The E46 generation of BMW’s M3 stands a top the podium of M3 goodness — the earlier generations have de-tuned US spec motors that are an embarrassment compared to the Euro good stuff and the later cars are over digitized things with roaring V8s and turbomulators — nobody needs that. An M3 should have an […]
u won’t have automatic lane departure warning buzzards (I’m not sure why you’d want a buzzard to peck at your neck when you change lanes without a blinker, but I hear they are friendly birds if treated properly and only molt twice a year) and self aspirating seats (“You can’t never take wound care too seriously” — said the spokeswoman from Toyota at the last year’s Detroit Auto Show) but imagine driving a 30 year old car in 1970. That would have been a 1940 car. Or even driving a 30 year old car in the year 2000 — a 1970 Torino would have been nuts to daily drive in 1999…but you could easily drive this next car every day and not have people calling the cops on you. Find this 1990 BMW 535i offered for $6,000 in Los Angeles, CA via craigslist.
If you see a 90s vintage BMW 5-series with a 30i suffix on the badge you might assume it has one of BMW’s sweet sounding 3ish liter inline sixes…but you’d be wrong. For the E34 generation of BMW’s 5-series they started with the 530i with a M30 inline-6 in 1988, but in 1992 they changed over to a 3.0 liter M60 V8. That’s right in 1992 you could get a 535i with a inline-6 making 208 horsepower and 225 ft-lbs of torque or a 530i with a V8 making 215 horsepower and 214 ft-lbs of torque. The M60B30 was a small displacement version of the M60B40 found in the 540i and with a 3.31inch bore and 2.66 inch stroke and 10.5:1 compression ratio it should been capable of making lots of power, but it was under cammed and held back from the factory with a 6500 rpm rev limiter. Here is what you need to do –take the engine apart, coat every rotating component with space age coatings and get a custom ground cam (or four) and some fancy valve springs — open the exhaust and revv it to 8900 rpm. Boom — screaming V8 that nobody else has — and today’s example is one of the few 5-speed equipped 530is I’ve ever seen. Find this 1995 BMW 530i offered for $3,500 in Franklin Hills, CA via craigslist.
The E30 generation BMW 3-series was introduced in 1982, but this one comes from the post ’87 facelift, and has smaller integrated bumpers, removed chrome trim around window, and re-designed rear lights (among other things). BMW also gave the 3-series a number of engine upgrades over the course of production, but that doesn’t matter with this next one because it’s been given an injection of American V8 power courtesy of a Ford 5.0 liter V8 from a Mustang. Find this 1990 BMW 325i with V8 offered for $8995 near Baltimore, MD via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
The BMW 7-series was the pinnacle of executive luxury in the mid 1990s and the boss of bosses would get the M73 V12 with a long wheelbase in the 750il. Today these cars are depreciated and cheap because maintenance is expensive and modern luxury cars are much more luxurious — but today’s example has a staggering 213k miles on the odometer and shows no signs of giving up yet. Find this 1996 BMW 750il offered for $5,500 in Long Beach, CA via craigslist.
BMW built an astonishing 2.5 million E30s in coupe, sedan, estate & convertible trim from 1982 through 1994. The ursprünglicher gangster BMW 3-series was a successful yuppy-mobile when new and has generated a significant cult following as a cheap, fun & reliable sports sedan…but don’t expect the prices to stay low forever. This next example is offered with the low power Eta inline-6, but it has a manual gearbox and is free some a sunroof, so I give it 1.5 thumbs up. Find this 1984 BMW 325E offered for $8500 in Sun City, AZ via craigslist.
-five grand doesn’t get you much in a used car nowadays, particularly given the current level of insanity with late model used cars. You could get some 60k mile used 5-year old economy sedan or a 7 year old SUV…or you could put your man pants on and buy a 13 year old BMW M6 with a V10 and 6-speed manual gearbox. Find this 2009 BMW M6 convertible offered for $25,000 in Fort Worth, TX via craigslist.
wagon. But you could get to an M3 with 5 doors with a basic 2.5 liter powered 323i/325i with a manual gearbox, so that’s gotta be worth something. Find this 2000 BMW 323i Wagon offered for $12,500 in Emeryville, CA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
This next feature is for a pair of older BMW motorcycles and comes as a tip from David who says; Not a car, but an astonishing BMW deal anyway. Seriously, an amazing deal for any airhead. I’m not a motorcycle guy, but I will say that there is one that looks older and has an aircooled flat-two-cylinder engine and the other is newer (but not newish) and looks like the future from 1988. The few times I’ve driven (ridden?) a motorcycle was terrifying and exciting — but the best part to me would be the lost cost of entry and the fact that I could have like 10 of them in the garage before the wife figured out that it wasn’t just one in pieces. Find these 1988ish BMW motorcycles offered for $3000 in Brandenton, FL via the facemelting marketberg.
Prices of the E34 M5 have risen in the past few years, probably because people figured out that these were fast, fun, rare, and worth saving because sites like DailyTurismo sung their praises (our own CFlo owned one for a few years and loved it) but I don’t think we should take all the blame for the rapid price appreciation. Much of it goes to the fact that new cars are so artificial and the E34 M5 is purposefully analog in its application of speed. It is like driving a big American muscle car that feels tight in the turns. Strange experience, but worth the entry price on this next one. Find this 1991 BMW M5 E34 offered for $12,500 in New York, NY via craigslist. Tip from Cory.