While the E30 320is was the defacto M3 Sedan of the first generation, it was not until the E36 generation that fans finally received a full-fat four-door small M. The sedan was then skipped on the E46 generation (I can hear ZHP fans shouting that their car is a real M right now), returned for the E90 generation, and then became the only body style thereafter as BMW introduced the new 4-Series nomenclature. Since its launch in the US for the ’97 model year, the M3 Sedan has been a niche model within a niche lineup on performance cars; practical and good-looking in a way that the long-door coupe sometimes lacks proper proportion in. Indeed, to me the most recent three generations of M3 Sedans look better than their two-door counterpart. While I’m not sure I feel the same way about the E36 generation, it’s nonetheless great to see one surface in a nice color with lower mileage, as many were loved well and driven hard. This Estoril Blue Metallic example I’m looking at today sure looks the part; but I’m not sure the juice is worth the squeeze:
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 for a lot of fans of the marque. Also differentiating the European versions were better floating rotor brakes, better glass headlights, better lower and stiffer suspension; you get the point. We could bang on all day about how the US-spec model was pretty much as quick as the Euro cars, is a lot cheaper to run, and is…well, you know, already here. But when a Euro car pops up for sale, I still take time to take notice, and it’s hard not to notice this Dakar Yellow ’93:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW M3 Coupe on eBay
Launched in 1992 for U.S. shores, the third generation 3-series instantly cemented itself as the new benchmark. In fact, for all of the attention fawned on ‘God’s Chariot’ (the E30), the reality is that the 3-series didn’t appear on notoriously BMW-leaning Car and Driver‘s Ten-Best list until the 1992 model year. Equipped with the M50 DOHC 189 horsepower inline-6, the modern yet still driver-oriented design would go on to become a regular thereafter. They were a sales success too, and like the E30 was for some time, they’re currently being largely ignored in the used market. After all, if you can get a clean M3 in the teens, why would you buy a 325i instead?
Well, this one is an interesting counterpoint. Someone obviously loved it a lot, and this E36 convertible is chock-full of options and neat accessories. And, it’s only got 18,000 miles: