1994 BMW 850CSi

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Both new and now as it gains modern classic status, “reasonable” has rarely been an adjective that comes to mind with the BMW 850CSi. Yet compared to the prices we’ve seen for nice, low-mileage examples over the past few years, this silver V12 M-Powered megacoupe is exactly that. A 50k-mile 850CSi was looking for mid-$60ks less than two months ago, while this June, Classic Driver was looking for almost $90k for one with 30k miles. That makes this two-owner, well-documented and maintained example extremely reasonable at $48k. Yes, it’s a lot of money, but these are quickly gaining more respect as collector cars beyond their baseline megaluxury and performance. With a 6-speed and 375hp out of twelve cylinders, that’s still a lot for less than $50k.

Click for details: 1994 BMW 850CSi on eBay

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1988 BMW 320is

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I’ve focused heavily on the now-importable forbidden fruit of Volkswagen recently, but the models VW kept from us tend more towards the funky instead of the fast. One of the tastiest BMW offerings that never came across the Atlantic is the “Italian M3,” or E30 320is. As a reminder, these were standard E30 chassis heavily upgraded with M parts, including the M3’s S14 but with a shorter stroke to circumvent Italy and Portugal’s heavy taxes on engines over 2000cc. It produced almost as much power as the M3 with a little less torque, and the same Getrag dog-leg gearbox ensured a powertrain experience as close to the all-conquering M3 as any. The suspension setup was similar as well, but an M-Tech II bodykit provided a much more subtle, gentleman-racer look compared to the E30’s legendary box flares. Carter featured one of the few in the US (and one of 2,542 in the world) a while back. It was for sale by the oft-derided Enthusiast Auto Group, well known for snagging low-mileage examples of rare BMWs and proceeding to ask exorbitant amount of money for them. That car with 50k miles was left on the auction block despite a high bid of $29k. It was also pretty much all-original, which is not the case here.

This 320is has had quite a few owners, starting with 3 in Italy, two in Germany (including the current seller), and 8 years with one in the UK. The British owner spent heavily to elevate his 320is to a true track weapon with an FIA M3 roll cage, race seats and 4-point harnesses, and a fully upgraded suspension. Other OEM+ items like E30 M3 rear brakes, E36 M3 chain tensioner, and M Coupe differential cover complete a package that is well thought-out and is surely an exceptional performer on road and track. In an effort to make it more streetable, the Recaros and roll cage are supplemented by by a custom rear seat-delete parcel shelf. It’s racy for sure, but none of it looks so extreme that it couldn’t be enjoyed regularly on the road. The exterior follows a similar path with jagged M-stripes crossing the beautiful Delphin grey. They’re vinyl, so you can take them off if you want to return to its original sleeper status. With the performance parts it’s packing and the rollcage peaking out of the back windows, I’d leave them on to proclaim BMW Motorsport for all to see. It will be in Germany until early next year which complicates the sale a little, but if the rare and unique 320is is your style, I’d say it’s worth getting in touch with Norbert to see what you can work out.

Click for details: 1988 BMW 320is on eBay

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1997 BMW M3

While the BMW E30 M3 is experiencing epic levels of popularity, for yours truly, it’s not my favorite of the lot. No, my favorite would be the E36 M3. I’ve always had a thing for this car, even if it’s heart was based on the M50 inline-6 found in lesser E36 models. There is something about the crisp lines of the E36 that grabs my attention, as the E46 which followed was a bit softer in appearance. Today, we no longer have a two-door M3. Instead, we’ve moved up a number to the M4. Even though it’s “technically” an M3, I’m not too keen on driving a car with the same name as a motorway in the United Kingdom. So let’s take a look at this 1997 M3 for sale in Illinois. Finished in Estoril Blue, this one has yet to cross the 70,000 mile mark.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW M3 on eBay

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1995 BMW M3

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When looking at E36 M3s, there are many different approaches. Do you want the lowest mileage example around in case they go the way of the E30-dodo? Perhaps you’re looking for a driver-quality, mid-mileage example. Is it four-doors or nothing? (For my money it would be!) Or maybe you’re a bit more adventurous and 240hp just won’t do so you’re after some performance mods, maybe even a supercharger?

These are all rational approaches to one of the best performance bargains available today and illustrate what a broad spectrum of driving enthusiasm the E36 M3 can fulfill. For today, however, just one item composed my rubric: WHICH ONE HAS THE BIGGEST WING? Well, folks, I’m confident I’ve found it, and as opposed to the rear-view problems monster wings typically present, this one avoids that problem altogether by just placing the spoiler higher than the roof!

Now, the reason this car has a GT3RS-rivaling spoiler is because it’s been fully outfitted for the track. A supercharger and upgraded exhaust/suspension/brakes combine with a rollcage in the bare interior to make this M3 all about the go, not show. Which rationalizes the wing a bit – sure, it looks silly, but with the S52B30 putting out over 400hp at the crank now, some high-speed stability is a prudent priority. Somehow registered for the street, this complete track build clearly demands a closed course so you can exercise this E36’s full potential instead of garnering Nelson Muntz-ish “Ha Ha!”s from the general public.

