At $7,200, Is This 1997 BMW M3 Prepped For A Fast Sale


Today’s Nice Price or No Dice E36 M3 may very well be the cheapest in the country that’s not an obvious fright pig in its ad. Let’s see if it’s cheap enough.

Mesteñeros was the name given in the late 19th century to the Mustang wranglers of the American Southwest. Their job was to catch, break, and bring to market the feral horses that roamed the region. No such effort would be required for the 1998 Ford Mustang GT we looked at yesterday. Described in the ad as low mileage and needing nothing, it seemed a turn-key deal at its $7,950 asking price. Most of you concurred with that assessment, awarding the convertible pony a solid 68 Percent Nice Price win.

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Radio drama was a welcome diversion for people in the U.S. during the Second World War. One of the more popular of those was I Love a Mystery, a series that ran from 1939 to 1944 and concerned three friends who formed a detective agency, traveling the globe in search of adventure and intrigue. Along the way, they uncovered enthralling mysteries and solved inscrutable crimes. The trio’s motto was “No job too tough, no adventure too baffling.”

We could sure use their help in the consideration of today’s 1997 BMW M3 saloon. There’s not much mystery about the model—the E36 M3 followed the E30 edition and proved lightyears more capable and engaging due to the shift to six-cylinder power and a vastly more competent chassis. The mystery involves just how much of that power and competence the car might have left since it seems not to have ever been restored, and its mileage is listed by the seller as 1. “1” what? 1,000? 100,000? 1,000,000? See? We need forensics. Somebody call CSI.

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What we can glean from the ad is that this M3 looks decent enough. It has black paint that seems OK from a distance but shows a couple of scrapes here and there, as well as some significant top coat failure on the roof and rear wing. On the plus side, all the trim seems to be intact, and while the wheels are chrome-plated, they are at least the factory Style 18s, which are well-sized for the car.

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The cabin comes off better, with no significant wear on the leather seating surfaces or major flaws in the plastics. There is noticeable wear on the steering wheel, which also carries a giant old-school airbag. A notable failure point on these cars is the digital displays in the dash and HVAC readouts. We don’t get to see those here to confirm they are all working as they should. Naturally, if we did get a peek, we could likely see the odometer and hence the mileage. Dang, the seller is always one step ahead of us!

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This is an automatic car—a five-speed ZF box—which may dull interest for some. It’s also a U.S. model, so it has the less powerful (240 horsepower) version of the S52 rather than the beefier S50 other markets received. According to the ad, this one has received oil changes every 3,000 miles and recently passed its smog test. It sports new brakes and a fresh battery and the seller says the tires are decent all around. Other plusses include working A/C, an accident-free history, and a clean title.

On the downside, the driver’s window doesn’t go down, which will make drive-thrus perilous. Of course, with the price of fast food currently on the rise, maybe that’s a good thing.

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The question, naturally, is whether this M3’s $7,200 asking price is a good thing or not. What do you think? Does the lack of mileage information in the ad make this an impossible decision? Or does the car look decent enough to overlook that omission and pass judgment based on looks alone?

You decide!

San Francisco Bay Area, California, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at remslie@kinja.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.



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