2015 BMW M235i Convertible

Recently I looked at both the M2 and it’s badder, madder brother the M2 CS. They’re both giant killers of cars, following the age-old recipe of ‘stick a big motor in a small chassis’. Well, there’s a third option BMW offered with that formula. It’s a bit less wild than the other two, but it also has a lot of stuff going for it.

The M235i effectively picked up the reigns from the outgoing 135i. BMW stretched the wheelbase an inch and overall length 3 inches, gave it 4-Series styling up front and a revised rear end, and a refreshed interior – but underneath, the important bits remained effectively the same. You got a 320 horsepower N55 turbocharged inline-six that could be mated with a six-speed manual, big brakes, and M Sport suspension. True, like the 135i it wasn’t a full M model, but it’s still a lot of the experience of one. And unlike the M2, you could get more color inside! And, you could get a convertible! On top of all that, you can grab one for relatively short money today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2015 BMW M235i Convertible on eBay

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2007 BMW 750Li

The BMW E65, and its long-wheelbase sibling the E66, were a radical departure from the beloved E38 I just looked at. But the fourth generation 7 was necessary to move the car forward in the leaps and bounds necessary to keep pace in the large executive market. Was it all bad? No, the post Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) cars starting in 2008 offered updated iDrive computer systems, styling, and engines. Here, this E66 has the N62 V8 cranking out 360 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. And it’s got some pretty cool options. And it’s a neat color combo! And, it’s cheap!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 BMW 750Li on eBay

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Double Take: 2004 BMW M3 Coupes

Phoenix Yellow Metallic could go down as the most polarizing color offered on an M3, ever. In fact, the only thing perhaps more hated than the color on this car (by some, it’s worth noting) is the optional SMG transmission offered at a substantial premium (a $2,400 option) on the E46 M3. Spoiler alert, trigger warning, notice of action – what have you – today’s duo of ’04 M3 Coupes are BOTH Phoenix Yellow Metallic and BOTH have SMG sequential manual gearboxes. Hey, I like a bit of controversy! And, since I own one just like it, I feel like I’m probably better equipped to weigh in than…say….all of the internet armchair warriors.

As for the percentage of U.S. Coupes ordered in PYM: 514 were bought out of 26,202, meaning your chance of running across one when new was only about 2%. Most of those were early examples as well; the color was phased out of the color pallet before the end of production, and along with a bunch of LCI changes that means you’re pretty unlikely to roll across a post-‘03.5 in PYM. So let’s take a look at this duo and see if either is a smart purchase:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW M3 Coupe on eBay

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2000 BMW 740iL

For many, the E38 represents the zenith of large German executive sedans. It took the best ingredients of the E32 and E34 designs, slimmed them down a touch visually, updated the power plants and equipment, and Voila! Instant classic. It didn’t hurt that the E38 also played a starring role in two pretty popular movies in the period, either – but let’s be honest, you’d have loved it anyway.

As with Audi’s D2, early examples of the E38 were already in production in 1994, but the best of the bunch came towards the end of production. LCI models hit showrooms in 1999, and the refreshed look is what you see here. The long, low package was best expressed with the optional M Parallel wheels, which had carried over from models like the E31 8-Series and E34 M5. It imbued the 7-Series with just enough sport to look purposeful, but not so much as to masquerade as a Porsche. Lightly flared arches cut high in the front fenders were finally filled out, and the refreshed looks worked really well in light colors. Today’s example is just that – an Alpine White long-wheelbase example. But the spectacular looks are not only its base attributes in this case, as this particular example has a scant 13,000 miles since new:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 740iL on eBay

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1968 BMW Glas 3000 V8

Two names appear in this post that aren’t nearly as widely recognized as they should be. The first is Andreas Glas, the proprietor of Hans Glas GmbH. In the 1960s, this company briefly moved away from its bonds as constructor of sewing machines and licensed Goggomobils to produce some seriously pretty coupes; the 1300GT and 1700GT were the first and better known, but the 2600 and 3000 V8 were no less striking. That’s because of the second name involved in this post; Pietro Frua.

Frua isn’t nearly as well known as the other great Italian designers of the 1960s, but he had a unique style all his own. Well before Gandini and Giugiaro capitalized on the angular wedge era of automotive design, Frua’s low, long and flat lines stood sharply apart from the rounded arches that dominated Pininfarina, Ghia and Vignale. Glas used the designs, along with the pioneering use of timing belts, to offer a slightly different vision of German transportation. It was more emotive, more flowing and, frankly, more pretty than just about anything else in period from the major manufacturers. Indeed, many compared Frua’s work on the 2600 to the Maserati Sebring – exotic company, indeed, and fitting given that the designer went on to work on several of the Trident’s designs.

