The E36 M3 sedan is the first fast car I drove, and, like a first love, has stuck with me ever since. Unleashing a couple of 16-year-olds in a Dinan M3 was perhaps a foolhardy move by my best friend’s dad, but luckily we kept it in good shape other than a few check-engine lights due to impatience with the M warm-up sequence. It was a dream to drive; every pebble in the road gently communicated to the hands, every gearchange a satisfying snick, and every corner was our own railed rollercoaster. E36s in general are fine, but the 4-door M3 has always struck me as markedly sexier than any of its generational brethren. I tried to buy that Dinan a few years ago at $14k, but couldn’t make the finances work (luckily it’s being saved for my friend). These days its not difficult to find them for under $10k, and this nicely modified 1997 sedan demonstrates the accessibility of clean examples.
I could do without the Supersprint DTM exhaust (Dinan’s looks almost stock but sounds perfect) and I’d raise the adjustable rear suspension just a little, but this is a very clean example with some nice, simple modification choices (I don’t know of a car that looks bad with BBS CHs). 157k miles is on the higher end, but at $9k it’s still a great value, and if the engine goes bad, spend some money swapping in a Euro S52 or S54 and you’ll still have a performance bargain.
Final Note: Thank god it’s a manual. In my mind, automatic E36 M3s might as well be junked.