5 out of 5 stars
Zen and the Art of Sports Car Maintenance
from Atlanta, GA
on Thu Nov 24 2011
Owning this car has been a near-spiritual experience for me. After years of owning economical four-bangers, I spent a weekend as a guest of BMW North America at Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans 2010. Two weeks later there was an M3 parked in the spot outside my apartment and there was a new key in my pocket.
These cars ain't for sissies. I'm not talking about driving - I swapped cars with my timid mother for a week while I was moving some stuff with her Toyota. She came away smiling. Where these cars bite you is in maintenance - either in the wallet if you're not mechanically inclined, or by devouring long hours of your time if you can swing a wrench. Being an aircraft mechanic was a blessing for me when it came to owning this car.
The e36 M3's are not new cars. They may look new. They may smell new, and they often drive like new, but there's always some bit of rubber, somewhere, that has deteriorated away out of sight and awaits your attention. There is a huge amount of support on several forums that has proven worth its weight in gold, and the maintenance manuals are an absolute must, even if you're not doing much of the wrench work yourself. I've shied away from working on cars for years because I thought they were far more complex than the simple airplanes I maintained. Owning this car has taught me that with patience, persistence and a positive attitude, nearly any job on the car can be done yourself.
These cars demand more upkeep than an American or Japanese car, but the effort is rewarded each time you get in and turn the key. M3's aren't rocket ships - they're quick, don't get me wrong - but they handle magnificently, and if you see a gap in traffic, you can gun it and pop right into the flow. I smile at every interstate exit/entrance ramp that I turn onto.
Do your homework. Learn the car's weak points, i.e. rear strut mounts, Rear Trailing Arm Bushings, the VANOS variable timing system, etc. Test drive several of them. I fell in love at first sight and bought the first one I drove. The suspension was clapped-out and the engine wasn't running strong, but I had not benchmark to compare it to. After my 315,000 mile RAV4, it was a luxury ride.
Buy this car and just try to frown as you walk up to it in the parking lot for your ride home after a long day at work. I dare you. These cars have soul.
13 out of 13 people found this review helpful. Did you?
5 out of 5 stars
Bang for the buck German performance
by Bimmer head
from Southern NJ
on Fri Sep 24 2010
Went with the purchase an e36 M over an e46 M little over a year and a half ago and have been grinning ever since. I always wanted an M3 and the e36 was the generation I fell in love with so I finally pulled the trigger. You have to hunt around and buy a cream puff from another enthusiast but they are out there.
The chassis of the e36 handles like nothing else I've driven and you feel glued to your seat which feels glued to the road. I get in trouble all the time with motor and the handling saves me every time. Which bring me to the motor. Wow... There are more horses out there but what a great combo of screaming horse power, torque, and balance. I never knew 240 hp could feel like 300!
You will have to watch the car like a hawk and do PREVENTATIVE maintenance. You cannot wait for stuff to break and then bring it into your mechanic, so factor maintenance costs into your purchase price and take care of your bimmer! All in all highly recommend this car.
7 out of 7 people found this review helpful. Did you?
5 out of 5 stars
by New M3 owner
from Albuquerque, NM
on Fri Oct 15 2010
Coming from an Acura, found the BMW (and that too a 98) to be a world of difference when it comes to driveability. The car is a finely tuned machine. The car had some issues initially (as it had been sitting in a garage for the longest time and some annoying ones), if taken care of early, has been reliable.
The interior is driver centric with all the controls easily within reach. These cars come with sport seats, have a pretty decent stereo system (HK), plenty of controls and a very effective air condition.
The car is easy to work on if you have the right tools and there is plenty of support available online. The car can be a lot more expensive if not maintained by oneself.
Absolutely loving every moment I'm in the car and hope to do so for a long time.
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful. Did you?
5 out of 5 stars
by Loves to drive
from Sunnyvale, NY
on Sun Oct 28 2007
This convertible brings high performance and wind-in-your-hair grins to your garage. Fantastic, controlled handling, even at speeds exceeding 100 mph, strong acceleration, great 5 speed, and fun at any speed with the convertible down. Great seats and stereo complete the package. This is one great car!
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Did you?
5 out of 5 stars
from Princeton, NJ
on Sat Dec 14 2013
The entire purchase experience was one that you would not expect at a typical car dealership. I dealt directly with the owner who was also the decision maker. What I liked especially was that the entire emphasis of the conversations that took place between the two of us were to address my questions and concerns, to better understand what I wanted rather than the glorification of the vehicle driven by the desire to sell. Also, the handling of the administrative tasks was executed smoothly and I also decided to puchase the extended warranty. I told all my buddies how happy I was with the purchase and the experience as well as the young owner who is also a car enthusiast. I hope you find this review helpful and good luck on your purchase.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you?
5 out of 5 stars
1998 BMW M3 4-door Sedan
by BMW M3 Enthusiast
from Hercules, CA
on Thu May 18 2006
It's really a driving machine. The M3 has excellent handling, powerful high performance racing equipped, and luxury settings. This particular model was a top winner for the autobahn, and build its recognition.
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful. Did you?
4 out of 5 stars
Analog In A Digital Age
on Tue Nov 07 2017
Cars, much like many other components of modern life, are showrooms for all the latest technology the modern consumer needs. In many ways this is great but at a certain point they lose their car-iness and become tools for abstracting the driver away from the driving itself. I would guess car manufacturers are responding to what the customers are asking for. But I fell in love with cars long ago not because their a tool or a means to an end. I like cars that are meant to be driven and that create a relationship between you and its interfaces.
The E36 M3 is a performance car from an era where this relationship still mattered and this is part of why it lured me in in the first place. No WiFi, no Bluetooth, no color touch screen, no digital instrument cluster, no rear-view camera - mine doesn't even have a CD player. But BMW's iconic straight six engine mated to a five speed manual transmission is glorious to drive spiritedly and this is the reason I bought it. There isn't an abundance of assists getting in between you and the driving experience and correspondingly there are less electronic bits to go wrong. The E36 era of M3 is going on 20 years old - even for its youngest model - so a budget for maintenance is something to consider if this car is on your list of possibilities. There used to be chatter of a "$10k rule" on the enthusiast forums, meaning that regardless of whether you buy a $5k E36 M3 or a $8k E36 M3 you'll have to spend the difference between that and $10k to get it into reliable shape. Based on my experience that sounds about right. Problem areas are well documented on the enthusiast forums as are their solutions which make this platform alluring if you're interested in tackling DIY-level maintenance tasks yourself.
The E36 M3 isn't for everyone but if you're after an unfiltered driving experience at a somewhat reasonable price it's a strong candidate. Going into it with proper expectations, ownership can be a gratifying experience.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Did you?
5 out of 5 stars
BMW Tuners Delight
by Charlie a.k.a. BMWM3 boy.
from Carlisle, Pa
on Sat Aug 18 2007
I've had the pleasure of owning this vehicle. It's fast, sharp on turns, and with 99,000 mile on the odometer, It still flies like new. I had lowered my vehicle, upgraded the brakes w/ slotted and drilled rotors, racing brake pads, angel eyes conversion, clear all around w/ euro taillights. The Estoril blue still turns heads after I role out of a car wash. The upgraded sound system definitely pounds. You can expect some pretty expensive maintenance, but a well maintained car will take care of you. I've gotten away from the expensive dealer fixes by replacing most parts with after market ones. They are usually a little less expensive, and they are far superior in quality to the BMW oem. Brands to recommend: Bilstein, Brembo, Dinan, Active Autowerke, and turner motorsport. Enjoy the ride, its trully a blast getting to feel 140mph on a flat curvy surface. Nice agressive look. I am almost sad to say goodbye.
5 out of 8 people found this review helpful. Did you?
3 out of 5 stars
on Wed Aug 12 2009
i like it.. but it could definetly be better...its a workout to drive as a daily driver.. the seats are not that comfortable.. its a peppy car.. clutch is hard.. looks really nice outside.. inside is boring with the orange/redish light. it is reliable but, you will always hear a wierd sound. stereo is not that great. air condition is really weak.. if you drive it like the way your are suppose to the gas mileage is not that great. there is not much of anything you can do to make it got faster. its as quick as an e46 bmw 330.. which is not that great of an accomplishment.. you definetly feel like you had a work out when you are done driving it.. it great excersice.. lol. no room for the people in the back.. it is safe with minor collision
3 out of 19 people found this review helpful. Did you?