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This Beautiful, Clean, Low-Mileage E36 BMW M3 Is on Autotrader ... for $28,500

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author photo by Doug DeMuro April 2017

If you want to buy the nicest E36 BMW M3 currently listed on Autotrader, this one certainly comes close. It's painted Estoril Blue, generally agreed to be the model's best color. It has a desirable manual transmission and a gorgeous light gray interior. It's covered just 54,640 miles from new. Oh, yeah ... and it's $28,500.

That's right, this is an E36 BMW M3 that's listed on Autotrader for nearly $30,000 -- a sum formerly thought to be massive money for one of these. In 2011, I owned a 1998 M3 sedan (admittedly, with 120,000 miles), and I thought I was lucky to let it go for $9,200. But now, the E36 M3 resurgence appears to be arriving -- and while this car has been unsold for a while, it's not an outlier in terms of pricing. There are several other E36 M3 models also in this range, likely aimed at the buyer who wants a perfect car.

So is this one perfect? It's certainly close, with the best color combination, a manual transmission and amazingly low miles. It also has an amazing Carfax report that shows just one owner since it was sold new in Fairport, New York, in March 1997. (Although, looking closer, it appears the car was sold to a new owner in Missouri in 2013, and that owner is listing it for sale now.) Mileage was added sparingly over the years, but it never looks like it sat for a long period of time. And the interior and exterior condition are excellent.

But the price is certainly the most interesting thing about this car, because it shows that the E36 M3 market is starting to rise. This shouldn't come as a surprise. The best examples of the E30 BMW M3 -- a car now considered a "classic," and also the E36 model's predecessor -- easily sell for $50,000 to $60,000 in today's market, and it makes sense that the E36 would follow. But it's amazing to see this car -- once considered the "black sheep" of the M3 world due to its relatively disappointing 240 horsepower -- list for $30,000. Maybe selling mine for $9,200 wasn't such a great decision after all.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
This Beautiful, Clean, Low-Mileage E36 BMW M3 Is on Autotrader ... for $28,500 - Autotrader