Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!  

Brembo, Dinan, BBS, today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe E36 M3 reads like a who's who of automotive aftermarket nobility. The question though, is whether you think this brand-conscious BMW's price is a king's ransom?

There was no dodging the Nice Price for yesterday's San Jose Swinger, and a blistering 88% (I rounded up) of you expressed willingness to take that bad boy home for a romp. Equally romperful is today's 1997 BMW M3. We've had plenty of E30 M3s here - hell, we love ‘em - but the E36, with its toned-down mods and added body styles doesn't set the loins aflame quite as much as does the earlier car.

Or does it?

You might very well be nursing a jones for the E36 even more so than for its four cylinder progenitor, and in the case of this '97 M3 four-door, its stealthy mini-M5 vibe may appeal to a whole other testosterone-rich part of your brain than the fat-fendered boy racer that was the E30's be-spoilered top dog.


Of course, this wouldn't be NPOCP if there wasn't a Twilight Zone twist to this E36, since its just being an M3 is a bit of a yawn. In this case there's a couple of factors at play, the first of which is the four-door body. That application was only available in E36 M3 guise for two years, '97-'98, and adds utility to the car's inherent sport. On top of that there's the three pedals down where you stick your feet, and a leather-clad knob attached to a Getrag ZF 5-speed. Put those all together and you get the car's 3/4/5 nickname. But that's not all, the frosting on this car's Em-three goodness, is a bakery full of aftermarket upgrades, obviously added in an attempt to address BMW's engineering shortcomings.

Yeah right.

Regardless, you could do worse than a set of Brembos (check out the disparity in size, front to rear!), Dinan breathing apparatus on both the upside and the down, and BBS wheels because you've got to have something to wrap those rubber band tires around. All of which today's car brings to the party, along with some other sportifications. Inside there's a pair of deeply bolstered Recaros to keep your ass from flying out the window on the bendies, and both front and rear strut towers get braced for impact.


When BMW engineered this version of the M3 for the American market, they felt that 240-bhp out of the 3.2-litre DOHC S52B32 six was sufficient. That smooth operator put out equal torque numbers, and, along with the five-speed row your own and posi rear end, could motivate the 3,213-lb sedan (same as the coupe) to sixty in five and a half ticks. And of course, any more ticks and you've got yourself a real chance of catching Lyme disease. Chiggers too!


Time eats horses like the Donner Party and you might expect this 13-year old to feel both its years and claimed 168K that it carries like a scarlet odometer of shame. Thankfully, in addition to the other big-names along for this ride, there's Dynospot Racing cams, GIAC nerd-talk and a Schrick intake, in an attempt to make up for what time the avenger has stolen. A Rogue Engineering short shifter makes sure your right arm never has to stray too far from the e-brake as well, in case you might imagine yourself to be Jim Rockford.


The rest of the car is in pretty good shape, with a few road scars here and there, but hell, chicks dig scars, and it's what's underneath that counts, right? In the case of this names and numbers M3, there's one thing that's going to have to count and that's the Benjamins- to the tune of an iTunes download shy of twelve-five. 

So what's your take on this E36 M3 sporting more aftermarket than Heidi Montag? Is $12,499 a price that would make you spring for the brand name? Or, for that price, is this four-door just too generic?

You decide!


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