Thanos told us that “reality is often disappointing,” and among the BMW community the American E36 M3 is seen as a disappointment compared to its international alteration. However, the reality of the American E36 M3 is that within its own right, it is a sublime chassis paired to a sinuously smooth straight-six motor hidden beneath a tastefully demure body design. In prime condition, they are astounding athletes who inspire considerable driver confidence. As luck would have it, within the next few days, we will be bringing a single owner M3 in near showroom condition to the auction block. Below we have some teaser details on the car, check it out.
As with all early M-cars, the E36 M3 has deliberate, yet delicate exterior hints about its sporting pedigree. The aerodynamic body kit, the drag-reducing side mirrors, subtle M badging, and unique wheels all provide soft indications about its range-topping status. Our example has its bodywork finished in Arctic Silver Metallic (Arktissilber, 309), and the paint has stayed in sterling condition. Our Carfax report returned zero accident or damage results, so the paneling and paint are all true.
Virtually stock, the only exterior modification not from BMW is the headlights, which are DDM Tuning high-intensity projectors with white side markers. Additionally, the Style 39 wheels currently outfitted to the car are accompanied by a set of Style 23 wheels. Each set wears tires, Hankook V12 on the Style 39 and Goodyear on the Style 23, and each is complete with a fifth wheel to function as a spare. Bilstein sport dampers have also been equipped, although these are merely standard replacements for the original factory units.
Inside the M3 are the desirable Vader sports seats finished in black leather with the tri-color M striping on the backrest. The rear seats appropriately match the front set. Smartly optioned from BMW, our example has the Harmon/Kardon Hi-Fi sound system with aftermarket speakers. Additional options include cruise control, an onboard computer, electric front seat operation, a sunroof, and climate control. Situated in between the front seats is the ideal five-speed manual transmission leather M-branded shifter.
The variance most noted by enthusiasts between the European M3 and its American counterpart is the engine’s power disparity. While admittedly, the U.S. version is less fervent, the S52 is still torquey and qualified for mid-six second sprints to sixty. In total, 240 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of persuasion are sent through a limited-slip differential to the rear wheels from the 3.2-liter straight-six. The owner informs us that since new they have solely relied on Mobile 1 and Redline synthetic lubricants for their BMW’s servicing. Before this sale, an oil change and shifter lubrication were approved by the owner. In terms of modifications, only an upper strut-tower bar and upgraded fuel pumps have been installed.
With approaching-perfect paint, near faultless interior, and a consciously well-cared for engine and chassis, this 88,000 mile M3 is a late nineties dream machine. Complete with the original tool kit, factory window sticker, a folder full of service records, and a complimentary set of wheels, this bargain would be burdensome to beat. As mentioned above, the Carfax report is clean and so is the California title. While the American E36 may seem like the step-child of the M3 family, the candid verity is that it applies genuine motorsport-grade materials to a brilliant chassis and the result is a spectacular driving BMW.