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BMW M3 E36: Buying guide and review (1992-1998)

BMW M3 E36: Buying guide and review (1992-1998) Classic and Performance Car
BMW M3 E36 BMW M3 E36 BMW M3 E36 BMW M3 E36
The second generation BMW M3 was the equivalent of a slightly difficult follow-up to a brilliant breakthrough album. With the E30 M3 having received praise from all quarters for its dynamic abilities as well as motorsport success, its larger more luxuriously positioned replacement was always going to have its work cut out to convince buyers that it too shared the same sporting genes.
 
Released in 1992 with a 282bhp straight six under its bonnet, the new M3 was a different beast. Safety regulations and the continuous drive to move upmarket meant that the new car was heavier and more luxurious than its predecessor. It was also considerably more powerful, and significant work on the suspension turned it into one of the best handling sports cars of its generation.
 
Straight line performance was now approaching junior supercar levels and continuous improvements to engines and chassis as well as the introduction of more body styles ensured that the E36 M3 remained popular throughout production. While not as coveted as some of the other M3s from the past, these cars are rising in popularity and there is little doubt that well looked after examples will follow in the footsteps of the highly collectable E30 M3.
 
Which one to buy?
 
The E36 M3 was initially available in coupe form, with convertible and saloon body styles following soon after. Early models had five-speed gearboxes and came with a 3.0-litre 282bhp engine. Facelift models introduced at the end of 1995 brought in a larger 3.2-litre 316bhp engine and the option of a six-speed manual or SMG sequential manual gearbox. Being a first generation unit, the SMG can be jerky for town use, and the manual versions are generally more preferable from a reliability and usability point of view.
 
US-spec cars were detuned versions of their European counterparts, with a 243bhp 3-litre engine and the option of an automatic gearbox.
 
The manual coupes, especially in face lifted 3.2-litre Evo form are the ones to have, and second hand values reflect this. The rare saloons do add an extra level of practicality, and the convertibles are great for sunny days. however the added complexity of the folding roof mechanism can add to the running costs. Be very wary of abused or overly modified cars as restoring them can be an expensive proposition.
 
Performance and specs
 
1994 M3 3.0 Coupe
Engine 2996cc, 24valve DOHC I6 
Power 282bhp @ 7000rpm 
Torque 236lb ft @ 3600rpm
Top speed 155mph (limited)
0-60mph 5.4 seconds 
Fuel consumption 21.7 mpg 
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Insurance group 20
 
Dimensions and weight 
 
1994 M3 3.0 Coupe
Wheelbase 2700mm
Length 4433mm
Width 1710mm
Height 1335mm
Weight 1460kg
 
Common problems
 
• There are a huge number of specialists that specialise in M3s, with parts and spares are readily available. Certain M specific trim items and smaller parts may require a bit of searching for, and can be very expensive.

• Engines can tick at idle and this is normal, however a grumbly, rough sound may indicate Vanos issues. This is sadly not uncommon, especially if frequent oil services have not been adhered to. Leaking solenoid seals are generally the culprit with Vanos units, and can be replaced cost effectively at a specialist.

• Rear shock mounts and trailing arm bushes wear out and can be diagnosed by a wallowy or unstable rear end through mid- to high-speed corners. Mounts are easy to replace however the trailing arm bushes require specialised tools to fit.

• If the steering has a lot of play, and noises can be heard when turning at low speeds, the lower control arm bushes may require replacing.

• The cooling system is a known problem area and water pumps tend to require replacement every 60,000miles. Coolant expansion tanks can also rupture so it is best to get the system pressure tested.

• Manual gearboxes can suffer from worn second gear synchros while SMG ‘boxes will pop out of gear if the hydraulic fluid levels are too low. Hydraulic clutch pipes tend to expand leading to delayed clutch action, replacement pipes are easy to source.

• Original exhaust systems are very expensive OEM items and most cars will have had aftermarket items fitted.

• Rust tends not to be a major issue however water leaking past the boot seals can collect in the spare wheel well and this combined with leaking acid from the boot mounted battery can badly corrode this area.
 
Model history

1992: E36 M3 coupe introduced with 282bhp 3-litre straight six engine
1994: M3 GT introduced as a homologated racing special. 356 units built all in British racing green for the UK market. Convertible and saloon body styles introduced
1995: M3 coupe and sedan upgraded to 316bhp 3.2 litre engines. Facelift included twin airbags, digital climate control and clear indicator lenses. Six-speed manual and optional SMG gearboxes replaces five-speed manual. M3 Lightweight built in very limited numbers available only in white, with weight saving measures reducing weight by 90kg. 
1996: Convertible models receive face lifted changes
1997: Saloon ceases production with over 12,600 built
1998: Coupe ceases production with over 46,500 built
1999: Last E36 M3 convertible rolls off the production line with a total of over 71,000 of all body styles manufactured.
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• forums.m3cutters.co.uk
• www.bmwcarclubgb.uk
• www.m3forum.com
 
Summary and prices
 
Pristine early coupes and GTs command the highest prices with some trading for up to £25,000. This is the exception rather than the rule and useable well maintained examples range between £5000 and £7000. 
A fully documented service history is essential though, as these cars tend to lead harder lives than most. One of the best handling cars of the ‘90s with the now legendary straight-six engines, the E36 M3 added luxury and practicality into the mix which was to become the way for M cars that followed. Prices are about as low as they will get for these underrated cars and if you get the right one you may even have an appreciating classic in the years to come.

Words: John Tallodi
BMW M3 E36 BMW M3 E36 BMW M3 E36 BMW M3 E36
Last updated: 11th Dec 2015
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BMW M3 cars for sale

102 Search results
BMW M3
9995 62990 GBP
  • Bmw M3

    £29,900 £29,900

    Harman Kardon, Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, BMW Assist, BMW Online, Heated Seats, Voice Control, Cruise Control, Parking Sensors, Rain-Sensing Wipers, DAB Digital Radio, Xenon Headlamps, Powered Folding Mirrors, Headlamp Jetwash, Front Centre Armrest, Electric retractable hard top, Full Leather, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Sport Suspension, M Sport Bodykit, M Sport Alloys, Sports Seats, Climate Control, Air Conditioning, Push Button Start, I Drive System, USB Interface, Auto Lighting, Electric Seats, Auxiliary In, MP3 Player, Radio, Stereo, Alarm, ABS, Immobiliser, Curtain Airbags, Anti-Theft System, Central Locking, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, Stability Control, Traction Control, Trip Computer, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Head Restraints, Height Adjustable Seat, Rear Headrests, 19'' Alloys Click on this car for full specification. You can find more photos, enhanced specification, Service history, Log book and the HPI certificate on our web site. For a no obligation test drive, finance quote or part-exchange valuation call us today. This car has been inspected by trained technicians and passed a multi-point inspection. For a hassle, haggle free buying experience and drive away the same day visit Big Motoring World today.Award winning Big Motoring World stocks up to 2,000 BMW, Mercedes, Audi and VW cars

    • Mileage: 15489 mi
    • Engine size: 3999
    For sale
    Big Motoring World West Malling - BMW & Mercedes
  • BMW M3 CSL | Hollybrook Sports

    POA POA

    A beautiful E46 M3 Csl, finished in the sought after sapphire black and extensive BMW main dealer service history. The second example is finished in Silver grey metallic. 422 units were supplied new to the Uk, 106 were black, with the remaining 316 finished in Silver grey metallic. This particular example was supplied new on 5/12/2003 through BMW Vines of Guildford. It comes complete with its dealer pack, 2 keys, and its service booklet boasts 8 services, 6 main dealer and 1 independent specialist with a fresh service just completed. Each M3 received a more powerful 3.2l 24v straight 6 engine delivering 355bhp (up from 338bhp in the standard M3) and weighed in 110 kg lighter than the standard model. The M3 Csl has now aged remarkably well, and offers a great opportunity for those who want to purchase a modern future classic, being one of the last great coupe's to come out of the BMW stable with the fabulous straight six engine.

    • Year: 2003
    • Mileage: 67000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3 COMPETITION PACKAGE

    £52,950 £52,950

    Body: Saloon Transmission: Semi-Automatic Mileage: 10,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2016 (66) Doors: 4 Engine Size: 3.0 Finished in: INDIVIDUAL GRIGIO TELESTO WITH BLACK LEATHER 20" alloys

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 10000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3

