BMW E36 M3 - Euro Best Buys #1

By: Unique Cars magazine

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While prices for Aussie classics have soared there is still some very sharp buying (and driving!) in the Euro end of the classifieds


BMW E36 M3

Though the history only goes back around three decades, early E30-series cars have been on the collector radar for some time and these, the second-generation E36 machines, are starting to get there.

Despite eye-watering pricing, BMW has managed to flog an impressive number of these things - some 70,000 of the E36 generation alone from 1992 to 1999.

| Read next: Time-capsule 1988 BMW E30 M3 sells for AU$352,000

Three major body types were built: four-door sedan, two-coupe and two-door convertible. We also saw three engine series – all straight sixes – from 2990cc, to 3152 and finally the 3201 unit. That last one was good for a claimed 321 horses, which was around 40 up on the first.


Several transmissions were offered, including auto, SMG (a sequantial electronic transmission) and manual, though the latter (either five or six-speed) is probably best from a collector point of view.

There are numerous ‘special’ versions of the M3, plus several variations according to market, so it pays to read up if you’re looking at these things.


BMW purists are particularly fond of the straight six-powered M cars, since that engine configuration has a long history with the marque and has traditionally been one of its strengths. Some die-hards still grizzle about the later introduction of V8s to the M3 line.

Properly maintained, these are a geat drive with engaging feedback and exhilerating performance. However, many of them were used as the daily hack as well as the weekend toy – becasue they handled both with aplomb – and therefore have a lot of miles under them.


That’s where servicing and upkeep is critical, as a shagged one will a lot cost to fix.

If you can afford it and find one, go for the 3.2lt engine and six-speed manual. Prices vary, but averaged out at mid-thirties over the last year or so.

Our top 4 Best Euro Buys:

#1 - BMW E36 M3

#2 - Porsche 911 996

#3 - Peugeot 205 GTi

#4 - Fiat 124

#5 - Mercedes-Benz W124 E280/300/320


From Unique Cars #442, July 2020

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