1997 BMW M3 sedan 5-speed $4900


Yes this is a previous member’s car, you have seen this ad before…

For Sale:

• 1997 M3 Sedan
• 5 Spd Manual
• 244,xxx miles
• Clear Title (not rebuilt or salvage, have CarFax)
• Originally a Southeast (FL) and then Mid-Atlantic car (DC/MD area).
• Garaged. Only seen one NE winter (2010). ZERO rust.

Car is in Clifton Park 12065.








History & Maintenance

I recently purchased this m3 from a local friend of mine (and respected member here), right before he moved overseas. I have the opportunity to buy one of my dream cars and need to move this on to make way for the next car.

Maintenance related stuff that has been done on it within the past year:

  • Replaced guibo disc for driveshaft (there was no issue with it but since I had the driveshaft out to do the 3.38 diff replacement it was an opportunity to do it since I didn’t know if it was replaced by the PO). New bolts as well.
  • Replaced two oxygen sensors with Bosch units (the ones post-cat)
  • Replaced shifter bushing (but the one for lateral movement was not replaced, so I think shift feel would be even tighter if you were to do that)
  • Oil changes every 4000 miles with Mobil 0W40, OEM filters (I probably have a couple more filters sitting at home, I’ll include with car of course)
  • Brake pedal travel sensor

PENDING stuff that I have parts for but have not done yet (this stuff comes with car)

  • Transmission fluid – have bottles of Redline ATF D4. Car shifts fine, just haven’t done this yet but will give to new owner. Have more than enough to fill the trans.
  • Side skirts (see “interior” below, but basically I have a pair of M3 sedan silver skirts to address the paint blemish on the right side)

I talked with the 2 previous owners at length before buying, and here is what I learned they have done on the car:

  • Replaced cooling system – new radiator / water pump / hoses (the entire system is less than 2 years old). Temperature is always rock solid at the middle of the gauge, has never moved above that even in NYC traffic with A/C blasting for over an hour. Upon visual inspection you can see how new the radiator and hoses are.
  • New Spark Plugs (225K), PO replaced them when he did the compression check for me since he was pulling them anyways.
  • Tie rods front and rear (don’t know mileage but they look relatively new on visual inspection)
  • Sway bar links replaced (replaced these when I put in my Koni / GC suspension last year)
  • Bushings replaced at approx. 190K, includes Front Lower Control Arm Bushing, Rear Trailing Arm Bushing, Diff Carrier Bushings
  • Rear Wheel Bearings replaced at approx. 175K
  • ABS Wheel Speed Sensors replaced
  • Driver’s seat buckle
  • Slip ring in steering wheel
  • Rear shock mounts replaced
  • Front Brake Pads & Rotors (217K)
  • Timing chain replacement (187K)
  • Clutch and Pressure Plate (147K)

• Engine Related Notes

  • Due to the mileage on the engine, I had a compression test done prior to purchasing it, and readings were at about 170 psi with greatest differential being about 10 psi between cylinders.
  • When I change the oil every 4000 miles, I tend to lose about 1.5-2 quarts of oil. From what I read, S52 engines burn some oil so this hasn’t been an issue for me. Some opinions out there vary, but given the age and miles on the motor I can live with the consumption.
  • Fires up every time, no hesitation and pulls cleanly through the rev range. Idle is stable.
  • I get 20 mpg city, 25 highway for an average of 22.5 in mixed driving (also what shows on OBD). Only 93 Octane since I have owned the car.


When I bought car, it had:

• AA (Active Autowerke) cat-back exhaust
• Cold Air Intake
• Dinan Strut Tower Brace
• Upgraded Sway Bars Front / Rear (I do not remember the size but you can see / measure if you want)
• Bilstein shocks/H&R Springs
• Underbody X-Brace
• Alpine system (head unit, speaker, amplifier are older Alpine stuff)

I have since added / replaced (since Spring 2010)

• 3.38 LSD diff (factory is 3.15) from an automatic 97 M3 with about 110K on it. Redline 75W90 in diff.
• Ground Control (GC) / Koni Adjustable Suspension (Basically a GC modified Koni strut with threaded perch, springs are 450/525)
• Ground Control Camber Plates (front)
• Adjustable Rear Camber Arms
• OEM M3 DSII’s are now on the car. They are a staggered setup and have brand new hankook summer tires on them. I have the receipt from tirerack that can go with the car.
• Alignment- I have the specs somewhere but off the top of my head:

Camber: Negative 2.5 degrees
Caster: Positive 6.0 degrees
Toe: 0.0 degrees
Camber: Negative 2.5 degrees
Toe: 0.20 degrees total toe in (same as 12’, or 12 arc minutes)

• Factory front seats replaced with “Vader” seats from M3 Coupe, also black leather. Seats are actually in good condition considering the age.
• HID kit has been installed, but I have the old headlights too which are 100% functional. Note: the use of the HID kit results in “Low Beam Failure” message on the OBC, only when headlights are on. No issue with it being used, but it has something to do with less current draw on the system when going to HIDs. This seems to be common with this mod.

