When the M3 was introduced in 1986, BMW had arrived. A homologation special to satisfy German racing sanctions, the boxy E30 M3 is equipped with a high-revving inline 4-cylinder engine and a 5-speed manual transmission that simply sings to enthusiasts. To boot, the chassis had been so well dialed in, tuned up, and worked over, that the M3 showed the world BMW could build cars to be truly reckoned with on the track. Suddenly, BMW’s following was larger and more enthusiastic than ever before, a fact they used liberally in their marketing, which only caused further growth.
The E36 3-Series debuted in ‘92, and it was a gamble, but one that almost immediately paid off. It was bigger and heavier, but it had more power and addressed many of the nags people had against the E30. Unsurprisingly, in spite of the size and weight, the new E36 mopped the floor with its competition and knocked people’s socks off with its driving nature. It was fun and quick, predictable and centered, offering just the right level of refinement and sportiness – in a word, it was balanced. Some haters said it lost the raw purity of the original E30, but not everyone wants to drive a go-kart as their daily. Growing up is good, growing up like the M3 did is even better. The E36 M3 now packed a 240hp inline 6-cylinder engine and, to satisfy a larger customer base, they would introduce an M3 sedan and an M3 convertible. By now, BMW was very well established as the athletic European premium sedan builder, and the M3 only furthered that reputation.
Regarded as one of the best-balanced cars in the world, the E36 BMW M3 is a treasure to discover in all-original condition. In fact, pretty much any M3 is a treasure to find unmolested like this one. Sporting 85k miles, this 1998 M3 coupe has the 5-speed manual transmission and is said to be completely stock with no modifications. In the desirable black-on-black motif, the desirability is furthered by manually adjustable Vader seats. The seller says the original rims are wrapped with brand new tires and the car has no oil or coolant leaks – boldly claiming it needs nothing. If this is true, it’s a sign of a very well cared for M3. They are robust, no question, but also known for a few little deficiencies that really only added to their character.
This one, in the desirable black-on-black color scheme with relatively low miles and appearing in beautiful shape in the photos, has us quite captivated for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this would be a fabulous driver to enjoy on weekends - or even every day. The mileage isn’t exactly low, but fairly low by M3 standards as these cars were built to be driven, and our only cringe with the seller is that he doesn’t say anything about books and records verifying mileage and service history. The M3 can be formidably expensive to repair, so it’d be nice to have some assurances that it was actually taken care of. Let’s face it, BMWs - especially anything with an “M” on its flanks – are meant to be driven hard, which is fine so long as it’s rewarded with proper servicing. It’s all about the balance.
We’ve recently been seeing E36 M3s with less miles bring $25-$30k at auction, leading us to believe this one rests firmly in the fair market range. With the title in hand and ready for a new caretaker, this second-gen M3 sounds like it’s ready to roll!