1997 BMW M3 Sedan Dinan

I’m a fan of the sedan version of the E36 M3 and often wondered why BMW declined to build a four-door version of the E46 M3 that followed. (At least one person has tried it – click here to read an account of a wild and very successful E46 M3 sedan home-brew build.) In the sedan, you get the same basic ingredients as the coupe – a revvy engine and dynamic chassis that’s fun to throw around yet easy to live with – with the added practicality of a rear set of doors, useful if you have family or friends to cart around. Even if the US-spec cars were a bit “neutered” in comparison with the more powerful version offered in Europe, the E36 M3 offers a nice, well-rounded package and remains relatively inexpensive, although nice condition examples get thinner on the ground every year. The M-Tech bumpers and side skirts look neat on the sedan body style, and remain subtle enough that passers by might just mistake it for a plain old 328i.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW M3 Dinan on eBay

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Evergreen Forest: 1998 BMW M Roadster

This past weekend I drove by the spot where I first encountered the M Coupe. The year was 1998, and to be honest the Z3 lineup had been pretty forgettable. In many ways, the car’s signature launch through the James Bond film Goldeneye summed up how most felt about the Z3:

“Hey, look, a new convertible BMW!” (moves on)

But that changed with the launch of the M-tuned models. The E36/7 and /8 suddenly had the performance to back up the hoopla associated with the launch when the S52 from the M3 found its way under the hood. Augmenting that were upgraded brakes, giant shadowline Roadstar wheels with massive (and awesome) lips, and wide flared fenders culminating in quad exahusts emerging from the rear middle of the car – what would become signature on the next round of BMW M models. It looked great, it drove great, and was available in some pretty wild colors. It was pretty much the instant recipe for a collectable, but values languished for some time before the Coupe models really started taking off a few years ago. But it’s still possible to get into a collector-condition Z M model for not an outrageous sum:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M Roadster on eBay

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2000 BMW M Coupe

The M Coupe has really emerged as the next great thing in the BMW world, with nearly every single for sale advertisement riddled with hyperbole about how they’re the next big thing and how incredibly rare each particular color combination is. The truth is that if you’re just trying to get on to the M Coupe train, you’re a bit late to the party – but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to check out a good looking one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW M Coupe on eBay

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1997 BMW M3 Coupe with 45,000 Miles

The value of E36 M3s has been much debated over the past few years, with detractors snickering and deriding every asking price and speculators suggesting their worth is many times the average selling price. While it’s true you can find cheap E36 M3s, the question remains – where is the market going on these cars? The result of their relatively low value for such a protracted period means that today there just aren’t the glut of good examples that there once were, so when a really nice one comes along, now too do the bids. Case in point – today’s 1997 Coupe. A quick search of my local Craigslist ads suggests I can buy one of these for $6,500. No, actually, I can buy four of them, all for $6,500 (or less). So why would I pay more for this one?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW M3 Coupe on eBay

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1998 BMW M3 Sedan

1 While the E36 M3 coupe is known to be a relatively quick, dynamic and fun car to drive, it’s often hard to find a good one. That’s largely because so many of the coupes have ended up as thrashed track-rods with dubious modifications. On the other hand when they do turn up for sale, the relatively uncommon sedan versions are more likely to be found in stock, unmolested condition and as such have tended to keep their value. This is probably because they’re more likely to have been used for trips to the organic grocery store rather than to a track. (There’s an Arctic Silver one with Yakima roof racks that I often see where I live in DC, parked near a place colloquially known as Whole Paycheck, and yes, I eye it jealously every time I see it). The two extra doors do not fundamentally alter the M3 package, except to add a healthy dose of everyday practicality, while the M-tech bodykit that distinguishes the Ms from ordinary cars lends the already handsome sedan body shape just the right amount of sporting aggression. I think these cars are well on their way to becoming a bit of a cult classic. This M3 has those two extra doors plus the all important 5-speed manual gearbox, making it an “M3/4/5” in enthusiast-speak.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Sedan on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1998 BMW M3 Coupe

