Buyer’s Guide E36 M3

In this buyer's guide, we will discuss the history of the BMW E36 M3, its features and specs, and what to look for when buying one. So, let's get started!

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Are you in the market for a BMW E36 M3? If so, you’re in luck. This blog post is all about helping buyers find the perfect car. We will talk about what to look for when buying an used BMW E36 M3, as well as the heritage of the classic. So whether you are a first-time buyer or an experienced car shopper, this blog post has something for you!

The M3 Raced From Victory To Victory

The BMW M3 embodies the ultimate in pure driving enjoyment on public highways and motor sport performance. They developed the racing 1987 Model M3 as part of the inaugural world-touring automobile competition in 1987. Instead of 250 hp in production, it produced 400 hp at 8200 rpm at incredible speeds. Like the road vehicle, the racing version was a great success. It’s major victory: it won the Deutsche Tour Car championship with brilliant success. The same goes for France Italian National Championships and the English National Championships.

BMW E 36 M3 (1992-1999)

BMW released their next generation of 3 series in 1990. It was referred to as the E36. It was a larger heavier and more luxurious car than the older E30. BMW engineers were determined to create something which suited the popularity of the E30 M3. The new M3 model E 36 launched in 1992 with completely different designs. Gone were lightweight road racing vehicles, and instead, there was a refined more powerful sports saloon with optional automatic transmissions. However, with several improvements, the new design philosophy allowed the new E36 M3 to be even quicker than the previous model.

1996 Updates & 3.2-litre Engine

In September 1996, BMW released an upgraded version of BMW’s M3 E36. The biggest changes made were an upgraded 3.2-litre six-cylinder engine built with knowledge gained through McLaren’s partnerships with Formula 1 teams. The new bigger engine produces significantly greater torque with 321 PS (239kW) and 320 lb/ft of torque. As they increased power buyers also experienced better performance. The 0–100 km/h speed was only 5.25 seconds, however, they electronically limited the maximum speed to 250 km or 150 mph (145 mph). In Europe, BMW fitted its larger engine to 6-speed manual transmission – replacing the previous 5-speed system.

M3 Lightweight (1995)

The E36 M3 was released and several American racing groups requested the manufacturers to make a homologation special car of the one that competed in motor sport. BMW responded with the M3 lightweight in 1995. Radio and air-conditioners were now removed in order to conserve weight. Additionally, no under-bonnet insulation was applied and the flooring was of very low quality. Overall, this change led to an overall reduction of 89 g weight versus standard M3. BMW upgraded its suspensions to include shorter springs and lower cross braces.

BMW E36 M3 GT (1994)

Unlike the E30 M3, the E36 M3 was not developed only for homology specials. In 1995 however, BMW created an additional BMW M3 GT for homologation requirements for the FIA – GT class. The harder M3 got heavier, more aerodynamic elements and some more power. The GT appeared virtually indistinguishable from standard M3 except for a front splitter and a rear spoiler. The interior was however considerably more different thanks to sporty seating, carbon fibre trim and stylish “BMW Racing International” badges.

BMW E36 M3 Sedan (1994)

BMW was planning on ending the E34M5, which produced only a few cars in 1995. They launched the M3 sedan that offered four doors alongside the M3 coupe variant that had two doors. Intended to look somewhat more refined and conservative than the 2-door model, the vehicle had softer suspension that provided greater comfort. In the cabin, a more lavish interior with burr walnut trim covering central console and door handles. BMW added comfortable, soft seats and 17-inch alloy wheels with wider wheels.

M3 Evolution Imola Individual (1998)

BMW introduced an exclusive series of 50 M3 Evolution imola individuals for UK markets in 1998. Performance characteristics were unchanged from the standard updated European M3, but there was an additional exterior and interior colour combination. The interior had Nappa leather & Amaretto seats of the same colour with the seat anthracite coloured. BMW also added on the new M2 – M3-GT with rear spoilers and front class II wing splitter extensions.

BMW E36 M3 Compact Concept (1996)

Before the introduction of the M355i hot hatch, BMW began to test the new compact car. The unique M3 Compact Concept came out in 1996 and had 321 HP 3.2-litre engines in the new model. The compact concept weighed 150 kilograms less than the coupes but had similar torque. Resulting in a fun lightweight version of the very popular car.

