The vehicle offered for sale is a meticulously maintained 1999 BMW E36 M3 with 74,000 miles. It is finished in Cosmos Schwarz Metallic with an anthracite black interior. A two-owner US-spec car, this M3 has been well maintained and lovingly driven by its current owner for the last four years. It received a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) by Independent Motorcars of San Diego in February 2018, and comes with a full CARFAX report made in preparation of the sale.
The current owner spent years searching for the right E36 M3, as finding a well preserved and properly maintained example has become increasingly difficult. Independent Motorcars of San Diego, CA has completed the majority of the maintenance, which most recently included an entire cooling system overhaul, and fresh belts, fluids, and filters. The factory suspension has been replaced with a set of coilovers, and the factory wheels were switched to BMW Style 24s, which are currently wearing Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Additionally, an upgraded speaker system has been installed as well as Euro-spec lighting equipment (detailed below). In 2017 the car was in small accident (noted in CARFAX) which required a new rear bumper that was professionally repaired to factory standards.
Body – The car is in excellent, mostly original condition. The PPI cites two small dents on the hood, a very small ding on the driver’s-side door, and a slight rear bumper imperfection. It bears almost all of its original panels with perfect fit, with the exception of an OEM replacement rear bumper. During the accident, the right rear quarter panel sustained a small dent which was pulled and resprayed.
Paint – The paint is in overall excellent condition given its age and mileage, and the clear coat has a deep shine with no discoloration or other issues. There are a few stone chips on the front clip, and a small chip on the passenger side door, but no major imperfections or fading throughout, and it is not experiencing the fading or peeling clear coat for which this color is notorious.
Chrome, Trim & Lights – Front and rear plastic bumper insert moldings have been replaced with OEM parts, but the side moldings are original and in very good condition. All weatherstripping gaskets have been replaced with new OEM pieces, aside from the windshield and driver’s-side drip rail molding and door handle gaskets, which have been ordered but are on backorder. The lighting equipment has been upgraded to Euro-spec OEM Magneti Marelli lights. Euro-spec OEM glass Bosch projector headlights are also installed using new OEM BMW connectors for seamless integration. The headlight bulbs have been replaced with Sylvania Silverstar bulbs, which are more reminiscent of modern factory HIDs, and the owner has fitted the turn signal/hazards with “chrome” bulbs which flash amber.
Glass – All of the glass is original to the car and in very good condition. The windshield bears a few minor blemishes, but no cracking or major imperfections are present. The current owner had all six pieces of glass, including the windshield, fitted with Suntek UV film to protect the interior from sun damage and fading. It functions similarly to a tint without the darkening of the glass.
Wheels – The car wears a set of 17 x 18.5” BMW Style 24 “LTW” wheels sourced directly from BMW with new Roundel center caps. The spare has never been mounted on a hub. The wheels are free of curb rash, and have very minor blemishes in line with about 15,000 miles of driving.
The owner replaced the shift knob with an OEM BMW ZHP unit. It keeps the E36 M3’s illuminated shift pattern using the original wiring. The anthracite black leather interior of this M3 is in excellent original condition, including the plastics, headliner, and door panels, which are free of the common delamination and peeling these panels are prone to. The owner upgraded the sound system by adding in the factory-option trunk-mounted six-CD changer, and replaced the factory speakers with the BAVSOUND BSW Stage One speakers. They’re all installed via the original BMW wiring system for a seamless integration.
Steering Wheel – As this is a late-model E36, the car has the preferred three-spoke Motorsports wheel, which is original to the car. The leather, center horn insert, roundel, and stitching are all in excellent condition with no cracks or fading.
Dashboard & Instrumentation – The dashboard is clean with no fading or cracking, and features all of the original gauges in excellent working order. The 18-button on-board check (OBC) computer is also fully functioning with no burnt-out pixels or other issues.
Seats & Trim – This vehicle has the desirable “Vader” seats fitted to M3s in Sport trim, and both driver and passenger units are in good condition. The driver’s seat bolsters show the most wear as you’d expect, but they do not have tears or splits at the seams. Both the passenger seat and rear bench appear like-new.
Carpets – The carpets are all original to the car, with no stains or tears. The floor mats also bear the built-in clips to keep them in place, and are also original with no stains or tears.
The current owner installed a Strömung cat-back exhaust with staggered twin tips after discovering that the first owner had installed an aftermarket exhaust. It passed its smog test without issue in February 2018.
Engine – The numbers-matching 3.2L inline-six S52 engine comes fully documented. It starts promptly every time, has a very linear torque curve making acceleration smooth and easy throughout all gears, though it has not recently been compression tested. In athe recent PPI test, it was found to have a very slight head gasket leak, and some coolant residue at the temperature sensor in the radiator. The owner reports that only a couple of drops of oil are lost when parked for extended time.
Original Motor: Yes
Engine Number: Available upon request.
The Drive: This M3 is “turnkey and very healthy,” with “surprisingly torquey” acceleration, according to the owner. It’s been in his possession for four years, and has never failed him or left him stranded. It is a pleasure to drive.
Transmission – It still has the original five-speed manual transmission, with all forward gears and reverse in excellent working order with no grinding or pop-out issues to note. A slight transmission case leak was also discovered in a recent PPI.