While derided by some for being a bit watered down compared to its European counterpart, there is no denying that the E36 M3 was a wildly popular model and widened the appreciation and market of BMW and the M brand. This particular model alone – the BG93 North American 3.2 Coupe – accounted for 11,793 examples produced. That’s greater than the total number of M products that had been imported to the U.S. prior to the E36 (E24, E28, E30, E34, and 850CSi) and doesn’t account for the 10,000 plus 3.0 Coupes, 6,300 convertibles and and 8,600-odd sedans. You’d expect, then, that finding good examples of the E36 would be quite simple as there are some 35,000 to choose from. But the popularity of the E36 M3 was in part its undoing, too. The flood of the cars devalued the market; many fell into hands unable to maintain them or who treated them like a pinball, bouncing them off every curb, guardrail or other cars. Additionally, the E36’s shift towards mass production did have tangible effects on the long term quality of the product. It’s not unusual to see rusty examples with the trim falling off and headlights so nebulous they’re useless. As a result, finding excellent examples of the E36 is somewhat cause for celebration and really nice ones have been finding a greater appreciation in the enthusiast world. This ’98 Coupe is certainly one of the better quality examples out there for sale today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Coupe on Providence Craigslist

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1998 BMW M3 Sedan 3.6 Widebody 6-speed

Here’s an interesting one that has had me scratching my head quite a bit. What originally caught my eye was the bright Estoril Blue Metallic sitting on some refinished E46 Style 67 wheels. It was worth a second eyeball, which resulted in me noticing it was a 4-door. CLICK – I’m interested in seeing more. Once in the posting, the title became even more interesting – Racing Dynamics RD Sport? Lesser known than Alpina or Hartge, but still producers of some pretty trick products. 3.6 liter motor? 6-speed? TELL ME MORE!!!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Sedan 3.6 Widebody 6-speed on eBay

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1999 BMW M3 Convertible

m3Main

The E36 M3 has a curious reputation. Not quite a legendary track machine like its predecessor, the E30, and not quite a sublimely complete driver’s car like its successor, the E46, the E36 is the awkward middle child of the M family. Even BMW themselves seemed only half-heartedly committed to the car in America, choosing to offer it here with a less powerful engine than its European cousin. The resulting antipathy felt toward the car by some M-purists, who regard it as little more than a 328i with M-badging, has kept values low on these for quite some time. As a result, many of the used examples you find on Craigslist have been bought cheaply and thrashed, crashed or otherwise abused.

Still, they are very good cars – torquey, well-balanced and offering a dynamic driving experience. It’s always nice to come across a low mileage example in mint condition that has been kept in stock form. This convertible in stunning Techno Violet is such a car.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW M3 Convertible on Hemmings

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1997 BMW 318ti M-Sport S52

Nate has been on a run of covering some great classic Alpina models, and it’s very easy to see the appeal of the brand. Their tried and true recipe of taking the motor out of a higher-end model and swapping it into the smaller chassis might have seemed a simple task, but the execution of Alpina was always top notch and the results were undeniable. Coupled with upgraded wheels and suspension and full of lovely details, they always managed to feel like a premium product and today that appreciation is shown in high asking prices. In the same vein as the legendary Alpinas, many enthusiasts have tried to take the motor out of M models and fit them to lesser 3-series and 5-series models with varying success. But if done right, the result can be a very tidy looking and appealing package on a more friendly budget:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW 318ti S52 on eBay

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1991 BMW 318is S52

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The 318is usually receives praise for being the entertaining baby of the E30 family, underpowered but a handling master. This Wee30 has received the popular S52 swap from an E36 M3 automatic, thankfully mated here to 5-speed from a 328i. The modifications don’t stop there as the seller went OEM+++ with items like E36 M3 front control arms, E30 M3 rear suspension and brakes, and a tight Z3 steering rack. The list continues with great non-OEM upgrades like Ground Control coilovers and a custom intake on the cold side with new headers and a straight pipe on the hot. The slicktop body is straight despite a rear-end collision in its history, and the whole thing received a decently-done fresh coat of Brilliantrot two years ago.

With a reserve auction and Buy It Now of $10,500, this extremely well-done E30 will likely go for less than $10k.

Click for details: 1991 BMW 318is on eBay

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