There’s been a fair amount of talk on these pages about M branding, as BMW has moved towards slapping badges on seemingly every single model regardless of their sporting potential. Can you blame them? Perhaps, but obviously they’ve done their market research and just as Audi and Mercedes-Benz have similarly increased the breadth and scope of their limited run production, BMW has offered the public an ever increasing and diverse range of M badged products. It’s as if these three are cowboys on the range, fearful of each other’s steeds and stoking the fire to brandish their labels on the rear ends of their flock in a futile attempt to establish dominance and feign individuality. But, in all honesty this isn’t a new trend. As far back as the mid 1980s, BMW was offering badge engineering on some of its finest products, and the M535i is the best example of this. Essentially this was a 535i with a M Technic body kit and no real performance changes outside of an optional suspension package. Does that make it less desirable?
Time for another Honorable Mention Roundup, and we’re sporting some great 1990s style with one throwback to the 80s in this edition. With lovely coupes from Volkswagen, Porsche and BMW, two Audi sedans round out the lineup. Which is the one you’d like to grab for this holiday season? Thank you again to our readers who sent in suggestions, we always appreciate them!
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW M635CSi at Bonhams Auctions
This isn’t the first time I’ve written up sacrilegiously swapped cars, so it’s probably no surprise to see two Japanese-powered BMWs pop up. And in each of their own ways, neither is on the surface, at least, a car we’d typically cover. But before you judge a book by its cover, are either of these cars executed well enough to be a neat package?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 325is on eBay
There’s something I can appreciate about the 320is versus the M3. On the surface, the M3 with its iconic boxflares and big wing is the DTM star you want, right? But if you’re a connoisseur and you’re looking for the driving experience, the narrow body 320is offered nearly the same experience. Sure, it was down a bit on power thanks to the destroked 2.0 S14 compared to its more illustrious brother. But it was lighter too, being a base model. The same thing happened in the Audi Coupe world in the 1980s; on paper, the Quattro was the model you wanted. However, if you were an enthusiast, the last of the 1987 Coupe GTs offered the same performance as the Quattro did thanks to their lighter weight and upgraded engine over earlier models. The result is that these narrow-body cars offer discrete performance in a less showy package for those in the know. aSo that means that the 320is is a lot cheaper than a normal M3, right? Not so fast….
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 320is on eBay
An interesting discussion developed around Andrew’s E39 540i post and my subsequent E12 520i post; what’s the best looking 5-series? One of our readers, William, suggested that it was the E34 – certainly a sentiment that I can appreciate. As his evidence, he submitted this car, probably the best example of how good a E34 can look – a European market M5 with the potent 3.8 liter S38. Whether or not you agree or contend that this was the best BMW, best E34, best M5 or best looking sedan ever, nearly everyone passing through these pages can appreciate that this is one great looking Teutonic piece of engineering; a driver’s car in true sleeper form. It might not be the definitive M5 for everyone, but it’s a pretty darn good example of how wonderful those two letters can be: