I really can’t say enough good things about the E36 M3 market these days. It was only a few years ago when E30 M3s could be had for a song/dance and E36 were in the ‘teens’ but that is not the truth anymore. These are fantastic driving machines, come in 2-door, 4-door and convertible – the only thing missing is a wagon version!! This 1999 M3 found on craigslist for $7400 asking price and located in Glendale, CA is silver on black and has 150k miles…and yes your wife is going to say “why did you buy a car with 150k miles when your Accord only had 70k…” However, there are plenty of these cars on the road with 200k, 250k miles and still running on original drive-trains.
These cars do have some known issues – the variable valve timing system (“VANOS” aka marbles in a can!) can make some noise when it gets tired, the rear subframes have been known to rip out of the cars during extreme driving…but they really really like to be driven hard. Lots of rubber suspension bushings and mounts need to be replaced on a regular basis as well.
The “S52B32” 3.2 liter inline six (earlier versions (1995) had a 3.0 liter inline six) makes 240 horsepower and 240 ft-lbs of torque – enough to propel the car from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds. Respectable, but not a rocket.
Where the M really shines is in the curves – where its McPherson strut front and multi-link trailing arm rear suspension creates a car with a propensity for oversteer and the ability to correct lurid tail slides. Hopefully the driver of this car was a little old lady who only used it to pickup groceries and not a lunatic who would perform tail slides on public roads. Stick to stock, unmolested E36 M3s and you will be happy.