    £23,950 £23,950

    Air Conditioning, Bluetooth, Colour SatNav, Comms Pack, Dual Climate Zones, Full Leather, iPod Connectivity, Manufacturer Direct, Xenon Headlamps, Trip Computer, Traction Control, Power Steering, Parking Sensors, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Cruise Control, Adjustable Steering Column, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Push Button Start, CD Player, MP3 Player, Full Service History, HPI CHECKED, Metallic Paintwork, Front Fog Lamps, Colour Coded Body, Auto Lighting, Quick-Clear Screen, Multiple Airbags, Isofix, ABS, Alarm, Anti-Theft System, Immobiliser, Locking Wheel Nuts, Remote Central Locking, Electric Seats, Heated Seats, Full main dealer service history Bexley Car Sales are pleased to offer this superb condition manual BMW M3 with only 52,000 and full BMW service history. Available for £465 per month. Please call 8am-9pm for further details. All of our cars are fully HPI checked and we are AA approved.Spec includes....Navigation System - BMW Professional Multimedia with High Resolution Control Display with 8.8in Colour Flat Screen (LCD), I Drive System, Carbon pack, M Mode, Full Leather/Electric/Heated seats, Bluetooth Phone System, Media Pack, Xenon Lights, USB/Aux point, Cruise Control, Stop Start System, DAB Radio, Audio Remote Control, Electric Windows - Front and Rear, with Open/Close Fingertip Control, Rain Sensor, Alarm System (Thatcham 1), M Sport Suspension, M Sport Steering Wheel, M Sport Seats - Front, Front And Rear Parking Sensors, 18in Light Alloy M Double - Spoke Wheels in Dark Graphite, Tyre Puncture Warning System (TPWS), Metallic Paint, Electric Adjustment Front Seats, Drivers with Memory, On - Board Computer (OBC), BMW Professional Radio with Single CD Player (with MP3 Playback Capability), Upholstery - Novillo Leather, Hill - Start Assistant, Metallic Paintwork, Climate Control, Air conditioning, Anti - Lock Braking System (ABS), Child Seat ISOFIX Attachment, Front and Rear, PLEASE CALL 8AM - 9PM TO ARRANGE A VIEWING. Bexley Car Sales is a family owned business based in Bexley Kent, All of our vehicles are fully HPI checked and have guaranteed mileage. Please read our reviews on Google and our websi

    • Mileage: 52000 mi
    • Engine size: 3999
    For sale
  • BMW M3 Coupe

    POA POA

    Make: BMW, Model: M3 Coupe, Year: 2010, Mileage: 29500, Description: Stunning BMW M3 Coupe in White Rare 'Edition' model with Carbon Fibre Roof, Semi-Automatic DCT, Nearly every option chosen, BMW Business Hifi, Front & Reverse parking aids, MP3, Bluetooth, BMW Assist & Telephone, Climate & Voice Control, BMW Professional Sat Nav. Sun protection glass, USB audio interface, 19'' M Double-spoke alloy wheel, Floor mats, Black Carbon-structure leather trim, Rain sensor, Cruise control & 'Trackstar' Tracker, full BMW Service History including Running In Service, new tyres front & rear. Finance Available on request Subject to Status. Price: £37,995.00

    • Year: 2010
    For sale
  • BMW M3 Cabriolet

    £9,995 £9,995

    Make: BMW Model: M3 Cabriolet First Registered: 04/03/2004 (04) Mileage: 80,413 Miles Previous Owners: 5 Engine: 3.2 Ltr Transmission: SMG Paint Colour: Carbon Black Trim Colour: Burgundy Leather Carpet Colour: Black Doors: 2 Seats: 4 MOT: 12 Months TAX: TBA HPI: Clear Warranty: 3 Month Cover Included - Upgrades Available

    • Year: 2004
    • Mileage: 80413 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3 V8 M DCT

    £25,000 £25,000

    Body: Convertible Transmission: Semi-Automatic Mileage: 25,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2010 (60) Doors: 2 Engine Size: 4.0 Finished in: JEREZ BLACK METALLIC WITH BLACK LEATHER 19" alloys

    • Year: 2010
    • Mileage: 25000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3 DCT

    £30,000 £30,000

    Body: Convertible Transmission: Semi-Automatic Mileage: 28,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2013 (13) Doors: 2 Engine Size: 4.0 Finished in: ALPINE WHITE WITH NOVILLO FOX RED LEATHER 19" alloys

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 28000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3

