As E30 M3 prices skyrocket to the stratosphere and E34 M5 prices ease upward, the E36 generation BMW M3 continues to be the pariah of the depreciated ///M world. Never mind that the E36 is faster, better handling, more modern, and cheaper to run than those other M-cars, because buyers/sellers don't seem to care about logic...because logically, this is the M to own. Find this 1997 BMW M3 E36 Sedan here on eBay for $9,499 buy-it-now located in Berlin, CT.
The E36 generation M3 was available as a coupe, sedan, or convertible -- and a quick search of the interwebs would have you think that every convertible is a slushbox, and every coupe came with salvage title from the factory. The fanboys will claim the only difference between the coupe and sedan (besides door count and roofline) is that the sedan has a stiffer body, but torsional rigidity is not something you can measure at home with a set of bungie cords and a stopwatch. My preference for the sedan comes down to simple utilitarian emphasis on getting kids in/out of car seats out the back.
The post '96 M3 comes with a 3.2 liter S52 inline-6 that pushes out the same 240 horsepower as the earlier version, but boosts torques to 236 ft-lbs. Power goes to a standard limited slip differential out back via a ZF sourced 5-speed manual gearbox.
Ed. CFlo: The E36 is such an incredible handling chassis from the factory that only a bit of tweaking makes them a world-class fun machine / track car. And they are dirt cheap right now; my 24 Hours of Lemons team just bought a straight, rust free spare 328i sans engine & trans... for $200. Now is the time. Carpe BM.
See a better way to drive a great handling sedan for the same cash? firstname.lastname@example.org