The original BMW M5 was released in 1986 an autobahn cruiser that was only available in black like a Ford Model T, but unlike a Model T, it was monstrously fast. The next generation also featured an upgraded version of the BMW inline-6, but it wasn’t until the 1999 release of the E39 generation M5 that it got an appropriately menacing V8 to tear up the streets. This next car has been modified and the seller claims to have removed 400lbs of worthless weight. Find this 2001 BMW M5 E39 offered for $13,900 in Encino, CA via craigslist.
It might not seem believable, but driving a cheap used BMW M3 is not actually that expensive. Trust me, I’ve owned a few over the years and I still have both of my kidneys and all of my livers. The most expensive part of M3 ownership is depreciation and if you avoid that…then you’ll find that the regular 3-series bits (door handles, light bulbs, coolant caps) are cheap and the ///M specific stuff (hefty limited slip diffs, 8000+rpm V8s) are over-engineered. Yes, wear items are expensive (brakes, tires, bumper lips, con rod bushings), but not Ferrari expensive and you can do most of the maintenance yourself with a basic set of tools and a set of plastic ramps. But don’t believe me, buy one yourself and then report back here in a few months. Find this 2008 BMW M3 offered for $24,000 CAD ($18,320 USD) in Hinton, Alberta, Canada via Kijiji.net. Tip from Erik202.
The e34 generation BMW 5-series (1987-1996) is one of those cars that is new enough to not feel like driving a ’57 Chevy but old enough to not be stuffed with electronic nannies, stupid autotragic gearboxes, and hideous styling. Obviously, the one to own is the screaming inline-6 powered M5 version, but the price of entry is high and price of any failure is…well…yikes. I had an E34 M5 for a short period of time (and CFlo had the car for longer) and discovered that things like transmission parts were made from unobtanium. So, if the M5 is too risky (and pricey) but you want the M5 performance, you should get a 540i and supercharge it to 400 horsepower…just make sure it is 6-speed version…oh hey; Find this 1995 BMW 540i offered for $9,900 in Renton, WA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
If you think we feature too many BMWs on the pages of Daily Turismo, rest assure it isn’t because we are closet BWM fanboys…no, it is because we are fully open about our BMW fanboyishness. It is simple, while other major luxury OEMs decided that the American market in the early 2000s only wanted slushbox equipped luxury sedans (Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Acura, Cadillac, etc), the guys over at BMW decided that perhaps some people wanted manual gearboxes, and wagons. Of course they will still only be offered in lame shades of white/black/grey, but at least getting a wagon with a stick is an option in BMW. Ultimately, BMW didn’t sell many of these (1 of 429 according to the seller) so you can’t buy a NEW BMW with a manual in a wagon body today (meh, don’t blame me, I don’t buy any new cars…oh…wait…maybe you can blame me…) but you can find used ones for sale, occasionally. Find this 2007 BMW 328iT Wagon offered for $13,500 in Napa County, CA via craigslist.
A rough but drivable BMW 2002 is one of the few vintage classics that you might want to both own and drive. What do I mean by that? There are some classics cars that you really want to own, but not drive — mint condition classics come to mind (can’t let the kids get gummy snacks in the classic honey, let’s take your minivan on our coastal road trip), or something Italian that’ll leave you stranded the first chance it gets or anything with an aircooled VW engine. And then there are classic cars that you really want to drive, but don’t feel the urge to own — something with a high strung engine and 5-figure repair bills waiting to bite ya (like a Ferrari) or a Mazda Miata with super low miles on the odometer. But within the world of classic cars there is this sweetspot of cars that you want to own because of the upsides of appreciation and ease of maintenance, AND you want to drive because they are fun. This scruffy looking BMW is the thing. Find this 1974 BMW 2002 offered for $8000 in Austin, TX via craigslist. Tip from Rramjet.
This next car comes as a tip from Cory who writes; One of the odder volvo 240 swap cars I have seen- BMW engine and volvo s60 dash. In my opinion, the car is close to being actually good, but some very odd details (steering wheels is horrid) keep it in the mongrel category. Never seen or heard of anyone swapping in a poorly fitted dash into one of these. Find this 1990 Volvo 240 Sedan with BMW inline-6 swap offered for $1250 in Suffield, CT via facebash markingbaste.
BMW wagon owners always complain that BWM didn’t export their best engine/transmission options into their wagons for the US market — and it’s true! The E34 5-series had a V8 and a 6-speed option, but it was never available together on the wagon…perhaps because they assumed wagon owners were family men/women who wanted to just cruise. Anyway, if you want the wagon and you want to have fun, you’ll need to find one that has been modified like this next beast, which is now powered by an E36 M3 drivetrain. Find this 1993 BMW 524iT with S52 inline-6 swap bidding for $5,000 in Burlington, VT via eBay. Tip from Cory.
If you are not a total BMW fanboy goober, you might not understand this next car. But I hope to transform you into a BMW fanboy goober by the end of this article, so that might be moot point. Hang on, lemme back up. The E39 generation BMW 5-series could be had in 540i V8 6-speed version or a wicked wagon called a Touring Sports Wagon…but you couldn’t get a V8, 6-speed, and wagon from the factory for whatever reason. Today’s example fixes that by shoving the 6-speed from a sedan into the wagon body, but the seller, alarmingly, says it needs “quite a bit of work”. Not sure what that means…but I think it merits a second look. Find this 2000 BMW 540i Touring 6-Speed offered for $8,500 in Hopewell, NJ via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been a closet E30 fanboy for years. It isn’t something I’m proud of, but the only reason I haven’t owned one is because I have such automotive ADD that I’m always moving on to the next car and watching E30 prices drop…it’s always “well, they’ll be cheaper next year”…but that isn’t the case anymore. I think even basic E30s have hit rock bottom and they are now becoming collectable, so something like a grey-market European 316i wagon for less than $10k gets me right in the gut. Unfortunately (or fortunately for my wallet) the 316i engine likely won’t be allowed into the electrified State of California (it would probably cause wildfires or murder baby seals) and I’ll have to let one of you buy this. Find this 1994 BMW 316i Wagon offered for $9,750 in Naples, FL via craigslist. Tip from 4rim.
The BMW 2002 (1968-1976) was one of those hidden classics that wasn’t expensive to buy, maintain, or drive on a regular basis. Prices shot up a few years ago and now the Tii version is stupidly expensive, but you can still find the occasional basic 2002 for a reasonable chunk of cash. Today’s next example has a Gulf Racing paint scheme and some rust, but has some potential. Find this 1974 BMW 2002 offered for $8,500 in Long Beach, CA via craigslist.