2001 BMW M5

About halfway through production of the E39 M5, BMW released a series of films from notable directors highlighting their model range. They all starred Clive Owen as the ubiquitous Driver character as the wheelman of a particular model. Some were dark, some were mysterious, but my favorite – and, I believe the favorite of most people – was Guy Ritchie’s Star. For me, it was neither the famous director nor his power-couple wife Madonna that was the star of that particular film, but the Driver‘s M5. Indeed, rewatching the film I found myself comparing the character’s introduction monologue, which ostensibly was about the female character played by Madonna, to the car. The characteristics shared of the dual nature of the iconic singer somehow work juxtaposed onto the M5. That was brought into sharper focus as the film progressed and Blur’s Song 2 – a song that somehow perfectly summed up the M5’s character. A deep base line, rhythmic speed and shouts of “Woo Hooo!” seem to somehow follow the M5 wherever it goes. Over the top? Absolutely, but it seemed that the whole plot line of Star is how most M5 drivers think their daily commute goes.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW M5 on Hartford Craigslist

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2011 BMW M3 Individual

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?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 BMW M3 on eBay

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1991 BMW M5

I’ve talked about opportunity costs before, and when considering a car such as yesterday’s 320is it bears reminding. There are plenty of people, myself included, that spend a fair chunk of the day dreaming about what super rare car they’d import from Europe if given the chance. And we’ve be Mr. Feelgood for you, supplying a steady stream of somewhat attainable European market goodies over the past few weeks. But does all this dreaming overlook something that’s right at your fingertips? In the case of the E34 M5, I think that might be true. This chassis is still generally overlooked compared to the E28 and E39 models, but those that have spent some time behind the wheel of these well engineered, hand built Q-Ships proclaim they’re one of the best BMW products made. They’ve got plenty of the right ingredients – the last of the S38 motors producing 315 horsepower, Motorsport details throughout, a great subtle look which still is commanding of respect, and limited numbers – only 1,678 were imported. It’s the right recipe for a future classic:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

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Less is More? 1990 BMW 320is

The perfect counterpoint to Volkswagen’s GLi 16V like the one we featured earlier has to be the BMW 320is. Ostensibly, these two cars were aimed at close to the same market although the BMW was a fair chunk of change more expensive than the Jetta. But both were sports sedans, both came only as manuals, both had BBS wheels, grippy Recaro seats and sport suspension, and critically both featured a 2 liter 16V motor. But it’s there where the similarities end, because while Volkswagen rung 134 horsepower out of the 9A, BMW squeezed a seemingly unbelievable (for the time) 192 horsepower out of the lower displacement S14. For some time, the 100 hp/liter mark was considered about as good as naturally aspirated motors got and the 320is was hauntingly close with 192 ponies from 1,990 CCs – proportionately, more powerful than the larger 2.3 and 2.5 variants. We’ve previously covered this model a few times and so won’t go into lengthy detail about the history (plus, some of it is included in the listing), but if you wanted to understand why you’d pay more for one of these BMWs in the late 80s, that engineering feat alone was a good indication. As the E30 market has been red hot and importation becomes possible for more of these cars, we keep seeing them pop up:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW 320is on eBay

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Motorsports Monday: 1991 BMW M3 BTCC ex-Tim Harvey

I’ve given the E30 crowd a fair amount of shtick over the years, mostly because the chassis seems to be the broadest of the bandwagons that enthusiasts jump on to. But the reality is that I’ve always admired the M3 long before I fully appreciated the breadth of its impact on Motorsport. In many ways, the M3 paved the way for an entire generation of homologation specials that now line the walls of automotive Valhalla, and for that alone we as a community should be thankful. To say that the M3 is iconic is a huge cliche, but just as with the other boxflared wonders from Germany – the Quattro and 944 Turbo – the M3 was (and still is) a staple at the race tracks around the world, cementing its reputation as the defacto street-worthy race car. Much of that reputation was built on decidedly un-streetworthy Touring Car races, though, and while the early 90s were the swan song for the S14-engined E30 as regulations and chassis change to the E36 removed it from active competition, there’s no denying that the outgoing race car still had a tremendous amount of appeal as the sun set on its active competition career:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M3 BTCC on Race Cars Direct

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2002 BMW M Roadster

A few weekends back I took a ride out into the hills of Connecticut to check out the inventory at Coventry Motorcar. It’s always worth the trip, because though on the grand scale they’re a small dealer they’ve always got some very interesting second-hand cars that you just don’t normally see gathered together at one spot anymore. Like a European-only car show, there were Porsches, BMWs, and of course Audis lining the lot. A cool Volvo C30 T5 stood out, along with a lineup of M3s as my search for a nice one continues. But the car that really grabbed my attention was a M Roadster. It wasn’t a case of the color being outstanding in this case; while some wild combinations were available on the M Roadster, Titanium Silver Metallic was the most popular option, and within that color the Black Nappa Leather was the most common interior. According to the M Roadster Buyer’s Guide, there were some 1,562 (15% of total production) ordered in Titanium, with the majority of those at 1,134 having the black interior. In fact, nearly half of all M Roadsters had all black interiors, amazingly – since it seems the really wild colors are the ones that stand out in my mind. But something else struck me as really special as soon as I saw the date; a 2002 would make it the rarest year of the M Roadster, with only 643 sold. That’s nice, but what’s nicer is what that means under the hood – the full bore, 315 horsepower S54 motivating the small roadster.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M Roadster at Coventry Motorcar

