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1997 BMW M3 Sedan (M3/4/5)

1997 BMW M3 Sedan (M3/4/5)

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Details

Price: SOLD

Mileage: 79,300 Miles

Engine: S52B32 Inline 6-Cylinder

Transmission: 5-Speed Manual

Exterior color: Alpine White (300)

Interior: Black (N5SW)

VIN: WBSCD0322VEE11520

Additional features:

3:38 Limited Slip Differential

Cold Weather Package

Manual Sport Seats

6-Button On Board Computer

Ski Pass-Through

Keyless Entry

100% Stock

17-Inch Style 39 DSII Motorsport Wheels

Continental Extreme Contact DW Tires

Florida / Arizona / Colorado Car

Clean Carfax / No Accidents

Background

1997 BMW M3 Sedan (M3/4/5) exterior photo

The BMW E36 (1992 to 1999 3 Series) M3 sedan is the best car for the buck—period! M3 sedans, also called M3/4/5’s in manual form (M3/4 door/5-speed), were only produced for the 1997 and 1998 model years to fill the gap between the outgoing E34 M5 and incoming E39 M5. I have found, sorted, and sold many over the years including my own 1998 M3/4/5. Time has been kind to the E36, aging it with grace. When it debuted in the spring of 1991 for the 1992 model year it was revolutionary. It was the first BMW designed by computer-aided design and a stark contrast to the traditional 3-box design language used in the E21 and E30 generation 3 series. Don’t get me wrong, I love the iconic E30, but the E36 was such a leap forward that it still looks relevant amongst today’s modern cars. The M3 sedan is the best iteration of the form in my opinion.

What makes the E36 M3 so good is that it occurred at a sweet spot of BMW evolution where power, weight, size, suspension design, reliability, and luxury all intersected. The driving experience is connected and visceral, yet the driver enjoys luxuries that took other marques years to offer. With only the slightest amount of talent it is a highly capable platform that can easily outperform much more powerful and expensive vehicles. The ease at which it can be pushed to the limit makes it the weapon of choice in many track applications. The sedan’s extra B-pillar adds rigidity, four doors add utility, and the shorter door cards don’t suffer the de-lamination that coupes do. The population of worthy examples has been decimated by abuse, neglect, and entry level buyers. In my experience with the current market, I have found that there is a “$12K rule” for a sorted higher mileage E36 M3—around 120k miles, no lights, no leaks, no issues. If you want a less-used, lower mileage example that figure increases exponentially.

Summary

 exterior photo

With only 79,000 miles, this M3/4/5 is one of those examples. It was originally purchased in Daytona Beach, Florida and driven sparingly by its first owner. He sold it to his adult-aged son in 2009 with approximately 59,000 miles. The third owner brought it to Arizona in 2014 with 75,000 miles. That owner was a BMW enthusiast who refreshed the suspension, brakes, and preventatively replaced the cooling system (a common E36 issue) using OEM or OEM supplier components. When he received the M3, the trunk lid had been scratched during shipping. He replaced it with a perfectly matched Alpine White III sedan trunk lid. While he was at it he replaced the lower windshield cowl and installed new front and rear Roundel emblems. The original trunk lid is included with the sale.

We brought the M3 to Colorado this spring with 78,000 miles and continued sorting it. The first thing that needed addressing was a missing pedal—the clutch pedal. At Glen Shelly, we have a swapped more than a few BMWs from automatic transmissions to manual transmissions. This is not a small task, but automatic vehicles tend to be driven less “enthusiastically” than manual cars. An E36 M3 will take an extraordinary amount of flogging if maintained accordingly; but often the most clean and pristine examples are automatics. This one was so clean it was well worth our time and energy. The end result is a manual M3 that is exactly as it would have left the factory with three pedals.

