BMW M3 E36 1996 - today's tempter

By: Guy Allen, Unique Cars magazine

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Sporty six is becoming a collectible

BMW M3 E36 1996 - today's tempter
This E36 M3 has an appealing engine/trans combination.

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BMW's M-series cars have become a well-established performance brand and rival to Mercedes-Benz AMG. 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.

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 fo 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.

The example here is with a dealer in Victoria and claims to be in exceptional condition with 161,000km on the odo. It has the 3.2lt engine and six-speed manual, which is an appealing combination. Price is $25,990.

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