bMW M3 E36
Looking for sporting thrills in a modern classic package? Look no further than the E36 M3
Finding an ‘M’ badged BMW is a sure-fire guarantee of motoring excitement, and the original E30 M3 was rightly revered. Prices for those are heading for the stratosphere, though, so what’s the answer? Well, that lies in its E36 successor.
Launched in 1992, it could be had as a saloon, coupé or convertible and replaced the E30’s four-cylinder motor with a 3.0-litre straightsix. With VANOS variable valve-timing the S50 unit produced a hefty 286bhp, good for 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds and on to a limited 155mph. Never one to rest on its laurels BMW launched the M3 Evolution in 1995, packing 321bhp punch from a 3.2-litre engine. Less hardcore than the E30 – something that didn’t endear it to all ‘M’ fans – the handling is beautifully balanced with grip to spare, and it rides well, too. A little more prudence is required in the wet, where lurid tail slides are there for the taking, but the M3 is a peerless all-rounder that’s as happy on the daily commute as it is clipping the apex on a race track. The cabin blends comfort and quality like few others from the period, so it’s no wonder that around 71,000 examples were snapped up before production ended in 1999. Avoid abused and neglected ones (they’ll be money pits) but spend wisely on a good example and you’ll be laughing all the way to the Nürburgring.
‘Spend wisely and you’ll be laughing all the way to the Nürburgring’
High-spec interiors are beautifully made, but not immune to electrical issues.