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BMW’s “3 Series” cars are known as relatively drivable and relatively reliable cars. Most generations of the German sports compact feature an I6 engine and better handling dynamics than your regular old Accord. RWD makes them fun and plentiful used stick shifts make them a go-to choice for many sports car fans who want something a little luxurious. Does it make sense why that friend of yours is a die-hard BMW fan now?

For a brief time, BMW built an M3 that might be the most “un-BMW” car around. It definitely has the stuff to convert people who aren’t normally BMW fans. And right now, one is up for auction.

BMW built the “E90” series of its 3 Series from 2005 through 2011. You could get it as a coupe (E92) and convertible (E93). BMWs M division always takes the 3 Series chassis and offers a hotrodded M3. For this generation, they pulled out all the stops. Instead of sticking with the I6, they slammed a naturally-aspirated 413-horsepower 4.0-liter V8 under the hood.

Rear tires of a 2008 BMW M3 coupe powered by a V8 engine.
2008 BMW M3 | Cars & Bids

I can hear the muscle car enthusiasts shouting: “4.0-liter? That’s tiny! 413 ponies? Pathetic!” And sure, those are far from Hellcat numbers. But remember, this is a compact car. It weighs in at 3,700 pounds and can corner like it is on rails. And it still rockets to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds (as tested by Car and Driver).

I was lucky to take a friend’s 2008 BMW stick shift M3 coupe for a spin and I have to say, I get it. It launches like crazy, pulls hard, and is still a lot of fun in the twisties. That V8 rumble is intoxicating. The coupe actually has room for adult rear seat passengers, and the styling is reliably attractive. The only immediate downside is most folks mistake it for the regular, ubiquitous 3 Series. But for some drivers, that may be an upside.

On the other hand, the repair bills can be exotic-car prices. Automatic transmission versions are cheaper to buy and to maintain. But the engine (BMW’s S65) will need an expensive rod bearing replacement. Ignore it and you’ll be spending even more on a new engine. It also gets atrocious mpg.

Leather interior of a stick shift 2008 BMW M3 coupe with a V8 engine.
2008 BMW M3 | Cars & Bids

BMW diehards might argue that later M3s, with turbocharged I6s are more in line with the BMW spirit. And they’re probably right. But the E90-generation M3 is something different. Something special.

Overall, this is a regular-looking car with V8 power. This is the BMW ponycar, the M3 for muscle car folks. But you won’t be able to get them at muscle car prices for long. These used M3s are going up in value fast. The sedans are rarer, but the coupes might be cooler.

There’s a 2008 BMW M3 Coupe (pictured) currently for sale on Cars & Bids. It’s already had the rod bearings replaced and its a stick shift. I’ll be interested to see how much it goes for.

Next, find out whether the older 3 Series generation is more reliable, or see why Savage Geese argues the E92 M3 is a future collectible:

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