1998 E36 M3 – Inexpensive Performance

BMW M3 | May 25th, 2015 by 5
e36 bmw m3 006 750x500

Earlier in the week, we discussed a style of managing money, in terms of car buying, called the 1/10th Rule For Car Buying by the …

Earlier in the week, we discussed a style of managing money, in terms of car buying, called the 1/10th Rule For Car Buying by the FinancialSamurai. The rule basically states that a car purchase should be no more than 1/10th of your gross annual income. It was met with quite a bit controversy, with many readers wholeheartedly disagreeing. It’s understandable that people wouldn’t agree entirely with this idea, it’s a very extreme style of savings, but one that can truly help some people.

Most arguments against the rule were for people who make six-figure incomes. This is where the rule gets a little murky, as someone making that kind of money can afford a nice new car and still invest money elsewhere. But for people who don’t make boatloads of dough, they should get a less expensive, multiple owner pre-owned car. But that doesn’t mean they need to get something boring or crappy.

1995 1999 BMW M3 E36 coupe 01 750x318

Now if you think that it’s not possible to find an inexpensive, exciting car, then take a look at this E36 M3.

The E36 M3 isn’t the best M3 and, as an E36 owner myself, I can tell you it’s probably close to the bottom of the list of M3s. However, for the price, it’s almost impossible to find a better car, in terms of power, handling, excitement and prestige. This M3 is a good example of the kind of car you can get for less than an all-inclusive vacation for two.

The E36 M3, from 1996-1999 has a 3.2 liter I6 engine, making 240 hp, a limited-slip differential and could hit 60 mph in 6 seconds. The North American model wasn’t the fastest or most fun, but it’s still a great car to drive, especially at the price point nowadays.

This particular model is a 1998 Arctic Silver Metallic M3 Coupe. It has 159,000 miles, not bad for a 1998 model, with black leather interior, a 5-Speed manual and is pretty loaded with options. It has dual-zone climate control, a moonroof and a 6-disc CD changer. All of that performance and luxury costs only $6,000. So for someone following the 1/10th rule and makes at least $60,000 per year, this M3 offers excellent value.

The E36 M3 is an excellent car for anyone looking for inexpensive performance and fun. This example is just one of many that are out there. It’s proof that you don’t need to spend $40,000 on a car to have some fun.

5 responses to “1998 E36 M3 – Inexpensive Performance”

  1. petraman says:

    Honestly just trying to start a discussion, not trying to rustle any feathers, but buying an M3 with that kind of mileage as a smart financial decision? Compared to a newer car, you’re looking at possible VANOS issues, clutch/syncro replacement and all the general maintenance items that come with owning a high mileage performance car. If the 1/10th rule is that direct, I can buy a high mileage Jag, MG, Mercedes S55, 80s Corniche… All of those would have astronomical maintenance costs which would drive the total price up to CEO levels.

    Not to mention my last argument of this plan killing the auto industry if widely adopted.

    I just see a lot of holes with this plan. I know you or Horatiu didn’t come up with it, I know it’s apparently accepted in the financial community (I’m an engineer so I’m pretty far separated from all that) and I probably don’t have the qualifications to dispute it… but it just doesn’t seem well thought out to me. I love this blog and I think all of your articles are fantastic (especially the M2 ones, you guys always have the first scoop!) so I hope you don’t think i’m trying to attack you.

    • I appreciate that comment, most who disagree just scream and rant.

      The rule isn’t universal and doesn’t work for everyone, just may help in some financial cases. Would this M3 be the most cost effective route? Of course not. But was just trying to show that a fun car can still be had for cheap, that’s all. Would it be a better idea to buy an old Honda? Financially, of course. But this M3 proves good cars can be cheap.

      But thanks for commenting and reading! We appreciate constructive criticism and conversation.

  2. Kaisuke971 says:

    The E36 M3 3.2 is my favorite M3. It might sounds weird, but i have to get a mint condition one at some point in my life and get the best out of it with some fancy aftermarket parts (Supersprint Exhaust, Bilstein suspension, Carbon Airbox, Sparco/Recaro seats, michelin Pilot Sport Cup…)

  3. Prussian says:

    Yep agreed with petraman, the 1/10th rule doesn’t factor cost of operation/maintenance/repair to keep the $5000 car moving.

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