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The market continues upward: Original 1990 BMW E30 M3 for sale

It appears there will be a day when we all fondly remember when E30 M3s were for sale for *just* $30,000. We’ll all kick ourselves as hindsight shows we should have done everything we could to snag an original one and stash it in a garage to massively appreciate while the rest of the global economy rollercoasters its way through the 21st century. Today, however, I’m going to have to just come right out and say it: I think $30k for a plain-jane, albeit sub-100k mile and well cared-for, E30 M3 is a bit much. Alas, I don’t make the market, the sellers and buyers do, and apparently this seller thinks his 90k-mile M3 will be bought for $32k. Wave goodbye to the accessible E30 M3. The only way this ship’s coming back in is a lottery win or a career in private equity.

1990 BMW E30 M3 for sale on

Notes from the seller:

heated seats, R134 a/c, Rogue exhaust, Evo III plug wires, UUC short-shifter, Igo 93 chip, Euro tow-hook covers, original Uniroyal spare, Viper alarm, no dash cracks, matching VINs, full service history, lots of recent work, original window sticker, clean Carfax.

Now, it’s worth it to look through all of the photos, because they demonstrate that this truly is an immaculate M3 inside and out. No mods or bruises from rough use here. I just thought that meant a ~$25k M3, not $32k. Maybe buyers will work the seller down a litlte, but there’s no question that E30 M3 appreciation is here to stay.



  1. Larry
    Larry August 31, 2012

    No doubt the E30 M3 market is heading onward and upward, but this seller – like most – is probably aiming a little high to start. The subtle silver is OK, but doesn’t really fit the E30 M3’s not subtle personality. The gray interior – while clean – just doesn’t work for me. Needs to be a black interior. Then again, my opinion is irrelevant here. I have no intention of buying an E30 M3 with 90K miles for $32K.

  2. george milonogiannis
    george milonogiannis August 31, 2012

    well anyone can ask as much as they want the truth is that cars sell for a lot less in the end

  3. cenotaph
    cenotaph August 31, 2012

    That add is from the BMWCCA. I’ve found the asking price for adds there to be consistently above what I would consider market value. For $32k, I’d expect less than 50k miles.

  4. Larry
    Larry August 31, 2012

    @ cenotaph: I agree. Looking through the classifieds in Boston Bimmer and Roundel each month, I’m always amazed that sellers think that buyers looking there will spend more.

    Just because a buyer has a history with the marque doesn’t mean they’re going to pay more to buy another. In fact, I find just the opposite – those buyers often know those cars and that market better, and typically expect to pay less!

  5. motoringconbrio
    motoringconbrio August 31, 2012

    i know the seller. he is the consummate discerning collector who knows what he has and knows the market, and this E30 M3 isn’t his only one. given his stewardship of this car, i would confidently say that there is zero chance of any cut corners or misrepresentation with this car. the asking price may feel inflated to some, but i can assure you that the car will be worth every single penny of what it will eventually sell for. definitely a ‘cream of the crop’ car.

    no affiliation, by the way.

  6. Larry
    Larry August 31, 2012

    MCB, I don’t think anyone is questioning the car itself (my color preferences not withstanding). In fact, it looks great. While it seems lot of us aren’t ready for a well-kept 90K-mile E30 M3 to be worth $32K. As noted above, the market care what we’re comfortable with – the selling price will be determined by what a buyer is willing to pay.

  7. KevinR
    KevinR August 31, 2012

    It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess. Personally, I can find cars I like much better for that kind of money. While an E30 M3 is an absolute blast at track days or on mountain roads, it isn’t all that much fun in a daily driving role.

    That being said, I am of the opinion that if you are going to ask for all of the money (as the seller is), the car better be pretty close to showroom original condition. While it appears to be very well maintained, it is not 100% stock and original (based on the ad copy), it is not an extremely low mileage example and it isn’t one of the most popular color combinations.

    Sadly, I had the opportunity to pick up a white with black ’89 model about 5 years ago. It had 78k miles on it and the asking price was $16,000. Just one of many I should have bought over the years…

  8. Miek
    Miek August 31, 2012

    When these start reaching beyond the price of classic muscle cars is when I start laughing.

    I am laughing.

  9. Miek
    Miek August 31, 2012

    Keep in mind that at this price I could find a perfect condition AMC AMX, a car that weighs almost as light as this car, built for road race like this car with a great suspension and lsd, has a 390 V8, and will turn the heads of everyone and not just europeon car fans. Keep in mind that at that price I could probably find one with a ZF 5 speed conversion as well with upgraded suspension bits and megasquirt or serious engine mods. I know because I saw one for $38k and i’m sure I could have brought him down to $35k.

    That car was advertised and sold on its handling characteristics an compared favorably with the europeon sports cars of its day, is a fairly reliable 1960s classic, and can be had less for a 4 cylinder 80s car. :/

    This is M3 EVO money. That I could understand at this price. Now some USDM car. I could buy a Euro M3 for this price and then import it. Or a Lancia Delta Integrale 8v or 16v. Or a US legal Escort Cosworth, a much rarer in the US german car.

    With $30k for a car like this I want something more. Rarity, non-US spec, serious mods perfectly done (like a S52 swap? M88?), or an Alpina logo on it. This car is neither rare, or even uncommon. Just another sub 100k M3.

    Idk why but this listing pisses me off.

  10. Howard S
    Howard S September 5, 2012

    Makes me sick that back in 1994 I sold my 1990 45k mile near perfect example which I bought new for $16,500. Of course I sold it to buy the first in a string over 20 air cooled 911’s. Of all the cars I have owned the e30 M3 is one of three I regret selling. 4 or 5 years ago I kicked around buying one but the price for a very good example was more than I thought it was worth, silly me.

    The color combo on this one is not exactly what I would call desirable but that’s a personal choice. Comparing it to a 60’s muscle car is not really relevant in my opinion the buyers are generally from other worlds.

    Personally if I were to spend somewhere in that area for an e30 M3 it would not be that car. I would need a bit lower miles and I would need a better color combo. I think that the asking price is ALL the money and even at $30k its still a bit rich IMO. I don’t think these are going to be 40 or 50 grand cars anytime soon conversely the markets not going to do an about face on the either. I don’t think you’ll get really hurt buying it for $30 but its not the e30 M3 I would buy for that price. If you can live with the color combo and you want an M3 it’s a safe bet so long as you don’t rack up the miles or wreck it.

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