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Thread: E36 325/8 or M3?

  1. #1
    Member vagabond's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Fairfax, VA

    E36 325/8 or M3?

    I don't think this question has a firm answer, but I sold my garage queen and want to get a car dedicated to Autocross and HPDEs. I see lots of higher mileage E36s for 5 - 7k. I know there are a ton of x-factors at this age in a cars life, but all things being equal and assuming the suspension is probably tired, am I better off getting a 32x and really tightening it up, or going with the M3 that was built for this type of activity, but at this price point, will have higher mileage and the chance that it's been rode hard and put away wet?

    Any thoughts or comments are appreciated.


  2. #2
    I'd vote for the M3 but then I am biased. The M3 has lots of beefed up parts to help it survive track use better than a regular 3er. There seem to be a pretty large number of E36 M3s out there and their cost of entry is now stunningly low. Even when one gets tired, some new shocks, bushings, and tierod ends go a long way toward making it feel tight again. Vader has about 180 track days on it and after a bit of refreshing is still doing well. I have driven many regular e36s and the slower steering rack along with the smaller brakes, bearings, motor, etc make it less well suited to track beatings.
    Bob Hopkins
    M3 1997 Black "Vader"
    911 1986 Red "Baron"

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Arlington, VA
    For a daily driver I'd recommend a 328. Cheaper, cheaper parts, better gas mileage, etc. But if you plan to track and/or autocross go with the M3 for the reasons Mr. Hopkins mentioned above.
    96 328is, 99 M Coupe, 04 330Ci

  4. #4
    Senior Member ///MARINE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Solomon's Island, Maryland
    Your question does have a firm answer. The M3 is that answer. I own a 1992 325i (non-vanos), a 1995 325i and a 1995 M3. The 325s are great cars that are a blast to drive. The M3 takes that experience to another level. It is a true sports car that can be used as a daily driver without the worry or expense of a Porsche, Ferrari or even a newer M3. The E36 M3 IS essentially a highly tuned 325is whereas the E30 and E46 M3 were quite different from a basic 3 series. You would throw many thousands of dollars into a 325 or 328 trying to create a car that compares with an M3 to no avail. Save yourself time, money and the heart ache that will come from the realization that the engineers at Garching had it right in the first place. Trust me on this one. A worn out E36 M3 with the original shocks and 200,000 miles on the clock will run circles around most cars on the road today. Buy a used M3, sort it out and maintain it well and you will have a car you will love for life....

    I am Orlando Taylor and I approve this message.
    Brooklyn Taylor - Member # 354954
    Chief Marketing Officer at NCCBMWCCA
    Garage: M3, M5, M6, 635CSi/5 & 850I/6

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