Why a Used BMW M3 is Still an Expensive Car to Buy


The BMW M3 is a robust performance beast, having made a name in the automotive world for its exceptional performance. Nicknamed the ‘God’s Chariot,’ the BMW M3 wooed car enthusiasts across the world with its impressive antics on the racetrack. When the M3 was initially launched in 1985, it didn’t quite grab the attention it deserved. However, after witnessing its expertise on the racetrack year after year, car enthusiasts discovered the hidden potential of the BMW M3 series.

It’s quite surreal to believe that a car with the prowess of the BMW M3 wasn’t worth a huge sticker price when it first came out, much like the classic Porsche 911s. However, if you look at the market scene today, the iconic BMW M3 E30s of the ’90s era are a rage in the vintage car market. When the M3 first came out, BMW was only known as a luxury brand in that decade. Slowly, the German marquee built a reputation for creating not only luxurious but also driver-centric cars that very well establish their place among the world’s best. Here, we delve deep into how the iconic BMW M3 shot into fame in recent years, and why you still need a substantial budget to obtain a used BMW M3.

The Special Trait of the BMW M3

The BMW M3 was the sweet fruit of the extensive research and development conducted by talented BMW engineers. As one of BMW’s first performance-oriented vehicles, the M3 holds a special place in the German automaker’s heart. The E30 M3 first set the stone for the M3 lineup way back in 1985. Nowadays, the same model in decent condition goes up for a lofty price of $750,000 at auctions. At that time, the M3 wasn’t particularly a performance monster, with only a 197 hp 2.3-liter inline-4 engine running the show. However, the pure athletic handling and track-tuned driving dynamics of the M3 made it a blast to drive. Even today, if you pick up a used 1988 BMW E30 M3 with little modifications, it still cruises around as if it were a new car straight out of the showrooms. A dogleg manual gearbox and the aggressive boxed fender flares truly established the M3 as one of the greats.

The Legacy Behind the M Letter in BMW

In BMW terms, the M stands for ‘motorsport’. BMW dedicated this nomenclature to supplement its racing program way back in the 1960s and 70s. After its widespread success, BMW began to induct new performance-oriented vehicles with the BMW M nomenclature into its lineup. Even today, the general public can identify the higher-end performance vehicles in BMW’s lineup with the same M designation.

Reliability of the BMW M3 in the Long Term

The BMW M3 has a reliability rating of 2.0 out of 5, ranking it 29th out of 31 midsize luxury cars. The average repair costs of the BMW M3 are $1,161. Thus, the BMW M3 is a very expensive car to repair. Once the M3 ages, repairs occur more frequently and are often more severe than your regular car. Hence, the BMW M3’s long-term reliability can be considered poor if you don’t have a lofty budget assigned to it. The M3 needs to be treated well with proper maintenance, much like any other luxury car. The average M3 can last for a lifespan of about 150,000 to 200,000 miles. Relatively, the BMW M3 had a residential value of about 61% for a 36/30k lease. Thus, the BMW M3 retains its value quite well.

Ownership Costs of the BMW M3

For a 2018 BMW M3, the owner has to incur financing costs of $3,604, a depreciation of $11,387, and fuel costs of $2,603 within the first year of ownership itself. On further calculations, the true ownership costs of a one-year-old BMW M3 equal around $26,200. Over the next five years, the depreciation hits a lot slower than the first year of ownership. Thus, the true ownership costs of a five-year-old BMW M3 turn out to be around $95,000, including the repairs and maintenance costs as well.

Depreciation of the BMW M3

The BMW M3 gets hit hard by depreciation in the first year of ownership. After that, the depreciation lowers the car’s value at a slow but gradual pace. Like other high-end German cars, the BMW M3 also depreciates relatively quickly. This is because the German government has made it compulsory to use natural, biodegradable rubber in every part of the car. Rubber, as we know, degrades in quality as time passes by. Hence, depreciation becomes inevitable.

Best BMW M3 Generation to Own

The lasting legacy of the first generation of the BMW M3, the E30, still lingers fresh in the minds of car enthusiasts today. This model has produced in limited numbers, as BMW only produced the M3 from the original 3-series to qualify as a Touring car racer in the late 1980s. The race-derived inline-4 engine and the extraordinary race-tuned dynamics of the E30 M3 make it a collector’s dream. Prepared to shell out a fortune if you do manage to find a model from this generation in a decent working condition.

If you want a used BMW M3 from the last decade, the fourth-generation E90 BMW M3 is also a stellar choice to buy. The E90 M3 was the first BMW model to ever feature a dual-clutch transmission, which is a piece of staple equipment in rally races. This generation also featured a monstrous V-8 for the first time as standard within the base M3 lineup. Rated at 414 hp, the fourth-gen BMW M3 has arguably one of the finest-sounding cars ever built and has also proclaimed as the best all-around car by many car purists.


The BMW M3 has one of the finest Bimmers ever produced, offering the pure thrills of neck-breaking performance in a versatile package. The outstanding craftsmanship of the BMW M3 makes it a lasting presence on the streets for years to come. Hence, it comes as no surprise that even a used BMW M3 has exorbitantly priced, as the demand for pure performance driving has catapulted in recent years. The BMW M3 has worth every penny spent, as the car has a stunning example of German technology at its best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *