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BMW: Classic and performance range review

BMW: Classic and performance range review Classic and Performance Car
BMW badge A history of BMW M Cars BMW BMW M3 GTS BMW BMW Isetta bubble car BMW 2002 Turbo BMW
With a deserved reputation for producing some of the greatest performance cars of all time, BMW has produced a diverse range of sporting machinery thoughout its history, and today most are considered highly desirable and collectable machinery.
From its initial role as an aviation engine manufacturer during the First World War, BMW later moved on to motorcycle production. It wasn’t until 1928, when it acquired the Automobilwerk Eisenach firm, that BMW produced its first car: the Austin 7-derived Dixi 3/15PS. In the following 90 years, the firm has produced a wealth of fascinating models - many which have helped BMW develop a reputation for producing some magnificent performance models.
It isn’t just out-and-out sports cars which fill its back catalogue though – as BMW celebrates its 100th birthday in 2016, there’s an enormously varied history to the Munich-based marque.
Buying a classic BMW
BMW’s extensive and diverse background means that classic models range in value from the entirely affordable to beyond the reach of all but the most wealthy collectors. 
Modern classics like the E30 3 Series can be bagged for just a couple of grand, and well-looked after examples should present a reasonably safe investment. The distinctive shark-nosed 6 Series perhaps typifies the Eighties BMW better than any other, and high-milers are generally offered for between £10-£15,000. The Z1 roadster, thanks to its angular styling, low production numbers and unique touches like doors which electrically recede into the sills, is a guaranteed future classic. Aside from one or two unique parts (such as the door mechanisms and the exhaust back box) many components are derived from the E30 325i, so spares are readily available.
Moving further into BMW’s past, the Isetta microcar offers a quirky yet utterly charming way into classic ownership. Prices range from £15-£30,000 depending on condition, while running costs, thanks to the motorcycle-derived 250cc four-stroke single, are as miniscule as the car itself.
It’s two of BMW’s rarest and most beautiful open top models which are among the most valuable today. The pre-war 328 Roadster fetches well into six figures on the rare occasions that one of the 464 examples appear for sale, while the two-seater 507 attracts the greater numbers still. At a January 2015 auction held by Gooding and Company in Scottsdale, Arizona, a 1959 example of the two-seater fetched £1.2million. A more modern roadster, the Z8, is perhaps best known for its appearance as a Bond car in the movie The World is Not Enough. Sales were slow on its 1999 release thanks to high prices, but today values have risen well above the original asking price.
Two iconic performance sedans, the 2002 Turbo and the 3.0 CSL, set the tone for small performance BMWs for decades to come. Their great significance in influencing the future direction of the brand means that the best examples of the former are nudging towards £100,000, while the CSL has long since passed that mark.
Buying a performance BMW
While the 2002 Turbo hinted at future sporting BMWs, it was the M1 supercar that really kicked the firm's modern performance car reputation into action – the most driver-focussed BMWs have carried the Motorsport badge ever since. The 272bhp produced by the M1’s 3.5-litre straight-six eclipsed the 252bhp output of its contemporary Ferrari rival, the 308 GTB, endowing the M1 with genuine supercar pace. Only 399 road-going variants of the mid-engined coupe were produced, and the finest examples carry guide prices as high as £700,000 at auction.
The M1 spawned performance variants of more mainstream models, with a variation of its M88 engine finding its way into the first BMW M5. Further pumped up executive saloons followed, with the 4.0-litre V8 of the E39 and the sublime 500bhp V10 of the E60 particular highlights. The current M5 is running a twin-turbo V8, and is a seriously fast machine. While it’s reaching the end of its life, it still represents one of the most driver-oriented super saloons, and is in many ways one of the easiest to live with M cars. 
It’s the smaller M3, however, which frequently gains the limelight in BMW’s history. To date, the badge has appeared on five generations of the 3 Series, with the original E30 the most sought-after by collectors. Its motorsport heritage is impeccable, with the M3 scooping two BTCC titles, two DTM championship victories, a World Touring car crown, and multiple victories at the Spa and Nurburgring 24 Hour events. Even high mileage examples command values of £30,000 today, with the best worth three times as much. The values of later M3s are sure to follow the rise of the E30, particularly limited-run models like the E46 CSL and the E92 GTS. 
The current M3 is offered in saloon form only, and represents a return to straight-six power – albeit with forced induction. For two doors, you’ll have to look at the M4. In what some would call a marketing exercise, the 3 Series Coupe of old was given an all-new 4 Series tag, filling the numerical gap in BMW’s range. Under the skin, the M4 is largely the same as the M3.
More recently, BMW has been praised for the return to its small sporting saloon roots, offering the M135i and M235i. These two entry-level performance offerings are actually hugely capable, fun as well as very affordable. Sitting above this in the current range is the new M2, which is a serious little performance machine. It’s the spiritual successor to the much more limited production 1M Coupe, and its wide-arched, short wheelbase styling is seriously purposeful. 
Beyond the usual classic car checkpoints, there are one or two BMW specifics to look out for depending on the era in which it was built. Check out the individual buying guides for more specific details. Many nineties models, for example, are prone to rust, and many six-cylinder units are blighted by faulty mass airflow sensors, resulting in lumpy running and a restricted ability to breathe at high revs. Early-2000s models are known to suffer from electrical faults, too. Beyond those minor niggles, engines and transmissions tend to be bulletproof, as long as they’re maintained correctly.
BMW badge A history of BMW M Cars BMW BMW M3 GTS BMW BMW Isetta bubble car BMW 2002 Turbo BMW
Last updated: 27th Jul 2016
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  • BMW M535i

    £20,000 £20,000

    Auction Now Live: Ends on 26th February. Full details live now on Trade Classics. AUCTION NOW LIVE We are excited to offer on auction at Trade Classics this original of the super saloon category, the BMW M535i E12. This all original example features the 3.5L straight-six engine (M30) which was also used in another iconic BMW Motorsport car in the M1. To match the power, a close-ratio dog-leg 5 speed box, suspension and wheel upgrades. All of this turned BMWs luxurious 5 seater saloon into a Bavarian bahnstormer, transporting you from A to B with the swiftest of response. AUCTION NOW LIVE

    • Year: 1981
    • Mileage: 180000 mi
    • Engine size: 3.5
    For sale
    £20,000 £20,000
    01926426635 View contact number