I’m going to continue on the M3 theme, and again we’re looking at a ’95. Just the other day, I pointed out how the E36 M3 – even in ‘diluted’ USA form – was a great value for a driver-oriented enthusiast compared to the E30 M3. But that’s not true of all E36s. There’s the Canadian M3 – essentially, a Euro import with all the verboten goodies we didn’t get here, one of which we saw sell last year for $65,000. There the M3 GT, which also upped the ‘special’ quotient quite a bit on the mass-produced M, and also will cost you a pretty penny. But for U.S. specification collectors, there’s really only one option in the E36 catalog: the Lightweight.
Over the past few years I’ve written up several of these cars as speculation has continued to grow that this will be the next logical step in market capital following the E30. Asking prices have been, at times, what most would consider outrageous for the E36. But never quite this outrageous. I hope you’re sitting down, swallow and move the drink away from your computer. Consider yourself warned.
There are a few strange similarities between yesterday’s 1987 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V and today’s subject – the much more elusive and legendary BMW M1. Both were sporty cars developed from more pedestrian beginnings. Both featured high-revving dual-overhead cam motors. But the interesting part comes in the sublet of construction, and the design. Both have links to Giugiaro, but both also borrowed heavily from other designs.
In an article I penned for The Truth About Cars last year, I covered some of the development of the Wedge Era and how those spectacular show car designs channeled their design language down to more pedestrian models. One of the stars of that article were the cutting-edge looks from Giugiaro’s ItalDesign – the firm, and man, responsible for some of your favorites such as the basic shape for the Audi Quattro. But while the Quattro launched its brand into the luxury realm and redefined the 80s, the undisputed German star of the wedgey wonders was the BMW M1.
The coupe is a no compromise automobile. In a world that demands convenience at every turn, I’m surprised vehicles that make you twist and turn into the backseat are still a part of the automotive landscape. Being single with no kids, practicality isn’t something that enters into the equation for me when it comes to vehicle purchases, so a coupe with a usable backseat is all the better. This 1988 BMW M6 is the car I dreamed about upgrading to when I was driving my 1988 325is. The original M3 was, while ultra popular now, was a relatively obscure option at first. But for me, the draw of the silky smooth power of a BMW inline-6 trumps the race-derived inline-4. So being the contrarian I am, this M6 lets me have my inline-6 cake and eat it too. This Alpine White M6 for sale in New York is served up with some attractive BBS alloys in a contrasting dark gray that is pleasing to the eye.
Following on to the 1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Coupe we saw earlier in the week, here’s a car at the other end of the E36/8 production run spectrum, the 2002 M Coupe. Enthusiasts know these are the ones to get, as the late model M Coupes are packing the desirable S54 engine. This example for sale in New Mexico is one of the few made without the sunroof, sure to please those looking for a track day hero.
It seems as if winter decided to hang on for another weekend on the east coast of the United States this week. However, summer will be here before we know it and with it comes the desire for open top motoring. This 1999 BMW M3 for sale in Arlington, Virginia is on offer from the second owner who has had the vehicle in his possession since it was a year old. While the M3 Convertible might not be the first choice for the hardcore //M enthusiast, this one is perfectly suited for those lazy jaunts to the beach, especially since these E36 convertibles have more than adequate rear seat and trunk space for those weekend jaunts to the beach.
1999 BMW M3 Convertible
EDIT 3/25/16 – Thanks to our reader Mark who alerted us that this car is misrepresented since he actually owns #4. Further detective work by our readers has shown this is actually an M540i number 3/32 but without its original M540i details. Thanks to our knowledgeable readership for scrutinizing!
Here’s a rare slice of BMW M-car, one of the 32 examples of the Canada-only E34 M540i. These were built by BMW Individual at the time, and were a far cry from the badge-happy ///M340iMsportEfficientDynamics, creating the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too of 90s Bimmers by taking the E34 M5’s chosen-one suspension and brakes and mating it with the 540i’s grunty V8 and 6-speed fun-lever.
