The seller of today’s Nice Price or No Dice M3 can’t understand why “boutique specialty dealers” are asking over $30K for E36 M3s, but figures it’s not any of their business. Our business is to kick this car’s tires and judge its reportedly low price.
The comments on yesterday’s 2007 Honda Element SC were filled with competing opinions on the model from owners both past and present. Some averred that the Element is a terrible car that gets terrible gas mileage and should feel terrible about itself. On the other side of the coin, there are those of you who consider the Element to be a great car and the last Honda to date to feature truly interesting styling. That dichotomy extended to our Honda’s $6,950 asking price. Almost half of you thought that to be a good deal, but in the end, it was the naysayers that won out, ultimately giving the car a narrow but decisive 52 percent No Dice loss.
Hey, do you like options? Now, I don’t mean like multi-page deli menu options. That’s too many. I mean just the flexibility to, say, choose to drive either an enclosed hardtop car or an open-top convertible. All in the same car.
Today’s 1999 BMW M3 offers both those options as well as the middle ground of a convertible roof that shelters from the weather but offers little to no protection from knife-wielding psychopaths. With the hardtop in place, you get both of those advantages. And, with either top lowered or off, you get fun in the sun motoring. To top off this trifecta of terrific-ness it’s explained in the M3's ad that both the soft and tops have been mechanically and aesthetically refreshed.
Because of that work, the tops compliment the Hellrot Red M3 nicely. The car looks to be in extremely nice shape on the outside, with paint that’s popping and a set of clean and reasonably unmarred Style 23 wheels for a factory-fresh appearance. Those wheels, by the way, are wrapped in new tires.
Inside, things show a bit of their age. The sport bucket seats and door jambs do show evidence of wear and tear, but it’s not anything extraordinarily excessive for the car’s age. On the plus side, everything appears clean and well-kept outside of the wear, and the seller claims it not to be afflicted by the glovebox sag that’s typical in BMWs of this era.
Under the hood, things look similarly clean and un-monkeyed-with. The underside, however, does show some griminess, evidence of something doing a bit of weeping up above. On the technical side, the S52 in the American market E36 M3 offered 240 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque from the factory. It’s hard to say how much of that poop is left here after more than 20 years and 79,000 miles of use. However many that is, they all go through a six-speed SMG automatic to a limited-slip diff in the back.
The seller describes the car as having “ICE cold orig ac, drivetrain is orig shifts smooth and runs strong, engine tone sounds amazing.” The ad also says that the engine is on its original water pump and claims that to be proof that it has never overheated. According to the seller, the items on the car’s to-do list are new front-end bushings and tie rod ends and that issue with the wear on the seats.
The title is clean and the price is $23,750. That price, according to the seller is way lower than what most dealers and other private party sellers are asking for lesser condition cars. Why is this one supposedly so cheap? Well, as the seller explains, they don’t understand why the others are so expensive. All we know is that it’s now time for us to weigh in and offer our possible explanations.
What do you think, is this tri-topped M3 worth that $23,750 asking as it’s presented in its ad? Or, is that price not the bargain the seller asserts?
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