bottom of the rear passenger-side wheel arch, and there are a few imperfections on the original 17” M Double-Spoke wheels, which are wrapped in Michelin Pilot tires with plenty of remaining tread. That being said, and as the photographs show, the car presents beautifully. The car’s interior is equally as clean, the grey leather seats and arm rests showing only the minimal wear commensurate with a 43k mile example and the carpets, interior panels, dash and headliner all in excellent condition. The car is fitted with an aftermarket Kenwood in-dash CD/radio unit (with easy AUX and USB plug ins), but can be swapped back to original with relative ease if so desired.

The car was delivered new with the following options: Luxury Package, Sport Seats, M-Sport Steering Wheel, Electric Sunroof, Front Passenger Airbag, Automatic Climate Control, Cruise Control, On Board Computer, HiFi Speakers and BMW 6-Disc Changer (Currently Disconnected). The car comes complete with its two original keys, two original alarm fobs, valet key, all of the original books and manuals and an entirely clean Carfax report. Also, upon receiving the car, we immediately brought it to our local independent BMW expert who performed a comprehensive Pre- Purchase Inspection, a copy of which will be sent to serious buyers upon request.

Unsurprisingly, the inspection report reveals a mechanically excellent, turn key E36 M3. The S52 3.2L I6 engine fires up immediately, idles consistently and pulls strongly and smoothly through each of the 5-speed transmission’s gears. No leaks are evident, compression is strong across all cylinders, and the E36’s renowned agility and handling make the ride quality the perfect marriage of performance and modern comfort. All of the electronics (power windows, sunroof, A/C, on board computer, etc.) work exactly as they should, and the car is a joy to drive regardless of whether cruising through town, bombing down the highway or whipping through the canyons. Punchy and athletic, in our humble opinion the E36 M3 is one of BMW’s most ultimate driving machines, certainly in terms of driver enjoyment.

It’s for that reason that this example represents an incredibly uncommon opportunity – the E36 M3 is so pleasing from behind the wheel that a vast majority of them have been run into the ground or dramatically modified as track cars or (often misguided) street-tuners. Finding an unmodified, low original mile, two-owner, mechanically excellent example is virtually impossible, especially in the sedan variant and finished in desirable colors. As the E24, E28, E30 and E34 markets have born witness, modern classic BMWs are coming into their own as true collector cars, and the E36 generation is quickly following suit, making this 43k mile example an excellent, grin-inducing investment.

We want this car to go to great home and would be happy to answer any questions or discuss a deal, so please feel free to email us or call us at 805-202-4557. You can also visit us online at GoodmanReed.

Goodman Reed Motorcars

Santa Barbara, CA

For U.S. buyers a 10% non-refundable deposit is required within 3 days of the auction’s end, the balance to be paid within 7 days of the auction’s end. Foreign buyers must pay in full within 7 business days of the auction’s end. Buyer is responsible for shipping, however we’d be more that happy to help with recommendations and arrangements. The car is listed locally and we reserve the right to end the auction at any time should it sell prior to auction’s end. Thanks for your interest.

This low mileage example – showing just 43k miles on the odometer – looks stunning in arctic silver over a dove gray leather interior. There’s no ungainly rear deck spoiler or tasteless modifications: just a completely stock car sporting M-Double-spokes, sitting at the proper ride height.

Exterior flaws are limited to a few minor cosmetic blemishes while the S52 motor, good for about 240 hp, is said to be in excellent mechanical condition, with no leaks or loss of compression apparent. The car has sport seats showing little wear, and the headliner and door panels appear to be in good shape (unlike those on a lot of BMWs from the era, whose interiors have often not aged well).

Nice E36 M3 sedans tend to command a price tag of around $15,000. I expect this to sell for closer to $20,000, perhaps a little more, given the miles and condition on show (at the time of writing, bidding has already reached $18k). Potential buyers face a tough choice: drive it or store it, hoping it’ll go up in value? Personally, I’d just drive it.

– Craig


  1. ace10
    ace10 July 17, 2017

    Dealer is Asking $26K on their website. Not many comparables on the market.

  2. VRblahblahblah
    VRblahblahblah July 17, 2017

    That’s not a luxury package car, it’s a sport package with aftermarket wood trim. Front bumper, side skirts and the m stripes on the seats are all consistent, the wood trim is in the wrong spots on the dash.

    JONATHAN LINN July 18, 2017

    Wow. Weren’t these in the $8-12,000 range about 5 years ago? I find the market for used BMW’s is going to price itself out for normal middle-class Americans

  4. ace10
    ace10 July 19, 2017

    Bidding ended at $18,1.
    Just not much interest. 4 bidders on a ten day auction.

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