I have wanted an M3 sedan since they came out in 1997. Now that they are about ten years old, I am finally able to afford one. I have had mine now for a little over a year. It had 96000 on it, and now has 107000. It is still solid as a rock. I have driven it in high performance driving schools and autocross races. It is very quick and very stable, yet perfectly comfortable for everyday driving. The only complaints I have are the lack of steering wheel adjustments and a weak air conditioner. If you are sitting in traffic for more than a few minutes on an 85 degree+ day, it starts blowing hot air. Other than that the car is perfect. Most people are surprised when I tell them that it is a 1998.
Powerful I6 engine; comfortable, supportive seats; great, surefooted handling.
Stronger air conditioner, tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
This car is great fun to own and although we've strongly considered the purchase of a newer E46 or E90 3 Series, we couldn't do it, this car is too good. Our E36 M3 is an automatic (so wife could drive comfortably, too), would've preferred manual, but no danger of the expensive missed shift that many seem to report with the stick. Automatics seem less likely to have been flogged, as well. Our's was in excellent shape when purchased with 50K on the clock and remains so with 64K. Extreme fun in the twisties and very efficient on the freeway. If you've got one, keep it.
Handling, build quality, appearance, acceptable mileage for performance car (28-30 highway), usable real world performance (E46 M3 is too much most of the time), great seats, fabulous brakes. Very well balanced car.
Keep an eye on the cooling system, it can fail on any E36 at around 60K. Preventative maintanence should include: thermostat, thermostat housing (change to aluminum from plastic) water pump, fan clutch, radiator and hoses. Ride "very firm" on bad tarmac. Use independent service.
I took delivery new USA model 11/7/97 in Europe. It took a week to get broken in and then it ran 148mph on the 'bahn with euro chip. Mine is a stick "all real BMWs.." But I spent a day on the track with an automatic and was very impressed. I have added the Dinan Exhaust and Chip so 255hp likely 150mph or maybe more? Dealers are really expensive/greedy, but basic maintainence is pretty easy, you save $100 an hour. If you need help there are lots of talented/reasonable independents who are passionate about the cars. Once I wanted a convertible, but after driving the more flexible and heavy, (fat) chassis I became truly happy with my sedan. Will keep it until it is worth 40k again.
Road and Track named the M3 the best handling car under 100k. No argument! This car is about balance, brakes, handling and power. Sure 5.8 or so to 60 is not worlds fastest, but not slow. More than enough for all but drag racing. Tight and no nonsense. Timeless styling. Classic sports sedan. Fun!
Could use 6th gear for the slab and better ecconomy. It sure has the motor to handle it. Some kind of tranny lock out on manual tranny to prevent accidently over reving, have heard some sad tales of 3rd instead of 5th. For this reason nobody drives mine. Rate it using Japaneese Horses, 325 maybe?
I purchased my M3 as a certified pre- owned about 2 years ago. The car is flawless. It can out run or keep up with many cars on the road today, easily. It is very quick, responsive and handles as if it's on rails. You can basically attack corners with this car and never feel over your head. The car also makes you look and feel like a better driver. The functionality of the car is also impressive because you can carry four adults in relative comfort with a few bags of luggage in the back. Most of all the car is fun to drive and will definitely put a smile on your face whenever you drive it.
My favorite features are: the multi mode automatic transmission, mulberry interior, fold down rear seats, the overall interior ergonomics, and the overall solidness of the car. The motor is also a favorite feature, it very reliable with proper maintenance. The exhaust note is amazing.
My suggested improvements are: a more reliable climate control system is needed because it is a common failure item. The taillight bulbs tend to go fast and there may also be a short in the overall assembly and wiring. There is also interior vibration from time to time.
This is the best handling car I've ever
driven! I look forward to driving it
all the time; from going to and from
work, or just to the store--it begs to
I have put in the following upgrades:
Jim Conforti's Shark Injector software,
Conforti's Cold Air Intake,
Bavarian Auto's adjustable camber plates
(to take out the slight understeer),
UUC's power pulleys,
UUC's short shifter and double shear
It is very nimble and the ride is not
harsh at all, which was what I was
expecting when I first drove this car!
I also like the dual climate controls.