Double Take: Red E30 M3s

Ahh, red E30 M3s. Sure, these boxy bulldogs look good in just about any hue, but red as a symbol of lust and speed is not the exclusive property of the Italians. Red also plays an interesting part in the E30 M3’s history, as the striking, orange-tinted Hennarot was discontinued after one year in the US and supplanted by Zinnoberrot, a deeper and more classic hue. Both are beautiful in their own right, but Hennarot’s intensity and rarity has elicited more fandom and desire in an already-vociferous market.

Today we have two beautiful M3s from the same seller and in the same price range, each a shining example of its chosen red with a couple of unique touches.
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Click for details: 1989 BMW E30 M3 on eBay


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Year: 1989
Model: M3
Engine: 3.0 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 118,274 mi
Price: $43,000 OBO
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1989 BMW M3 – 118,274 miles / E36 M3 Euro-spec Engine / Original Low-Mileage S14 Engine Included

This is a 1989 BMW M3 with a gorgeous Cinnabar Red exterior paint (all original paint) and a black leather interior. The “E30” BMW M3 has become a iconic piece of automotive history as it represents the first generation of the legendary M3 road cars.

The vehicle was most recently owned by one of the greatest BMW enthusiasts that we have ever encountered. This gentleman was the owner of a BMW garage in which he worked on both road cars and race cars. During his 24 years of ownership, this M3 was very well maintained given his expertise as a mechanic and it was also driven with care. Unfortunately, he decided to part ways with it due to illness, but we acquired it with the intention of finding a good home for this special car.

The only modification on the vehicle is an engine swap. The original 2.3L 4 cylinder engine was removed and replaced by a Euro-spec 3.0L 6 cylinder BMW M3 engine (E36 generation). We have the original BMW S14 engine (2.3L 4 cylinder) and it is included in the sale. This engine swap was done near the beginning of the car’s life (1991 or 1992), so the mileage on the original S14 engine is quite low.

The vehicle features a 5-speed manual transmission and a number of options including: a power sunroof, heated front seats, cruise control, air conditioning and more. This is Canadian-spec vehicle with an impeccable CarFax report and no accidents.

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Typically, an E36 engine swap in an E30 M3 is just below a salvage title when it comes to black marks on a sale of such a bona fide classic, but this is a unique situation for two reasons. First, this is not the standard US-spec S50/52 swap but a Euro-spec S50B30, the 282hp beast of an inline-6 that eternally made the US E36 seem underpowered. Secondly, the barely-used S14 still comes with the car! This is the first time I’ve ever seen a swapped E30 M3 come with its original engine and creates an extremely compelling package. An extra 90hp available under a beautifully stock exterior with the ability to reinstall the rare, numbers-matching four-banger is the best of all worlds. Unless you have to have a Henna car, that is…

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Click for details: 1988 BMW E30 M3 on eBay

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Year: 1988
Model: M3
Engine: 2.3 liter inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 131,455 mi
Price: Reserve auction, $45k Buy It Now
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1988 BMW M3 – Hennarot Orange Paint (Original) / 131,455 miles

This is a 1988 BMW M3 with a gorgeous “Hennarot” orange exterior paint (factory/original paint) and a black leather interior. The “E30” BMW M3 has become an iconic piece of automotive history as it represents the first generation of the legendary M3 road cars.

Exclusively in its early months of production, the E30 M3 was offered in an a very rare exterior color known as Hennarot orange. This very distinct orange-red paint was only produced for a limited time up until mid-1987 (our vehicle was built in June 1987). Although the exact number of Hennarot M3s imported into North America is unknown, it is believed to be only a few hundred units. The rarity of Hennarot orange caused it to become one of the most sought-after E30 M3 colors by collectors and enthusiasts.

The vehicle features a 5-speed manual transmission and a number of options including: a power sunroof, heated front seats, cruise control, air conditioning and more. The car’s heart and soul is an excellent 2.3L 4-cylinder engine (BMW S14). The vehicle is currently sitting on Hartge wheels, but the original wheels painted in a matching Hennarot orange are also included in the sale (see photo gallery). This is Canadian-spec vehicle with an impeccable CarFax report and no accidents.

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This seller does an outstanding job of capturing the difference between Zinnober and Henna, the latter being a notoriously difficult color to appropriately capture on camera. This example wears some slightly upsized, modern-looking Hartge wheels which are nice but not as attractive as the originals. Like the engine in the Zinnober car, the original wheels are included, but putting them on won’t quite get you to that fully-stock look; the centers have been painted in matching Henna just in case you hadn’t had enough. With just over 130k miles, it’s a mid-mileage M3 that has few flaws and plenty of cachet.

So, you’ve decided you’re going to bite the bullet, drop $45k and get on the E30 M3 train before they’re all hundreds of thousands of dollars. Which red do you go for? A Zinnober with two generations of M3 power at your disposal, or the rare Henna with some loud wheel choices? I’d be hard-pressed to turn down S50 fun and a low-mileage S14 and see this car as holding more real value, but I’d smile bigger seeing the Hennarot version in the garage each day.

-NR


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3 Comments

  1. These cars are in Montreal where I live. I’ll see if I can’t pop by and have a look at some point. I think I’ve seen the Zinno one on the roads. I have to admit the seller loses points with me for referring to “Hennarot Orange”. Doesn’t he realize ‘rot’ is German for ‘red’? I have a henna M635CSi and although my kids call it orange, it’s a red car!

  2. Very similar to the difference between Mars Red and Tornado Red with the Audi/VWs. Mars is decidedly much more orange, but it’s still red.

  3. Henna is an 88MY only color…and for me is original in the spirit of the grand-daddy M1..
    That said, I hope this guy gets the 45k ask as my 89 has less miles…
    If in the market, I’d take the first one all day…while the swap hurts value to a collector….he claims that the S14 original drivetrain that comes with the car is fully functioning

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