So, sounds like an amazing find, especially with a No-Reserve Auction starting at $4,999. A shockingly low number for such a rare 5er, but its had 10 owners in just 101.5k miles, and it needs shocks, springs, mounts, fan shrouds, cosmetics… it needs. The interior looks to be in good shape, as does the trunk, but the engine bay remains a mystery. If you’re handy with the E34 platform, you’ll probably have a wealth of options to take get it awesome, but you could probably have a sharp-looking, now intelligently-modified M540i that lives up to its name.
Here’s a fun market check as the E28 M5’s ascent follows the E30 M3 north. There isn’t a ton of history listed on this M5 other than it was owned by a BMW dealer who spared no expense keeping it nice. After just 93k miles, that care shows. Every electrical item is said to work perfectly, while the few aftermarket choices appear well-chosen. The suspension has been redone with Koni, while an interesting brake upgrade helps slow the fastest sedan in the world (in 1988). E34 brakes appear in the back, which is a common choice, but the owner has managed to get Porsche units up front with drilled rotors. There aren’t any big power upgrades, choosing to let the S38 do its best while making it an overall better-handling car. All of this adds up to an E28 M5 that is very nice but not perfect or all-original.
The E34 M5 may be the least-loved of the breed, but who is going to argue with a 3.9 liter stroker S38? I adore my S38B35, and the thought of a torquier, gnarlier Dinanified inline-6 with an extra pint of volume makes me tingle. This Calypso Red M5 has made the rounds, first selling on BaT in 2012 for a relative pittance before spending the last year-plus trying to spin a profit. The speculative seller has repainted it but accrued fewer than 1k miles, making clear his intentions to cash in on a rare, tuned M-car. The reality that E34s aren’t appreciating like E30s or E38s has apparently begun to set in, as he’s asking now asking $6,500 less than in 11/2014. If you’re looking for a monster E34, this is probably the way to go. But when you could be getting an E39 with 60 more horsepower and a generation newer everything, does anyone like the E34 enough to pay the premium? I’m guessing the seller is going to have to have more patience or less pride before this M5 can start spinning its wheels again with a real driver.
The below post originally appeared on our site November 28, 2014:
We may no longer be able to day dream about owning an E30 M3, but we can at least take a moment to pause and reflect that we’ve been observers of one of the most insane rises in values ever. According to Hagerty, over the last 5 years Councours and Excellent values have increased fivefold, while Good and Fair values have merely tripled. If you took $20k out of the stock market in 2011 and bought a nice E30 M3, your money would have performed over 10 times better than staying with Dow Jones. And that’s during the period of huge economic recovery – DJIA was barely 12,000 at the beginning of 2011.
(E30 M3 Values – Concours, Excellent, Good, Fair)
(Below, the black line is the DJIA)
With that in mind, we must accept that even extremely high-mileage E30 M3s like this 1988 Hennarot example are reaching $40k. It spent almost all of its life with an older woman in SoCal, being well cared for with a high quality repaint in 2009. The current seller is just the second owner and has allegedly owned over 60 BMWs, including 2 other E30 M3s. His fiancée is making him get rid of it (but he’s keeping the new M6, 1M, and 330i ZHP…). It doesn’t sound like money is an issue here and I’m sure the $38.5k asking price is more than he bought it for. But even if E30 M3 appreciation slows down, wouldn’t it still be worth it to pay for a storage garage and let it make you money?
When I first saw this car, I thought I’d be writing a “Revisit” article due to the grey brick background and beautiful E28 M5. Alas, it’s just another very clean M5 from Motorcar Studio, nearly a dead ringer for the one I featured just over a year ago. That 138k-mile example’s auction ended without a buyer at the $32,900 asking price, so they’re coming in a little lower at $27.9k for this 194k-mile M5. It actually looks to be in as good or better shape despite the higher mileage, especially in the interior where the apparently-original leather looks as good as a redo. Mechanically, all records from new with diligent maintenance from just two owners is about as good as it gets with a high-mileage classic. S38s have been known to reach well over a quarter-million miles without a rebuild given devoted maintenance and a little luck, and with a compression test showing 200 PSI all around, this looks like a good candidate.