Today’s Nice Price or No Dice M3 seems to have nearly everything. There are hard and soft tops, a supercharger on its S52 six and a five-speed stick — even tricolor stripes running its entire length. Let’s see what all that might possibly be worth.
What will be the last manual-equipped station wagon sold new in the U.S.? Have we already passed this milestone? Subaru offers the Outback with only a (barfs a little) CVT. Volkswagen has discontinued sales of the Golf wagon here entirely. Mini still sells both the Clubman and Countryman wagons here, but only the latter can be had with three pedals and a DIY gearbox.
That’s a near-extinction event and a sad realization of where the auto market has gone over the years. Luckily for us, there are still such beasts roaming the earth. We saw one such survivor in yesterday’s 1981 Volvo 245 DL. That tidy little wagon didn’t just have a stick shift. It was a four-speed with a factory overdrive that you could activate with the flick of a button. Another happy outcome of the Volvo’s appearance was its $4,500 price, which 65 percent of you rightfully acknowledged with a Nice Price win.
I think the most frustrating aspect of the manual transmission’s demise is that nowadays automatics are so good that they simply do a better job at gear selection and speed than any of us ever could. As a society, we’ve long anticipated being overthrown by machines of our making, and here it has happened, at least as far as automotive drivetrains are concerned.
Fortunately, we can again look to the used car market to salve our bruised egos and to engender some driving excitement that engages both right hand and left foot. This 1999 BMW M3 is a prime example.
The E36 M3 was the first of its ilk to offer a six-cylinder engine. It was also the first to be offered in more than just a two-door coupe body style. This Titanium Silver over Light Gray M3 is one of those added models, a convertible. According to the ad, it’s both a foul and fair weather friend as it comes with a new soft top as well as a bolt-on hard shell cap. Underneath those greenhouse options sit a set of factory M-Contour wheels and the whole thing is accented by some asymmetric M-color stripes that run from nose to tail.
Those stripes are said to be vinyl and easily removed if not to your liking. Another mod that’s probably just as prominent but much harder to undo is the VF-350 supercharger that has been added to the M52 DOHC straight-six. That’s claimed to have been professionally installed, and readers familiar with these kits will know that they cost about $4,500 in parts alone.
Along with the fluffer, the engine has received an M50 intake for better volume and a DINAN cold air intake. A DINAN exhaust deals with the engine’s outflow. Behind all of that sits a five-speed manual, which brings us back to the thought of how much more engagement there is with a three-pedal car. Before we get all misty-eyed about that, however, there’s more to consider.
The seller claims the car to be “adult owned and cared for” and lists in the ad that 130,600 miles having happened under that adult ownership. The bodywork looks immaculate for its age and those miles. The car carries all its badging and both Roundels front and rear still appear to have their full complement of paint.
Getting on to the interior raises some questions. In some of the photos of the car, it appears that the upholstery is that light gray leather I noted earlier. One photo shows the seats wearing dark covers over that, while the interior shot shows what appears to be black leather seats.
While you’re contemplating that conundrum, consider also that the seller has added those squishy things between the seats and the center console to keep stuff from falling down the crack. I don’t think I’ve ever seen those in the wild before. Aside from the question about the hue of the upholstery, everything in the cabin looks to be without issue. Plus, sisal mats!
The ad notes a clean title and a list of professional upgrades that is “almost endless.” For that, the seller asks $17,900. Now, that’s a lot of beans, but then this seemingly is a lot of car as well. Also, it’s a car that asks you to do some of the work what with that five-speed stick and the decision as to which of the three top options to choose.
With all that in mind, do you think anyone should be dropping $17,900 on this car? What do you say, is this adult-owned and operated M3 worth that much? Or, does that price have you asking “Are you kidding?”
H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!
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