BMW M3-R (1994)

The 1993 BMW RX-R was introduced into the Australian market with the introduction of 15 special edition cars. These were made so that they would compete on Australian television. The M3 -R is the most unexplored production model of the E36M3 – with 240 kW (322 hp) 240 hp. Four cars were included in the racing series, and the other ten were sold to the general public.

BMW E36 M3 convertible (1994)

Earlier in 1994, BMW introduced an SUV convertible called the BMW E36 – M3. Strengthening the convertible’s chassis led the car’s weight up by 100 kg, and increased the overall knuckle weight by 1,560 kg. The convertible is marketed as a relaxed cruiser than a true sports vehicle. Despite lagging behind its hood the vehicle had polished 17-inch M alloy wheels.


Before 1993, the BMW Motorsport technicians did great jobs as BMW M branded companies were in business. In addition, BMW Racing Parts provided the future M3 with a range of BMW parts. The ABS system with ventilated disc brakes ensured a constant operation and suspension was developed to ensure that, if necessary, racing would be incorporated. Manual gears provided some classic racing flair and the driver found the first gear at the bottom left, as usual, during a race. BMW Motorsport GmbH occupied just the doors and the roofs of the BMW 3-series.

Touring car racing

BMW E36 M3 is a road car produced by BMW from 1992 to 1999 and developed from the E30 3 Series. It was first shown in the entry list for the FIA Touring Car World Cup in 1992, as a special version of the E30 M3. The BMW Motorsport team prepared 325 cars for homologation purposes.

The BMW E36/5 M3 was an evolution of the winningest car in the history of the German Touring Car Championship, the E30 M3. Like its predecessor, it was one of the most technically advanced touring cars at the time and also enjoyed great success in touring car racing all over Europe in private hands as well as by works teams such as BMW Motorsport and Schnitzer.

The chassis was based on the regular 3-series with a welded steel unitary body shell and featured a front MacPherson strut suspension with a rear multilink setup. The interior was stripped for weight saving and featured Recaro sport seats. The engine was carried over from the E30, but with an increased bore to 86 mm and de-stroked to 2,653 cc producing 300 hp (224 kW).

BMW E36 M3 – The Ultimate Touring Car!

The BMW E36 M3 is often regarded as the best touring car racing car ever produced, and it’s hard to argue with that claim. It was built from 1991 to 1999, and during that time, it dominated the touring car arena.

The E36 M3 has won a total of 6 championships in DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft) and Supertouring races, making it one of the most successful racing cars out there. The competition that the BMW E36 M3 had to face during the early 1990s was fierce, and yet the car managed to dominate the ring by winning many races.

Drift Chasis

The E36 is one of the best bang for your buck drift cars available today. With an updated engine and rear suspension, we can still find these vehicles in running condition for 2500EUR or less – making them great options if you’re looking to get started with drifts without spending too much money upfront. The E36 is a reliable, affordable and competitive drift car that has been one of the most popular models for decades.

Form Follows Function

The engine on the M3 received additional design compared to the E30, and the car itself was fundamentally overhauled. The designers turned up the screws with respect to the weight of the project. Front bumpers, side skirts, boot covers and spoilers were moulded from plastic. Only car enthusiasts noticed the lower and wider C-pillar in the BMW M3 as well as improved aerodynamics. This helped make the M3 the favourite car by motorsport lovers. It has an unmistakable style that features a wide wheel arch with a front bumper and iconic rear wing.

Reasons To Buy This BMW M3

The M3 is one of the most iconic cars in automotive history. The excellently conditioned six-cylinder engine, combined with its communicative handling and pure driving experience make this an unbeatable machine for any enthusiast who wants to savor their time behind wheels without breaking bank accounts.


The E36 M3 is a car that doesn’t break your bank when something goes wrong. It’s also easy to find cheap insurance for these models, so you can take out some time and enjoy driving without worrying about money!

It might be old but if there was ever an ideal second car this is one of the best options. It’s reliable handling through any terrain while still being able to hit high speeds on city streets or country roads alike; nimble cornering capabilities make this thing near unstoppable in most cases.


The E36 is a perfect beginner project car because it’s simple, reliable and easy to work on. With all of the parts being mechanical there aren’t many electronic issues that need fixing or upgrading which makes this an excellent candidate for those looking into cars as their first serious hobby.