We used all OEM BMW components out of a low mileage manual E36 1997 328i (1996 thru 1999 328i’s and M3’s shared the same transmission). The ZF S5D 320 Z gearbox shifted smoothly with healthy shift pins (i.e. no shifter lean). We re-sealed it with fresh output shaft and shift selector seals and gearbox oil. The automatic ECU was replaced with an OEM M3 manual EWS delete ECU. The clutch was completed with the donor OEM dual mass flywheel, master and slave cylinders, and a fresh Luk clutch kit, hardware, and soft and hard lines. Stock shifter components were assembled with fresh yellow shift rod bushings, shifter cup, shift arm bushing, shift selector joint, and the bitch clip (the name says it all). The donor pedal assembly, shift knob and boot were in excellent condition. The manual driveshaft was also in excellent shape with healthy U-joints, center shaft bearing, and a fresh flex disc thanks to the previous owner. The automatic 3:38 limited slip differential got new fluid and is a desirable factory upgrade over the 3:23 manual differential.

With the missing pedal rectified, we finished it up the more desirable 3-Spoke E36 M Steering wheel, fresh Continental Extreme Contact DWS tires, a cabin air filter, and a complete interior and exterior detail.

Below is a complete list of all components replaced in the last 5,000 miles. All are OEM or OEM supplier:

Suspension

  • Front and Rear Struts/ Shocks
  • Shock Mounts
  • Strut Mounts

Brakes

  • Front and Rear Brake Rotors
  • Front and Rear Brake Pads and Wear Sensors
  • Fluid Flush

Cooling System

  • Radiator
  • Water Pump with Metal Impeller
  • Upper and Lower Radiator Hoses
  • Expansion Tank
  • Thermostat
  • Thermostat Housing
  • Cooling Fan and Fan Clutch
  • Coolant Flush

Driveline

  • Engine Mounts
  • Transmission Mounts
  • Flex Disc

Clutch

  • Used Dual Mass Flywheel
  • Sachs Clutch Pressure Plate
  • Sachs Clutch Disc
  • Throw Out Bearing
  • Pilot Bearing
  • Pivot Pin

Tires

  • Continental Extreme Contact DWS

Misc

  • Cabin Air Filter
  • Engine Oil and Filter Change
  • Transmission Fluid
  • Differential Fluid
  • Front and Rear Roundel Emblems
  • Lower Windshield Cowl Trim
  • OEM Alpine White III Trunk Lid (scratched original is included)

The end result of our collective work (the previous owner and ourselves) is a completely stock E36 M3/4/5 that looks and drives very much the same as the day it left the factory in Regensburg on December 11, 1996.

Exterior

1997 BMW M3 Sedan (M3/4/5) exterior photo

At Glen Shelly strive to accurately and thoroughly describe our cars—good and bad. Alpine White is one of the best E36 M3/4/5 colors. The outlines of the door lines accentuate the sedan form on white better than any other color. The paint on this example is in excellent condition. When we got it, we gave it a wash, clay bar, and a very light polish to correct swirl marks and dirt. There are no significant dents, dings, door dings, or the rock chips that Colorado cars get. There is no failed clear coat and no rust. All VIN tags are in place (although the trunk one is different as previously mentioned). The Roundels and M3 badges are brilliant with no faded paint. All trim and black-work are present and not UV faded. The lower front splitter has a few scuffs, but it is presentable (pics are on our website if you are reading this elsewhere). This is a cheap part to replace if you can’t live with it. The front bumper cover does not flex side to side (a common issue), the brake ducts are present, and the fog light lenses are not cracked. The headlight lenses are slightly opaque—slightly—but not in need of restoration any time soon (also pictured on our website). All indicator lenses and taillight housings are clear and crack-free. There is one vertical scratch on the rear bumper cover (pictured on our website). The Style 39 M Double Spoke II staggered wheels (17” x 7.5” front and 17” x 8.5 “ rear) have no bends or significant curb rash; there is a 1-inch rash spot on the left front wheel and a small nick on the left rear. The Continental Extreme Contact DWS tires have fewer than 300 miles on them.

