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. Tw...
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.