Friday, October 17, 2014

5k: Clean 'N' Cheap: 1996 BMW M3 E36

You are likely sick of hearing how great of a deal the E36 M3 is, but don't mistake it with implying the E36 M3 is a great car.  The E36 may have a fabulous chassis powered by a decent engine, but it is filled with a lackluster interior and maintenance is expensive.  Regardless, it is by and far the cheapest way to wear the coveted ///M badge. That's gotta count for something, right?  Find this 1996 BMW M3 offered for $7,200 near Boise, ID via craigslist. Tip from Oldsmobuick

The E36 M3 market is very depressed right now, but it isn't often that you find a clean title, sub 100k mile, 5-speed M3 coupe sold by the original owner for less than $10k.  This could be the deal of the month if it is as described by the seller -- and don't expect these prices to stay low forever, just look at what happened to the E30 M3 market in the past few years.

The S52B32 is 3.2 liter inline 6 cylinder engine that puts out 240 horsepower and 240 ft-lbs of torque.  The S52 is known for its durability and longevity due to the relatively low specific of power output.  The European version makes considerably more power, but the US version should last longer...a small consolation for the US M3 owner.  Black wouldn't be my first choice for an exterior color, but it does go nicely with the camel interior color.

Am I crazy, or does these seem like a steal?


  1. So many cars, so little timeOctober 17, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    Not a "true" M to the purists due to lack of individual throttle bodies, but tremendous bang for the buck. As soon as you get it, proactively replace the entire cooling system -- an easy weekend project -- and drive the whee out of it. If I hadn't already ticked that box on my list, I'd be looking for one just like this closer to home.

  2. A friend of mine is selling his pristine E36 M3 with fewer miles for over twice the $$. So yes, this does look like a pretty good deal compared to that. Granted, his is in a pretty rare-ish color combo (techno violet over Modena vader) with very low miles so its almost apples/oranges.

    I've seen cheaper E36 M3's than this listed one, but not too many with clean titles in this kind of condition. I think the E36 is a current performance bargain destined to be an appreciating future classic. It just might take a while for it to get there.

  3. That's a steal. And the BS about them being expensive to repair is that: BS. If you own a nearly 20 year old car, you're doing it yourself, and these things are easy to keep up. I'm not sure where everyone gets on with the interior.... I've been surprised at how well they hold up. Both of my '95s (I went back, and will probably again) were fantastic in every way. The first had 65k when I got it in late 2009, and the second 150k when I got it in 2012. Seriously fantastic sports coupe's and this one is a bargain if in decent shape. The good thing about buying any M car, is that you can assume if they are near stock, they have been taken care of.


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