Mileage: 139,000 Miles
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual Transmission
Exterior color: Arctic Silver Metallic Exterior (309)
Interior: Mulberry Leather Interior (N5MQ)
Power Sport Seats
18-Button On Board Computer
Fold Down Rear Seats
Harmon Kardon Premium Sound
Lux-Package w/ Wood Trim Delete
Sport Front Splitter
H&R Sport Springs
Bilstein Sport Shocks
Extensive Recent Maintenance
17-Inch Style 23 Contour Wheels
Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport Tires
Texas / Colorado Car
Clean Carfax / No Accidents
The BMW E36 (1992 to 1999 3 Series) M3 sedan is the best performance 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. When the E36 debuted in the spring of 1991 for the 1992 model year it was revolutionary. It was the first BMW designed utilizing computer-aided design and is 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. 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 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. Clean, lower-mileage examples command significant premiums.
This M3/4/5 is one of those well-sorted and well-cared for examples. Arctic Silver over Mulberry Leather is a fantastic color combination. Arctic Silver always looks great, even when dirty, and Mulberry dark gray was a rare interior color—not to be confused with Dove Gray. It was originally delivered by John Roberts BMW to the first owner in Dallas Texas on 6/17/97. It remained with that owner for the next twenty years. It comes with extensive records including the original window sticker and invoices noting regular oil changes and frequent services by the BMW dealer and independent BMW specialists Eurosport Automotive. The records show common E36 items being addressed, including the cooling system, accessory belts, oxygen sensors, starter, alternator, suspension, ignition tumbler, and door lock actuator.
The second owner, a collector who also owned an E34 M5 and an E30 M3, purchased it in 2017. He installed H&R Sport springs and Bilstein Sport shocks, along with re-dying the front seats in the factory Mulberry color. He sold it to us in February of this year after selling most of his collection to focus on his new child. In preparation for sale, I reset the maintenance clock addressing a host of common E36 maintenance items including:
Then I set about de-Lux package-ing the car. I replaced all of the wooden trim interior bits with sport trim bits (except for the door handles, which I suggest vinyl wrapping). This and other interior restoration items included:
I have a 3-Spoke Steering wheel and “twisty” Sport Side Skirts (in black) I will also include for my full asking price.
As it sits, this is a turn-key M3/4/5 ready to be driven and enjoyed by its new owner. The days of the cheap E36 M3 have passed. The market has diverged with beat, stanced, and abused examples hovering below $10k and pristine examples commanding premiums in the high-teens and beyond. This one is perfectly priced right the middle. It is just imperfect enough to use and enjoy, but comes with excellent history and stewardship. It will be equally at home in the parking lot of the local Cars and Coffee, street and daily use, or autocross and track (we offer driving coaching for the latter). It comes with a clean Carfax, clean Colorado title and we pay for and ensure it passes emissions in Colorado.
Arctic Silver metallic is a fantastic color on the E36 M3, and the paint on this example is in great shape. There are no glaring dents or the rock chips that Colorado cars get. There is no failed clear coat and no rust. Close inspection does reveal a few minor imperfections such as small dings, light scuffs, and a small dent under the right rear tailight. All VIN tags are in place. The Roundels and M3 badges are clear with no faded paint. All trim and black-work are present; they are slightly UV faded and the lower splitter has a few light scuffs. The front bumper cover does not flex side to side and the brake ducts are present. The fog light lenses are not cracked. The headlight lenses are clear with no excessive pitting. All indicator lenses and taillight housings are clear and crack-free. The Style 23 Contour wheels have no bends and only slight curb rash. The Bridgestone Potenza’s have 60% front and 30% rear tread remaining.
Interiors are a weak spot of the E36, but this one is very nice. Mulberry is one of the best interior colors you can get. 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 they do have some wear. The seat leather is in good shape, the front seats were recently re-dyed and there is just slight peeling on the driver’s seat cushion. All power seat functions work correctly. The rear seats are in great shape, they are desirable fold-down type for extra storage. The 4-spoke steering wheel has no excessive leather wear or failed stitching. The 3-spoke steering wheel I will include for my asking price has some wear on the leather. 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). There are no check panel warnings. The glove box does have moderate sag, but we did replace the latch. The headliner does not sag and is very clean. All power windows, door locks, and the sunroof operate correctly. The door cards are not delaminated, but both rear map pockets have been removed. 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 and one key is included.
The S52 engine starts on command. It idles smoothly and pulls strongly to redline—its one of the strongest pulling S52s we’ve had, and we’ve had a lot! There is no VANOS rattle or excessive lifter noise. It does not leak, drip, spot or overheat. The clutch and shifter are factory-crisp, as they should be. The brakes are firm, the suspension is compliant, and there is no driveline or wheel bearing vibration or whine. H&R Sport shocks with Bilstein Sport shocks are an excellent combination with a slightly lower ride height, but not slammed. All suspension bushings are in great shape and there is excessive rear trailing arm bushing flex. As it sits, this is a turn-key E36 M3/4/5. It will need and deserves the preventative care and maintenance that all BMWs do, but the E36 is a robust platform that will last forever if maintained properly.