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Exterior photo of 1997 BMW M3 Sedan (M3/4/5)

1997 BMW M3 Sedan (M3/4/5)

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Details

Price: $24,800

Mileage: 95,700 Miles

Transmission: 5-Speed Manual Transmission

Exterior color: Alpine White Exterior (300)

Interior: Black Leather Interior (N5SW)

Additional features:

Cold Weather Package

3-Spoke Steering Wheel

Manual Vader Seats (non-heated)

Illuminated M Shift Knob

CD43 BMW Business CD Player

11-Button On-Board Computer

Ski Pass-Through

Keyless Entry

Motion Motorsports Undertray

Z3 X-Brace

Clear Front Markers

Clear Rear Depo Taillights

Factory Mudflaps

Borla Cat-Back Exhaust

17-Inch BBS Wheels

Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ Tires

Second Set of Double Spoke II Wheels Available for Extra

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. When the E36 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. It was such a leap forward that it still looks relevant amongst today’s modern cars. In our opinion here at Glen Shelly, the sedan is the best iteration of the M3.

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 offers luxuries that took other marques years to match. 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; this has made clean, well-cared-for examples difficult to come by.

Summary

 exterior photo

This 1997 BMW M3/4/5 is an excellent example, finished in Alpine White over Black leather. Options and upgrades include a 3-spoke steering wheel, manual Vader seats (non-heated), illuminated M shift knob, BMW Business CD43 stereo, a Z3 X-brace, a Motion Motorsports undertray, factory mudflaps, Borla cat-back exhaust, 3:38 limited-slip-differential, and BBS wheels. It is a repeat visitor to Glen Shelly. 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 and brakes and preventatively replaced the cooling system (a common E36 issue). 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.

It first came to Colorado in 2016 with 78,000 miles through a Glen Shelly regular. We manual-swapped it with OEM-grade parts, and upgraded it with the Z3 X-brace and Motion Motorsports undertray. This is not a small task, but automatic vehicles tend to be driven less “enthusiastically” than manual cars. And this one was so clean that it was well worth the time and energy. The end result is a manual M3 that is exactly as it would have left the factory with three pedals. Other notable maintenance in the last 20K miles is the cooling system overhaul, VANOS seals, suspension refresh, engine mounts, clutch, shift pin bushings, shifter assembly, brakes, and all driveline fluids. There are a few oil seeps from the valve cover gasket, oil stand gasket, and output shaft seal, but they do not need immediate attention. The end result is a properly sorted E36 M3/4/5 that presents fantastically, but has just enough miles to be used and enjoyed—as they should be.

Exterior

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

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. 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), and all paint is original sans the hood and trunk. The Roundels and M3 badges are brilliant with no faded paint. All trim and black-work are present and with only very slight UV fade. The lower front splitter looks excellent. The front bumper cover does not flex side to side, the brake ducts are present, and Motion Motorsports undertray cinches things up. The driver’s fog light lens is cracked, but we can replace this as desired. The headlight lenses are crystal clear with slight pitting. 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 BBS wheels are in perfect condition with later-style BMW Roundels. They are wrapped in 245/40R17 Michelin Plit A/S 3+ tires with lots of tread remaining and 2016/2017 DOT dates. A second set of Style 39 M Double Spoke II wheels are available for extra.

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 manual M Vader seats are an excellent and costly upgrade, having never been offered with an M3 sedan. They are in great shape with no failed stitching and only moderate wear on the driver’s outer bolsters. The original seats were heated, and the switches are wiring are still present (the Vaders are not heated). The rear seats are in great shape, they are non-fold-down (which further aids chassis rigidity) with a ski pass-through. The 3-spoke steering wheel is the best factory E36 M3 steering wheel. It has moderate wear on the upper rim. 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 11-button on-board has some failed pixels. 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 an alarm FOB (currently INOP).

Mechanical

 engine photo

The S52B32 engine idles smoothly, pulls strong, and has no Vanos rattle or lifter knock. It does not actively leak, drip, or spot, but the valve cover gasket, oil stand gasket, and some of the power steering lines are weeping. They should be put on the horizon for future preventative maintenance. The clutch and shifter are factory-crisp. The brakes are firm, the suspension is compliant, and there is no driveline or wheel-bearing vibration or whine. The suspension is compliant and tight; the front control arm bushings could be done in the medium-term future. 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.

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