Original Transmission: Yes
Gearbox Number: Available upon request.
The Drive: It shifts and handles very smoothly, and doesn’t have the typical E36 M3 “fifth gear lean” issue.
Handling – Fully-adjustable Ground Control/Koni Yellow coilovers are installed, which lowered the ride height approximately two inches down from stock in the front and 1.5 inches in the rear. The original factory suspension components are included with the sale.
As listed above, all recent work done to this car comes fully documented, including maintenance receipts. It also comes with the original owner’s manual, the warranty card, receipts for all upgrades and OEM parts, a CARFAX report, and receipt for a recent oil change.
The highest prices fetched at auction for stock 1999 E36 M3s over the last two years belong to the coupes with one or two owners and lower mileage, though there have been far more convertibles offered for sale than coupes. Some sedans command strong money, but we’ve seen sales prices ranging from $15,000 to $22,000 for the two-doors.
Here are some recent sales at auction to give a glimpse of where the market is at for 1999 E36 M3s:
– Bring-A-Trailer | October 2017 for $18,500 w/o premium – Fern Green/Black with about 48K miles, two-owner car with 5-speed manual.
– Bring-A-Trailer | September 2017 for $15,500 w/o premium – Black/Black with 112K miles, one-owner car.
– Bring-A-Trailer | April 17 for $19,000 w/o premium – Estoril Blue/Gray with 64K miles, two-owner car with 5-speed manual.
The End of an Era – Pure and raw drivers’ cars are becoming harder and harder to find in modern times, and the market reflects this with few-year-old special-model Porsches and Ferrari selling for over their original list prices. The E36 M3 is undoubtedly one of the last great drivers cars of its time that has remained quite affordable.
Community & Knowledge Base – The E36 community is tried and true. A huge resource pool exists and OEM parts aren’t hard to come by, mitigating a lot of headaches that can come with owning an enthusiast car.
Clean & Well-Documented Example – It’s important to note that finding a well preserved, mostly original, and well maintained E36 M3 in today’s market is quite a chore. Both the E36 and E46 M3 are very often modified (and sometimes not very well). Buying from the right owner is critical.
MEET THE SELLER
This car is for sale by Andrew Golseth of San Diego, CA.
MORE ABOUT THE MODEL
Practice Makes Perfect – The M3’s mission was simple: seek revenge. It was a plot developed deep in the depths of BMW’s Motorsport division as retribution for the solid ass-kicking they’d been receiving in the European Touring Car Championships. In fact, at the announcement of the one-off World Touring Championship in 1986, a BMW-manufactured car had not outright won a touring race since 1979 with the CSL. Their early-’80s entrants were hopelessly outclassed, outpaced, and embarrassed by other European competitors and, in a time when victories in Group A racing meant do or die for the teams competing. The E24 and E12/28 proved handy at times, but former BMW CEO Eberhard Keunheim said, “We need a sporty engine for the 3 Series.” Unbeknownst to him, these simple but significant words provoked what became a 30-year-long love affair with one of the finest drivers’ cars ever made.
The 1985 debut of the E30 M3 at the Frankfurt Motor Show marked the 3-Series’ dramatic transition from quiet and capable to loud and dominating. BMW Motorsport went from unremarkable entrants to handy victors in the German, British, Italian, and Australian Touring Car Championships, as well as the WTCC drivers’ title, all in a single year: 1987. It then went on to win at the Nürburgring in 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1992. Mission accomplished, revenge complete. By the end of 1991, BMW had sold 17,970 E30 M3s, paving the way perfectly for the next generation: the E36 M3.
After solidifying itself as a name to be reckoned with in Europe, BMW Motorsport had once again garnered a cult following at the announcement of the new M3 in 1992. Interestingly enough, BMW initially had no plans to produce a US-Spec E36 M3, as sales numbers of the US-Spec E30 M3 did not justify the addition of another M model in the American market. It wasn’t until a letter-writing campaign initiated by the BMW Car Club of America sparked such an overwhelmingly positive response by the BMW enthusiast community that BMW of North America was forced to reconsider.
In 1994, the first E36 M3s were rolled out for sale in the US, and racked up almost equal sales numbers as the Euro-spec version despite a production run of fewer model years. This was due to the fact that BMW had spent several years toying with the emotions of North American buyers during their debates about which engine to use in the US-spec E36s. BMW had said US buyers could expect to receive slightly modified 325i engines due to pricing, and the US-spec M3s were eventually delivered with the 3.0L, 240hp, and 225 pound-feet-of-torque-delivering S50. Buyers flocked immediately, scooping up 8,515 manual coupes in just one year.
For the 1996 through 1999 model years, BMW upgraded the S50 engine to the 3.2L, 240hp, and 236 pound-feet-producing S52 in North American-spec models along with a slight cosmetic facelift, and sales increased to 11,793 through 1999. In total, BMW boasted E36 M3 production numbers of 71,242 models, indicating a globally exponential interest, and further solidifying the M3 as an icon of sports driving.
This model and its productions numbers made it official: BMW had created a new obsession for German engineering enthusiasts.