At $16,500, Could This Remarkably Tidy 1996 BMW M3 Clean Up?

Nice Price or No Dice: 1996 BMW M3
Photo: Craigslist

Today’s Nice Price or No Dice M3 is claimed to be completely stock save for its shocks, springs and a few other things. Could that almost all-original condition make it worth its nowhere-near-original asking price?

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The comments on yesterday’s 1995 Ferrari 456 GT were sprinkled with lots of sentiments along the lines of “It’s not my cup of tea, but it’s a good deal for someone who is into it.” It was almost like you were encouraging someone to go on a blind date by emphasizing that the other party has a “great personality.” At $65,995, the Ferrari had a great price. At least that’s what it seemed the majority of you felt by honoring the car with a 74 percent Nice Price win.

I’d like to ask an important question: Are you as confused about BMW’s current lineup as I am? I mean, can you honestly tell an X4 from an X6? And don’t get me started about adding the company’s Mini subsidiary into the mix. Things used to be much simpler at the Bavarian automaker. At one time you just knew that the small car was called a 3, and every number above that would generally be bigger and more expensive.

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Photo: Craigslist

This 1996 BMW M3 coupe hails from that simpler time. Based on the photos and description in the ad, it also seems to be a desirable time capsule of the era. This, of course, isn’t the original edition of the M3. The first M3 debuted in 1986 as a wild-child version of the E30 platform. That was a four-cylinder car, the only model in the M3’s lineage to carry so few pistons.

The E36 model that followed established the M3 ethos for all ensuing models. Instead of the E30 edition’s wild fender flares and audacious aerodynamic aids, the E36 M3 made do with simpler body sculpting and subtle badging to broadcast its intentions. Backing those up this time, however, was a smooth and powerful six-cylinder engine.

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Photo: Craigslist
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This one has done 166,000 miles and, like the Honda S2000 we looked at on Monday, is gloriously stock, having survived those miles without having been mucked up with too much aftermarket crap. The ad describes the car as Boston Metallic Green over a dove gray interior, and both the paint and the leather look to be in satisfactory shape. Is this the best color combination you could find? Well, that’s up to your personal tastes. In limited production cars of this age, however, it’s a good rule of thumb to consider a car’s condition as outweighing its color.

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Photo: Craigslist
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BMW Style 24 wheels underpin here and look well cared for further adding to the car’s overall immaculate presentation. Those wear Kumho tires that the seller says have plenty of miles left in them. Other mechanical plusses here include a VANOS system that was rebuilt 16,000 miles ago along with a more recent service that included a full fluid change, some new gaskets and some bushings. The only major aftermarket bits, apparently, are H&R springs that drop the car a bit, but not so much as to be obnoxious, and Koni adjustable shocks.

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Photo: Craigslist
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The interior has an updated stereo, but is also otherwise stock and features the funky Vader seats and a later M series steering wheel. The five-speed Getrag is rowed through the factory shifter knob. Amazingly, there doesn’t seem to be any appreciable wear on any of the tactile surfaces, with even the seat-back nets still holding up their end of the bargain.

Other notables here include a radiator replacement, European headlamps and a chassis cross brace. The title on the car is also clean. The seller claims to have “taken great care of this car over the years” but laments that it’s “now it’s time for someone else to enjoy and take care of it.”

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Photo: Craigslist

To take over the car’s stewardship — at least without any annoying negotiations — you’ll need to come up with $16,500. This edition of M3 does not enjoy the crazy values that its E30 predecessor currently does, but these are creeping up as well. This might very well be the window in which to buy one, should you want an E36 car for your own.

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With that in mind, does $16,500 feel like a good value for this seemingly pristine and mostly original M3? Or, does that seem like a dirty deal for even so clean a car?

You decide!

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San Francisco Bay Area Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Todd A. for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

DISCUSSION

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It is the right color.*

*if you disagree with this statement you’re just wrong and need to review your life choices.