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BMW M Models

BMW M Models Published: 10th Aug 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

BMW M Models
BMW M Models
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Wide choice of models - Can be good value - M3 collectability - True driving machines

The M Series of BMWs were initially designed with motorsport in mind but quickly became standalone models in the range, starting with of with the M3 but spread to cover most ranges, resulting in a model to suit all tastes. As easy, if not as low cost to run, as their standard versions, some can top six figures to acquire and yet conversely others still remain quite affordable.


Caterhams with roofs and doors is how one specialist described the M strain and it’s an apt description in terms of how they drive but you have to also add that while they are far more focused then the models they are based upon, most still retain the smoothness and refinement you expect from a BMW. Performance is hardly an issue with 200bhp-400bhp on offer depending on what you buy.

Best models

There’s no such thing as a bad M model but some are better than others. For example, the second gen M3 (E36) is regarded as more style than substance (coupé and convertibles also featured) but it’s still damn fine machine; BMW didn’t make that mistake again with the second series (E39) and the V8 M5 and are still regarded as one of the best along with the E46 M3 (2000-2006), especially in CS and CSL forms.

The M635 CSi took its power from the quirky mid-engined M1 road racer and ranks as one of the all time greats. Not strictly ‘M’ as such, but don’t ignore the 325 Sport or the 318iS, the latter which has as much motorsport heritage as a M3 as its engine was used during the Formula turbo era. Of the original M3, the EVO II sported a 2.5-litre engine for more torque and had an adjustable rear spoiler – a real road racer!


You pay dearly for the M badge (so watch for cunning fakes on all!), by as much as 100 per cent which pushes up prices handsomely. M3s can top 100K if its an EVO, (220bhp) EVO II or one of the special Cecotto or Ravaglia limited runs and which are double what a ’normal’ M3 is probably worth. The E46 CSLs are not far behind although good E39, E34 and standard E46 cars can be had for around £20,000, which will also net a scruffy but sound M635 CSi or an original E30 M3 but in need of tlc. In contrast, a decent and desirable E36 is fair game at under ten grand.

Buying advice

Watch for fakes and get expert advice if unsure. Have a HPI check to ensure past history of theft and accidents – the latter visually check carefully for and watch for non M parts. All ‘Ms’ will have been hard used or as track day thrills. On the fourcylinder E30 M3, the timing gear needs replacing when recommended and listen for clatter. Gearboxes are a problem, too.

On the six-cylinder engine check for VANOS malfunction, while some V8s suffered with abnormal bore wear.

On all, a ‘loose feel’ suggests overall hard use and tiredness but, on the other hand, be wary of modified examples as the suspension set up was carefully developed by BMW and aftermarket mods can spoil the car. Ditto badly modified and ‘chipped’ engines; with a classic M machine originality will count the most and they’re good enough already!

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