When I bought this car new in 1997, itwas the fastest BMW 0-60 (5.5 as a standard, modified to 5.3 with Confortichip, B&B Tri-Flo exhaust and Dinan air intake). It was later voted "Best Handling car in over 30K group" (beating out the Porsche, etc), Car of the year 3 years in a row, '95-'97 (Car andDriver). Maintenence is high in terms of tires, clutch, brakes and mods, but other than that, nothing major. The engine was compression tested at 110K and was like-new according to the mechanic (I recommend a small, local, specialized mechanic).
You have to do something illegal while turning to feel the true handling. It feels like a suspension within a suspension. Great posi rear end allows for slick U-turns, and if you go with Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires, great traction and full-speed ahead!
the plastic radiator, power sunroof and electronics are the only real problems. Watch out for after-market parts likethe starter (installation costs so much it's moot, then it breaks on you and youlose $500).
I've owned this car for 4 months and
have enjoyed every minute of it. It
really is the best compromise of the
sports car and practical everyday car.
The cost of maintenance and ownership
can only be equalled by Ferrari and
Mercedes (from what I hear). Invest in
a Bentley manual, a metric socket set,
a Peake code reset tool and a Valentine
One. You'll be able to do most of the
Also, you will pay through the nose for
maintence you can't easily do (like a
Gubbio flex disc on the driveshaft).
Your insurance will be high and your
mileage will suck due to your new
addiction to the wailing engine and
I like the features on
the computer like the alarm that you
can set to go off when you reach a
certain mph. Also, the convenience of
the location of the oil filter and
coolant filler bottle are nice.
The shifter action is sloppy and it is
understandable why many upgrade to
short throw shifters.
I bought a 1997 M3 five months ago, and
I'm happy with it -- it's a blast to
drive -- but some interior features
have a ticky-tacky feel. Plastic bits
have broken off, for example. Some BMW
dealers, meanwhile, seem to think that
actually servicing my car is beneath
them. To add to the frustration, many
spare parts cost a bloody fortune.
The M3 is the only true sports car at a
decent price with a real back seat.
The 5s and 7s are luxury cars: powerful
but heavy. The M3 is more like a
racing car: light, juicy, low to the
ground, with a stiff ride that lets you
feel every pebble. Not for everyone,
but I love it.
I wish BMW dealers put more gracious,
intelligent people on their phones.
Too many of the people I've talked to
have been haughty, dismissive and ill-
informed. I would also appreciate more
robust interior components, maybe made
of metal or wood instead of plastic.