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Clean E36 M3 Sedan near SF

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.



  1. Paul
    Paul January 8, 2010

    I agree with the manual versus auotomatic assessment, Nate. I’ve driven both versions of the E36 M3. Why anyone would have had the auto was beyond me.

  2. Nate
    Nate January 8, 2010

    Word. Having a slushbox mitigating the power would be a bummer, and also that gearbox is just so damn good! If it has an automatic, it’s no longer an M3 to me.

  3. bob Salter
    bob Salter January 13, 2010

    I am an M3 owner with a 1998 Sedan. That car is nice, but overpriced for the mileage. The market for M3’s is not very good really. A clean sub 80K car seems to be going in the 13-15 range, so a 157K car should be less than 9K.

  4. Jim
    Jim January 14, 2010

    After the original E30 M3 the next gen was nothing more than a marketing tool. They were no longer hand built and they made so many they have little value.

  5. Nate
    Nate January 14, 2010

    The rims could be sold for at least $1500, not to mention the suspension bits and exhaust. Yes, it’s high mileage, but with $2-3k of additional pieces it’s more like a $6-7k M3, which is just fine in my book.

  6. Marcus
    Marcus December 6, 2010

    Try an automatic with the 391 rear end and then re-post. Keep up with or leave any manual with similar mods.

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