The U.S. version of the E36 chassis Motorsport offering has steadily begun to emerge from its “also ran” position in the category of favored M products. It has languished in value since the introduction of its replacement, the wildly popular and more aggressive E46 M3. Long derided for being a bit too cost-conscience of BMW, the reality is that the car that came to the U.S. might have been a bit better.
Yes, I just said that.
It is true that the North American M3 made due with a less powerful and certainly much less exotic motor. The U.S. S50, based upon the 325i’s M50, displaced the same 3 liters as the European S50B30, but the two differed in nearly all other aspects. Only items like the oil filter are shared between the models; in Euro guise, the engine sang with individual throttle bodies. The engine also sported the trick continuously variable VANOS system to optimize performance. After finally being convinced to bring the second generation M3 to North America, the news came down that the western-bound motor would be less exotic; static VANOS, lower compression, and no individual throttle bodies.
Frustrated though enthusiasts may have been to not be getting the “true” model, many were just happy it was coming here at all. But the amazing thing was what the USA motor offered. At 240 horsepower, it was indeed 46 down on the European cousin. Yet other numbers told a different story; torque was nearly the same between the two, as was weight, and the real advantage of the Euro motor was only quite high in the rev range. That meant acceleration in the real world was effectively identical between Euro and USA models. Sure, you lost a bit of top speed – but where in the U.S. were you hitting 155, anyway?
The cost-cutting measures meant that the U.S. specification M3 came to market at a much more reasonable price than the European example. For under $37,000 out the door you got almost all of the performance of the pricier Euro model, the same looks, and to top it off, the S50 USA was cheaper to run. In terms of real world practicality, the E36 M3 was a winner then, and has been a winner ever since. With more than 10,000 produced for the U.S. market, the BF93 model was an instant hit and renewed the established benchmark of the performance category:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 at Modern Classics
Engine: 3.0 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 97,800 mi
Low mileage, maintenance records, mostly original, Helrot Red, 5 speed manual, Vader seats.
THE VEHICLE OFFERED
In 1995 many sports cars had lost their way â€¦.. Muscle cars tried to disguise themselves to blend in and the baby boomers were trending to minivans â€¦
Yet in a Car and Driverâ€™s article on the best sports cars they said
â€œThose who genuinely enjoy the act of driving and still demand a practical compact sedan will have a tough time finding a better choice than one of these 3-series Bimmers.â€
This BMW M3 in stunning Helrot Red over black demands respect 20 years later, even more so when the evaluation includes the value proposition.
This car hit our shores in Texas and has been cared for by each owner. Service records date back to 2000 allowing you the confidence of provenance.
Recently maintenance includes a new windshield, Contential tires all around, a refreshed cooling system including a new radiator and water pump. Fluids are all fresh and seals tight.
Several common and tasteful upgrades have been made including H&R front sway bar, smoked tail lights, clear corners, and Weather Tech floor mats. A set of winter wheels and tires is included in the sale.
The exterior presents very well and the VIN tag on all of the body panels proves that this car is wearing its original metal. In 2003 a small incident occurred at the left front fender, so minor that no body panel needed changing. Receipts validate the minor repairs.
The unique interior features manually operated Vader seats and a crack free dash. The instrument cluster is clear and displays without pixel issues. Of course no maintenance lights. The original radio works as it should.
The original manuals and books are present in the glove box. The rear seats show virtually no use and as a bonus they fold down for extra storage capacity.
This car sets the standard among its peers and leads the pretenders from the front of the pack. Nowâ€™s your opportunity.
Click here for additional photographs.
Call Max. 208-720-8854
This Hellrot coupe is one of 8,515 produced for the ’95 market, and it was produced late in the run – November, 1995 in Regensburg. Like many of the early M3s, options were fairly minimal; this car had the electric sunroof (401), passenger airbag (243), air conditioning (530), cruise control (540), on-board computer (554), upgraded stereo and prep for a CD player (676,686,694), along with the M leather steering wheel (710). The seats were the standard manual Vaders, and for most that’s a very good thing. Early E36 M3s wore the Double Spoke 1 (DS1) design that is a square fitment, and this car retains its original wheels. The rear spoiler appears to be dealer installed which wasn’t uncommon. Condition throughout is very good from what is shown, with gleaming paintwork and few flaws on the interior outside of expected bolster wear on the N55W Schwarz leather. Modifications are minimal and easily reversed, and the seller discloses recent maintenance along with records.
Value has been a subject of much debate on the E36 chassis, but recent auctions point towards a general rise of clean examples like this. Just a few weeks ago I looked at a similar ’95 in Dakar Yellow. That car had a few less miles and the nicer forged wheels, but otherwise was quite comparable to this example and sold for $18,400. Accepting that the color was probably a part of the premium, the asking price for better examples under 100,000 seems to continue to be on the rise, and like the 944 Turbo I’m left to wonder how much longer these models will be overlooked.