The BMW E36 M3 is the generation of M3 that seems to be the least loved. The E30 M3 is skyrocketing in value and the E46 M3 seems to be holding a solid price tag if the miles and condition are correct. However, the E36 M3 seems to be the cheapest version of the M3 you can find but does that mean you should go out and buy one just because one can be had for under $5,000?
There’s a lot to this question and a lot of things to think about. Firstly and most importantly, can you turn a wrench? If you answered yes to that the next question has to be, do you feel like turning that wrench? If you don’t answer both of those with a resounding, “Yes!”, this probably isn’t the car for you. Here’s why.
Any cheap E36 M3 is going to have it’s issues. Let’s look at my E36 M3 Project Build, I bought this E36 M3 for under $5,000 however, it didn’t even make it all the way to my garage! The first thing I had to do was replace an alternator. Not a huge deal, right? Well, if I would have taken this to a shop to do, it would have cost me around $400. Since I did it in my garage the only cost was the alternator, my time and bloody knuckles. That wasn’t the only thing needed to get my newly purchased E36 M3 back to roadworthy, not even close. Power steering was leaking so I replaced the power steering system and while I was down there I swapped out the original M3 steering rack with an E46 ZHP steering rack as well as replacing the guibo joint. By the way, this was one of the best mods I’ve done to the car to date, but we’ll talk more about that later.
The moral of the story is, watch the video below 🙂 If you’re planning on buying a fun weekend or track car and you’re thinking an E36 M3 is the route you’re going to go, be prepared.