We recently just watched Tyler Hoovie buy the cheapest running E36 M3 Convertible in America. It’s probably the least desirable variant of the E36 M3, thanks to its rag top and automatic gearbox. However, he bought it on the cheap and it seemed to be in very good running condition. What’s interesting is that Hoovie also owns a 1995 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG, a car that rivaled the E36 M3 back in the day. So he compares his two ’90s German sport sedans (sorta) to see which is best.
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The C63 AMG was the first car ever produced on a deal between Mercedes-Benz and then-tuning company AMG. It represents the beginning of a long-running relationship, and then outright partnership, between Merceded and AMG. It featured a hand-built inline-six engine that made over 280 hp and a great noise. It sounds like it would be a smash hit and an iconic classic, except it’s actually been completely forgotten. Many enthusiasts are unaware of its existence, entirely.
While the E36 BMW M3 is an icon of the industry. It was the second-generation M3, following the legendary E30 M3, and it was extremely popular. Unfortunately, the American version was hamstrung by its 240 hp inline-six engine, rather than the 282 hp — 321 hp (later models received the more powerful engine) inline-six that Europe got. And this specific M3 is a convertible with an automatic, so it’s quite slow for M3 standards.
When compared back-to-back, the differences are interesting. The C36 is a typical AMG, with good power, a great, muscular engine noise and rock-solid stability. It’s also more comfortable than the M3, another typical AMG trait. Its durability is also more impressive, as the leather has held up over the decades better than the M3s, it’s been more reliable and has less recurring issues. However, it’s not as fun to drive and is very expensive.
On the other hand, the E36 BMW M3 Convertible Hoovie owns is the exact opposite. Its leather is in rough shape, some interior bits are falling apart and it’s quite unreliable. However, it’s very fun to drive, more so than the C36, and its engine sounds a bit racier (both sound excellent, it really comes down to preference). It’s also just as fast, despite having a lot less power, as it’s a bit lighter. Plus, it has its image about it, as well.
In the end, Hoovie actually declares the E36 M3 the winner. While it seems he actually likes the AMG more, the E36 is more fun to drive, cheaper to buy and own and far more recognizable. While the AMG is tough to find, expensive to buy and relatively obscure.