    £62,990 £62,990

    Harman Kardon, Start/Stop, Sports Exhaust, Satellite Navigation, Powerfold Door Mirrors, Driver Memory, DAB Radio, Bluetooth Media, Xenon Headlamps, Electric Seats, Heated Seats, Cruise Control, Parking Camera, Parking Sensors, Main Beam Assist, Adaptive Headlamps, Full main dealer service history BMW M3 3.0 M TwinPower Turbo DCT Automatic registered October 2015 wrapped in Purple and Green Chameleon with Silverstone Extended Merino Leather with Ebony Black Leather and Contrast Stitching, Carbon Fibre Interior and Exterior Trim with Black Kidney Grille Surrounds; Carbon Fibre Mirror Covers and Front Splitter by BMW Sytner High Wycombe, Litchfield Imports Installed Remus Exhaust with Carbon Tips; X-Pipe with Connecting Tubes; Rear Silencer and Litchfield Tuning M3 Tuning Box to roughly 510BHP, Electric Heated M Sport Front Seats with Driver Memory and Lumbar Support, Harman Kardon Sound System, 19 Inch M Double Spoke Style 437M Black Alloys, Head Up Display, Adative M Sport Suspension, Powerfold Door Mirrors, Bluetooth Telephone and Media, DAB Radio, Reversing Camera with Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Rear Sun Blinds, Xenon Headlamps with Washers, Cruise Control with Brake Function, Professional Satellite Navigation, Adaptive Headlights with High Beam Assist, Automatic Lights and Wipers, Keyless Go with Push Button Start, Extended Interior Light Package, M Sport Leather Multifunction Steering Wheel, Start/Stop, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Full BMW Service History at Sytner High Wycombe on 29/04/16 at 1,328. Finance available on request - subject to status and terms. Ask about our Company Directors packages. Fully Valeted; UK Wide Delivery Available; Part Exchange Welcome.

    • Mileage: 5500 mi
    • Engine size: 2979
    For sale
  • BMW E92 M3 Track Car

    £34,995 £34,995

    As an ex-PalmerSport M3 the car is running at 445hp and has been de-restricted to reach speeds of up to 185mph. The engine bay remains in an orderly state, with the 4.0 V8 sounding magnificent through the custom BTB exhaust. The double-clutch transmission performs faultlessly, shifting rapidly through each of the seven gears as required.

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 20067 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3 3.0 Twin Turbo

    POA POA

    BMW M3 3.0 Twin Turbo Saloon 7 Speed DCT Automatic with DRIVELOGIC registered September 2014 finished in Mineral White, Extended Black Merino Leather interior, 19 Inch M Double-Spoke Style 437M Alloys, Adaptive M Sport Suspension, Reversing Assist Camera, Carbon Fibre Roof and Spoiler, Keyless Go with Push Button Start, Black Chrome and Carbon Fibre Interior Trim, Electric Powerfold Anti Dazzle Door Mirrors, Electric Heated Front Seats with Driver Memory and Lumbar Support, Park Distance Control with Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Automatic Lights and Rain Sensors, Xenon Headlamps with Washers, Automatic Air Conditioning, Cruise Control with Brake Function, Extended Interior Light Package, Anthracite Headlining, BMW Online, Information Plus, Internet, Online Entertainment, Enhanced Bluetooth with Voice Control, Professional Satellite Navigation, M Head Up Display, DAB Radio, Harman Kardon Surround Sound, Start/Stop, DVD/MP3 Player, USB, AUX IN, Dead Locking Function, Anti Dazzle Rear View, Backrest Width Adjustment, Privacy Glass, Alarm and Immobiliser, ISOFIX. Finance available on request - subject to status and terms. Ask about our Company Directors pac

    • Year: 2014
    For sale
  • BMW M3 V8 White | Hollybrook Sports

    £22,000 £22,000

    The V8 M3 coupe is something that little bit special, finding itself at a time when it is entering into a modern classic era. With the recent switch to a turbocharged unit, the 4.0 V8 is the last of its generation, partnered with a well respected sure footed chassis that has proven to outclass its rivals throughout its production. From the moment to it was first released, the M3 chassis was known as one which performed better the closer it got to its limits, while harnessing a never ending surge of power that never appeared to fade. It's no wonder why values have remained so strong and it has such admiration among its peers, its a drivers choice car with subtle hints of its pedigree and quite practical too. This particular model has the all familiar 6 speed manual finished in white with the black leather interior and carbon rear spoiler. A proper drivers car throughout with low mileage.

    • Year: 2007
    • Mileage: 42000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3 3.0 COMPETITION PACKAGE DCT

    £54,990 £54,990

    Black extended merino leather, Carbon fibre interior trim with black chrome, electric memory seats, heated seats, heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, 20in M Star-spoke alloys, M Double-clutch transmission, head-up display, BMW Professional satellite navigation, BMW Assist, BMW Teleservices, Real-time traffic information, Bluetooth, USB Audio interface, WLAN Hotspot, Concierge Services, Harman/Kardon Surround Sound System, Electronic Damper Control, Tire pressure display, Park Distance Control, Reversing camera, electric windows, electric heated mirrors, remote central locking, Thatcham 1 alarm, ABS, front/rear and side airbags, leather multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, brake energy regeneration, DSC with traction control, trip computer, rain sensor, Bi-Xenon adaptive headlamps, auto headlamp function, high beam assist, front fog lamps, auto-dim interior mirror, rain sensor, anthracite headlining, extended interior light package, ISOFIX, front sliding centre armrest, carbon fibre roof, sun protection glazing, M-Competition package, 5 years Maintenance pack, £68,000 cost new price, one owner from new, full BMW service history