Click for details: 1995 BMW M3 on eBay

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1988 BMW M5

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This E28 M5 was the car Dinan used for R&D to create their own modifications to supplement BMW’s upgrades to the platform. Not only does that make it a cool piece of American tuner history, but it clears the air of any pretension or garage-queeniness. This M5 has been used and worked on from the get-go. That makes things like the Euro bumpers, recovered seats (now without heat), and early engine rebuild (likely due to the early testing?) not as big of issues. It’s a very clean and good-looking M5 with a fun – if not flawless – history. Even with over 100k miles and bumper conversions, clean E28 M5s have been garnering some serious attention and money. A colorful but respectful past just seems like more of an excuse to drive a great M5 if you can afford it.

Click for details: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay

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1991 BMW M5

Last week I wrote up a gorgeous E34 540i/6 M-Sport that was listed just below $20k. Seems that most people thought the price on that was too high, despite the low miles and it’s owner being a long time BMW enthusaist. So, when I saw this ’91 M5 on Pelican Parts with a sale price about $2k lower than that of the 540i, I knew I had to write it up. I’m interested to see what ya’ll think of this deal, because while this car has nearly double the miles of the 540i, it has some Dinan bits, and it’s an M5. Is this car really so special that it warrants the price being within a months rent of a 540i with much lower miles?

Yes. Yes it is.

This is the E34 M5 we’re talking about here. This is THE Bimmer of the 90s. I acknowledge how cool the 540i M-Sports are, but I’m an enthusaist, and I’m the target audience for specialty models. The M5 is popular with everyone, and if you’re looking to get into a young timer classic, name recognition is important. There might be more costs upfront but the return on investment will be higher as well. Five or ten years down the road, when you’ve had your fun and are ready for something different, what would you rather be listing, an M5 or a 540i/6 M-Sport? The answer should be M5 every single time, that is if you’re into making some money on the deal. I’m not saying that isn’t possible with the 540i or any other specialty variants that were similar to a top dog car, but I know it’ll be harder.

Name recognition goes a long way and down the road when the bubble on 90s German vehicles bursts, you’ll want the well known hardware on your hands. I still don’t think the 540i I wrote up last week is a bad deal. What the seller wants is perfectly reasonable for a car of that class, with that many miles, no matter how old it is. This M5 on the other hand can command nearly the same amount with much higher miles because of its cultural cachet. Have I hammered home that the M5 is the better deal? Okay, lets get into the nitty gritty of what I like about this example.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on Pelican Parts

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2011 BMW 1M

Like many I was filled with excitement and anticipation when it was announced that BMW would release a M-package 1-series. We were all pretty sure it wouldn’t be called the M1, since that name was taken, but regardless of what it was called there was plenty to be excited about. The 3-series was getting too big and seemed a significant departure from the iconic E30 M3, which was for me, though I didn’t really know it at the time, THE CAR to capture my attention and it elicited “ooohhs” and “aaahhhs” whenever we passed the local BMW dealer. I only saw it from afar so I can’t say exactly what color it was, though I know it was bright – something along the lines of Zinnoberrot I’d guess. Of course the 1M isn’t quite to the E30’s stature, at least not yet, but it was smaller and better proportioned than its siblings and that definitely was a step in the right direction. But whereas the E30 possesses a litheness to its design, the 1M is all muscle and with 335 hp it packs plenty of punch to backup that sculpted appearance. There is an Alpine White 1M that runs around where I live and for a white car it’s pretty darn sexy, but ultimately I come back to that first M3 and look for something a little brighter like this Valencia Orange 2011 BMW 1M Coupe, located in Illinois, with 32,250 miles on it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 BMW 1M on eBay

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1991 BMW M5

While the E28 M5 only appeared in the US for one model year, BMW saw an opportunity in the marketplace for a high performance sedan and followed up with a second act, the E34 M5. The new M5 would follow the same formula as the car before, with a high-strung inline-6, 5-speed manual, tauter suspension and styling tweaks. A Touring variant would also become available for the first time. With just over 300 horsepower on tap, the M5 could sprint to 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds. This M5 for sale in New York is one of the lowest mileage examples we’ve seen of late and looks factory fresh, with exception of the switch to the Style 21 Throwing Star inserts.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

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1998 BMW M3 Convertible with Hardtop in Dakar Yellow

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I still recall the first time I set eyes on an e36 M3 convertible in the flesh. We were headed to the movies on a summer evening just as it was starting to cool off. After we parked, there was a brand new one in Estoril Blue over Dove Gray. The top was down which gave us a nice chance to live vicariously from the outside looking in — dreaming of cruising home in the open air while sinking into a new leather interior and driving just a little faster than everyone else as the light went down.

It would take years before I got an e36 M3 of my own, but that connection early on certainly played a part in my eventual ownership. Mine was a coupe but a friend of mine who was a broker at the time had a 98 convertible for sale that I got to compare side by side. While the lack of a top is an obvious difference, the lack of B-pillars was also a strong visual character trait of the convertible. Unfortunately this translates into a lot more shaking in the cabin, especially at the windshield. Then again, you don’t purchase a convertible over the coupe because it makes more sense on the track. You get the ‘vert because it’s a fantastic excuse to go for spirited Sunday cruise when the weather is nice.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Convertible on eBay

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