Doug DeMuro Says Some of the Best Used BMW Deals Are Found in Cheap M3 Sports Cars

  • BMW E9x M3 values have gone through the roof
  • The E36 M3 is a bastion of cheap car fun for under $30k
  • Doug says an E46 M3 is still a bargain, if you’re not scared of mileage

It seems like everyone is looking for a used car deal these days. After all, the semiconductor shortage is costing the industry billions, and consumers are hurting. But what about us enthusiasts? You could argue we’re hurting more. Thankfully, automotive journalist, auction site owner, and car nut Doug DeMuro has decided to help out by putting together a market report on the fabled BMW M3: indisputably one of the best sports cars of all time.

An E92 M3 is worth more money than you think

The shadowy front end of an E92 generation BMW M3
The E92 M3 continues to rise in value | Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images

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We’ll start with the highest and work our way down. Doug DeMuro says values on the E9x (or E90 and E92) generation of BMW M3 are rising. And he’s right. Values are seriously high for these cars right now. A clean, stick-shift sedan will run you almost as much money as a new Camaro ZL1. Put another way, these collector-grade models can easily eclipse $60,000 in the right condition. Of course, the stick models command a premium over BMW’s first attempt at a dual-clutch transmission.

Another value adder is the carbon roof, an option that thankfully, was pretty plentiful back before the E9x M3 ended production in 2013. Thankfully, Doug DeMuro points out in the video above that there is a silver lining. If you’re not afraid of a car with some miles, a very nice, manual E92 coupe can be found, and for not a whole lot of money (to some). Those can range from $30,000-$40,000 depending on mileage, and of course, whether or not the rod bearings have been serviced.

What is the cheapest BMW sports car?

A black E36 BMW M3 shot in profile
The E36 M3 is still the best bargain BMW | Yianni Mathioudakis via Unsplash

However, Doug does leave one car off his market report: the E36 generation of M3. It’s the one that preceded the fabled E46 BMW M3 and arguably laid the groundwork for it. Its RWD-only, coupe, stick-shift layout featured an inline 6 motor that’s somewhat controversial. Thankfully, it’s not to do with maintenance, and these are considered one of the more reliable BMW models. Unfortunately, the Europeans got a much more powerful version of the M-series inline 6, with US-spec models only producing around 230 hp.

However, the aftermarket is a quick fix for these. But, as a result, values have stayed low for clean examples. Paint is a big deal on these, as they did offer some pretty interesting colors. For example, a clean Daytona Violet Metallic E36 BMW M3 can easily command $40,000 with low miles. Happily, stick shift cars in other colors are much easier to get for around $20,000-$25,000. Doug left this one out, and he definitely shouldn’t have.

How much does an E46 BMW M3 cost?

A silver E46 M3 shot from the 3/4 angle in a photo studio
The E46 M3 remains a bargain, but for how much longer? | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

Finally, there’s the E46 M3. For a long time, it was the bargain M3, and Doug says you could get just about any E46 M3 you wanted for under $20,000. While that’s definitely no longer the case, you can pay that money for one with around 100,000 miles. I did, and it’s certainly worth it, especially if you want to drive your sports car every day. See our full buyer’s guide on the E46 here. Happy hunting, Beamer nerds.

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