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1995 BMW M3 Individual

Back from the brink of total nausea and bankruptcy inducing cars, let’s look at one of arguably the best values going in the used German car market – the E36 BMW M3. You could make a pretty persuasive argument that it was not the best quality product BMW produced and in fact there are some who will claim it’s not a true M-car, and in some ways they may have a point. However, let’s boil down what it is at heart – a front-engine, rear-drive manual equipped car that offers style, performance and practicality on a budget with strong aftermarket support. You can buy one of these still for well under $10,000, and while that might not yield the best example and 240 horsepower is positively blasé these days this is still a potent package. As a mass-produced car, too, there are many to chose from any day of the week. For example, right now on eBay there are 178 cars listed in the category “M3”. At the same time, there are 14 pre-2000 Audis available. How does one stand out from such a glut of examples then? How about a BMW Individual example painted in rare-to-see Morea Green Metallic?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 on Seattle Craigslist

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Tuner Tuesday: 1995 Alpina B12 5.7 Coupe

Bold. It’s a word not often associated with Alpina. In fact, if anything traditionally Alpinas have been anything but bold. Tasteful, certainly, but they seem to almost blend into the BMW lineup as if they were originally part of it. Indeed, today they are – offered through your local BMW dealership almost as a factory option like floor mats, you can get a monster Alpina tuned version of your car. But if bold is loosely defined as being striking or vivid, few Alpinas would really capture the attention of the general public as anything more than a normal production BMW. But the design of the E31 was bold with the wedge shape redefining production series BMWs. And this particular version of the E31 – the Alpina B12 5.7 – is pretty striking too, with giant wheels filling out the design nicely. The drivetrain of the B12 5.7 was pretty bold too, with a over 400 horsepower from a naturally aspirated V12. But it’s this singular example of the B12 that is perhaps the most bold. Painted Giallo, it’s arguably the most eye catching color to coat a E31, yet somehow suits it well with the black striping. Bold also is the strategy of trying to sell the car with only one photo and no description outside of a telephone number and some very basic details of the car. But perhaps the most bold thing about this E31 is the asking price, which despite the 90,000 miles on the clock is advertised at a stunning $221,000:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Alpina B12 5.7 Coupe on eBay

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1995 BMW M3 Lightweight

The year was 1994, and BMW brought some pre-production M3s in Dakar Yellow to various tracks around the U.S. to engage their primary target audience; enthusiasts. I still remember seeing them and being both very excited and slightly let down. From a performance standpoint, even in turned-down U.S. form the M3 was a potent small sedan. 240 horsepower was top of the small car market back then and around a track, stock for stock the E36 was easily a match for the outgoing fan-favorite E30. Coupled with an eye-searing color, it was an impressive and modern package that I loved. But I also loved the street-racer aspect of the E30, and that was something that the E36 didn’t capture well….at first. That was remedied later in 1995 with the introduction of the “CSL” version of the E36. Stripped out, available only in Alpine White and with Motorsports GmbH details throughout, the M3 Lightweight channeled both the E9 3.0CSL racers that started the M trend and captured the spirit of the E30 with its giant, adjustable rear wing and splitter. Instantly these began popping up at track events; despite the entire production run of only 126 cars, it wasn’t uncommon in 1995 and 1996 to see 4 or 5 of these special cars turn up and trounce all the other cars with ease. Since new, these limited edition M3s have always held more value than nearly all of the rest of the model run – and as prices of all things M rise, it’s no surprise that it appears the tide is carrying them up as well:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 Lightweight on eBay

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Motorsports Monday: 1995 BMW M3 Group N

Not all M3 racers are the same, though as the saying goes it’s tough to judge a book by its cover. Looking at today’s 1995 M3 one could suggest right off the bat that it looks well built but not appreciably different than most other track-ready E36 M3s that come to the market. But it’s what is underneath that really separates this M3 – one that bucks the suggestion that beauty is only skin deep. That’s because this example is one of the reported 197 M3s produced by BMW Motorsport GmbH specifically for racing when new. They were sold to the likes of dealers and well-to-dos for Group N competition – effectively, a “Showroom Stock” level of racing. But these M3s were anything but stock as they were delivered in component form to dealerships to be built by the racer in the specification that they required. Number 136 has an interesting career, having originally been raced by Frick Motorsport in the Austrian Touring Car Championship by notable BMW factory driver Dieter Quester. BMW even went so far as to have models made of the car, liveried in Red Bull colors and wearing number 3. Since then it was turned into a privateer racer where it has consistently been, rather unsurprisingly, a front runner:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 Group N on eBay

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