The E36 M3 is a great track-day car, not only because it can be handled by mere mortals but also due to its power disadvantage. The smaller and lighter weight makes the driving experience more enjoyable than other cars in this class with higher horsepower outputs which make them feel intimidating when you first get behind the wheel.


This may be considered a knock towards the E36 M3 to some, but I consider it a virtue. There are millions of them for sale on Craigslist, eBay and any other car buying site. They are incredibly common. Some people may hate that, but I look at it as an opportunity. Because of their availability, not only can you find a good deal on one easily, but parts are readily available and affordable. If something obscure were to break that’s hard to find, just go down to the closest junkyard and it’s likely they have a car you can pull the part from.

Classic Status Symbol

While the E36 may not be as icy-cool as the E30 and not as good looking as the E46, it’s still a classic. Plus E30s are ridiculously expensive nowadays and E46s aren’t necessarily cheap either. So the E36 M3 offers the most affordable way to get a classic M3. It’s also the oldest M3 that doesn’t cost a fortune. So while you may not get the E30 M3, you’re getting the next best thing, with the E36 M3 and for a fraction of the cost.

BMW E30 M3 (1986 – 1991)

The first M3 first exhibited at the 1985 Geneva Motor Show had substantial improvements over the standard E30 vehicle. BMW added a larger rear spoiler and front splitter. All aerodynamic adds are constructed from plastic for maximum weight loss. Exterior changes are not stopping here. BMW engineers also modified every single panel on the car including the roof panel and windshield, making the EV30 M3 really unique. They also changed the angles of the rear window to improve air flow toward the rear bumper.

The history of the BMW M3

BMWs motor racing started with a demanding and unbelievably unrelenting world of motor racing. BMW needed to have a vehicle capable of competing in DTM and satisfying the FIA’s Group A requirements. They chose an E30 platform for a new racing vehicle. But there could no longer be an unintentionally produced racing cars. For meeting the requirements for the FIA homologation each team had to produce five thousand street versions. This led to the first M3 to be produced.

Light And Fast

They considered the performance of the BMW M3s to be benchmarks, and the same is still happening today. It has a top speed of over 150mph and achieves this without a turbocharger or a compressor. The maximum torque kicks in at a beautiful sounding 6750 rpm. The vehicle has an extremely low weight with around 1,200 kg, and it speeds up in less than 6.8 seconds at an impressive 255 KM/h. The engine only lost some power to just below 195 PS (190 kW) – an extremely high number.

BMW M Power

It has an extremely refined engine. Its basis is a 6-cylinder two litre model dated to 1990 that was completely overhauled. Its lower weight, high speed and durable characteristics make it one of the most desirable engines of all time. 

Non turbocharged straight-six engine

The first engine that we will discuss is the S50B32. They used this engine in the E36 M roadster and coupe, and it produced approximately 321 horsepower. If you are looking for a powerful engine that can take your car to new heights, this is a great option.

The next engine that we will discuss is the S50B30. They used this engine in the E36 M coupe and sedan, and it produced approximately 333 horsepower. It is a brilliant choice for those who are looking for more power than the S50B32 can offer.

The final engine that we will discuss is the S54B32. They used this engine in the E46 M coupe, convertible, and sedan. It produced approximately 343 horsepower. If you are looking for an engine that offers more power than the S50B30, this is a great option.

Now that you know about the different engine options available for your BMW E36 M, it’s time to decide which one is right for you. Consider your needs and preferences, and then make the decision that is best for you.

Once you have chosen an engine, it’s time to install it in your car. This can be a daunting task, but with the help of a professional mechanic, it can be done quickly and easily.

The Evolution Of The BMW M3 From The E30

During its first 5-year build period, it performed well. In 1988 for example, the Evolution version was released and was rated at 220 HP. There were also new spoilers added to the list. BMW Motorsport GmbH in 1990 triggered BMW Motorsport Motorsport’s last stage with the 3.5-litre engine which produced 238 horsepower. Its idea came from Paul Rosche, who also supervised engine development during Formula 1 at the time.

BMW E30 M3 (1986 – 1991)

The M3 first exhibited at the 1985 Geneva Motor Show had substantial improvements over the standard E30 vehicle. BMW added a larger rear spoiler and front splitter. All aerodynamic adds are constructed from plastic for maximum weight loss. Exterior changes did not stop here. BMW engineers also modified every single panel on the car including the roof panel and windshield, making the E30 M3 really unique. They also changed the angles of the rear window to improve air flow toward the rear bumper.

