Continuing on the theme of lightweight, Europe-only specials of a fan-favorite chassis, here’s one I’m willing to bet a fair amount of you aren’t aware of. BMW launched several special variants of the E9x chassis, and we saw some of them – the Lime Rock Park Edition being the most notable – but in total BMW produced a hard-to-fathom 28 special variations of the E9x Ms. As a result, you’re forgiven if you didn’t remember all of them!
CRT stands for “Carbon Racing Technology”, but perhaps ironically it was BMW’s carbon-intensive road cars that led to the model. Spare cuttings from the carbon passenger cells of the i3 and i8 models were recycled and molded into body pieces for this special M3 sedan, while motivation came from the M3 GTS’s upgraded S65B44 V8. Stroked to 4.4 liters and with a lightweight titanium exhaust, the enlarged V8 was rated at over 440 horsepower (20+ over a standard S65B40), while torque was up 30 to 325 lb.ft at a lower 3,750 rpms. BMW produced a total of 68 cars, of which 67 were sold to the public, all in identical Frozen Silver Metallic with Sahkir Orange accented interiors:
Update 11/11/18: This M3 Sedan is listed as sold at $16,500
Looking towards the future and what may be a potential classic can be pretty difficult. Cars like the M2 and M4 are still on a relatively steep depreciation curve, so although they’re pretty new you’re also buying knowing you’re immediately loosing money. Similarly, as cars like the E36 and E46 head upwards in value, you either have the money to jump on board or nice examples will soon be out of reach for you.
In the middle lies the E9X. Following on the heels of the popular S54-equipped model, BMW needed to step up its game. That step came in the move from 6- to 8-cylinders, as BMW Motorsport GmbH created 80% of a S85 V10. With over 400 horsepower on tap and 295 lb.ft of torque, the S65 represented a healthy increase over the S54. As with the E46, a Convertible (E93) and Coupe (E92) version were available, but BMW also reintroduced us to the M3 Sedan.
In my eyes, these are the ones to get. The M3 Sedan is quite a bit more rare than the Coupe; 5,867 were sold versus 15,997 2-doors. Of those, over 50% were either Jet Black, Jerez Black or Alpine White – so one with a bit of color is always great to see. Here we have one of the 483 pre-LCI Silverstone Metallic (A29) Sedans with NDH2 extended Novillo Fox Red leather and the all-important third pedal:
Since the 1990s, the proliferation of each premium marque’s “special” brands has become dizzying, and for enthusiasts it seems as though they’ve continuously diluted the performance options in favor of profits. From S-Line to AMG to perhaps the biggest offender, BMW’s M division, companies are badge slapping-happy when it comes to sticking a bigger set of wheels, some special trim and maybe, if you’re lucky, a few extra ponies. And on the surface, this 335d would seem to fit that description perfectly. After all, how could you possibly compare the diesel to that sonorous M3’s S65 V8 that cranks out over 400 horsepower and 300 lb.ft of torque with a 8,400 RPM redline? Pull up to a redlight next to one in this 335d, and the snickering owner would undoubtedly be laughing at the ‘M-Sport’ option package you ticked off. Because you’d think there would be absolutely no way that diesel would produce equal power to the M3.
You’d be right. The M57 under the hood of the 335D doesn’t produce as much horsepower as the M3, at least not in stock form. But torque? It produces more. A lot more.
Starting at a leisurely 2,000 rpms, the twin turbochargers augmenting the inline-6 spool up to a mountain of power. In stock form, the 335d cranked out 428 lb.ft of torque. In fact, it’s so much torque that gets used on a regular basis that the first person I met who had one had already consumed a transfer case on his X-Drive model, and he’s not alone. Being a turbocharged model, it was also quite easy and possible to turn up the wick, such as has been done to today’s Feature Listing. The result? The seller claims 410 horsepower, 650 lb.ft of torque, and yet this classy 4-door can still return 35 mpg. Try that in a M3:
Although BMW finally equalized the all-wheel drive advantage of its rival Audi as early as the E30, it would take a few generations for the company to offer a truly potent variant of the small four season executive sedan. But when it finally got around to it with the E90, it was a great package. Although the E46 was a hard act to follow, the Bavarians stepped up with an all new 330 model. Now powered by the N52B30 rated at 255 horsepower, it packed even more punch than the outgoing E46. And like its predecessor, the top-of-the-range 330 could be selected with BMW’s constantly variable x-drive all-wheel drive system.
Utilizing a central multi-plate clutch and many computers to monitor vehicle and wheel speed, steering input and throttle/braking, the intelligent all-wheel drive system took the guess work out of poor weather situations. But it was far from the only trick item in the 330’s arsenal. The N52, one of the last developments of the naturally aspirated inline-6 that had been the anchor of the BMW lineup for decades, was a truly special unit. The block was cast from magnesium with an aluminum core. Variable valve timing for both cams meant a guttural screaming at up to 7,000 rpm, yet it was able to return over 30 mpg on the highway. It’s a mind-blowing type of motor that’s just good in every situation and sounds great, too. While the change to the new square dashboard was less driver-oriented, the E90 packed serious computing power beneath its Swiss chalet look; a minimalist design with high quality materials that has stood the test of time well.