Exterior / Body

Good condition overall and cleans up nice but you can tell some body parts have been off the car at some point and there are other blemishes I’ll explain below:

  • Previous owner shared with me that car was hit in left rear quarter at some point in its life.
  • From my inspection when I purchased it, I noticed the left rear door was not replaced (same VIN and tag), but I have reason to believe the rear quarter panel was replaced (I can show you the inside of the trunk).
  • The repair was professionally completed, you cannot tell from the outside but I am happy to show you the inside of the trunk area, you can see it was well repaired with good welds etc. No impact on drivability.
  • There are scratches on the right side skirt near the front jacking point, looks like paint started chipping off then it got worse. I actually have a pair of silver side skirts at home from another M3 sedan that I will include with the car. Same paint and color code too, all you have to do is put them on the car.
  • The rear bumper is intact but has scrapes in the middle on the painted area and black molding
  • I removed the front black lower lip spoiler for increased ground clearance over the winter. I saw a crack in it so I did not re-mount it. It’s not on the car any more.
  • Driver side fog light was cracked by a small stone, I have removed it from the car for now.
  • Windshield as far as I can tell has not been replaced- so there are multiple small chips, one portion with a crack on the lower left corner of it.
  • Some small paint chips on the exterior otherwise I can point out, but overall in pretty good shape.
  • Rear spoiler looks factory, but on close inspection, trunk deck was drilled and spoiler added. Whoever did that did not use the original mounting point, so trunk deck has two holes in it (but in an area covered by spoiler so the holes are only visible from underside of trunk of course). I don’t have other details, but it’s not really a big deal to me.
  • Zero rust on body. Paint I would say 8.5 or 9 out of 10. Cleans up well.


This is also in OK to good condition. Some notes below:
• Door panels are solid and are not falling off (issue on other E36s)
• Headliner and rear deck have been professionally redone in grey suede by the PO. These look like new pretty much.
• Steering wheel has wear at the 12 o’ clock position. It doesn’t interfere with normal driving so I haven’t replaced it.
• All switches / lights / sunroof / mirrors work. A/C is cold, heat is hot.
• All OBC (on board computer) functions work, doesn’t have missing pixels issue that plagues many E36s.
• Small crack around plastic on tweeter surround on passenger door. It’s basically a sub $5 item on Ebay but I didn’t replace because I don’t want to mess with the door panel by taking it off only to have it become “loose” after putting back on.
• Missing driver and passenger kick panel plastic surround- this was removed to make room for the custom 6.5” drivers installed in there. PO was big into audio I guess, I certainly am not…


$5600 for the car as it sits now (with suspension, with 17” DSIIs, new tires), including the side skirts, maintenance stuff I have around, and a couple oil filters and stuff.

$4900 for the car on 16” M3 Contour reps with good Blizzak tires (205/55R16).

Other Comments

High miles but car was not beat on and maintained to a decent degree. Priced more like a non-M or salvage title M. Please do not come to look at my m3 expecting a mint museum piece, it is not. No warranties expressed or implied.

Thanks for the space!!

I will get pictures up of the car on the new DSII’s as soon as possible. It does not come with the SSR’s you see pictured.


i would def pick this up as a daily if i had the money…i miss my old E36 and if you still have it in a month or so and i can scramble some money together i would gladly get it but for now, GLWS!

Clean, GLWS.

Thank you both.

sell me the exhaust and you can sell it cheaper…miss my sedan but love my coupe


Damn that is a clean E36, love it!

I would buy this, attempt to drift shortly thereafter, fail,burn and die. GLWS

the bay is so clean it looks like it could be factory.


Maybe he meant just from the factory?

Aside from a strut bar and intake…it is lol

Lol yeah but from a how clean it is standpoint.

oh. derp. gotcha.

Wow. I remember looking at almost the same exact car when I was car shopping for the lexus in '07. That car was $11900 crazy how great a deal this car seems to be. I mean sure there are high miles but look how F’ing clean everything on the car is

well, fuck. i meant to post that comment in the thread about the 2J powered M5. but it works here too i guess.

It is fairly clean, it is actually at the dealership right now getting a new wheel speed sensor.

wtf? who brings e36s to the dealer for work?

lmao ^ this