E30 M3 and Motorsports

In many different forms of motorsport, the E30 M3 had enormous success, ranging from road racers to endurance races to even rally races. In Group A races, the BMW E30 M3 faced rival Mercedes W201 190E. The 2.3-litre M3 produced about 300 horsepower (223 kg) in its full race trim, but this was eventually upgraded in 1990 with BMW’s 2.9-litre engines. The E30 M3 won four times in the NĂĽrburgring 24 Hours (1991 – 1994), twice in the Spa 24 Hours (87 – 1988 1990).

BMW E30 M3 convertible (1988)

In 1988 BMW introduced the M3 in open-topped versions despite the 3 Series convertible’s popularity. Mechanically based on the hardtop version, major differences included additional body strengthening for the lack of roof. In addition, BMW’s engineers changed the suspension configuration for lighter weight. The rear spoiler and raised boot lining on the hardtop were also removed. Between 1989 and 1991, 786 E30 M3 convertibles were made with left-hand drive for the USA.

E30 M3 Evolution II (1988)

This new special edition version was launched one year after EVO 1. The Evolution II (EVO II) featured a couple of different modifications from the earlier model, the most important being an improved power of 217hp (152.2kW). Along with increasing power, BMW also added more 16×7-inch wheels and a wider front end. The heavier rear windows were replaced as well as the lighter bootlids. 555 E30 evolutions were produced and 40 sold on France’s Tour de Corse.

E30 M3 Sport Evolution (1989)

After the evo II BMW launched ‘Sport Evolution’ (EVO 3). BMW’s newest 2.5-litre engine has a capacity for 230 horsepower (135 kW) and 230 Nm of torque. It could hit top speeds up to 165 mph with this power. A further upgrade to the Sport Evolution included new front bumpers, a rear splitter and rear wings. To get better brake cool off, the headlight was replaced with brake cooling pipes at the rear.

M3 prototype pickup (1986)

BMW also produced prototype pickup trucks versions of their E30 MC3. Originally built for convertible models M3, a real 2.7 litre motor was replaced with an M3 motor. Originally used as a transporter for more than 27 years at Garching factory until its official retirement.

Ravaglia and Cecotto Editions (1989)

The E30 M3, a limited edition BMW was released. They were named after Roberto Ravaglia and Johnny Cecotto, both successful drivers of motor vehicles in DTM races. These two vehicles had a 212 horsepower (158 kW) engine (with a catalytic converter.) Swiss models have slightly lesser power at 280 horsepower and 155kW because of stricter emission rules.

E30 M3’s Final Years

In 1991, production remained steady and almost 18,000 models were produced. The automobile would then be recognised by Automobile magazines as being voted one of the best-selling cars by the drivers.

E30 M3 Evolution I (1987)

BMW created homologation-specific models in limited quantities in response to rapid developments of racing rules. This was known as Evolution I (EVO I) and carries a new cylinder head.

A Motorsports Story

BMW’s first M3 had the aim of offering racing cars as street versions. No one could imagine just how successful this M3 would be – in the most popular roads around the world. BMW M3 was introduced in 1986 as a homologation vehicle for touring vehicles. The regulation required that at least 5,000 road-legal cars had to be sold in 12 months to have an automobile homologation on the racetrack.

Proven At The NĂśRBURGRING And And Nardo

The BMW M3 was tested in the NĂĽrburgring ahead of production. Its experience in one of the highest-demanding racing courses around helped make series/racing versions durable. The mighty M3 could demonstrate full strength after a long drive on Italy’s Nardo Ring. The test took place at a maximum speed of 160 kilometres. Naturally, this came through quickly.

Buyer’s Guide Conclusion

Because of all of these factors, the E36 M3 makes a great second car or weekend toy, especially if it’s someone’s first of that kind. It’s a great way to get into cars and BMWs specifically. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I have an E36 328i project car myself, but that gives me some credibility as well. It’s such a fun car to work on and drive on the weekends. It’s so pure and devoid of any modern-day distractions that it brings you back to a simpler time when cars were about driving above all else. If you’re looking for a second car, take a long serious look at the E36 M3, regardless of your budget.

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