Thursday, August 7, 2014

20k: Cheap E30M3: 1988 BMW M3

 At just under 5000 examples built for the US market, the E30 generation M3 is rare sight today, but it can't be missed with its Kardashian rear fenders and boy racer rear wing.  The Japanese kids who styled the GD chassis Subaru Impreza STi spent a lot of time lusting after E30 M3s and it shows. Unfortunately for kids who lust after the E30s drifting potential, the market for the E30 M3 has been driven through the roof as of late and salvage title or complete wrecks are the only thing you'll find in the $20k range, but that's okay because you won't be looking at the title when you are drifting past an apex.  Find this 1988 BMW M3 currently bidding for $19,098 with a few hours to go on ebay, located in Farmington, MN.

No one will deny that the E30 generation M3 isn't a sweet car, it just isn't worth 5 times as much as an E36 or E46 in similar condition -- except that is exactly what people are paying for these things. Sixty large will buy you all kinds of exotic classics with names like DeTomaso, Ferrari and Jaguar on the side -- or a modern classic like a 993 generation 911, Acura NSX, Ferrari 360...but some people are opening their wallets wide for the magic of the 4-banger BMW.   De gustibus non est disputandum, I guess...

Making a racket under the hood of an E30 M3 is an engine surprisingly short on cylinders...a DOHC inline 4, the S14B23 that puts out 192 horsepower and 200 ft-lbs of torque.  The S14 has been described as an S38 with two cylinders lopped off, but the engine is considerably down on power and refinement compared to later M3 motors - but for some reason, models equipped with this 7000 rpm screamer have been worth gold recently, great for owners...not so good for those looking in from the outside.

Of course this E30 M3 has 3-pedals, because the E30 M3 (unlike all subsequent M3s) was only available with a 5-speed manual gearbox.  Some wear/tear on the seats can be seen, but otherwise this car looks in decent shape, salvage title notwithstanding.

See a better way to invest the kids college fund into a liquid fueled asset?


  1. Don't forget the M-System II "throwing star" wheels, from an E34 M5. Never seen them on an M3 until now. Not bad at all.

  2. Looks clean in the pictures, but the seller would do himself a big favor by addressing the elephant in the room. There's no mention of the salvage title in the description and his answer to a bidder question is vague at best.

  3. I was just thinking yesterday how I will never get to own another e30 M3. I sold mine a few years back that was in better condition and no salvage for 12k.
    I am now looking at buying an e30 with a m50-52 swap. Could be just as much fun?

    1. Fleetwood T. BroughamAugust 7, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      @Sean Scott----the answer is "no". It would be more fun.

    2. I predict the E30 M3 bubble will burst at some point. But even after that fact, a swapped 318i or 325i with the "is" suspension bits would be more fun. Far less stressful regarding theft or damage than an M3 too.

      1988 BMW M3 prices in the past 7 years

      Compare to NASDAQ index of the dot-com bubble stock prices...


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