In the world of BMW collecting there is a single letter that separates their standard offerings from the brand’s standard cars among collectors. That letter is M.
Unless you have never read a story about BMW anywhere, you already understand that the M cars from BMW are the ones geared towards enthusiast drivers. Among the many different M cars offered, the one that has consistently been the most popular is the M3.
The M3 was originally launched in 1985 at the Frankfurt Auto Show and was a hit. It was a hand fabricated E30 3 series car with racing inspired bodywork and a highly tuned 4-cylinder engine under the hood. That original M3 established the legend of the M3 by winning on racetracks around the world and is now a BMW icon.
The M3 that followed was based on the next generation E36 BMW 3 series chassis, and it took a car that was good and made it both a little more civilized but also increased the power dramatically by putting the S52 inline 6 cylinder under the hood. Sadly for us living in the States, the European M3 received the much higher spec S54 engine but when compared to the original U.S. specification E30 M3 the new model was faster, better handling, and more comfortable. Don’t discount the S52 as it is an excellent BMW inline-six engine and also has fewer service requirements than the S54. This car when new had a 0-60 time of 5.9 seconds and a 1/4 mile time of 14.3 seconds. These were strong numbers in 1997 and these cars still feel fast today.
BMW also did something interesting with the new M3 in that they offered the car in a variety of body styles: the coupe, a convertible, and even a sedan. By doing this, BMW did my friend, editor of Grassroots Motorsports magazine David Wallens, calls a virtual “Swiss army knife performance car,” and he is right on the money. No matter what your needs are for a car, there is an E36 M3 that fits the bill.
This M3 is painted in Alpine White with a Light Grey Nappa leather interior. Total mileage is stated to be 143,312 miles. It is running on BMW Type 24 wheels clad with Bridgestone Potenza tires.
I did a little vin research on this specific car. I’m pleased to say it is exactly as presented and is likely a car that has both original paint and an original interior. I mention this because, while BMW paint in this era was quite good, the interiors traditionally did not hold up well. The pictures of this example show an interior in good shape, with the leather on the sport seats looking to be in good condition, with the exception being a small issue with the driver’s seat bottom that would be easily repaired.
Also, this car is happily equipped not with an automatic as most E36 M3 sedans tend to have, but a factory 5-speed. This makes the car not only quicker but also a lot more fun to drive.
The asking price for this 1997 BMW M3 sedan is a very reasonable $21,500 and if you want a classic M3 but also need 4 doors, it is really the only way to go.