bMW M3 E36

Look­ing for sport­ing thrills in a mod­ern clas­sic pack­age? Look no fur­ther than the E36 M3

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling -

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.

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