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 1000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW M3 Limited Edition 500

    POA POA

    BMW M3 Limited Edition 500 4.0 V8 Coupe 8 Speed DCT Automatic registered July 2013 finished in Imola Red Metallic, Carbon Fibre Roof, Extended Novillo Black Leather Interior with Red Contrast Stitching Electric M Sport Front Seats with Driver Memory and Lumbar Support, 19 Inch M Double Spoke Black Gloss Style 220 Forged Alloy Wheels, Bi Xenon Headlamps with Washers, Dual Zone Automatic Climate Control, Cruise Control, Rear Distance Parking Control, Electric Windows with One Touch, Anti Pinch and Global, BMW Professional Radio with CD/MP3, DAB Radio, AUX IN, Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth Phone Connectivity and Audio, Auto Lights and Wipers, Electric Power Steering with Servotronic, Dynamic Stability Control Plus, Electric Heated Door Mirrors with Driver Memory, Leather Multi Function Steering Wheel with Paddleshift, Run Flat Indicator, Thatcham Category 1 Remote Alarm with Electronic Immobiliser, Full BMW Service History. Finance available on request - subject to status. Ask about our Company Directors Packages. Fully Valeted; 12 Months MOT; UK Wide Delivery Available; Part Exchange Welcome. See our Youtube channel or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

    • Year: 2013
    For sale
  • BMW M3 M3 3.2 SMG 2 2007

    £15,999 £15,999

    JUST ARRIVED INS TOCK AT JUST GERMAN SPECIALIST CARS.;;ONE LADY OWNER FROM NEW and REGISTERED IN 2007.;;CAN'T GET MUCH RARER THAN THAT CAN YOU.??;;THIS REMARKABLE EXAMPLE IS FINISHED IN TITAN SILVER, WITH BLUE ROOF and GREY LEATHER INTERIOR.;;NEWLY RE-CUT DIAMOND TURNED ORIGINAL 19" BMW ALLOY WHEELS WITH AS NEW BRIDESTONE POTENZA TYRES.;;GREAT SPECIFICATION TO INCLUDE;;- SMG 2 GEARBOX;- 19" ALLOYS;- HEATED SEATS;- SATELLITE NAVIGATION;- XENON LIGHTS;- TELEPHONE PREP;- TPMS (Tyre Pressure Sensors);- AUTO LIGHTS;- POWER FOLD MIRRORS;- PDC (Park Sensors);;THIS VEHICLE HAS ONLY JUST ARRIVED and IS AWAITING PREPERATION, YES THAT'S RIGHT IT HASN'T BEEN CLEANED YET BUT LOOK AT THE PICS.!!!!;;BETTER IMAGES WILL FOLLOW ONCE WE HAVE DETAILED THE VEHICLE TO OUR STANDARDS.;;THIS IS MORE SUITED TO A BMW ENTHUSIAST WHO WILL APPRECIATE THE CAR FOR WHAT IT IS and THE FACT IT'S ONE OF THE LATEST YOU WILL FIND and HAD JUST ONE OWNER FROM NEW.;;PLEASE FEEL FREE TO PICK UP THE TELEPHONE FOR FURTHER DETAILS WHILST WE ARE PREPARING THE CAR OR IF LOCAL POP DOWN FOR A COFFEE WHILST VIEWING.;;MANY THANKS, MATTHEW.

    • Mileage: 75300 mi
    • Engine size: 3.246
    For sale
  • BMW M3

    £30,995 £30,995

    Satellite Navigation, Electric Seats, Heated Seats, Memory Seats, Climate Control, Dual Climate Zones, Cruise Control, Parking Sensors, Xenon Headlamps, Sports Seats, Automatic Wipers, Automatic Headlights, CD Player, DVD Player, iPod Connectivity, Bluetooth, Bluetooth Audio, Aux Port, USB, Steering Wheel Audio Controls, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Paddle Shift, Headlamp Jetwash, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Electric Seat Bolsters , Push Button Start, Traction Control, Computer, ABS, Start Stop, Isofix, Multiple Airbags, Anti-Theft System, Remote Central Locking, Electric retractable hard top, 19'' Alloys, Full service history

    • Mileage: 17000 mi
    • Engine size: 3999
    For sale
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