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Crazy though it may sound, this E36 – priced at $24,000 – may actually be a reasonable deal. Wind the clock back a few years, and that statement was inconceivable; E36s were relegated to the bargain basement of BMW M pricing. That’s not the case anymore, though, as pricing has been trending sharply upwards – recently a few non-Lightweight examples have crested $60,000 sales after fees. Hard to believe? Well, perhaps more a sign of the trends, but finding a neat and clean E36 is certainly no longer as easy as it once was, and early examples are – amazingly – able to be registered as antiques in more than a few states.
So here we are, with a very shouty Dakar Yellow ’94. And if you know E36 M3s, you know that a pre-’95 model year automatically means one important thing – European specification. Well, at least it should mean that. Let’s take a look:
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: