She had quite big shoes to fill coming in to replace the legendary M3 e30… It wasn’t an easy task, but many BMW fanboys (myself included) would agree that the e36 managed it rather well.
Though in all honesty, the e36 is probably my least favourite 3 series generation but I have to admit that now that the time has passed, I find a certain charm to the “square looking” 3er generation.
Introduced in 1992, it was the first M3 to feature a straight-six engine and was initially only available as a coupe before the introduction of the 4-door and convertible models 2 years later.
It featured the S50B30 3.0L engine offering 286hp but was rather heavy at 1,460kg which is roughly 200 more than its predecessor. As for the design, love it or hate it but there’s not much to say about it. It is, well, very 90’s!
In 1995, both the coupe and 4-door versions were upgraded to a 3.2L engine (S50B32) taking the power up to 321hp! The M3 also received new wheels and a 6 speed gearbox to complement the update.
The chassis is an absolute masterpiece and the M3 was considered to be one of the best handling cars of the 90’s by multiple magazines and journalists. The size, balance and general behaviour of the car make it the perfect option for trackdays or keeping it standard for B-roads Sunday drives.
The US market was not as fortunate as us Europeans as their version was 40hp down on power due to country regulations and also featured a different suspension setup than the Euro version. Even with the revised 3.2L engine, the power remained the same at 240hp, which is considerably lower than its European counterpart.
E36’s M3s are quite accessible with prices ranging from around £10K to over £20K depending on mileage, history and condition. A few and more desirable limited editions such as the M3 GT (produced at 356 units) can be acquired over £60K, which is in my opinion very high for an e36.
Beware though as many M3s have been brutalised or poorly tuned and can result in problems down the road, and also make sure you look out for rust as they are quite prone to this issue. Alex from CarThrottle has done some good videos about e36 ownership, check them out if you want to learn more.
You can read more from Alex Sobran on Petrolicious.com