Of course, the most desirable of these models were the sport package equipped examples. And, of those, the manual transmission option is the one to get. Welcome, everyone, to just that car:
Okay, so diesel has a bit of a bad reputation right now. For an enthusiast, that’s not necessarily a bad thing – and when you weigh the advantages it offers it can be quite compelling. For sure there is mileage; a friend of mine daily commutes in an A3 TDi, and despite a relatively heavy foot he returns a pretty reliable 40 m.p.g.. That’s impressive. But surveying the real world results of BMW’s diesel offering seems to suggest that it doesn’t return much better mileage than our N52 gas motor, which is inexplicably capable of 30 m.p.g. on the highway at reasonable speeds. But what BMW’s first U.S. offering of a diesel in the 3-series does offer is some sport. You see, while M3 owners will shout all day about horsepower numbers, the 335d’s weapon is being pushy. The S65 may be a legendary V8 already, but it only is able to twist with 295lb. ft of torque. In contrast, the 335d offers a bit more in the M57 turbo diesel – a total of 428 lb.ft of torque, with horsepower numbers that nearly match the N55 at 282. Equipped with the M-Sport performance options, this is about as close to a diesel M as you can get:
My search for a Phoenix Yellow M3 consumed years, and along the way I checked out plenty of other custom yellow options. There were plenty of Dakar Yellow E46s and E92s, but it’s always neat to see something a little bit different. Named after a desert in Chile, the color was originally launched on the Z4 – but, of course, that didn’t stop a few imaginative souls from specifying BMW Individual to paint their pride in joy in the orange-yellow tone. It’s no small feat to do so, so while you’re there you might as well tick every option box, right? The results on this M3 are pretty interesting; from a $55,900 base price, the original buyer selected no less than $20,000 worth of options. Of particular interest to me (outside, of course, from the exterior color) is that they also had the imagination to order something other than black inside. Does it work?
Two S85 V10 swapped 3 series in a week? Sure, we can do that! The crazy Hartge-modified H50 built on a base 325 is back and now for sale on eBay. The “Buy It Now” is the same $105,000 asking price as last winter, and with no new photos still this one is still a bit of a head scratcher in a few ways – especially since you can grab a S85 V10 M5 in the $20K range now. But it’s rare, it’s fast, and I’m sure there are still a host of people who’d like it – I’m just not sure at this price, though.
The below post originally appeared on our site December 14, 2014:
Four doors, three pedals and eight cylinders. Is there a more exciting combination for an enthusiast when it comes to a daily driver? Honestly I can’t think of one and of the small group of modern cars to offer this configuration, I’d say the E90 M3 is the top dog. In this modern age of turbocharged everything, it is highly unlikely that we’ll ever see another car like this one. A useable back seat and trunk mated with a 4.0L V8 already sounds old school and we’re only seven years on from when the car was initially offered. When BMW announced the whole M3/M4 plan and the news that the new cars would have a turbocharged six-cylinder, I wasn’t surprised. It’s just how things are going these days. The sports car market is completely over-saturated with vehicles that will surely delight their drivers but will they offer the same visceral connection as their predecessors? I don’t think so but ultimately that is for each of us to decide on our own. What I can say with absolute confidence is that the E90 M3 market is rapidly moving in a very wallet friendly direction, great news for those of us who prefer a screaming V8 soundtrack to the artificially enhanced aural experience of a boosted inline-6.
Before I began contributing to GCFSB I was a daily reader. I enjoyed the site more than other used auto blogs because I found that on GCFSB, many of the vehicles were of the more reasonable variety. Perhaps it’s because I grew up flipping through Used Auto Digest far more often than the duPont registry, though I did enjoy doing that once in awhile just for fun. I like to fantasizeÂ about $100k + investments in the classic car market just as much as any other enthusaist but I think it’s far more interesting to learn about vehicles which are grounded in reality.Â So it is with that mindset that I bring you today’s post, an E90 BMW 335i with 3 pedals.
For those folks that are on the casual observer side of the automotive world, this car doesn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary and in some ways they’re right. It’s a RWD, Grey over Black four door sedan with pretty basic features and a manual transmission. It doesn’t demand attention the way an E90 M3 does, what with its vicious soundtrack and more muscular body but I think that’s part of what makes it attractive. The 335i is no slouch in the power department, with the N54 powerplant producing 305 hp/295 lb-ft of torque it always seemed to me like a more grown up RWD, ’11+ STi sedan. Now I’m sure Subaru fans would love to rip me to shreds for comparing their beloved rally machine to this UCLA graduation present but I’d be quick to remind them that it’s really a matter of numbers and function rather than the spirit of the vehicle. Spiritually the STi and the M3 have much in common but they’re vastly different in price and performance so I think that an unfair comparison.
The 335i on the other hand checks many of the same boxes as the STi and ultimately does it all while remaining under the radar. It is this line of thought that got me interested in researching the E90 335i in the first place as I had always wanted to build a “sleeper” STi. Remove the garish wing, add alcantara accents to the interior, upgrade the sound deadening, tweak a few other interior details and you’d have a car that is very similar to this one. However that process can get real pricey, real quick, especially since 2011+ STi sedans are hard to find for under $25k. This 335i is a very reasonable $16,998 with nearly 73k on the clock and I think that for the money, you’d be hard pressed to find a car that offers this combination of performance and luxury.
A few months ago at a gathering of friends, two BMWs were present – my friend’s E46 M3 and his acquaintance’s E82 135i. A bit under my breath, I mentioned to him that I still couldn’t get over how unattractive the 135i was compared to the M3. I may have said that the E82 looked a bit like a really poor quality bodyshop repaired a E46 that had been both in full frontal and rear crashes – poorly. But my friend countered that if anything, that 135i was faster and more fun to drive than his M3. Looking back, I paused, and thought “Could I?” The answer remains no in my book, but it does raise an interesting question – with E92 335i prices dropping within reach of the higher E46 M3s, which is the better choice?