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?