Interior

 interior photo

Interiors are a weak spot of the E36, but this one is very nice. In my experience, black seems to age better than some of the other E36 colors. Open the door and you are greeted with that lovely napa leather smell that all BMWs of this era have. There are no odors and it has never been smoked in. The carpet has no stains or tears and has been protected by factory M3 floor mats. The floor mats are presentable, although the driver’s side mat does have some wear and a blown out anchor point. The sport seats have no failed stitching or excessive bolster wear. There is some wear on the driver’s side bolster, but it is presentable (pictured on our website). They are heated manual seats, which are considerably lighter than power seats and have no motors to fail. The rear seats are in great shape, they are non-fold-down (which further aids chassis rigidity) with is a ski pass-through. The 3-spoke steering wheel is the best factory E36 M3 steering wheel (the original 4-spoke is included with the sale). It has no excessive wear or failed M-colored stitching. There are no failed pixels in the instrument cluster, warning lights, or check engine lights. The center vent louvers do not sag (a common issue). The dual independent climate control HVAC panel has no failed pixels; the heat blows warm, and the air conditioning blows cold. The blower motor does not chirp and the final stage resistor functions correctly (common issues). The 6-button on-board computer does have some failed pixels. I am including one in the sale that does not have failed pixels, but it does have some LCD discoloration—you can pick which malady annoys you less! There are no check panel warnings. The glove box and headliner do not sag (other common issues). All power windows, door locks, and the sunroof operate correctly. The door cards are not delaminated and the map pockets are largely intact except for some minor (5 mm) separation on the rear door map pockets. All door cards do have some deformation of the armrest padding, the worst is on the driver’s side card, but it is tolerable. Both front door-mounted tweeter and mid-range speaker trim circles are intact. The trunk tool kit is complete and the spare tire is present. All factory manuals are present. There is only one key, but it does come with the factory keyless entry and alarm FOB.

Mechanical

 engine photo

I’ve already covered the build above. The last oil change was done with Castrol Synthetic at 77,000 miles. The brake fluid and coolant were done in the last 3000 miles. The S52B32 engine idles smoothly, pulls strong, and has no Vanos rattle or lifter knock. It does not leak, drip, or spot. The clutch and shifter are factory-crisp, as would be expected with their recent replacement. The brakes are firm, the suspension is compliant, and there is no driveline or wheel bearing vibration or whine. All suspension bushings solid. The great thing about it previously being an automatic is that has clearly been driven gently over the years. It will need and deserves the preventative care and maintenance that all BMWs do, but the E36 is robust platform that will last forever if maintained correctly.

We have spent a considerable amount of time and money sorting this M3/4/5. It is certainly not the cheapest E36 M3 on the market, but it is worth every penny of the premium. It is a completely stock example, and a blank canvas for its new owner. It has benefited from excellent stewardship, we would like to find an owner who will continue this pedigree and appreciate it as much as we do.

VIN Decode

 exterior photo

VIN Decode

  • Vehicle Identification Number: WBSCD0322VEE11520

  • Type: CD03
  • Model: M3 - USA
  • Development Code: E36 (4)
  • Chassis: LIM

  • Steering: LL

  • Doors: 4

  • Engine: S52

  • Displacement: 3.20

  • Power: 240 Horsepower

  • Drivetrain: Rear

  • Transmission: AUT (Now Manual)

  • Color: Alpine White III, Alpinweiss 3 - 300

  • Upholstery: Napa Leather Black, Teilleder W.n./schwarz - N5SW
  • Production Plant: REGENSBURG
  • Production Date: 1996-12-11

Options

  • 243 Airbag For Front Passenger

  • 401 Sliding/vent Roof, Electric

  • 494 Seat Heating F Driver/front Passenger
  • 534 Automatic Air Conditioning

  • 540 Cruise Control

  • 676 Hifi Loudspeaker System

  • 686 Diversity-function Aerial

  • 692 Cd Changer I-bus Preparation

  • 818 Main Battery Switch

  • 925 Shipping Protection Package

Standard Equipment

  • 209 Limited Slip Differential (25%)
  • 214 Automatic Stability Control+traction
  • 314 Heated Windscreen Washer Nozzles
  • 354 Green Stripe Windscreen

  • 411 Window Lifts, Electric

  • 441 Smokers Package
  • 481 Sport Seats F Driver/front Passenger
  • 520 Foglights

  • 542 Check Control

  • 556 Exterior Temperature Display
  • 687 Radio Preparation

  • 710 M Leather Steering Wheel (added)

  • 850 Add Fuel Tank Filling For Export

  • 853 Language Version English

  • 992 Number Plate Attachment Management