But Hans Glas GmbH was bought out outright by BMW, mostly for the procurement of the Dingolfing plant and engineering crew. Before BMW closed the chapter, though, they updated a few of the Glas designs with new Munich power, stuck some BMW badges on them and Viola! A new catalog of cars! This 1968 BMW Glas 3000 V8 is an example of the seldom seen period of BMW history:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1968 BMW Glas 3000 V8 on eBay

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1986 BMW 535i

The E28 is a firm favorite among fans of 80s BMWs, but it’s the M5 and 535iS variants that get most of the attention. It’s not hard to see why. The M5 based on this platform was one of the first super sedans, laying down the classic formula for all modern Q-ships: supreme performance packaged in a stealthy, unassuming exterior. Meanwhile the 535iS appealed to those who wanted a bit of flash but couldn’t quite afford the full cream M-car, and was really just a 535i with firmer suspension, body kit, and sport seats. That isn’t a bad thing. The underlying car, introduced as a range-topper in 1984, was a winner, marrying the bulletproof M30 3.4 liter straight six engine (good for about 182 hp, in US emissions restricted form) with a tractable and responsive chassis. A regular 535i with a manual gearbox therefore offers a fun and relatively affordable alternative to the more expensive E28s out there, and this ’86 is a perfect example of that.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 BMW 535i on eBay

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2020 BMW M2 CS

If the lack of a ‘true’ M-branded motor in the M2 was just too much for your ego to take, BMW offered you two solutions to up the ante. The M2 Competition borrowed the S55 motor and upgraded a few bits, giving you right around 400 horsepower and matching torque to play with. You can grab one for about a 20-25% premium over a M2. Not enough? BMW didn’t think so, either. Enter the 2020 BMW M2 CS. The CS also borrowed bits, but this time from the upgraded Competition Package F8X M3/4 – meaning you now had 10% more horsepower at 444. They also chopped some weight off, added some fantastic gold wheels, threw in some special trim, and limited the number being imported. The result? A very special – and very expensive – 2-Series:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2020 BMW M2 CS on eBay

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1986 BMW 635CSi Koenig Widebody

If you wanted a crazy modified European car in the 80s, you had a lot of choices to make. Built to resemble wildly flared racers, cars from manufacturers like DP Motorsports, Gemballa and Strosek are at best polarizing cars. At worst, they’re like the plot line to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex; kill your father, marry your mother and have your sister-daughters, then stab your eyes out and live in a cave. But the Rex himself must certainly be defined as Willy König, with his widebody, Testarossa-straked creations. While usually we see Mercedes-Benz and Porsche versions of Koenig modified cars, today we get a rare glimpse of what he’d do to a E24.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 BMW 635CSi Koenig Widebody at Bonhams MPH Auction

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2001 BMW M3 Coupe

I’m not done with M3s yet! I get that the wild colors offered by BMW on the E46 M3 don’t appeal to everyone, and I’m aware they tend to be the colors I focus on. What’s special about them to me is that they exist at all; you don’t have to agree that they’re the colors you’d buy, but isn’t the world a better place for them having been made? While getting into any M car is a special experience, by the time of the E36 and E46 M3s production numbers meant they were reasonably common. With over 71,000 E36s made and over 85,000 E46s produced, odds of you seeing another going down the road are a lot better than they were with the original Ms. To me, Phoenix Yellow and Laguna Seca Blue are two of the best ways to differentiate your M experience from the norm. Today, there’s a lovely example of the latter available on eBay:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW M3 Coupe on eBay

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1996 BMW 850Ci

The E31 was BMW’s first real attempt at integrating lots of computer designs and controls into one of their road cars. The clean-sheet design resulted in a 2-door grand tourer that shared some visual similarities with the great M1, but stood apart as a more practical cruiser. Unlike the E24, the windows could fully drop, revealing a graceful pillarless design to match the sweeping greenhouse. The sharp nose amazingly hid an even larger motor than its predecessor; in fact, it was basically two conjoined M20s. That configuration certainly has some drawbacks, but there was no denying that the 850i had serious presence and credentials with the M70 V12 kicking out 300 horsepower.

However, BMW softened the character of what potentially could have been a screamer. Many were outfit with 16″ wheels for a better ride and tied to an automatic transmission. This was truly a GT car, and not the supercar slayer that BMW teased with its M8 Concept. That vision ultimately became the manual-only 850CSi, but upgrades later in the run saw the introduction of the V8 840Ci and the revised M73 5.4 liter V12 in the 850Ci. This one is a bit special, having run through the hands of BMW’s Individual department before being sent to Mexico:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 BMW 850Ci on eBay

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