Update 9/15/18: This M3 remains available at $8,500
An interesting counterpoint to yesterday’s no reserve M3 is, obviously, how much other generations of M3s cost. Like yesterday’s E30, today’s follow up needs little introduction as it’s been a fan favorite since day one. So how does this car compare to yesterday’s market hero?
Well, on paper the E36 is a better car. It’s quicker because it’s got more power. It’s cheaper to maintain. It’s no less adept in corners. And while it wasn’t quite the benchmark on international courses that the first generation was, the E36 was no slouch at the track either and is still a favorite weapon of amateurs and professionals alike.
This particular M3 stacks up pretty well against yesterday’s car. As with yesterday, it’s claimed to completely original though it’s clearly had some modifications. It’s also got about the same mileage at 126,500. And attract attention? Surely few will have difficulty spotting you in the stunning shade of Daytona Violet, here equipped with manual black leather Vaders. But the key yesterday was price, and here it is again:
The E36 M3 has a curious reputation. Not quite a legendary track machine like its predecessor, the E30, and not quite a sublimely complete driver’s car like its successor, the E46, the E36 is the awkward middle child of the M family. Even BMW themselves seemed only half-heartedly committed to the car in America, choosing to offer it here with a less powerful engine than its European cousin. The resulting antipathy felt toward the car by some M-purists, who regard it as little more than a 328i with M-badging, has kept values low on these for quite some time. As a result, many of the used examples you find on Craigslist have been bought cheaply and thrashed, crashed or otherwise abused.
Still, they are very good cars – torquey, well-balanced and offering a dynamic driving experience. It’s always nice to come across a low mileage example in mint condition that has been kept in stock form. This convertible in stunning Techno Violet is such a car.
What’s the perfect commuter car? Well, that varies by your definition of commuter, how far you need to drive and how much traffic you encounter, and what your goal is – do you want high mileage, or perhaps you want extreme comfort and isolation. But I’d like to think that a fair amount of our readership would love to have a dual purpose car. It would be something that wouldn’t be a collector-status car, but yet one that was unique and not often seen. It would combine comfort and affordability. While some would opt for automatics, I’m sure a larger percentage would choose to row-their-own boat. Fuel mileage, while gas is cheap now, would probably still be a consideration, as would maintenance. And finally, when the traffic cleared and there was a empty bit of road, most of us like to squeeze the pedal down that bit further and be rewarded by and entertaining push in the back. That’s a difficult grouping of characteristics to achieve in one package, but I’d like to suggest that this 318ti might just be the car.
The Club Sport was the answer to the question that effectively no one was asking in 1995; depending on the source, BMW sold a reported 200-300 of them in 1995 only. What the option 9530 got you was a 318ti hatchback that had been breathed upon by BMW Individual. Added were 16″ sport wheels, M3 front bumper, rocker trim and mirrors and a special rear bumper. But it was more than an appearance package, because it also received a M-tuned suspension, special steering wheel and shift knob and uniquely trimmed Millpoint M-cloth sport seats. The seller of this car has brought the performance up to M levels, though, with the addition of a PSS9 coilover suspension, double spoke M3 wheels and supercharger to the M42 inline-4:
A few weeks ago I wrote up a lightly modified 26,000 mile Dakar Yellow M3 coupe; in that post, I said that the $25,000 asking price was out of line with the market in my opinion. Perhaps it was the mods that really threw me off, but I set out to prove my point the following week by showcasing two original M3s that I thought were better propositions in my “Teens Well Spent” post. Both cars were available in the mid-teens and both highlighted how for about $10,000 less than the asking price of the 26,000 mile example you could get a neat, original M3 still with low miles and in great condition. Well, this week I have two more to once again underscore that point – as the 26,000 mile example continues to languish on eBay with no bids and an unchanged $25,000 asking price, I have a stellar original Dakar Yellow example and a mysterious ’94 Canadian one to consider:
Last week, Nate wrote up one of my favorite M3s – the 1995 M3 in Daytona Violet with Dove Grey leather Vaders. With low miles and great photographs, it was certainly an impressive sight. Also like Nate, I’ve always loved the subdued look of the E36 M3 since its launch, and the Double Spoke wheels just suit the package perfectly. But Nate’s question was poignant – is the world ready for $25,000 E36 M3s again? In the case of some ultra low mile examples or Lightweights, perhaps it is. But for a normal M3 with moderate miles, the asking price seemed pretty steep even given the condition. Only a week later, then, I submit to you the Budget Barney; a little over triple the miles of the last example but the same color combination in overall very good condition, and importantly available for only about a third of the previous example’s asking price:
For some time, there was a giant gulf in between European-spec cars and U.S. spec cars. Granted, part of that divide still exists today if the large assortment of cars that do not make it to these shores, but at least enthusiasts can rejoice that at last – for the most part – performance versions that are available in Germany are very close to the same that we receive here. One of the last notable cars to exhibit the large divide was the E36 M3; while Europeans enjoyed over 280 horsepower from the individual throttle body S50B30 in 1992, the later released U.S. spec M3 carried an entirely different motor with some 40 horsepower less. Though the S50B30US is certainly a great motor by itself, the knowledge that the “better” version existed across the pond somehow took a bit of legitimacy away from it. Also differentiating the European versions were better floating rotor brakes, better glass headlights, better lower and stiffer suspension, and some neat interior options: