Crazy though it may sound, this E36 – priced at $24,000 – may actually be a reasonable deal. Wind the clock back a few years, and that statement was inconceivable; E36s were relegated to the bargain basement of BMW M pricing. That’s not the case anymore, though, as pricing has been trending sharply upwards – recently a few non-Lightweight examples have crested $60,000 sales after fees. Hard to believe? Well, perhaps more a sign of the trends, but finding a neat and clean E36 is certainly no longer as easy as it once was, and early examples are – amazingly – able to be registered as antiques in more than a few states.
So here we are, with a very shouty Dakar Yellow ’94. And if you know E36 M3s, you know that a pre-’95 model year automatically means one important thing – European specification. Well, at least it should mean that. Let’s take a look:
BMW’s second generation M5 followed the same recipe as the outgoing E28; manual transmission, rear-drive, howling inline-6 under the hood. But the E34 was far from a copy of the car that was really credited with being the first super sedan. BMW upped with power first with the 3.6 liter version of the S38; though the increase in displacement was a scant 82 ccs, the result was impressive. BMW Motorsport GmbH fit a new cam, a higher compression head, and a new engine management system to yield 311 horsepower at a rev-busting 6,900 rpms. They weren’t done.
In 1992 M upped the capacity again, this time to just 5 cc shy of 3.8 liters. Even higher compression, a further revision in electronic management, and a few other odds and ends now netted 340 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. Again, they weren’t done. Perhaps tired of Audi cornering the go-fast-5-door market with their 200 20V Avant, in 1992 BMW launched the M5 Touring. Production began in March 1992 and ran through 1995. All E34 M5 Tourings were left-hand drive 3.8 models, and a total of 891 were produced.
BMW opted not to bring the enlarged motor or the M Touring model to the United States, as the 540i took over the top rungs of North American production. But now legal for importation, these rare Ms are one of the more desirable models around:
This M3 sold for best offer under $37,900 on 11/22/2021.
A Phoenix Yellow M3 coupe? Damn straight I can’t look away. Back in May I looked at the most recent one after a string of a few others:
2004 BMW M3 Coupe
PYM cars continue to hit big numbers when they come up for sale, with a 44k mile 2001 6-speed coupe recently trading for $55,000 – close to its original sticker price. Today’s car has over double the mileage, but it’s also got a bit of a treat inside:
Developed by BMW Individual, the ZHP Performance Package added $3,900 to the price of your 330i model. That sounds like a lot, but you got some meaningful upgrades. M-Tech body pieces adorned the car front, sides and rear and blacked out trim replaced the chrome. So too were M-branded special Style 135 18″ wheels, with tires to match the width of bigger brother M3. Lower and stiffer suspension was met with more negative camber, special reinforcement, and revised control arms. The engine was upgraded too, with unique cams and a revised engine map resulting in 10 more horsepower, but the ZHP was more than 10 hp quicker off the line thanks to a shorter final drive and a 6-speed manual borrowed from M.
These are fan favorites, and can draw really big bids – indeed, some sell for more than M3s. Let’s take a look at this Imola Red example and see where it falls:
Back in February, I took a look at the E32 range-topping 750iL:
1990 BMW 750iL
Shortly after that model year, though, BMW introduced two new models with V8s under the hood. Following mostly traditional naming conventions, the M60 3.0 and 4.0 V8s slotted in to the new 730i and 740i models. Their all-aluminum construction mean that they were not any heavier than the outgoing venerable six, while being shorter and more compact. Power on the M60B30 was respectable and in line with the M30B35 inline-six; 215 horsepower and 214 lb-ft of torque, while the bigger brother had 282 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. That was only a few horsepower short of the V12, and with its much cheaper price and better fuel economy it was no surprise that it was a hit. The formula would be carried on for the next few generations of 7s, but it’s become more rare to see the early cars still floating around. Let’s take a look at this ’93:
Like the looks of the M2 CS but need four doors…and 180 horsepower more? That’s the recipe for BMW’s 2022 M5 CS, which sheds a claimed 230 lbs from the base M5 while upping horsepower to 627. To achieve the weight drop, the M5 CS utilizes carbon-fiber front seats, twin bucket rear seats in place of the standard bench, less sound insulation, and a carbon hood, front splitter, mirror caps, and rear valance. Also included in the $143,000 base price are forged 20″ wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes, revised suspension tuning, and gold/bronze details. It all pulls together for a pretty slick package – if you can afford it. And today’s limited-edition one isn’t hitting the auction circuit anywhere close to sticker. Let’s take a look:
Tired of outrageous G-Wagen pricing but need a huge, powerful, and ostentatious SUV in your life? BMW has the answer for you…sort of. Their Alpina partnership has now extended to the X7, and the result is what we see here – the XB7. The Alpina-tuned 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 is up to 612 horsepower in these beasts, and of course they had their hand at reprogramming the transmission, fiddling with the suspension, installing their own trim, and popping on massive wheels. This one is a gorgeous color, too – Ametrin Metallic, an extra cost option. Full of electronics, a few optional extras, and grand in scale, I bet you assume that this one would be priced in line with the Gs on the market; but no, it’s a lot more affordable, surprisingly.
Halfway inbetween the base M2 and the semi-crazed M2 CS lies the M2 Competition. This took the basic recipe of the M2 (big motor is small chassis) and turned it up a few notches. You got an even bigger motor, the big brother M3/4 S55 twin-turbo inline-six, and though it was turned down a bit you were still looking at over 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. Yes, please! Better still, it could be had with a manual transmission, and BMW popped on some revised and pretty cool wheels as well. The extra motor would set you back a little over $4k out the door, but surely these will remain on the radar as a future classic given their relatively raw, analog experience. What will a recent one set you back today?
The E53 BMW may not go down as the prettiest in the company’s history, but it was responsible in part for the company’s genesis into the modern market. Launched in 1999, the X5 was the company’s first ‘truck’, though it was dubbed by the company a Sport Activity Vehicle and based heavily on the E39 chassis. That wasn’t a bad thing, as the chassis dynamics of the E39 are universally lauded. It also meant that you could get some pretty slick motors in the X5, and that was certainly true towards the end of the run. The 4.6iS was launched in 2001, and had beefy wheels, a body kit, and 342 horsepower from the M62 under the hood. Not done, the N62 version replaced it in 2004, and saw the first generation X5 out in the 4.8iS guise we see here with 355 horsepower on tap. They’re fairly hard to miss in terms of sheer presence, and I have to confess – I really have a soft spot for these. Let’s take a look at this Imola Red example:
Looking through today’s BMW lineup, where everything has a million M badges to accompany the gazillion horsepower, I’ll be honest – little excites me. The M2 is pretty awesome, and a properly equipped 4-Series is a nice looker, but most I have trouble distinguishing from the Kia lineup. So it’s nice to head back in time a bit to something that’s both unique and understated at the same time. Of course, you’ll also want rear-drive only, and a singing naturally aspirated inline-six.
Today’s Z4 has all of those things. In front is the N52 inline-six, here rated at 261 horsepower and 232 lb.ft of torque. For those counting, that’s a bit more horsepower and nearly the same torque as the S52 had only a few years earlier, and N52 has a lighter alloy block. They sound great, too. The E86 was rear-drive only, too. And rare? You better believe it. We’ve all grown accustom to the unique looks of the M Coupe and its resultant low production numbers. But the 3.0si barely sold better. Just over 2,100 were sold here in just two model years, a few hundred more than the M variant. You’re not likely to see them cruising down the road in your commute, in other words. And while the looks are polarizing, I think they’re rather pretty. The best part? They’re also pretty affordable.