Boxflare Showdown: M3 v. Quattro

This one has been brewing in my head for some time, and required only two things; the right two cars. I think, in this case thanks to the help of our reader Martin, I might just have the right two candidates. While BMW enthusiasts love to tout the virtue of the boxflared M3, they often overlook the importance of the Quattro. The chunky, Giugiaro-designed Audi made it to the market with its bulging quarters a full 5 years ahead of the M3, yet the DTM star is arguably much better known than the all-wheel drive Rally champion. Both were certainly important to the development of their respective corporate brands; both have illustrious careers as race cars and both are considered by connoisseurs to be the best design of those that followed. Quietly, while the market-star M3 has soaked up the headlines, good condition Quattros have also been appreciating, and with far fewer of them produced than M3s they’re a more rare sight today. They’re also, generally, much older and fewer were taken care of in the way that the M3s were pampered. Add little factory support and an even worse balance of the number imported to North America – only around 10% of the total of North American bound M3s – and it’s a hard match up. Yet, today we have two overall great condition cars to consider. Who wins the boxing match? Let’s start with the odds-on favorite M3:


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1988 BMW M3

The legendary E30 M3 is becoming one of the most collectable German cars of recent years and the market reflects that. With asking prices reaching up in to the mid $30K range for clean examples and upwards of $15K for total basket cases, finding a well priced, and clean car is no east feat.

As the car that made M a household name, the E30 M3 is really what put BMWs M division on the map. In just a few years, the E30 M3 scored thousands of motorsport victories making it one of the most successful touring cars ever. Powering the M3 is a twin-cam, 16v 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with Bosch fuel-injection making 192 bhp.  With a lightweight chassis (only 2850 lbs) and the 5-speed manual transmission, trhe M3 could do 0-60 in less than seven seconds, and a top speed was 140 miles-per-hour. Not bad for a little 4-banger.

This well kept 1988 M3 for sale in New York is a great piece of BMW M history.

1988 BMW M3 on

Previous owner replaced oil-pan gasket, water pump, hoses, radiator, belts, power-steering hoses + reservoir, transmission mounts, upgraded rear shock mounts, fuel pump, fuel injectors, cap, rotor, plugs, EVO III wires & R134A retrofit, professionally-refinished wheels with new Toyo T1R tires, professionally repainted, mechanically stock except for TMS chip & upgraded timing-chain tensioner, purchased 3/09 at 89,532 miles, garaged & covered, driven regularly, clean history, no accidents, snow, salt or rain.

This is a clean example of probably the most desirable BMW (for enthusiasts anyway) in arguably the most desirable color combination. I’m not a fan of red, I like my M3s in Alpine White, but as the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers. When the opportunity to own a clean low mileage example presents itself; you pounce. With a recent respray, and a ton of maintenance work done, this is a solid driver, not just a pretty face to be put on a shelf and looked at. 

Considering how these cars are appreciating in value and whet people are asking for them, the asking price of $25,500 is pretty reasonable. A little haggling would need to be done to get it where I’d want it, which is about $22-23K.



Ultra low mileage 1988 BMW M3

Few cars of its era have achieved the sort of legend status as the E30 M3. The first M3 was introduced as a homologation model for Group A touring car racing, and was based on the 1986 model year 3 series, and the similarities between the standard 3 series and the M3 were minimal. The M3’s body recieved all new panels for aerodynamics, and to accommodate the wider track, the brakes and suspension were upgraded, and it was powered by the 192bhp 2.3 L S14.

I true race car for the streets, the E30 M3 was truly the car that put the BMW M3 on the map as a performance car that all others would be measured by even 30 years later.

This one owner, 26,300 mile M3 for sale in Southport, CT is a rare opportunity to own a Touring car legend.

1988 BMW M3 on eBay

1988 BMW E30 M3


VIN WBSAK0303J2196976

The Classic Car Gallery is proud to offer this stunning low mileage 1988 BMW E30 M3!!!
Finished in ZINNOBERROT Red over Black leather, this ONE OWNER, first-year E30 chassis M3 has been driven just over 26,000 miles since new!!! She is in collector grade condition, and is perhaps one of the finest on the market today. The owner is a fanatic, and the car has been babied since he bought her new at BMW OF DARIAN, CT. She IS COMPLETELY STOCK, has all original manuals, and HER ORIGINAL WINDOW STICKER!!! The car sports the factory 2.3 liter 16 valve four cylinder 192 horsepower engine mated to the 5 speed manual transmission, and 15″ BMW alloy wheels with excellent NEW BRIDGESTONE POTENZA rubber all around. Other details about this car include: clear and clean title with current registration, M-stripe adorned sport steering wheel, leather sport seats, original stereo, electric sunroof, windows, and cruise control. This is a great opportunity to own, what may be the finest example of the iconic M3 that launched the BMW Motorsports division!!!

THE BODY AND TRIM; The body and trim of this car are in excellent overall condition. This car is rust-free,  all of the ORIGINAL PANELS are present, look excellent, and are near show quality. All of the rubber trim is fresh and moist, and the badging is near perfect. The right front fender has a small repair from a bicycle garage mishap. It is not visible, but in the interest of full disclosure, I am listing it here.

THE INTERIOR The interior of this car is in excellent condition. The dash is crack-free, the leather is buttery, and the drivers seat shows only the mildest wear on the seat bolster. All gauges and controls work as they should, and the A/C blow cold. The interior panels, headliner, rubber seals, controls and carpets are near showroom fresh.

THE ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN; The engine compartment of this car looks new. She has always been fanatically maintained. This car has no mechanical issues.

The 1988 BMW E30 M3 BMW is an enthusiasts car for a reason. THEY ARE AN ABOSOLUTE BLAST TO DRIVE!!! The car starts, runs and drives beautifully with nice acceleration, very good braking, EXCELLENT suspension with superb handling and excellent tracking. This 26,000 mile example is arguably the finest E30 M3 on the market today. She comes with all manuals, window stickers, and has a clean Carfax and Autocheck. Please feel free to call 203 256 9800 or email if we can answer any of your questions.


Finished in red with black leather, this car is the definition of collector grade E30 M3, and there is no doubt that the selling price on this car will reflect this. These cars have been increasing in price and popularity steadily over the past few years, and clean examples like this are rare and often untouchable price wise. While pricing tools suggest a clean retail for a #1 car to be just north of $24K, pricing on these cars has been in the stratosphere, with $24K buying you a much rougher car.

I can only imagine what the reserve on this car is, and what the ultimate sale price would be, but if I had to venture a guess, I’d say the seller is looking in the $40-$45K range for this low mileage beauty. In the condition this car is in, this is a car to be put on a shelf, and admired, rather than driven like it was built to be, that being said, this car will only appreciate in value, as examples like this will only get harder to find.