1996 BMW E36 M3 Evo Saloon
In early 2003, I waved goodbye to the 328i, and collected my first M3.
Aged 23, I just wanted an M3, and the above was pretty much the only kind I could afford. Saloons were cheaper than coupés, and this saloon in particular had a horrible interior. Did I care?!
Yeah okay, so that’s not pleasant. However, a few touches such as replacing the floor mats, and changing the gear knob, and things were somewhat improved:
But that wasn’t what this car was about – this was my introduction to M power; the 300+ bhp and LSD dream which I still today find entertaining.
With three track days at Bruntingthorpe, visits to Curborough, Brands Hatch, and the infamous Nurburgring, this M3 saw me grasp the joys of motorsport.
Ownership was full of highs and lows. Running an M3 is an expensive business, but tremendous support from friends saw the experience turn out to be a positive one, and ultimately this again turned into a car I thoroughly enjoyed owning.
In late 2004 BMW Car magazine featured the car, and I was pleased to receive a pile of great photos of the car.
I shared my maiden voyage to the Nurburgring with this M3:
Modifications were sparse: black grilles were fitted and er, that’s about it.
I crashed this car once, in a relatively minor way, into the back of a somewhat more sturdy vehicle. Still, I repaired the damage myself to an acceptable standard. It let me down twice, both times due to the rear axle carrier snapping. That aside, it was wholly reliable.
Sadly, this tale ends tragically in early 2005: Harding Autos dropped the car when their four post ramp failed. Damage to the car turned out to be fatal. While they did pay out for the car, I’m most unimpressed with the associated losses that their insurers have deliberately escaped paying.
But ultimately, a bloody good car. RIP etc.