Monday, March 31, 2014

10k: E36M3/4/5: 1998 BMW M3 Sedan

Imagine you had two fast inline-6 powered BMW M-cars in your garage and had to pick one of them keep and one to sell.  They are both mid two hundred horsepower, but the E36 M3 offers modern ergonomics and rack-and-pinion steering to the e28 M5's classic reduction-box...but one has gotta go.  This is exactly the dilemma facing Drew over at Motoring Con Brio, and he just sent us a note saying that his 1998 BMW M3 sedan is offered for $10,000 in NYC, NY.

We first noticed this white beauty in the Petrolicious interview of Drew that featured his recent e28 M5 acquisition as well as his E36M3/4/5 -- this is the way the kids refer to the M3, 4-door, 5-spd combination, the ultimate unicorn for the E36 loving family man.  

Under the hood is 3.2 liter S52B32US inline-6 that puts out 240 horsepower and 240 ft-lbs of torque which was way down from the 316 horsepower in the European version, but the end product is plenty fun and fairly reliable.  This example has 164k miles on the odometer, but we've seen ones with another 100k that are still using the original engine with no issues.  If maintenance on items like the plastic cooling systems parts (pressurized coolant expansion tank, plastic radiator end tanks), water pump, timing belt, & vanos wear parts is done in a timely manner the S52 will last forever.

Inside this E36 has a cool looking M Tech II sport steering wheel that has been recovered and is an appreciated cosmetic upgrade over the huge air bag equipped stock E36 M3 wheel.  White/dove leather is difficult to keep clean, but it should be cooler in the summer and looks good with the white paint.  

See a better car for a Stig family with a few young Stig/Stigettes in the back?


  1. Has the rear subframe been repaired with this many miles?
    It's hard to get a nice car for 10k and this should go fast...

    1. Tom,
      The E36 M3s had the rear subframe reinforcement plates installed from the factory (with the exception of some early 1995 models). It is the E36 non-M cars that have the problem and typically people install the factory style M3 plates to fix it, such as this kit from turner motorsports.

      Unless there is a different subframe issue you are talking about! :)

      I had a 95 M3 coupe a few years ago. Incredible car for the money.


  2. I've never met another human being more hell-bent on spreading scathing criticism over the recirculating ball steering in the older BMW 5 series than the author of this post. Vince, I bet if we set up ten identical 5 series with the same steering ratio but half with R&P, half with recirc ball, you would have NO IDEA which was which. Let it go already!

    1. Anon - it is true, a recirc-ball steering system ate my baby. In truth, I admit, I am a steering snob. But drive an E36 on the track versus an E28/E34 (I've logged many hours of lap time in each) and there is simply no comparison to feedback as to what is happening at the front end. I'm not saying that you can't setup a steering box system to give decent feedback with caster/ackerman adjustments...but once done it just isn't as good as a basic R&P. An unassisted steering box setup isn't as bad because the non-linearity associated with the hydraulic ram action aren't as noticeable...but you've got to ask yourself why every other hot rod on the planet uses the Mustang II R&P steering system. It is like saying that V6 engines don't have good exhaust notes compared to a V8 or V10...sure everything is is true. I stand by my misstatements!!
      Full disclosure - I'm currently strongly considering ditching my current R&P late model driver for a classic steering box equipped classic.
      EIC Vince

    2. I think the above Anonymous = Gielamonster. But that's just me.


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